Courses in Sociology: Course Description

DESCRIPTION OF COURSES (BSocSc DEGREE PROGRAMME)
SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides a concise introduction to sociology which enables students to acquire a better understanding to the essence of sociological inquiry. The course content covers key paradigms in sociology, the importance of culture and socialization, the dynamics of social interactions in everyday life, and various essential institutions of modern society.

SOC 103 Introduction to Anthropology

1 Term; 3 Credits

In recent years, more and more people live their lives in a globalized and interconnected world. The local communities have been exposed to outsiders and new cultural practices. As such, it is more likely for the mass to ask “who are the strangers” and “how to deal with them”.
This course will provide students with basic knowledge of anthropology and the theoretical instruments for examining other cultures, as well as their own culture and society in a critical and reflexive manner. In terms of general information of anthropology, this course will cover the history, theoretical debates, fieldwork and ethnography as key research methods and major themes. Meanwhile, students will learn how to evaluate culture in its own terms and free themselves from bias and prejudice rooted in longstanding ethnocentrism.

SOC 106 The Art of Reasoning

1 Term; 3 Credits

This course introduces students to fundamental principles of reasoning. It cultivates students’ intellectual ability to develop and evaluate arguments in ordinary language. To achieve this goal, this course includes a basic understanding of the skills of linguistic analysis, the nature and techniques of reasoning, as well as the essential methods in scientific and ethical reasoning. Attention is also drawn to the core part of elementary symbolic logic. Upon completing this course, students will strengthen their skills of critical thinking which is necessary to excel in various academic fields and career paths. 

 

SOC 108 Introduction to Statistics

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides sociology students with training in the principles and application of statistics to the social sciences. Topics covered include: basic concepts of statistics; the measures of central tendency and dispersion; probability and sampling theories; bivariate measures of association and hypothesis testing. The meanings of statistics and statistical conclusions are stressed.

SOC 160 Food and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to explore food issues and foodways in various societies from the perspectives of sociology and anthropology. The course will empower students to conceive of food as social and cultural construction and to explain food-related issues with reference to on-going social relations. Also, this course will showcase how to apply various theoretical and conceptual approaches, such as cultural interpretations, symbolism, identity, gender analysis, social exchange, religious taboo and ritual, and globalization, to the analysis of food and eating.

SOC 204 Cultures in the Contemporary World

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course investigates social life from a comparative perspective, enabling students to gain an understanding of the world around them. It illustrates cultural variations within Hong Kong, within Asia, and around the world in the context of rapid globalization. The course covers a variety of topics, such as ways of living, forms of exchange, social inequalities, social construction of gender, politics of gender, and globalization of culture. How did the process of globalization begin? Is cultural variation about to be annihilated in the face of cultural homogenization and “McDonaldization”? Or can we expect the contrary that local cultural differences will intensify?

SOC 205 Sociological Theory I

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course is an introduction to classical sociological theorists. It aims to familiarize students with the works of important classical theorists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel. The course helps students understand the main ideas of these and other key sociologists. The course also contributes to developing student’s capacity for theoretical thinking and independent study in the field of sociological theory.

SOC 207 Sociological Theory II

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to enhance students’ theoretical knowledge of the major sociological trends, debates and issues from the mid 20th century onwards. Special attention is paid to the critical theories and post-modern turn in the study of the contemporary social world. The overall purpose of this course is to develop students’ intellectual capacity in applying the contemporary social theories as well as evaluating their analytical utility creatively and critically.

SOC 208 Hong Kong Society and Culture

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to provide students with an introduction to Hong Kong society and culture with emphasis on features and issues related to the tensions between tradition and modernity in Chinese society. It starts with the population features and issues of Hong Kong and problems in understanding this modern city. It then focuses on exploring the meaning of Chinese tradition to Hong Kong people by examining the ethos of Chinese familism and its expression in some traditional art forms. The second half of the course will look into various social institutions of Hong Kong and examine the impacts of modernity on the self-understanding of Hong Kong Chinese.

SOC 221 Social Research Methods

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course introduces students to the basic steps in conducting social research, including problem formulation, problem conceptualization, measurement, sampling, data analysis, and data interpretation. It also examines both principles and techniques of research designs commonly used in sociology, such as survey research, field research, and experimental/quasi-experimental designs.

SOC 221A Applied Quantitative Social Research Methods

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course focuses on the concepts, techniques and application of quantitative social research methods, and will provide students with basic and advanced knowledge and skills of quantitative social research methods necessary for their development as sociologists. It is also designed to help prepare students to use quantitative research methods in their final year project if they so wish. Students will be exposed to a variety of quantitative methodologies including path analysis and multivariate regression models with latent variables.
This course adopts an experiential teaching and learning approach. Students will develop a critical awareness of the application of quantitative social research through discussion and application of topics including measurement, survey design, and computer-based data analysis.

 

 

SOC 221B Applied Qualitative Social Research Methods

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to the essential qualitative research methods and skills including unobtrusive measures, documentary analysis, content analysis, online research, ethnographic investigation, in-depth interview, focus group interview, photovoice, and action research. This course provides students with the basic epistemological theories, practical strategies as well as computer skills to use the software NVivo 11 for conducting qualitative research. Students are given opportunities to conduct qualitative research in real settings.

SOC 231 Social Problems

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to the sociological approach to understanding social problems. It consists of two components: theoretical perspectives and field work. The theoretical component is a lecture presentation of a variety of sociological perspectives on social problems, the purpose of which is to show that social problems are complex and multi-causal in nature. For the field work component, students will gain first-hand experience of certain aspects of social problems and apply one or more perspectives to the local context by conducting field observation in the community.

SOC 255 Philosophy through Film and Literature

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides students with an introduction to seven areas of social life that have traditionally interested philosophers, namely, epistemology, ethics, religious experience, meaning of life, identity, free will, and love. Selected examples from film and literature are used to present these areas of interest in a vivid and compelling manner while enriching the student’s sociological imagination. This course is founded on the idea that images and themes found in film and novels provide an effective springboard for discussion and clarification of otherwise complex and abstract philosophical concepts. The course enables students to apply philosophical concepts both to their everyday lives and to substantive areas of sociology.

SOC 257 Art and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to draw a general picture of the relationship between art and society. We will find, on the one hand, ways in which social conditions shape our understanding of art as well as the self-understanding of artists. On the other hand, we will see how artists strive to engage the society with a view to changing it through their works.

Soc. 259 Race and Ethnicity

1 Term; 3 Credits
With colonization, globalization and migration, societies have become much more heterogeneous than before. Even countries that are not migrant societies now have to deal with ethnic minorities and the challenge of multiculturalism. This course examines social differentiation based on notions of race and ethnicity. Such notions will be explored in both colonial and postcolonial contexts, as well as societies that claim to be relatively homogeneous. This course will introduce major theories, issues, controversies and policy implications related to the governance of multi-ethnic societies. At the same time, students will be encouraged to reflect on the existence of ethnic minorities in the contexts of China and Hong Kong, and the challenges this poses for both state and society. ​

 

SOC 300 Law and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides students with a critical examination of the relationship between law and society, and draws from several disciplines including sociology, criminology, anthropology and history. It considers general theories and issues associated with the study of law in society and attempts to answer such questions as: How do laws come into place? Does the law represent society's interest or the interests of particular groups? Why are some behaviours and actions legal in some cultures and at certain points in time but illegal in other cultures and at other points in time? 

SOC 301 Hong Kong in a Global World

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course enables students to reflect upon the formation of Hong Kong in relation to colonial encounter, Cold War and the contemporary global politics. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted in order to articulate the varying social, cultural and political impacts upon Hong Kong’s Chinese identity from the changing global order. The overall objective is not to give more facts but instead provide analytical concepts and skills for students to make sense of the interplay between the global world and the society in which they live.

SOC 302 Environmental Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
Environmental Sociology provides a framework for understanding the relationship between human societies and the physical environment. The main objectives of this course are to introduce students to research in environmental sociology and to reveal how sociological perspectives can inform our understanding of how human activity has contributed to the current ecological crisis. This course will present a broad spectrum of theoretical perspectives and research methods employed by environmental sociologists to analyse and evaluate existing efforts in mitigating global and local environmental problems.

SOC 305 Class, Status and Power in Chinese Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course introduces students to one of the most important arenas of social inequality, namely, social class. It will cover topics such as key concepts and major theoretical perspectives in class analysis, the role or power in constructing and maintaining such inequality, and consequences of social inequalities on life chances and life styles. This course aims to promote a scholarly understanding of class that will help students think critically as they try to make sense of inequality in the world around them. A comparative approach will be adopted.

SOC 306 Social Stratification

1 Term; 3 Credits
The course introduces students to the key sociological concepts and theories concerning social stratification. It aims to assist students in developing specific knowledge and analytic skills necessary to evaluate the sources, patterns, and consequences of social stratification systems in contemporary society. Inequalities in wealth, prestige and power among social groups are examined in depth through historical and cross-national comparisons.

 

SOC 321 Economic Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course aims to provide students with valuable understandings of economic life from sociological perspectives and approaches. Firstly, the brief history of economic sociology as a fast-growing subfield within contemporary sociology is introduced, including its history, developments and new directions. Secondly, distinctive principles, theoretical debates and research paradigms of economic sociology are elaborated. Thirdly, a variety of economic sociology topics and empirical studies are addressed, including impacts of social capital on economic action, the role of state in economy, exchange in human goods, ethnicity and the economy, connections of culture and economy, sociological studies of consumption, dynamic relations between family and business, sociological implications of informal economy, social meaning of money and so on. Here the central issue is to demonstrate how social forces constrain or facilitate economic activities. Economic sociologists believe that economic action is embedded in or integrated into given social, political, cultural and institutional process. Such a viewpoint will lead students to seeking for alternative explanations of economic activities beyond narrowly defined assumptions of neoclassical economics.

SOC 331 Western Classical Social Thought

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course enables student to master the philosophical basis and development of western classical social thought. After completing this course, students will be familiar with the main philosophical sources of western classical social thought and the relevant issues and proposed answers that are considered as significant and influential in the field of western social philosophy. 

 

SOC 332 Sport and Society

1 Term; 3 Credits
Sport plays a pervasive role in our social life. As a microcosm of society, it is an arena in which sociological processes can be investigated. Thus, by studying sport we can have better understanding of ourselves and our society. This course is organized in three modules. It will begin with the focus on the development of sport as a modern social phenomenon, and followed by a systematic exposition and appraisal of the various theories in the field. The second module will focus on the relationship of sport to social institutions, class, gender, deviance and fan culture. The role of sports in contemporary society and its interaction with economy, media, politics, technology and globalization will be covered in the final module. By the end of the course, students would have a comprehensive understanding of how sociologists examine and explain sport as a social phenomenon.

SOC 333 Urban Sociology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course introduces students to a range of topics in urban sociology. It starts with the history of urban life and urban theories. It then proceeds to investigate the relationship between urban space and social life through analysing the spatial structure and social aspects of public space in local and global contexts. The second half of the course focuses on current issues around the making of livable and sustainable cities, including the study of social networks, urban problems, sustainability, redevelopment and globalization. By comparing the similarities or differences between Hong Kong and other global cities, students can make use of local and global cases to evaluate cities, communities, and their consequences.

 

SOC / ENG 335 Popular Culture

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course provides students with an introduction to contemporary debates on how subjectivities and everyday practices of popular culture take shape in mass society. It also delineates the ways popular culture constitutes a common and thereby important part of our lives. By drawing upon consumer's culture, pop music, media and sports, advertisements, films, TV drama, anime and comics, theme parks, etc, this course endeavours to show to students that an informal consciousness of class, gender and race is essential to any understanding of the sociology of popular cultural practices, both in the West and in Hong Kong. Issues such as postmodernism, identity and gender politics, subculture, technoscience and media will be brought forth to bear on popular cultural texts which are already parts of students' literacies and practices.

SOC 336 Love, Family and Kinship

1 Term; 3 Credits
This course adopts a comparative approach to examine how love is invented as an important element of marriage, and how various kinds of family and kinship systems are developed. This course examines what romantic love is and how the meaning of love has changed over time. It addresses how passion, intimacy, and commitment have become important components in romantic love and marriage. The challenges implicated in modern love and marriage are also explored. The course provides students with different theoretical perspectives in analysing love, family, kinship structures, and related practices. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate these ideas and apply them to their own lives and experiences.

SOC 337 Criminology

1 Term; 3 Credits
This is an introduction to the concept, nature, processes and theories of crime and its control systems in modern societies. Topics cover the conceptualization and typology of crimes and deviance, methodology of criminology, psychological theories, theories of under and over control, theories of culture, status and opportunity, the criminal justice system, and the treatment and prevention of crimes.

SOC 339 Sociology of Religion