Introduction to the Social Sciences 2: Exploring Social Lives


This is an interdisciplinary course providing students with a wide-ranging introduction to the Social Sciences – covering economics, human geography, political science and sociology. It is the second of two courses that explore the key debates, ideas and arguments in the social sciences today. The course is adapted from an Open University course, supplemented by discussions and examples from Aotearoa New Zealand.


Students examine how contemporary societies are made and repaired through three themes; material lives, connected lives and ordered lives. The course builds on its prerequisite 74112: Making Social Lives, by moving from the local, to the national and global scales. Key areas of focus covered through the three themes include: critical measures of economic progress and sustainable socio-economic practices; the impacts of migration, social change and globalization; and finally, how structures of governance and order are maintained by nation states. Throughout the course students are introduced to key social science methodologies, theories and encouraged to reflect on how arguments and knowledge claims are made and justified. 

This course is not available to international students.



Students completing this course will be able to

  • Select and explain appropriate socio-economic data to build a coherent argument in relation to key social science debates
  • Understand and critique dominant measures of socio-economic growth and explain the value of alternative measures
  • Define and critically analyse processes of identity formation at macro scales (national/collective identities) and show how some individuals and groups are included and others excluded 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how state-led forms of authority shape social order by drawing on empirical examples 
  • Describe how inequalities, difference and diversity operate in contemporary societies.

Course content includes

Material Lives

Critical exploration of the market economy, risk society, measures of sustainability and the ‘green society’

Connected Lives

Critical exploration of migration, culture and nation states, focusing on movement and social change in relation to social identities

Ordered Lives

Critical exploration of the state and social order, including how threats to social order are identified and managed.


This course is 100% internally assessed

How to enrol

Before enrolling in this course you need to:

  • choose the qualification you will study the course under
  • check the order that courses in the qualification should be studied in the Qualification Structure table. This is in the Choose courses and apply tab on the qualification page.

Lecturer / Tutor