PP0430 - The Social Self and Meaning Making

What will I learn on this module?

Being an effective practitioner hinges on having a clear and detailed understanding of self. In this module you will explore different ways of thinking about what it means to ‘be’ or to ‘have’ a self. You will look at the ways in which the experience of the self is embedded in social relations. Taking as a starting point the proposition that being a self involves being uniquely situated within the context of contemporary social conditions, dealing with an incessant sense of becoming, and being an active participant in social change, you will learn about the relationships between individuals and the wider cultural and structural contexts they inhabit. You will explore the ways in which being a self involves not simply being a product of social life but being collaboratively involved in its continuous emergence. You will examine ways in which competing, conflicting and subversive narratives around gender, class, age, disability, sexuality, race and ethnicity, come to shape individuals’ perceptions of life and of their own roles in it. While the presence of structural and cultural influences are often obscured at the level of people’s everyday interactions with each other, it is within these that the self takes its shape and roles and identities are bestowed, learned, negotiated and resisted. When life is an ongoing, incessant process of meaning making, an insight into these relationships will enhance your understanding of why people think and feel about themselves as they do, and ground your developing Guidance and Counselling practice.

How will I learn on this module?

You will attend a series of lectures introducing you to the key concepts in this module, as well as student-led seminars where you will have the opportunity to explore these ideas with your peers. You will be required to participate in leading seminars, working with peers to develop presentations on module themes. Sessions will be supported by the eLP where you can review key ideas from lectures and contribute to online discussions. The online reading list will provide guidance as to key texts to support your self-directed study.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Module tutors will use the eLP to provide support materials. Group tutorials will be provided to support work towards the written assignment. During seminars you will be provided with formative feedback on the development of your knowledge, understanding and presentational skills. Contact details for all module tutors are available in the module handbook and on the eLP.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Express understanding of ‘the self’ as embedded in contemporary social relations
2. Express understanding of ways in which structural oppression is reproduced in everyday social interactions

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Reflect upon your developing understanding and upon the implications this may have for your future guidance and counselling practice

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Develop an understanding of your own self-identity as having been shaped within personal, cultural and structural spheres
5. Gain insight into the way that narratives can be used to move away from deficit models of understanding

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment:

Peer and tutor feedback of student-led seminars

Summative assessment:

2000 word written assignment, reflecting on module content and linked to a review of academic literature

(MO 1,2,3,4,5)





Module abstract

In this module you will examine why ‘the self’ can only properly be understood in the historical, cultural and social contexts in which it is situated. Focus will move away from the idea that ‘the self’ is something fixed and unchanging, and a view will be presented of the emergent self, a self which is always in the process of becoming. You will learn to critically reflect on the way the emergent self is shaped by narratives on issues including gender, ethnicity, race, age, disability, sexuality, and on ways in which the self negotiates and relates to these narratives to make sense and meaning in its own personal world. Through lectures, student-led seminars and formative and summative assignments, you will have a range of opportunities to learn about, discuss and engage with contemporary research in this area and to relate it to your developing understanding of guidance and counselling.

Course info

UCAS Code B9L5

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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