Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 400135-B-6
Contemporary Sociological Theories
Course info
Course module400135-B-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences; TSB: Sociology; Sociology;
Is part of
B Sociology
B Sociology (International Sociology)
PM Academic Teacher in Social Studies
PM Sociology
PM Sociology 30 ects
Minor Sociologie
Convenant TSB
Academic year2019
Starting block
Course mode
Registration openfrom 23/03/2020 up to and including 21/08/2020

In general: to build your “sociological capital”

1. To have an overview of important sociological theoretical traditions:

  • Functionalism
  • Conflict theory
  • Rational choice theory
  • Symbolic interactionism
  • And the theoretical development after these four traditions

2. To understand the differences and similarities between the theoretical traditions

3. To know influential contemporary theories

4. To be able to apply contemporary theories to social problems

5. To read original texts 



Reconstruct the content of the text and present it to the group. The goal is that everyone understands the theoretical ideas of the text, and is able to participate in a discussion on related topics. Think of it as teaching. Focus on the theoretical ideas, and present data and results – if any – only briefly. Collect other sources if they help you to explain the content; you are encouraged to go beyond the prescribed text. 


Individual assignments

For each seminar, students are required to hand in assignments about the prescribed literature. Assignments need to be written individually and handed in via Canvas before 9:00 (morning), the day prior to the seminar. The question sets will be published on Canvas. Individual assignments will not be graded, but checked in order to be sure they are done satisfactorily. For each unsatisfactory, missing, or late assignment, 0.2 points will be deducted from the written exam grade. 

This course is a theory course. This means that you will read, hear, and think a lot about theories, and will not work on empirical analysis. Much time will be devoted to reading. The course will contribute to your ‘sociological capital’, your general education in the field of sociology. It is a stand-alone course in the sense that you do not need knowledge from previous courses, although having had a general introduction to sociology will be helpful. It is expected that the theoretical knowledge gained in this course will be useful in later courses.
The course is divided into five parts, the first four discussing the main sociological theoretical traditions: (1) functionalism, (2) conflict theory, (3) rational choice theory, and (4) symbolic interactionism. These four traditions are developed in the mid-twentieth century. The fifth part will focus on the theoretical developments since then. Each part consists of lectures and seminars. The lecture explains the basic assumptions and ideas of the tradition, gives some historical background, and discusses a few influential contemporary theories in this tradition in more detail. Next, there are seminars in which we discuss contemporary theories on a selected topic that can be placed in the particular tradition. In the seminars, students’ presentations are the most important element. 
1. Introductory lecture: provides course information and gives overview of some important differences and similarities between the four theoretical traditions.
2. Lectures: at the start of each of the five parts, explain the basic assumptions and ideas of the tradition, give some historical background, and discus a few influential contemporary theories in this tradition in more detail.
3. Literature: specific chapters and articles.
4. Seminars: one for each tradition, with theories related to the tradition under study. Each seminar consists of a students’ group presentation about the required reading, followed by discussion. Assignments about the required text need to be handed in before the seminar
Note: Attendance at the seminars is compulsory. If, for pressing reasons, a student cannot attend the seminar, absence will be tolerated once. You need to hand in an extra assignment. Each subsequent absence will result in a 0.2 points deduction of the written exam grade. 
Type of instructions
Lectures and seminars with student presentations
Type of exams
Written assignments, written exam with open questions and a group presentation (all 3 types of exams need to be completed in the same academic year)

Compulsory Reading
  1. Inglis, D., An invitation to social theory (second edition), Polity Press, 2019.
  2. Sears, Alan & Cairns, James, A good book, in theory. Making sense through inquiry (Third edition), University of Toronto Press, 2015.
  3. Selection of chapters and articles - will be made available via Blackboard.

Recommended Reading
  1. Ritzer, George, Sociological Theory (international edition), McGraw Hill, 2013.
Course available for exchange students
Bachelor level
Contact person
dr. A. Peper
Timetable information
Contemporary Sociological Theories
Written test opportunities
Written test opportunities (HIST)
Schriftelijk / WrittenEXAM_01BLOK 4116-06-2020
Schriftelijk / WrittenEXAM_01BLOK 4208-07-2020
Required materials
Title:An Invitation to Social Theory (second edition)
Author:David Inglis
Title: A good book, in theory. Making sense through inquiry (Third edition, 2015)
Author:Sears, Alan & Cairns, James
Publisher:University of Toronto Press
Recommended materials

Final Result


Kies de Nederlandse taal