Training programme

Advanced Social Theory - 6 ECTS

This course enables students to select an inspiring theoretical framework for social scientific research. The course consists of lectures and discussion groups on influential approaches and issues in social scientific theorizing. This is an advanced course, typically for highly motivated students who are not afraid for theoretical abstraction and close reading and intensive discussions of key texts in contemporary social theory. The course focusses on original texts from key authors (examples are Bourdieu, Collins, Foucault, Habermas, etc.), which help you to build a strong foundation in social theory. This advanced course is part of the WASS graduate programme aimed at students in the MSc programmes MME, MID, MDR and MCH.

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Mon 5 September 2022 until Fri 14 October 2022

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

1.   Distinguish and contrast the main arguments in key texts of important approaches in contemporary social scientific theory;

2.   Distinguish and contrast the core themes of important approaches and debates in contemporary social scientific theory;

3.   Assess the differences and similarities between these approaches;

4.   Appraise a particular social scientific work to these approaches and debates;

5.   Assess the opportunities and limitations of these approaches for doing research;

6.   Use concepts and theories of at least two of these approaches to compose research questions for social scientific research. 

7. Being able to participate in and stimulate an open debate about social science theoretical literature.  

Assumed knowledge on:

Introduction into social theory, like RSO-10306 Sociology and ENP-22803 Theories and Themes: Sociology or equivalent courses; Social Science Bachelor. In case of doubt contact the course coordinator


Intensive discussion groups in which students and teachers actively review and discuss key texts in social theory. Students write an assignment in which they show their ability to view a specific social scientific problem from different theoretical perspectives. Furthermore, students read texts, participate in discussions and present reviews of the key texts and defend their essay.


- individual essay (60%);
- presentation and defence (30%);
- active preparation as expressed in submitted questions and comments (10%).
The first two component require a minimum of 5.5 to pass.


C. Calhoun; [et al]. (eds), (2012). Contemporary sociological theory, Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. Selected additional readings (to be copied from master copies by the students).

Schedule RSO58306:

Standard schedule of sessions:
Mondays: 14:00 – 15:30
Wednesdays: 14:00 – 17.10
Fridays: 14:00 – 15:30