Sociology (SOCI) 335

Classical Sociological Theory (Revision 3)

SOCI 335 course cover

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

View previous version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: SOCI 287 and SOCI 288 are strongly recommended.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Sociology home page

SOCI 335 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


Sociology 335 introduces some of the founding figures of social theory. Each of the theorists covered in this course came from a distinctive intellectual background. Some, like Adam Smith and Vilfredo Pareto, are best known for their contributions to the discipline of economics—or “political economy”—as it was originally called. Other theorists, like Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, are better known as philosophers. Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, and Herbert Spencer, however, saw themselves as pioneer sociologists; each tried to win respectability and legitimacy for the new discipline of sociology. Yet other theorists, such as Karl Marx and Max Weber, encompassed such a broad range of intellectual interests that it is difficult to know whether to classify them as political economists, economic or social historians, political philosophers, or social theorists. So wide was their breadth of learning and so broad was their intellectual scope, that each has resisted any simplistic classification or categorization. They walked like giants through the late 19th-and early 20th-century worlds of learning and scholarship. The purpose of this course is to show how many of the ideas of these classical thinkers are still of use to us when when analyzing the social problems in our contemporary world such as—globalization; war, conflict and terrorism; human rights; sexism or racism; or even environmental degradation. The unsolved problems of the past are often recycled into the theories of the present.


  • Unit 1: The Enlightenment-1;
    The Enlightenment-2
  • Unit 2: The Romantic Conservatives and the Counter-Enlightenment
  • Unit 3: Auguste Comte
  • Unit 4: Herbert Spencer
  • Unit 5: The Classical Women-1;
    The Classical Women-2
  • Unit 6: Karl Marx-1;
    Karl Marx-2
    Karl Marx-3
  • Unit 7: Max Weber-1;
    Max Weber-2;
    Max Weber-3
  • Unit 8: Emile Durkheim-1;
    Emile Durkheim-2
  • Unit 9: Georg Simmel
  • Unit 10: Vilfredo Pareto


To receive credit for SOCI 335, students must achieve a grade of 60 percent or better on the final examination and an overall course composite grade of at least 60 percent. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Online Quiz Final Exam Total
20% 20% 20% 10% 30% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU approved exam invigilator or at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure a computer with an Internet connection and an accepted web browser is available for your use at the invigilation centre. For more information on AU's Online Exam Project please visit the Office of the Registrar site.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Ritzer, George. 2010, Classical Sociological Theory. 6th ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

Zeitlin, Irving M. 2001. Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Prentice Hall.

Other material

The course materials include a study guide and a reading file and a video: Brook, Peter, dir. 1963. Lord of the Flies.(DVD) Criterion Collection. All other materials will be accessed online.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the SOCI 335 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “C-” (60 percent) on the challenge examination. The two parts of the exam must be written on the same day.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, October 20, 2009.

View previous syllabus