Living in a Risk Society

Subject SOCI30009 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 contact hours: 1 x 1.5 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week for 12 weeks.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Sociology at Levels 1 & 2

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Jens Zinn


Subject Overview:

For good practical and theoretical reasons, risk and uncertainty have emerged as central themes in social science. More flexible labour markets, greater freedom to divorce, cohabit and re-partner and greater diversity in lifestyles erode the certainty with which people can map out their futures. Step-changes in the complexity and scale of technological innovation enable rapid rise in living standards, and, at the same time, bring the possibility of major catastrophes closer. Unexpected disasters, from the Challenger Space Shuttle to Chernobyl, from the Herald of Free Enterprise to Exxon Valdez remind us of the limits to our capacity for control. This subject will give an overview to interdisciplinary and sociological approaches to risk and a better understanding why we are concerned about risks and how we can deal with risks and uncertainty as a society but also individually in everyday life. It will show the limits of objectivist understandings of risk and will explore the involvement of values, power, knowledge and emotions in the realm of risk.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should have:

  • A good understanding of contemporary risks and uncertainties that includes the different dimensions (values, power, complexity etc.) involved in societal and everyday life risk issues;
  • A good overview about major social sciences approaches to risk;
  • The ability for critical and reflexive judgements about reasonable strategies to deal with risk and uncertainties;
  • The ability to develop systematic arguments using different sociological approaches to risk and uncertainty;
  • Communicate sociological concepts and theories on risk and uncertainty effectively using appropriate formats both oral and written.

  • An essay of 1000 words (25%) due mid-semester.
  • A 3000 word essay (75%) due in the examination period.

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

Reading material will be available via the subject's LMS site

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Graduate Certificate in Arts - Sociology
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Sociology
Related Breadth Track(s): Sociology

Download PDF version.