Assessment 1. Formative Essay (1,500 words) EITHER i) Briefly outline the distinctive features of a sociological approach to understanding human life and then illustrate how a sociological approach would make sense of ONE of the following: your biography; your first few weeks at university; a contemporary social issue of your choice. OR ii) Drawing on relevant social statistics, briefly summarise the key sociodemographic trends in the UK and discuss their consequences for social policies. In this essay we are looking for evidence that: - you are able to write coherently and fashion your own arguments - you are able to consult and interpret a range of information sources - you are able to accurately reference your work both within the body of the essay, and in the list of references at the end of your essay Although the mark you are given for this piece will not count in your overall module mark, completing this assessment is a condition of passing the module and proceeding to the second year. As this is your first university essay you may find it helpful to consult study skills texts, for example: Creme, P. and Lea, M. (2008) Writing at University, 3rd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press Redman, P. (2006) Good essay writing: a social sciences guide, 3rd ed. London: Sage Bonnett, A. (2008) How to Argue, 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson You should also consult the University’s skills website: www.nottingham.ac.uk/pathways and above all follow the referencing guidelines in the School Student Handbook and Neville, C. (2007) The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism, Maidenhead: Open University Press, noting that the School’s preferred system of referencing is the Harvard system. 2. Review of academic journal article (1, 500 words) 20% of the module mark For this assessment you are required to write a review of up to 1, 500 words of a research study of your choice published in an academic journal within the following limits: i) It should not be one of the five main articles discussed in lectures 5, 7, 8 or 9. ii) You must choose to review a journal article which includes data collection by the researcher(s) (i.e. the researcher(s) gathered their own data, interview material, observations or images). iii) You should not choose to review a piece using advanced statistical techniques unless you really understand log-linear regression, multivariate analysis and factor analysis. iv) You should choose an article published since 2000 from one of these journals: British Journal of Sociology Sociology Sociological Review Sociology of Health and Illness American Journal of Sociology American Sociological Review Cultural Studies Media, Culture and Society Work, Employment and Society Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies Ethnic and Racial Studies Critical Social Policy Journal of Social Policy Social Policy and Administration Social Policy and Society British Journal of Social Work European Journal of Social Work Social Work and Society Your review should contain the following: - a brief summary of the research - an account of the research method(s) employed - an evaluation of the research and its findings which is more sophisticated than the simple assertion “the researcher was biased”. You MUST submit a photocopy of the article you discuss along with your review Some questions to consider in writing your review of the article: Here are a few questions that might help you when writing this assessment. They are intended as guidance only, not all of these questions may be appropriate. You should NOT write your essay as a report which tries to answer these questions sequentially, they are intended to give you a starting point. 1. Why did you choose to study the piece in question? 2. In which particular field of social research is the piece located? 3. How does the research relate to past studies of the topic? 4. What are the key concepts used by the researcher(s)? 5. What are the sites of social investigation chosen? 6. How were the areas/people investigated chosen? 7. How representative are the cases studied by the researcher(s)? 8. What is the stated purpose of the research? 9. Can you identify central hypotheses? 10. What research techniques are used in the study? 11. What are the main forms of data presented? 12. How is the data used by the researcher(s)? 13. What are the central claims of the author(s)? 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. Do you feel these claims are justified by the evidence presented in the study? Are the findings reliable? Are they valid? In what ways is the research distinctively social scientific? Are there any ethical issues to consider? Does the research have broader political objectives? Did the conclusions surprise you in any way? How, if at all, might the research have been improved? 3. First Assessed Essay on Modernity (3,000 words) (40% of the module mark) For any two of the following thinkers, assess their intellectual contribution to the understanding of modern society: John Locke, Thomas Paine, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Theodor Adorno. 4. Second Assessed Essay on contemporary society (3,000 words) (40% of the module mark) For any two of the following thinkers, assess their intellectual contribution to the understanding of contemporary society: Raymond Williams, Heidi Hartmann, Iris Marion Young, Zygmunt Bauman, Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy, John Rawls, David Miller, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen Considerations for BOTH the 3,000 word assessed essays: - Think carefully about your choice of thinkers: are there any connections between them? - We have designed the essays to encourage you to develop the skill of reading thinkers in their own words. Initially this might be difficult, so you should support your reading by looking at general social studies textbooks and secondary commentaries on the thinkers you choose to write about. - It is important for you to show evidence of having read and understood some of the first hand works written by the thinkers you address in your essay. - Although the reading list looks long, it only shows a fraction of the sources that are of potential relevance to support your essay writing. Students often panic when an item on the reading list is out on loan. You should remember there are likely to be other sources nearby on the shelves and available electronically, particularly in academic journal articles, that might help you. Part of the challenge of university study is finding sources your teachers haven’t encountered. - Essays that depend on vague internet sources and wikipedia are extremely unlikely to have the depth and reliability that university assessed work requires. Always consider the scholarly authority (or lack of it) of the sources you are using. Last year several students were awarded marks of zero for copying material from inappropriate sources. - You should ensure that your essay develops a logical argument, follows standard referencing conventions, and has a full bibliography.