Advanced Sociological Theory: Modelling Social interaction


About this course

This is an intermediate undergraduate level course on theory formation and model building in Sociology. Thus the course focuses on the Theory', in the Problems-Theory-Empirical research-Policy implications'-sequence that characterizes the various steps in analytical social science.
The focus is on the common `logic' underlying different, sometimes competing but also often complementary sociological approaches.

We discuss the core steps involved in theory formation and model building: the formulation of problems (societal problems as well as sociological problems), (re)construction of theories, derivation of testable hypotheses from general theories, and generating policy recommendations using sociological theories as well as results of empirical research. A focus on carefully designed arguments is a characteristic feature of the course: what assumptions do we need in order to derive certain implications? What implications follow from a certain set of assumptions? This includes making assumptions explicit which often remain implicit in theoretical reasoning.

Another feature of the course is that we carefully reconstruct the links between propositions on the micro-level of individual behavior and propositions on the macro-level of social phenomena and processes. For this purpose, we introduce students to theoretical tools such as game theory and agent-based modeling. The course proceeds from examples of sociological analyses, each related to one of the main themes of sociology as a discipline: problems of order and cooperation (sometimes referred to as the problem of cohesion), problems of social inequality, and problems of social change.

NB: the course is taught in English.

Assumed knowledge

  • The course builds upon the earlier BA1-course 'Introduction to Sociology (course language Dutch)'. Expertise on the level of this BA-1 course or an equivalent introduction to sociological theory is required

  • Sound knowledge of the English language.

Knowledge can be gained

Students who did not follow 'Introduction to Sociology' are expected to have knowledge of sociological theory on the level of a textbook such as: Van Tubergen, Frank. (2020). Introduction to sociology. London: Routledge.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has built up elementary expertise in:

  • Understanding the rationale and logic of "analytical" approaches to sociological theory;
  • Understanding key examples of models and theories based on this logic as applied to main sociological themes;
  • Using formal theoretical tools for generating tentative answers to explanatory problems in the form of explanatory theories and models;
  • Deriving testable hypotheses from explanatory theories and models;
  • Critically comparing and evaluating sociological theories;
  • Using explanatory theories and results of empirical research for developing policy recommendations;
  • Communicating effectively in an academic context in English, both verbally and in writing.

Good to know

Do you study at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) or Wageningen University and Research (WUR)? You can enrol via

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Utrecht University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      8 November 2024
    • Term *
      Period 1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    Enrolment period closed
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