5202 Social Science Theories: Modern Developments
Dr. Sebastian Nessel
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
02/06/23 to 02/20/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Monday 03/06/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 03/13/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 03/20/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 03/27/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 04/17/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 04/24/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 05/08/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 05/15/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 05/22/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 06/05/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 06/12/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13
Monday 06/19/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM TC.4.13


This course offers an introduction into theoretical perspectives in the social sciences, which are of relevance to the interdisciplinary field of socioeconomics. The course starts with a brief overview of different types of knowledge and knowledge production in the social sciences, and some key assumptions in social science theories and research. It then provides a brief overview of the beginnings of sociology as a modern discipline, focussing on classical works in sociology and the historical context from which they arose. In the main part of the course, five theoretical paradigms that condense the plurality of perspectives in the social sciences will be introduced, systematically compared, and illustrated with theories of the 20th century (rational choice, structural functionalism, critical theory, symbolic interactionism, practice theory). Each of the approaches will be illustrated by recent applications and advancements, both empirical and theoretically. This allows students to get to know different social science theories and their applications to current, real-life problems.

Until further notice, this course will be taught in English in summer terms and in German in winter terms.

Learning outcomes

Students attending this class will gain orientation in the field of social scientific and socioeconomic theories and perspectives. They will be able to distinguish different theoretical approaches, identify them in the literature, and discuss their respective strengths and weaknesses. They will be able to apply different theoretical perspectives to a variety of social phenomena and problems and utilise them for the development of their own theoretical approach towards specific research questions. By engaging with the plurality and selectivity of theoretical concepts and approaches, they will develop a critical take on one-sided perspectives to explaining complex social realities.

Attendance requirements

In this course, regular attendance is mandatory and a precondition to perform well. To pass the course students have to be present for at least 80 % of the scheduled contact hours. The requirement is the same for participation on campus and participation in distance learning (if there is still a need to switch). It is expected that you notify the teacher by email before class (if possible) if you miss class for an important reason.

Teaching/learning method(s)

Learning activities consist in preparatory readings, teacher's input, quizzes and other small tasks in class, group assignments (oral presentation), essay writing, and individual performance in class.

In the summer term 2023 this course will generally take place on campus, while certain feedback units or slots may also take place online. If there are still restrictions in place which do not allow for full participation on campus, we will switch to distance learning using MS Teams. Depending on the rules, there may also be the possibility to move to a hybrid mode, which would allow a limited number of students to take part on campus, while others join on MS Teams.

Whether in in full presence, distance learning or in hybrid mode, the contact hours will remain as planned. Registered students will receive updated information on the course by email.


This course focuses on academic writing and presentation skills. Students will orally present a topic as part of a small group. The group´s task is to prepare, in consultation with the teacher, a short oral presentation of a topic/theory discussed in the course. Please note that the presentations yield collective scores for a group (30%).

Moreover, students are expected to participate actively in the discussions held in the seminar. In addition, there may be other smaller tasks like peer-assessment / self-assessment, which are included in the score for active participation (10%)

Finally, students shall write two essays on specific and self-selected topic. The two essays of 1200 to 1500 words are due on specific dates during the term (extensions must be negotiated with the teacher beforehand). Essays are prepared by each participant on his or her own (Essay I – 30%; Essay II – 30%).

The percentages and the points achieved for each assignment are translated into grades. The grading scale is as follows:

 ≥ 60 % grade 4, ≥ 70 % grade 3, ≥ 80 % grade 2, ≥ 90 % grade 1


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Last edited: 2022-11-20