People and Society: A Global Perspective (Online)


This course explores the evolution of social processes, themes and debates from a global perspective. The course’s themes range from modernity, social inequalities and migration to new families and global social movements. The course will enable you to acquire theoretical and analytical tools to engage critically with global social transformations.

This course aims to understand the evolution of social processes from modernity to globalisation. ‘People and Society: A Global Perspective’ introduces key sociological concepts, themes and debates from a consistently global perspective. The course welcomes students interested in acquiring skills to make critical connections between global everyday practices and individual perspectives. Using Cohen and Kennedy’s (2013) Global Sociology as the key text for instruction, the course will explore contemporary topics such as inequalities, family transformations, migration, global religion, the Arab Spring and new media. The course has a sociological focus but will refer to how these concepts have been explored within political, cultural, anthropological and economic debates in order to highlight the interactions between disciplines.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

Unit 1: Key social issues in a globalizing world

  • Key social phenomena
  • Sociology’s contribution to understanding global issues
  • Sociology as a driver for social change?
  • The global turn in sociological thinking
  • Advanced concept: Global Sociology from below

Unit 2: Modernity and the evolution of world society

  • Pre-modern forms of globalisation
  • Capitalist modernity
  • Colonialism and decolonisation
  • Post-Second World War transformations and the rise of new emerging powers
  • Advanced concept: Personal freedom

Unit 3: Globalization and thinking globally

  • Deterritorialisation
  • Increased cultural interaction
  • Glocalisation and globality
  • Media and globalisation
  • Advanced concept: Sociology of a new society?

Unit 4: Class, Income and Wealth

  • Slavery, caste and class as different forms of social stratification
  • Different notions of class: has class been understood the same way overtime and worldwide?
  • How globalisation has changed social class dynamics?
  • What does dual labour market theory tell us about the evolution of employment?
  • Advanced concept: Cultural capital

Unit 5: Gender and sexualities

  • Patriarchal societies and patriarchal relations
  • Masculinities
  • The global LGBT movement
  • Advanced concept: Gender performativity

Unit 6: Race, ethnicity and intersectionality

  • Race, colonialism and ethnocentrism
  • Biological and sociological notions of race
  • Ethnicity and identity
  • Intersectionality
  • Advanced concept: Race as a political category of resistance

Unit 7: Population and migration

  • Population growth and overpopulation
  • Processes of urbanisation and internal migration
  • The changing character of international migration since the 1980s
  • Transnational migration
  • Advanced concept: ‘Super-diversity’

Unit 8: Intimacy, families and social change

  • The multiple and shifting meanings of family
  • The democratisation, individualisation and commodification of intimacy
  • The impact of globalisation and technology in global intimacy
  • Global care chains
  • Advanced concept: Care beyond the family

Unit 9: Global religion

  • Social functions of religiosity
  • The link between religion and capitalism
  • The secularisation thesis and new religious movements
  • Transnational religion
  • Advanced concept: Secularism across the globe

Unit 10: Global civil society and political activism

  • The agents of global civil society
  • The changing nature of social movements since the 1960s
  • The global environment movement
  • The role of communications and social media in social movements
  • Advanced concept: Unions and globalization

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below:

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.


Description Costs
Home/EU Fee £270.00
Non-EU Fee £295.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Maria Villares Varela

Maria Villares-Varela is a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and Research Associate at the International Migration Institute, University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in Sociology. Her research explores labour market incorporation of migrants, and in particular the role of self-employment and its impact on intra-household inequalities. 

Course aims

This course will enable participants to:

  • Acquire theoretical and analytical tools to engage critically with global social transformations.
  • Understand the evolution of social processes from modernity to globalisation.
  • Explore how social scientists have conceptualized and explained social inequalities based on class, income, gender, race and ethnicity, over time.
  • Grasp the current role of global civil society and relate it to recent social movements.
  • Study how current social developments translate into everyday practices of individuals through topics such as population and migration, families and social change and global religion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand: the evolution of social processes from modernity to globalisation through topics such as inequalities, family transformations, migration, global religion, the Arab Spring and new media from a sociological perspective.

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills: Students will acquire the theoretical and analytical tools to critically engage with current social developments and everyday social practices of individuals.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 wors due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Online Course Enrolment Form