Credit points


Campus offering

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SOCS100 Introduction to Sociology OR SOCS108 Contemporary Society and Change .

Unit rationale, description and aim

Understanding Sociology as an academic discipline requires knowledge of the social, historical and world contexts that have prompted the development of principal concepts, theories and research into societies over time. The unit identifies key aspects of sociological theory in general and examines leading representations of sociological theories currently relevant to sociological analysis in understanding a range of social relations, institutions and organizations. The unit emphasizes the relationship between the researcher's social values and interests, their methods of social inquiry, conceptualizations of issues and problems leading to identification of distinct 'variables', and theory construction and development. The unit aims to explore these variables and elements through examination of key texts, the analysis of research case studies, and examination of contemporary social phenomena and issues.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO2 - Communicate sociological theoretical perspectives clearly through written and/or oral forms including some sociological theoretical terms (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Demonstrate skills in critically assessing different sociological theoretical approaches to historical and contemporary social issues (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO4 - Construct a sociological argument using major theoretical perspectives in sociology (GA4, GA5, GA8)  

LO5 - Apply a variety of sociological theoretical frameworks to contemporary and historical problems (GA2, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA8)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • The emergence of sociology
  • The classic tradition
  • Contemporary sociological theory
  • Modernity and post-modernism
  • Each perspective considered in relation to
  • philosophic and historical context
  • paradigmatic research projects or applications or areas of study
  • research methodologies
  • Application of various perspectives to understanding and researching selected contemporary issues

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit’s learning and teaching strategy is based on the delivery of lectures and student participation in tutorials. Lectures provide students with expert knowledge of unit material organized in terms of theoretical approaches, case material and problem solving. Lectures provide students with opportunities to learn relevant theoretical approaches and case material in order to enhance their reflections on the topic and subject matter and independently seek additional readings and other sources. Tutorials provide students with opportunities for active participation in learning through discussion and debate, preparing and delivering oral presentations and raising questions directed to further exploration of topics.


This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks for the unit are designed to encourage and contribute to student learning and at the same time to ascertain the success of the learning process. Assessments are designed to meet unit learning outcomes and encourage development of graduate outcomes. A variety of tasks are undertaken by students enrolled in the unit in order to develop skills appropriate to a second-year study in sociology. The first task requires students to consider the types of problems that sociological theory is directed to solve. The second assignment requires students to use reading, research and critical thinking skills in a research topic and the final assessment is designed to pull together themes, content and skills in a summative assessment.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Problem solving using theory

Students are required to compose an assignment on the nature of sociological theorising, examining the types of problems sociological theory is directed to solving and the material it draws upon in doing so. This may be an oral or written assignment as set by the lecturer.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Major essay

Students are required to investigate in depth a core aspect of sociological theory.


LO3, LO4, LO5

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8

Final Exam/In-class test

The final exam/in-class test will assess students’ knowledge of the topics covered in the unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6,

Representative texts and references

Alatas, S.F. & Singha, V. (2017). Sociological Theory Beyond the Canon. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Appelrouth, S.& Desfor Edles, L. (2015) Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era: text and readings, Thousand Oaks, 3rd Edition CA: Pine Forge Press.

Benzecry, C., Krause, M. & Reed, I.A. (2017). Social Theory Now. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Calhoun, C. et al. (eds.) (2012), Contemporary Sociological Theory, 3rd edition Oxford: Blackwell

Harrington, A., (2005) Modern Social Theory: an introduction, Oxford: Oxford University  Press.

Kivisto, P. (2012) Illuminating Social Life: classical and contemporary theory revisited, 6th edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Ritzer, G. & Stepnisky, J. (2018) Sociological Theory, 10th edition, New York: Sage

Trevino, A.J. (2017). The Development of Sociological Theory. London: Sage.

Turner, J., Beeghley, L. & Powers, C.H. (2012) The Emergence of Sociological Theory, 7th edition. London: Sage.

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