Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Undergraduate > Module Outlines

Comparative Sociology of Europe

SO3280 Comparative Sociology of Europe (10 ECTS credits)

Lecturer(s): Dr Peter Muhlau and Dr Jan Skopek

Module Content/Outline:

The module provides an overview of comparative sociology of European societies. Internationally comparative studies contribute to advancing our sociological knowledge by describing and exploring social phenomena, testing and developing theories, and establishing generalizability of findings while taking into account the societies’ variety in institutional setups such as welfare state configuration and social and demographic structures. Focusing on contemporary European societies the module will put particular emphasize on unifying Europe as a new social space not superseding but possibly transcending national boundaries of social conflict and solidarity.

This module provides (1) an overview to theoretical approaches as well as various analytical strategies related to internationally comparative research in general and Europe in particular. Having laid down the foundations, the lecture will (2) contour European societies based on selected topics related to social and demographic change. The discussion of comparative sociological research on Europe (and beyond) will (3) be illuminated by drawing upon pertinent comparative studies adopting different modes of research methodology and design (e.g., small-N vs. large-N, cross-sectional vs. longitudinal). Further, the module will (4) present common issues in applying qualitative as well as quantitative techniques of comparison and possible solutions as found in the literature. Topic (1) and (2) will be covered in Part I and (3) and (4) in Part II.

Learning Objectives:

Students successfully completing this module will be able to

    • Reflect theoretical approaches to internationally comparative sociology;
    • Describe the peculiarities of contemporary European Societies, their diversity and also similarity, in terms of social and demographic structure and change;
    • Critically evaluate comparative research in terms of its methodological approach and to reflect advantages and shortcomings of various research designs.

Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:

One lectures and one tutorial per week.

Workload: Lectures: 22 hrs; Tutorials: 22 hrs; Exams/assignments: 44 hrs; Self-study: 160 hrs. Total: 250 hours


Recommended Texts/ Key Reading:

  • Breen, R. (Ed.) (2004). Social Mobility in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Esping-Andersen, G. (1999). Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Immerfall, S., and Therborn, G. (2010). Handbook of European Societies. Social Transformations in the 21st century. New York et al: Springer.
  • Mau, S., and Verwiebe, R. (2010). European Societies. Mapping Structure and Change. Bristol: Policy Press.


Part One of the module will be assessed by course work (50%). Part Two of the module will be assessed by exam (50%).

Penalties for late submission: Without an authorised extension, the mark given will be lowered by one grade

Examination: 1 x 3-hour end-of-year examination