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Making your course your own

claireblencoweMy name is Claire Blencowe and I’m one of the lecturers in Sociology here at Warwick. I teach on modules looking at Social Theory, Political Sociology and the relationship between ideas and power relations. This year I’m leading a module called Capitalism and Religion – which explores some of the ways in which the beliefs and practices of Christianity have contributed to the creation of global capitalism, and also explores critical ideas about how capitalist economics, markets, money, and evolutionary science themselves can be seen to have a kind of religious function or power in the contemporary world. A central objective of the module is to contribute to our ability to think critically about the intimate values and beliefs that bind us into relations of power, as well as to promote a global perspective that challenges Eurocentric assumptions about knowledge, economics and development.

For me, sociology is centrally about two things. It’s about constantly questioning the assumptions that we, and everyone around us, are always making – and so becoming more able to be creative, ethical and free in the way that we think about the world. It is also about recognising the ways in which everything and everyone is connected – that we are all sharing in, and shaped by, the same forces and struggles, and that most fundamentally life is about creating a shared and livable world. These things seem more important than ever as the political and cultural landscape is increasingly flooded with intolerant messages and denigrating images that promote division and fear. I love working here at Warwick because of our wonderful, open-minded, politically engaged and interested students – who are always ready to be challenged and to connect with each other and the world. And I am massively proud to be part of a department that is full of teachers and researchers that are committed to social justice, creativity, and the affirmation of marginalised and diverse perspectives.

We encourage and enable students to find their own ways of connecting to sociology and to the world, by really making the degree their own. In addition to the core modules that provide us with a shared knowledge and identity, the majority of the degree is given over to optional modules. This means that students can choose topics that they really connect with. Throughout the degree students will be encouraged to develop their own research and independent thinking, but this becomes especially true in the final year when students undertake their own independent research project, supported by a lecturer but deciding on the topic for themselves. Many students decide to take a specialism – which means that they concentrate many of their optional modules and their independent research project around one particular area such as: Gender, Race and Global Politics, Social and Political Thought, Research Methods, Social Inequalities and Public Policy, or Technologies and Markets. In addition to making all these choices, students also carve out their own particular path by engaging with the wealth of extra activities available – from coming along to department seminars where invited guests talk about their cutting edge research, through becoming involved in student societies, political campaigns, culture and sports, to spending a year abroad at one of our partner institutions.

 

Student views

Linda Nagy - BA Sociology (2016)

"Being an international student, coming to the UK was a big change for me. I was nervous about meeting the requirements of the course but the Sociology Department was so welcoming and supportive throughout my 3 years here. Whether in a seminar, or outside class, being treated as a researcher whose thoughts and opinions matter was really encouraging and I knew I could always turn to the staff if I had any difficulties.

Students are encouraged to carry out their own research and learn independently but all this is happening with the help and guidance of the Department. Besides the core modules laying the foundations of your social theory and research knowledge the flexible curriculum with a variety of optional modules allow everyone to explore their own interests. I particularly enjoyed modules such as Race, Resistance and Modernity; Racism and Xenophobia; Commercial Cultures in Global Capitalism; Transnationalism and New Media; and the Dissertation in my final year, which was a challenging but very rewarding project. The modules are taught by experts whose enthusiasm toward their own fields was truly inspiring and motivating; and participating in discussions and group projects I learnt so much from my fellow students as well.

One of the highlights of my time at Warwick was the Sociology Study Trip to Lisbon in my first year and I also really enjoyed working with the Department as a Student Ambassador at Open Days. Studying Sociology has not only taught me relevant skills I can build on in the future but has also changed my perception of our social world and how I see myself in it. If I could start all over again, no doubt I would choose Sociology at Warwick again".