Course Title: Critical and Social Theory

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Critical and Social Theory

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Dr Emily Gray

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7660

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: By appointment

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


You must be enrolled in a PhD or Master by Research program at RMIT to take this course.

Course Description

This course aims to provide you with a grounding in the major social and critical theoretical traditions and orientations informing contemporary research. It focuses on a range of theoretical approaches used for knowledge production through research and inquiry in social science, creative disciplines, and transdisciplinary research.

In this course you will develop skills as critical readers of social and critical theories as well as understandings of the purposes of theory in research and its application within students’ disciplines. 

Topics to be covered include:

What is social and critical theory and why use it in research? 
- Theory, ontology and epistemology
- Theory as a tool for understanding research
- Theorising in research

Theory, power and challenging oppressions 
- Theoretical histories
- Theory from below
- Speaking truth to power

Theoretical journeys 
- Thinking with theory
- Writing with theory

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: 
1. Operationalise theory as a tool within research design, development and analysis. 
2. Critically evaluate and discuss the theory/theories that inform your research.  
3. Develop and refine your knowledge of a diverse range of theoretical perspectives and explain their use within and beyond your field. 
4. Interrogate the role of theory in the history of ideas and its role in a range of contemporary research priorities. 

Overview of Learning Activities

You will participate in a range of learning activities, which may include opportunities such as expert facilitated seminars and workshops, participation in peer discussion, peer assessment and feedback.  

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.

Lists of learning resources will be provided during the course, and you will be expected to build on these through your own literature searches.

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes. Specific assessment tasks may include:

- Written assessment outlining a theory relevant to your discipline and research field
- Record a presentation about the theory/theories you are using in your research for peer assessment

If you have a long-term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Equitable Learning Services team if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies and procedures.