Graduate Studies in Sociology Department of Sociology University College Cork




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The Ph.D. Programme



Students who are registered for PhD and PhD Track in Sociology and Philsophy and Sociology programmes can take three (10 credit) Graduate seminars below for credit during their PhD. The Graduate Studies Committee strongly advises of all doctoral students to take at least one seminar for credit during their studies. Each student should liaise with their supervisor when selecting graduate modules


All PhD and PhD Track students have the option of participating in some or all of the Graduate seminars without submitting a paper


Each PhD Track student must pass a progress review in order to upgrade to full PhD registration. The College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences require that all PhD Track students submit 10,000 from their thesis between 12 and 18 months after registration. This work must be defended at interview with their supervisor and a Progress reviewer from the Discipline


Students who have already upgraded to PhD status may be requested to submit some or all of their work to date for annual review between upgrade from PhD Track and final submission of their thesis


The MASTERS IN SOCIOLOGY Programme




There are two distinct kinds of Masters in Sociology degrees: M.A. and M.Phil. The M.A. is finished in one year; the M.Phil takes two years. The M.A. is taken by examination and minor thesis (20,000 words); the M.Phil is taken by major thesis only (40,000 words). All incoming Masters students are registered initially for the M.A. and take a required number of seminars (five in total). (Students who already have the M.A. and seek an M.Phil are exempt from these requirements).


All MA Students will be required to take five seminars in total from the programme. This includes the ‘Social and Sociological Theory’ and the ‘Methodology and Methods’ seminars, which are compulsory for all Masters students, as well as three additional seminars from the programme outlined below.


Social and Sociological Theory Seminar


SC6608

Teaching Team: Prof. Arpad Szakolczai, Dr. Pat O’Mahony, Dr. Kieran Keohane , Dr. Linda Connolly and Dr. Tracey Skillington

Co- Ordinator: Prof. Arpad Szakolczai

All MA students will be required to take 24 hours of ‘Social and Sociological Theory’.  The seminars on theory will introduce graduate students to some critical issues in the changing landscape of social theory. These seminars will seek to engage graduate students with these issues with the twin aims of increasing general knowledge of and capacity to apply social theory.

The sequence of seminars is as follows:

Sept 20th Prof. Arpad Szakolzai

Sept 27th Prof Arpad Szakolczai

Oct 4th Prof Arpad Szakolczai

Oct 11th Prof Arpad Szakoczai

Oct 18th Dr. Kieran Keohane

Oct 25th Dr. Kieran Keohane

Nov 1st Dr. Pat O’Mahony

Nov 8th Dr. Pat O’Mahony

Nov 15th Dr. Linda Connolly

Nov 22nd Dr. Linda Connolly

Nov 29th Dr. Tracey Skillington

Dec 6th Dr. Tracey Skillington

Students are required to write a 3000 word paper on this course. This paper will involve a choice between:

  1. a critical review of a text assigned by the lecturers ;

or

(b)    linking the theoretical frameworks outlined in the seminar to students research.


Methodology and Methods Seminar


SC 6614

Teaching Team: Dr. Pat O’Mahony, Dr. Kieran Keohane, Dr. Linda Connolly, Dr. Kathy Glavanis-Grantham, Dr. Niamh Hourigan, Dr. Agnes Czajka, Dr. Gerard Mullally


All first year students will be required to take 24 hours of methodology and methods.


This course is presented in full awareness of the drastic changes that have taken place in both the philosophy and the practice of the social sciences during the past number of decades. Its aim is to provide an up-to-date context in which graduate students can develop the ability to reflect on the practice of sociology and, in particular, to refine their competence and skills to carry out theoretically informed and methodologically justifiable research from a number of different angles. The course is therefore divided into two parts.


The first part under the traditional title of ‘Methodology’ provides a research oriented introduction to the conceptually irreducible cognitive paradigms that have emerged in the wake of the demise of positivism since the 1960s and the subsequent emergence of post-positivism. These paradigms are explicated through the exploration of three essential questions deriving from the philosophy of the social sciences: first, different frameworks of understanding employed or the kinds of knowledge pursued in social research, traditionally called ‘epistemology’; second, different conceptions of the nature and scope of the field of study or the kinds of object or reality referred to in social research, traditionally called ‘ontology’; and, finally, different theories of science or logics of research informing social research, traditionally called ‘methodology’ or ‘the scientific method’ This will be developed by developed by Patrick O’Mahony (3 and 10 January). To concretise the important question of the role of theory in social research, further attention is given to different ways of relating distinct frameworks of knowledge and kinds of reality. This will be done by Kieran Keohane in his Methods of Theorizing II seminars (17 and 24 January). Finally, particular attention is given to a key development in social science methodology in recent decades that brings into focus the status of methodology itself, the question of feminist epistemology and post-methodological issues generally. The latter seminars will be offered by Linda Connolly and Kathy Glavanis-Grantham (31 January and 7 February).


The second part of the course titled ‘Methods’ will consist of a number of seminars looking critically at specific methods of and issues about social research such as comparative and historical research, ethnography, and content analysis. These seminars will be given by Agnes Czajka (14 and 21 February), Niamh Hourigan (28 February and 6 March), and Ger Mullally (13 and 20 March), respectively.


Students are required to write a 5-6000 word paper for this course:

“Give an outline of the methodological approach that you regard the most appropriate to your research”.

The final deadline for the completion of the paper is Monday 16 April 2012.


The module is delivered in 12 x 2hr seminars and is held on Tuesday, 4.00 pm-6.00 pm during the second term.


In addition to the social theory and methodology courses, which are compulsory to all Masters students, students must take a total of three other seminars listed below.


Sociology of the Mass Media Seminar

SC6604

Dr. Ciaran McCullagh


The mass media, especially television, have laid claim to be a central institution in modern society. For many the reality of wars, elections, scandals, and crises was what they saw on television. If it wasn’t on television it didn’t happen. This has meant that in turn if someone could control who and what got into the media they potentially had huge power in society.


But is this still a relevant or useful way of looking at the mass media? Some recent changes would suggest that the traditional media are now less important and hence less powerful. They have been replaced with so called new media technologies, such as social networking, smart phones, Twitter, Facebook and the various manifestations of Apple products. At one level these are simply new technological gadgets but at another level we can ask have these changed the face of mass communication, have they altered the fabric of lived experience in society and more pertinently have they changed the power relationships that previous forms of mass communication frequently embodied? To put it in a nutshell, where now stands the issue of media power?


An example which illustrates the complexities of the question is provided by the most recent riots in major English cities. The authorities blamed, among other things, the ways in which the rioters were able to organise and deploy themselves using social networking, but this ignored the ways in which these same sites were used by communities to organise a defence against the rioters and the way in which the police were able to use internet sites to identify looters, some of whom put pictures of their booty on Facebook . The police also used mobile phone networks to invite journalists to watch raids on suspected looters homes and they also used mobile cameras to record these. These films were subsequently distributed to the news media.


The riots were discussed on The Ray D’Arcy Show on ToDay FM. Darcy talked to a man in London who described what he said was the uncomfortable and threatening atmosphere in his neighbourhood and he gave vivid descriptions of what was going on, including an account of a young man in a hoodie screaming at his girlfriend for what appeared to be no apparent reason, an image that summed up the apparent irrationality and lack of control of the rioters. But what was most revealing about this was that despite the authenticity and conviction with which he recounted these events, he actually discovered that there was trouble in his neighborhood from messages on Facebook and his account, described by one reporter as compelling, was based on what he had witnessed on television and on his computer. He hadn’t personally seeing most of what he recounted. To put it simply he told the radio audience what he was seeing on the media.


So while some have argued that the new technologies have the potential to widen democratic access and democratic input into the public life of society, others argue that the technology is not as benign as enthusiasts suggest and that the issues raised by the technology transcend the formal boundaries of the sociology of the mass media. They argue that a whole raft of new surveillance techniques have been made possible by our use of the technologies, producing what Nigel Thrift has called “knowing capitalism” and what others would regard as a new surveillance state. We may think we are using the technology to watch them, but they (whoever “they” are) are using it to watch us (whoever that may be).


This seminar will consider the issues raised by the proliferation of new media technologies and ask have they fundamentally altered the power that elites have exercised over the media, have they produced a new and more democratic mass media, have they fundamentally extended our ability to hold political power accountable or have they increased the capacity of the state to spy on us?


The seminar will assume a knowledge of the themes, concepts and issues covered in SC3012.  If you are not familiar with these then attendance at undergraduate lectures is recommended. A number of articles will be selected each week to represent these key ideas, themes and research questions of the seminar. Students will be expected to read these articles and to present an account of them and their responses to them in the seminar.


These are the seminar topics:


  1. Introduction: Theory and New Technology

  2. Networked Society – New Society

  3. The New Public Sphere?

  4. Citizen Journalism/User generated Content

  5. Hacking – Deviance or Politics?

  6. Sociology of Mobile Phones – new mode of being

  7. Social Networking, Facebook and Twitter

  8. Class, Gender and New Technology – who uses it.

  9. Surveillance- who is watching us?

  10. Domestication and the New Media

  11. Revenge of the Nerds?

  12. Student Presentations


The seminar will be held on Monday and will be held in the second term.


The format is one of 12 two hour sessions. Assessment will be through attendance, presentations and the submission of a 5,000 seminar paper on the self-selected topic connected to the seminar theme.


Globalization and Culture

SC6623 / SC7623

Dr. Niamh Hourigan
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