15 Credits AUTUMN

Aims/Description: Social theory profoundly affects all research into society and social policy, including research into urban (more strictly: local, regional or sub-national) processes and urban planning. Conversely, urban theory can potentially contribute fruitfully to the development of social theory as a whole. This module explores some implications of social theory for urban and planning research and vice versa. It does so in two `registers┐ or modes:- Firstly, it examines very basic issues in social science, including the relations between structure and agency, between society and the physical world, between society and space, and between materiality and consciousness. These enter into both choice of topic and method of enquiry in urban research. Secondly, at a somewhat more concrete level, urban research needs to be aware of the different paradigms in sociology, economics, theories of the state, and cultural studies respectively, in order to appreciate their presence in the literature and in order to choose and use them intelligently and critically. In particular, different theories of the state are relevant to considering not only the actual role of the state in the city but also normative strategies for urban planning. An important aspect of the different paradigms in social science which urban researchers need to appreciate is their political roots, associations and implications, and, connectedly, the extent to which they emphasise social conflict or social order respectively. These different paradigms and their politics affect not only choice of topic, methods and mode of analysis but also the potential audience for research outputs. Finally, since `urban┐ research spans the economic, social, cultural and political spheres, urban researchers need to consider the relations between these spheres, as conceived in social theory, political ideologies and state practices. This module considers social theory in these two registers, laying one of the foundations for you to embark on your own research project at Masters or PhD level.

Restrictions on availability: Restricted to students on TRPT101, LSCT106

Staff Contact: Dr Jamie Gough
Teaching Methods: Lectures, Independent Study, Workshops
Assessment: Course work

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Urban Studies and Planning):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK