SOCI 1004 - Social Problems
North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2020
General Course Information
Course Code SOCI 1004 Course Social Problems Coordinating Unit Gender Studies and Social Analysis Term Semester 2 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 3 hours per week Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y Course Description Issues such as poverty, unemployment, poor health, crime, drug addiction, homelessness, illiteracy and dysfunctional families are all labelled as 'social problems'. Consequently through public policy the state seeks solutions to reduce the negative impacts of these and similar harms. In this course you will explore the ways in which such social problems become defined. This includes an exploration of the different worldviews and theoretical perspectives that shape how we see social problems and the effects of different ways of defining social problems across time and cultures. Through learning to analyse how issues are problematized, you will gain insights into the social framing of contemporary policy initiatives. Key to this course is the focus on a range of social problems and the use of sociological theory to understand the social-economic processes surrounding the construction of issues as social problems and attempts by policymakers to address them.
Course Coordinator: Dr Nathan Manning
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes1. Apply sociological theories to interpret the way in which certain social issues are labelled as problems requiring 'fixing' or amelioration.
2. Critically examine key social problems.
3. Reflect on the role that ‘representations’, cultural ‘constructions’ and economic pressures play in our framing of social problems across a number of areas.
4. Analyse policy responses to social problems.
5. Critically analyse how the design of specific policy initiatives has been influenced by the representation of the problem they are meant to solve
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s) Deep discipline knowledge
- informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
- acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
- accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
1, 2, 3, 5 Critical thinking and problem solving
- steeped in research methods and rigor
- based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
- demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
1, 2, 5 Teamwork and communication skills
- developed from, with, and via the SGDE
- honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
- encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
2, 4 Career and leadership readiness
- technology savvy
- professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
- forward thinking and well informed
- tested and validated by work based experiences
2, 3, 4, 5 Intercultural and ethical competency
- adept at operating in other cultures
- comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
- able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
- demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
1, 3, 5 Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
- a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
- open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
- able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
1, 3, 5
Required ResourcesThere is no set textbook for this course. Required reading will be provided digitally through MyUni and other resources will be available through the library.
Recommended ResourcesReferencing, avoiding plagiarism, essay writing and report writing guides from the Writing Centre will be included in the course material. Students with further needs will be directed to the Writing Centre and the ‘Writing and Speaking at Uni’ Canvas course.
Library Pages - The course will have a library page for resources maintained by the GSSA librarian.
Turnitin - Students will be required to upload assignments to Turnitin for plagiarism checking. This can be done before the due date so that they can fix any problems and upload again, encouraging students to take responsibility for their own practice.
Web resources - Canvas will be used to provide students with useful web links to appropriate Human Rights organisations and campaigns for use in researching assignments.
Echo 360 recording facilities will be required in lecture theatres to enable recording of lectures for external students.
All of the above are standard resources already offered by the University and no extra resource or workload impact on the area is anticipated.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesLectures will provide students with an overview of each week’s material, providing background, clarifying concepts, locating set readings within a larger context, and providing links to further resources. The aim is to provide a map that will enable students to find their bearings within each topic before they commence more independent and collaborative learning.
Seminars will provide the opportunity for more participatory learning. Each week’s seminar will discuss the set readings for the topic and explore their responses to course materials together.
The course will be structured throughout to give students maximum opportunity to share information with their peers, receive feedback, and develop their knowledge through collaboration.
The course will be designed so that the needs of those from non-traditional backgrounds are met in standard course delivery, rather than requiring separate attention; for example through the provision of information on essay writing and referencing in the course reader, digitisation of course readings (allowing use of text-recognition software), use of multimedia in lectures, clarification of concepts in seminars, and choice of assignment topics allowing students to play to their strengths.
As with most GSSA Department courses, the explicit focus on issues of privilege and social justice can be expected to make students from non-traditional backgrounds feel more included and comfortable in participating, as well as encourage more ‘traditional’ students to reflexively consider their own modes of interacting. The international focus of the course content will also provide opportunities for international and migrant students to be ‘experts’ in some areas rather than outsiders, although care will be taken not to position them as ‘examples’ or require them to ‘speak for the other’. Hence in general the course will seek to centre diversity rather than position non-traditional students as ‘lacking’ or as ‘problems’.
Nonetheless accommodations for special needs will be made as required, for example lecture recordings can be provided to international students, those without an English speaking background, or those with learning disabilities, to allow them to follow at their own pace.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.There is are 2 x 1 hour lectures and a one hour seminar per week - 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars per semester.
Outside this structured teaching, students will engage in self-directed learning. Indicative workload for self-directed learning is indicated below:
6 hours reading per week (72 hours per semester)
2 hours research per week (24 hours per semester)
2 hours assignment preparation per week (24 hours per semester)
Total = 156 hours per semester
Learning Activities SummaryBelow is an indicative list of topics covered in the course. Most weeks look at one or two broad and related theme; on ocassion two separate themes may be addressed. The course aims to be contemporary so topic may change from year to year:
- Introducing & defining social problems
- Poverty & inequality
- Work & unemployment
- Young people & Educuation
- No lectures or seminar
- Young people and political disengagement / Gambling
- Domestic violence & sexual harassment
- The social construction of family problems
- Migration, racism and multiculturalism
- Crime & social order
- Global social problems
Specific Course RequirementsNot applicable
Small Group Discovery ExperienceSmall group discovery will be a feature of the weekly seminars. In reflecting on the concepts and theories introduced in the lectures, students will work in small groups to find answers to key questions, before collaborating with the experienced academic to develop more complex, varied and nuanced responses.
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Assessment SummaryOnline test (15%)
1000 word essay applying sociological theory to a chosen social problem (30%)
Group presentation (10%)
1500 word essay appplying social constructionist approach to social problem (45%)
Modified arrangements have been made to assessments and the details provided here reflect recent updates.
1. Group presentation - now weekly quizzes - still 10% weighting
Assessment Related RequirementsNot appplicable
Assessment DetailAssessment 1: Online test. 15% of marks
Assessement 2: 1000 word essay applying sociological theory to a social problem. 30% of marks Task: Choose a social problem of interest to you and write a 1,000 word essay applying sociological theory to the problem.
Assessment 3: Group presentation. 10% of marks. Students will work together in groups of around 3-5 to examine a particular social problem addressed in the course. As a group, students need to research and then describe the nature of the social problem. Students also need to promote discussion as part of their presentation.
Assessment 4: 1500 word essay applying the social constructionist approach to a chosen social problem. 45% of marks. Task: You will need to explore how the problem is defined, represented and interpreted by those making claims about the issue. Is this a contested social problem or is there broad agreement that it is a social problem? It may be important to address the history of your problem – has it always been understood as a social problem or has it only recently entered public debate as a problem? Have interpretations of the ‘problem’ changed over time and what processes have been involved in defining or ignoring this problem over time? How have sociologists understood this problem? You might also like to consider policy responses and the impact of these policies. How do relevant policies understand and define the problem and what role do these play in shaping interventions or remedies for the problem?
SubmissionMost assignments will be completed/submitted electronicaly through MyUni. For essays, this also provides students with a chance to utilise Turnitin in helping them develop their referencing and writing skills. The group presentations will be undertaken in weekly seminars.
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme) Grade Mark Description FNS Fail No Submission F 1-49 Fail P 50-64 Pass C 65-74 Credit D 75-84 Distinction HD 85-100 High Distinction CN Continuing NFE No Formal Examination RP Result Pending
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.
SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.Students in the previous cohort provided the following feedback in the Course SELTs. Student feedback is always highly valued and we do our best to act upon it. 76 students participated in the SELTs which constituted 31% of the class. I have made some refinements to the course nd teaching based on the feedback. I have summarised the areas of particular strength in both the Likert Scale and open-ended questions below as well as areas for improvement along with my responses to your colleagues’ feedback.
There was a broad agreement of 86% to question 1 - Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this course (median score of 6 out of 7). 100% of respondents broadly agreed that the course was intellectually stimulating. Students noted that the best aspects of the course were the variety and relevance of the topics covered as well as the discussions generated. Based on student feedback the two written assignments now have more detailed guidance and are better differentiated. A rubric has also been developed for the two written assignments.
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This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.
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- Modified Arrangements for Coursework Assessment
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