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Department of Sociology

Faculty of Arts - University of Peradeniya

Postgraduate Programme


The Graduate Programme (Diploma in Sociology, MA, Mphil, PhD)

The graduate programme in Sociology has three levels. First, Masters Preliminary, one-year programme, provides an opportunity for those who do not possess a background in Sociology or a class in their Special Degree to get qualified for MA in Sociology. The MA by course work is also a one-year degree. The M. Phil degree is a two-year degree with a thesis to be submitted on a selected research topic in partial fulfilment of the degree. Further, facilities are available for Ph.D. degrees as well. There were about 75 students following the graduate programme in 2002. About 150 students have registered for 2003

The present programme is conducted as a part-time programme where the teaching is conducted on the weekends only. This has facilitated the employed students to attend the weekend courses. Those who follow MA degree have to offer 2 year-long courses, while the M.Phil students will have to do a dissertation and two year-long courses. For each course there is an end of year examination and two assignments to be submitted. The department as well as the faculty are of the view that this system and structure be changed, and from 2005 a new MA/M.Phil/PhD programme will be introduced where, in place of the M.Prel examination a diploma programme in sociology will be introduced. The MA and MPhil programmes will have 6 courses each, and the MPhil programme will have a dissertation, not less than 60,000 words in addition.

The Department is of the view that a fulltime graduate programme should be introduced together with a graduate faculty in the university. A proposal for a postgraduate institute of Arts needs to be in place for establishment of a graduate faculty and a fulltime programme of graduate work. The number of graduate students registered to do sociology and other subjects in the faculty of Arts amounts to about 700-800 a year, it is about the largest programme of graduate studies ever offered in a university of Sri Lanka, although a graduate faculty is not yet established.


Name of The Course and Instructions

500 Level Course Instructor
501 Theoretical Perspective - Prof. Daya Amarasekara
502 Theories of Society - Mr. W. M. S. N. Wijesinghe
503 Research Methods - Dr. M. G. Manurathna
504 Sociology of South Asia - Prof. H. M. D. R. Herath
M.A / M.Phil Course Instructor
601 Rural Sociology - Dr. M. G. Manurathna
602 Issues in Third World Development - Prof. S. A. Karunatissa
603 Women in South Asia - Dr. Mallika Pinnawala
604 Ethnicity in the Third World - Prof. Sisira Pinnawala
605 Sociology of Poverty - Prof. K. Tudor Silva
606 Applied Sociology - Prof. S. A. Karunatissa
607 Medical Anthropology - Dr. Abey Rathnayake

M.A. Preliminary Programme M.A. Preliminary Programme of the Department of Sociology is introduced to replace the existing Master of Arts Qualifying Examination. The Main objective of the preliminary Programme is to equip graduate students with a knowledge of sociological theory and methods and with a background knowledge of Society and culture of South Asia in order to prepare them adequately for the M.A. Programme. The Following three courses offered by the Department are compulsory.


SS 5.1 Theories of Society

  1. A general overview of the socio-Political and intellectual developments in the west eading up to the emergence of Sociology
    1. The breakdown of feudalism and the emergence of capitalist society
    2. The Renaissance and the enlightenment
  2. The nature and types of sociological theory
    1. Importance of social sciences
    2. Natural science paradigm and the study of social phenomena
    3. The Problem of validation in Sociological Knowledge
    4. Order and conflict theories
  3. The early Sociology theories
    1. Compte
    2. Theories of social evolution, Spencer etc
    3. Durkheim's sociology
    4. The influence of Marx
  4. Max Weber and his legacy
    1. Interpretive Sociology
    2. Value free sociology
    3. Action paradigm


SS5.2 Methods in Social Research (MA preliminary, Sociology)

  1. Course Content
    • Students are evaluated based on Class participation,Tutorials, quizzes, term papers and Final examination.

  2. Introduction to Course
    1. Anthropology/sociology and social science
    2. Foundations of social research
    3. Compare the epistemologies
    4. What is science and how does natural and social sciences relate to each other
    5. Causal explanations / causal relationships/inductive-deductive logic
    6. Why necessary and sufficient causes are difficult to identify in social sciences, discussion with examples.
    [QUIZ / TEST OF METHODS]

  3. Scientific Nature of the Discipline
    1. How can social relationships be studied in a social scientific manner
    2. Empirical research
    3. Inductive model and deductive model
    4. The link between theory and research
    5. Identification of major concepts and variables
    6. Deriving hypotheses /Deriving theory based on data
    7. What are paradigms/why different paradigms are needed
    [FIRST TERM PAPER]

  4. Research Design
    1. Types of design (true experiments, quasi-experiments, natural experiments and naturalistic experiments)
    2. Time element and research design
    3. Exploratory/descriptive/explanatory studies
    4. Ecological fallacy and reductionism
    5. Units of analysis

  5. Conceptualization, Measurement, and Operationalization
    1. Differentiate among conception, terms, observables, and constructs
    2. Indicators and dimensions
    3. Conceptualization/ operationalization /Reification
    4. Nominal and operational definitions of concepts/measurement of concepts
    5. Precision and accuracy
    6. Reliability and validity/Attributes/Levels of measurement
    7. Measurement using various data collection methods
    [SECOND TERM PAPER]

  6. Sampling Designs
    1. Why samples are taken
    2. Sampling theory
    3. Sample size/sampling frames/Types of samples
    4. Parameter and statistic
    5. Generalizations from sampling frames to populations

  7. Methods and Methodologies
    1. What is the distinctive method of anthropology/sociology
    2. Stages in fieldwork
    3. Types of fieldwork (Fieldwork that lead to transformation, involved and detached fieldwork - total participant, participant-observer, observer as participant, total observer)
    4. Induction and deduction in fieldwork
    5. Description and interpretation
    6. Particularism, generalisation and comparative method & Comparison
    7. Ethnographic research and survey research
    8. Introspection and extrospection in methods
    9. 'true data' and objectivity
    [THIRD TERM PAPER]

  8. Methods and MethodologiesMeasurement of significance

  9. The True Experiment
    1. Types of experimental designs
    2. Experimental mode in sociology/anthropology
    3. Internal validity and experimental designs
    4. Strengths and weaknesses of experimental method

  10. Survey Research, Questionnaires and Interviews
    1. Survey designs
    2. Questionnaire types
    3. Types of interview (open-ended, semi structured and structured)
    4. Indexes and scales /Topologies

SS5.3 South Asian Society

  1. Introduction to South Asian Society
    1. A geographical and historical account
    2. South Asia as a cultural region
    3. Contemporary South Asian Interactions
    4. Review of literature

  2. Methodological Programs in the study of South Asian Society
    1. The Peasant Society Model
    2. Asiatic mode of production and hydraulic society
    3. Dependency approach

  3. Kinship and marriage in India and Sri Lanka
    1. Dravidian terminology
    2. Family in South Asia

  4. Land tenure
    1. Traditional land tenure practices with special reference to Sri Lanka
    2. The Colonial impact
    3. Land reforms

  5. Social stratification in South Asia
    1. The caste system
    2. Class structure

  6. Sociology of religion of South Asia
    1. Religion and social organization in South Asia
    2. The role of religion in politics

  7. Nationalism and ethnicity
    1. The role of Colonial rule in the formation of nation in South Asia
    2. The interaction between religion and national ideology
    3. Ethnic conflict.

SS6 APPLIED SOCIOLOGY (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

While sociology has evolved as an academic inquiry into social behavior of human beings, sociological insights are increasingly applied in problem solving and planning. This course aims at providing a comprehensive knowledge of sociology as being practiced in various applied settings. While specifically examining various Interpretations of applied sociology as they are, being used in action and research, the course provides an overview and a window for critical examination of theories, models, methods and concepts that are employed in applied sociology. It exposes the student to specific settings outside the traditional academic arenas of sociological inquiry where sociology could be profitably made use of for the well being of the human kind.

Course Outline:

This course involves a field visit, student project with a fieldwork component, a term paper and oral presentation of project report, and a final examination. The student project that will lead to a term paper needs to be presented in the form of a research proposal at a seminar of the department, which will be evaluated.

The method of evaluation involves examinations (written exams, quizzes,) and assignments. The assignments include writing of a proposal and presentation of it in a seminar at the department, and a term paper. The exams are given 60 marks while assignments (the term paper and the proposal-including its presentation) are given 40 marks (20 for the term paper and 20 for the proposal' and its presentation)

Medium of instruction in this course is English, and some discussion classes can be held in Sinhala if such discussions are deemed necessary. Class attendance is important and will be marked. Important documents and reading material will be distributed in the class or will be kept in file for students to make copies of. Candidates are expected to get a minimum of 30 marks from the examinations and a minimum of 20 marks from the assignments to be eligible for a pass in the course.


SS7 Medical Anthropology / (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

  1. Course Description
    • This course is designed to provide candidates with a thorough multidisciplinary, systematic, and comparative knowledge on medical anthropology in order to understand health related-behaviors in many cultures of the world. The principal objective of this course is to train academics, health practitioners, and health policy planners to analyze various aspects and complexities of health from a multidisciplinary perspective to improve health conditions in their own society and other societies at large. In order to achieve the said goal candidates will be introduced to four broader themes: basic concepts and approaches in medical anthropology, methods in medical anthropology, specific areas in medical anthropology. and modern health issues.
  2. Requirement
    • The instructor highlights main themes arising from relevant reading materials in class and encourages candidates to participate in discussion. A short list of articles will be prescribed for each session and candidates are required to read them before coming to class and each candidate is assigned to present a small article in class as well. In addition, a list of books is attached herewith and candidates are encouraged to use them for the research paper.
  3. Course Evaluation
    • The evaluation of this course is based on two performances. First, after consultation with the instructor, candidates are required to write a standard field-based research paper on any topic that might interest to him/her. For 'this, each candidate in required to conduct a mini-research project on any topic in any part of the country. The Paper will carry 40% of the total grade. The paper has to be 20-30 pages long, typed, double-spaced, titled, numbered, dated, and named with the candidate's registration number. The first draft of the paper will be required to present in class by using transparencies and the final draft will be due two weeks before the final examination. No later acceptance. Second, the said course will consist of a final examination, and it will count 60% of the total grade. The language either of the paper or the examination could be of candidate choice.
  4. Course Schedule
    • Session (1)
      • Introduction: Anthropology, Culture, and the Scope of Medical Anthropology
    • Session (2)
      • Health, Disease, Illness, Health behaviour, Illness behaviour, Health- seeking behaviour, and sick role.
    • Session (3) 
      • Medical Anthropology and Health Profession
    • Session (4) 
      • Anthropology of Nursing
    • * Research Proposal is due Session (5) 
      • Comparative Health Care Systems
    • Sessions (6) and (8) Are Conducted bv Mr. Nandana Wiiesinghe
      • These sessions will cover methods, approaches, and methods in Medical Anthropology
    • Sessions (9)
      • Ethnicity, Gender, Class, and Unequal Distribution of Disease
    • Session (10)
      • Reproductivc Health and Anthropology
    • Session (11)
      • Human Sexuality and Anthropology
    • Session (12) 
      • Anthropology and AIDS
    • Session (13)
      • Anthropology and Ageing
    • Session (14)
      • Modernization and Health Repercussions
    • Sessions (15)
      • Health Care Reform, Policy, and advocacy in Medical Anthropology


SS.6.2 Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Third World with Special reference to Sri Lanka (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

  1. The Analytical significance of ethnicity: Definition of ethnicity, Situational and primordial interpretations, Ethnicity and class
  2. Pluralism in the third World
  3. Ethnicity and the problem of Nation building
  4. Emergence of ethnic nationalism and ethnic separatism in the Third World
  5. Ethnic separatism in South Asia with special reference to the Ethnic Conflict of Sri Lanka

SS Sociology of, Poverty (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

This course reviews the latest sociological and social anthropological research on poverty-related issues with a focus on South Asia. The main objective is to understand the social, cultural and institutional dimensions of widespread and chronic poverty in the South Asian context. The effects of chronic poverty on social and political processes are also explored. Finally, approaches to poverty alleviation and are critically examined.

The course consists of three components.

  1. Initial class room and library work aiming at familiarization with conceptual issues and latest research on the subject
  2. Field research focusing on specific issues identified under the previous step
  3. Seminars where students will report their findings on selected topics

Course Outline

  1. Conceptualization of poverty
  2. Assessment of nature, extent and trends of poverty in South Asia
  3. Analysis of discourses on poverty
  4. Social suffering and its relation to poverty
  5. Poverty, inequality arid social exciusion
  6. Culture of poverty
  7. Dynamics of poverty: intergenerational and life cycle processes
  8. Poverty, social unrest and violence
  9. Critical assessment of selected approaches to poverty alleviation Welfarist approach Neo-liberal approach Micro finance approach Empowerment \ concretization on approaches
  10. Poverty and social policy

SS. 6.1 Issues of Third World Development (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

  1. Third world; Conceptual and Definitional Issues
  2. Theories of Development, Marxist. Neo Marxist and Modernization theories
  3. Political experiments and economic development in the Third World, Socialist vs. Capitalist forms of government, Centrally Planned Economics, Mixed Economics and Market Economics
  4. Strategies and conceptualizations of development action at the grass root level; Participation, empowerment, beneficiaries, target groups
  5. A Historical examination of community/rural development activities in Sri Lanka
  6. NGOs and the Third World; the place of NGOs in the Third World development strategies, Politics of NGOs

SS. 6.3 Rural Sociology (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

  1. Some relevant basic concepts; Kinship and Marriage, Rituals, Communities, Social cohesion and integration, Family, Caste
  2. Theories of Social Change; Marxian and Neo Marxian theories, Behavioral theories
  3. Approaches to the study of rural social organization; the concept of peasant society rural urban continuum etc
  4. Agrarian Social Organization, Rural Production systems
  5. Rural women in the production process
  6. Land Ownership and Land Reform in the Third World

SS Sociology Women in South Asia (MA/M. Phil. - Sociology)

Course Objectives

The objective of this course is to examine the status of women in South Asian countries. To achieve this, the course includes topics such as perception of women in these societies, a historical examination of their roles, rise of women's activities etc. Also it examines the relevance of the Western Feminist theories to understand South Asian women. Since women are labeled in many cultures as an unprivileged category, especially in South Asian societies with their traditional and patriarchal values, this will enable students to increase awareness regarding issues concerning them.

  1. The relevance of the Western Feminist theories to understand South Asian women
  2. The rise of women's activities in South Asia
  3. The perception of women in South Asian society, a survey of literature
  4. Historical examination of the role of women in South Asia
  5. Women and occupations in South Asia (Women in Rural production system, Free Trade Zone, Middle East Employment, the informal sector etc.)
  6. Overview of issues relating to Third World Women with special reference to Sri Lankan women.