Sociology of Humans and Other Animals (Spr) (L4094B)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

In this module, you challenge traditional conceptualisations of the distinctions and differences that are drawn between humans and animals. You do this by questioning how and why it is that humans are often located as living outside of the realm of the 'animal kingdom'.

Drawing on theoretical work, you examine and analyse the nature and structure of the opposition between culture and nature.

This is with a view to understanding how discourses and practices of difference between humans and animals have been so crucial in modernity, and are, perhaps, being transformed in late modernity/capitalism.

You also examine the place of ideology, biology and the social in the conceptualisation of 'being human' and arguments over which relationships between humans and animals should be promoted or prevented.

You explore empirical and theoretical work on specific fields of relationships between humans and (other) animals such as pet ownership, animals as food, animals as social and symbolic actors, the symbolism of animals and animality, and animals as representatives of humans such as in medical research.

The historical dimensions of relations between animals and humans will also be explored to contextualise the curent shape of contemporary human-animal relations or what could be called inter-species relations. 

You study topics including: 

  • the contested status of being `animal' 
  • the history of human/animal interactions and the emergence of legal regulation 
  • the animal rights movement 
  • animals as pets 
  • animals, agriculture and industrialisation 
  • animals in the media.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 33 hours of contact time and 267 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.