We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Sociology

SOCI44330: Communities, Civil Society and Social Justice

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to engage in postgraduate study of a range of theoretical perspectives and research on communities, social justice and civil society, including how individuals and groups within society interact with each other and work together to achieve social change.


  • Different understandings of key concepts including ‘community’, ‘social justice’ and ‘civil society’.
  • Different forms of engagement with communities by professionals and activists, including different underlying assumptions within these (e.g. deficit-based versus asset-based approaches).
  • Challenges and barriers to relationships between diverse groups within communities, including individual, cultural, political and structural dimensions to these.
  • Different bases for relationship between individuals/groups (including communities of place, identity, interest, etc.) and how these may interact and overlap as well as conflict.
  • Interactions between different policy environments and actions by groups in civil society for policy change.
  • Dynamics of networks and social movements in relation to social change.
  • The module will use research-led teaching to draw on recent research within the department on forms of social action engaged in by particular groups within civil society, and how identities and networks relate to these.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The module will enable students to develop an advanced knowledge at postgraduate level of:
  • Different understandings of key terms such as community, social justice and civil society, and how these multiple meanings are contested and deployed in particular contexts by different people in support of different aims.
  • How building relationships and networks between individuals and groups within civil society relates to social change.
  • Issues and challenges for policy and practice relating to conflict and division between individual and groups within civil society, and different responses to these.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Upon successful completion students will have:
  • An ability to compare critically different understandings of key terms within the module, and understand the implications of different definitions for research and action.
  • An ability to reflect at a postgraduate level on the relationship between identities, values, relationships, political perspectives and forms of social action, and relate theory with practice.
Key Skills:
  • Upon successful completion students will have:
  • the ability to critically evaluate and synthesise information/evidence obtained from a variety of sources and to communicate relevant information in appropriate ways.
  • Advanced communication skills, particularly in constructing complex empirically informed theoretical arguments and engaging with the perspectives of others.
  • the ability to communicate in a clear and accessible way both orally and in writing; be able to respond effectively to others and to reflect on and monitor the use of their communication skills.
  • the ability to engage in different forms of learning, to seek and to use feedback from both peers and academic staff, and to monitor and critically reflect on the learning process.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The weekly workshops will blend lecture input with interactive discussion and group work to enable critical reflection on concepts, different understandings and research/experiences across different contexts.
  • Students will be expected to read in preparation for the weekly workshops and to read widely around different topics, drawing on debates within scholarly journals and research monographs as well as practical examples, and develop skills in critically engaging with literature.
  • The portfolio will enable students to demonstrate and reflect on their developing understanding as the module develops, including drawing in their own reading, reflections and examples, as well as their responses to those shared by tutors and students within the workshops.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 18 Weekly 2 hours 36
Preparation and Reading 264
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio up to 4,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

2 draft pages from the portfolio.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University