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SO247-15 Relationship and Family Change: Demographic and Sociological Perspectives

Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Richard Lampard
Credit value
Module duration
9 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Students will gain a knowledge of various aspects of relationship and family change in Britain and elsewhere, an understanding of how such change might be explained, and of different approaches to explanation in that context, and an awareness of a range of conceptual and empirical resources that can be used as the basis of such explanations.

Module web page

Module aims

The module aims to examine relationship and family change from demographic, sociological and other perspectives, linking this to other forms of social change, and examining both its origins and also some of its consequences. The contribution of both quantitative and qualitative research to understanding change will be highlighted.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Theoretical and public perspectives on relationship and family change
Week 3: Marriage, the family and population in historical Britain
Week 4: Marital formation I: The rise of later marriage, cohabitation and LAT relationships
Week 5: Marital formation II: Homogamy and heterogamy
Week 6: (Reading week)
Week 7: Contemporary relationships: Problems and interventions
Week 8: Relationship dissolution
Week 9: The formerly married and lone parents
Week 10: Stepfamilies

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Consider in an informed and analytical way a range of demographic and sociological issues relating to various aspects of relationship and family change in Britain and elsewhere.
  • Understand the complementary roles of cultural factors, economic factors and a range of other factors in the explanation of relationship and family change.
  • Understand the value and limitations of theoretical contributions, quantitative data and qualitative data as a basis for understanding relationship and family change.
  • Interpret published demographic research competently and with an appropriate degree of caution, and recognise the importance of empirically-based journal articles to academic work in the field of relationship and family change.
  • Draw appropriately upon relevant substantive, empirical and conceptual material within a coherent and accurate discussion on a topic relating to relationship or family change.
Indicative reading list

Allan, G., Crow, G. and Hawker, S. 2011. Stepfamilies. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Bauman, Z. 2003. Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds. Cambridge: Polity.
Brynin, M. and Ermisch, J. (eds) 2008. Changing Relationships. London: Routledge.
Budgeon, S. 2009. 'Couple Culture and the Production of Singleness', Sexualities 11: 301-25.
Edwards, R., Ribbens McCarthy, J. and Gillies, V. 2002. Making Families: Moral Tales of Parenting and Step-Parenting. Durham: sociologypress.
Goldstone, J. 1986. 'The Demographic Revolution in England: a Re-examination', Population Studies 40.1: 5-33.
Griffin, E. 2012. 'A Conundrum Resolved? Rethinking Courtship, Marriage and Population Growth in Eighteenth-Century England', Past and Present 215: 125-164.
Holdsworth, C., Finney, N., Marshall, A. and Norman, P. 2013. Population and Society. London: Sage.
Jamieson, L. 1997. Intimacy: Personal Relationships in Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity.
Kalmijn, M. 1998. 'Intermarriage and homogamy: Causes, patterns, trends', Annual Review of Sociology 24: 395-421.
Kiernan, K. 2004. 'Changing European Families: Trends and Issues', in Scott, J., Treas, J. and Richards, M. (eds) The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kiernan, K. and Mueller, G. 1999. 'Who Divorces?' In McRae, S. (ed.) Changing Britain: Families and Households in the 1990s. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lampard, R. 2007. 'Couples' Places of Meeting in Late 20th Century Britain: Class, Continuity and Change', European Sociological Review 23.3: 357-371.
Lampard, R. and Peggs, K. 2007. Identity and Repartnering after Separation. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Lampard, R. 2014. 'Stated Reasons for Relationship Dissolution in Britain: Marriage and Cohabitation Compared', European Sociological Review 30.3: 315-328.
Lesthaeghe, R. 2010. The Unfolding Story of the Second Demographic Transition', Population and Development Review 36.2: 211-251.
Lewis, J. 2001. The End of Marriage? Individualism and Intimate Relations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Lewis, J., Clark, D. and Morgan, D.H.J. 1992. "Whom God hath Joined Together": the work of marriage guidance. London: Routledge.
Prinz, C. 1995. Cohabiting, married or single: Portraying, analyzing and modeling new living arrangements in the changing societies of Europe. Aldershot: Avebury.
Smart, C. 1997. 'Wishful Thinking and Harmful Tinkering? Sociological Reflections on Family Policy', Journal of Social Policy, 26.3: 301-321.
Smart, C. and Neale, B. 1998. Family Fragments? Cambridge: Polity.

View reading list on Talis Aspire


This module draws upon sociological, demographic and other disciplinary perspectives/material.


While the module has a UK focus, much of the reading material and many of the themes are internationally-orientated.

Subject specific skills

Apply sociological and demographic theories and ideas to specific aspects of family and/or relationship change.

Communicate in essay form a description and analysis of a social process or phenomenon, recognising that it may be complex in nature and require a suitably multi-faceted approach to be discussed appropriately.

Transferable skills

Appreciate the use of different types of data to gain a full understanding of a phenomenon or process.

Understand that data and theories paint partial pictures of phenomena, and need to be assessed critically.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading for seminars.
Preparation for seminars
Preparation and writing of formative work
Preparation and writing of summative work


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
3000 word essay 100%

One essay from a list of possibilities

Feedback on assessment

Written online feedback.


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 3 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology

This module is Optional for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 2 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 2 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 2 of L301 Sociology
  • Year 2 of USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology

This module is Option list A for:

  • ULAA-ML34 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 3 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 4 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 5 of ULAA-ML35 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree) (with Intercalated year)
  • ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology
    • Year 2 of ML33 Law and Sociology
    • Year 4 of ML33 Law and Sociology

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL15 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with a term in Venice)
  • Year 2 of UPOA-ML13 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology

This module is Option list D for:

  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology
  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL15 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with a term in Venice)

This module is Option list G for:

  • UPHA-V7ML Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics
    • Year 2 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 2 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 2 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)