Introduction to sociology: the world’s on fire (and other problems) (A)

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 13:30 - 15:20

Lecture venue

Course description

Sociology is a tricky subject because it is so diverse – and indeed what sociologists can (and do!) study is absolutely ubiquitous, from what we eat or wear to the predictors of revolution. Given this diversity, the goal of our course is foremost to get you acquainted with a sociological way of thinking, and to help you apply this way of thinking to the social issues that interest you.

The course will help you acquire these tools by introducing you to some of the core sociological themes. In lectures, we will also systematically investigate and apply these themes to two social issues, namely climate change and inequality – thereby demonstrating how the sociological imagination can be used to understand important social problems. In tutorials and in your assignments, you will then be invited to apply your new sociological imagination to issues of your own choosing.

Course learning outcomes

  • Gain a greater familiarity with the main concerns and concepts in sociology.
  • Apply sociological concepts to everyday lives and social issues.
  • Develop critical thinking in understanding society.
  • Learn how to understand, critique, and build on past academic research.


Tutorial participation10%
Tutorial presentation20%
Assessment 135%
Assessment 235%

Required reading

We will be using A Sociology Experiment as a textbook in the course ( It’s an online-only textbook. Each chapter costs USD1. Note that not all chapters are assigned, so you don’t have to purchase access to the whole book.

There are many benefits to this textbook, including cutting-edge authors and a low cost. However, it is written with US audiences in mind. You are encouraged to read these sections because they help elaborate the conceptual or methodological points made in the chapters. However, you will not be tested on these US-specific examples, and will not be required to engage with them in your papers.

Recommended reading

In addition, during the semester we will read two books that describe ethnographic sociological research. During the first half of the semester, we will read Javier Auyero and Debora Swistun’s
Flammable. During the second half of the semester, we will read Forrest Stuart’s Down, Our, and Under Arrest. Both will be available on Moodle.

Course co-ordinator and teachers