• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Philosophy, Sociology
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Maria Hynes
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2023
    See Future Offerings

How can thinking help us to approach empirical problems in new ways? In asking this question Contemporary Social Theory puts forward a case for the practical value of theory. It is not simply that empirical problems exist ‘out there’ in the world awaiting analysis, but the way that we figure and think through a problem is a good part of its solution. Most importantly, then, the course aims to develop skills and give you confidence in your capacity to think, so that you can engage with issues and empirical problems in an original way. 

While Contemporary Social Theory covers some of the important thinkers of the post- war period, its aim is not to provide a comprehensive survey of the vast array of social theorists that you might find in a text on social or sociological theory. The idea is to expose you to some of the key problems that have animated sociology and cognate disciplines in recent years, with the hope that you might have a window into these and similar theoretical and practical problems. On the way through the course, we will pay attention to the question of what it means for thinking to be ‘contemporary’. The issue of how we grasp what ‘our present’ is raises important questions about who the ‘we’ is here, as well as the relationship between thinking and time. In exploring these and other theoretical questions, the course will relate key theoretical problems to diverse empirical examples - from consumerism and globalisation to terrorism, the information and genetic revolutions and the role of science - with the hope that it will bring the theories alive for you.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
1. Interpret original texts and discuss their implications
2. Evaluate the theories encountered and assess their relevance to contemporary problems
3. Reflect on the kinds of claims that a theory makes for itself (for example: does the theory claim to diagnose the ills of our contemporary social reality or to criticise the claims of modern knowledge?)
4. Produce an argument and marshal evidence for it
5. Discuss key themes, concepts and theories with your peers

Indicative Assessment

Critical Engagement Exercise, 750 words (20%), LO 1,2,4
Research Essay, 2000 words (50%), LO 1,2,4
Synoptic Essay, 1500 words (20%), LO, 2,3
Tutorial Participation (10%) LO, 1,2,5

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, and 12 hours of tutorials; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level SOCY courses; or permission of the convenor. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed SOCY3014.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $3960
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5100
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3677 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 In Person View

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