Sociology BA (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course looks at the most important issues facing our society today, including social exclusion, race, disability, gender and social class divisions. Through a mix of academic rigour and skill development, you will deepen your understanding of the world and enhance your future employability.

According to the National Student Survey, 9 out of 10 of our sociology students are satisfied with the course and believe that staff are enthusiastic and good at explaining things. As a result of the course, 94% of our students feel more confident in tackling unfamiliar problems.

The core of the course is focused on principles and practice of social theory and social research. In addition, you can choose between three broad pathways built-up from optional modules:

  • ‘Gender and Culture’ – which will enable management of difference and diversity in many types of workplace
  • ‘Health and the Social Body’ – which covers content that is relevant to health and social care and/or social work/disability professions
  • ‘Family and Identity’ – which is relevant to future careers in social policy/health and Social Care/Social Work

88% of graduates from Sunderland’s social science courses enter employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to the 2010 Destination of Higher Education Leavers Survey. We help you develop transferable skills and identify careers that are a satisfying fit with your abilities and aspirations.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

We offer different types of modules:

  • Core modules (compulsory for everyone on the course)
  • Optional modules linked to distinct pathways
  • Further optional modules

The pathways are a useful way to organise your choice of modules, allowing you to develop specialisms that enhance your employability. However you do not have to stick rigidly with pathways and, beyond the core modules, you are free to choose any combination of options.

Year 1 (national level 4)

  • Introduction to Sociological Theories (20 Credits)
  • Social Problems (20 Credits)
  • Applied Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to Gender, Diversity and Society (20 Credits)

Options (choose two):

  • Introduction to Criminology (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to Human Geography (20 Credits)
  • Industry, Economy and Society 1750 – 1970 (20 Credits)
  • Democracy and Tyranny (20 Credits)
  • Britain since 1945 (20 Credits)
  • English for Academic Purposes (20 Credits)
  • University Language Scheme (20 Credits)
  • Dimensions in Health (20 Credits)
  • Practical Skills in Health and Social Care (20 Credits) 

Year 2 (national level 5)

  • Social Theory of Industrial Society (20 Credits)
  • Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences (20 Credits)
  • Social Policy (20 Credits)

Pathways (choose one):

Gender and Culture

  • Gender, Diversity and Society (20 Credits)
  • Geographies of Social Exclusion (20 Credits)

Family and Identity

  • Sex, Families and the Construction of Personal Lives (20 Credits)
  • Youth, Crime and Sociology (20 Credits)

plus one further option

Health and the Social Body

  • Medicalisation, Normality and the Body (20 Credits)

plus two further options

You will take 5 modules in sociology and further optional modules include:

  • Issues in Criminology (20 Credits)
  • Contemporary Criminal Justice (20 Credits)
  • Experiencing Twentieth Century Europe (20 Credits)
  • European Political Ideas (20 Credits)
  • British Politics and Government (20 Credits)
  • Health Improvement and Healthy Lifestyles (20 Credits)
  • Life Course Approaches to the Health of Children, Young People and Families (20 Credits)
  • Independent Learning Module (20 Credits)

Final Year (national level 6)

  • Advanced Social Theories (20 Credits)
  • Dissertation (40 Credits)

Pathways (continued from the previous year):

Gender and Culture

  • Gender, Sex and Identity (20 Credits)
  • Youth, Gender and Identities (20 Credits)

plus one further option

Family and Identity

  • Ageing Society (20 Credits)
  • Gender, Sex and Identity (20 Credits)
  • Youth, Gender and Identities (20 Credits) 

Health and the Social Body

  • Disability, Medicine and Society (20 Credits)

plus two further options

Further optional modules:

  • Re-imagining Crime and Criminology (20 Credits)
  • Race, Racialisation and the Criminal Justice System (20 Credits)
  • Punishment and Society (20 Credits)
  • Independent Learning Module (20 Credits)
  • Life Course Approaches to Health and Ageing(20 Credits)
  • Substance Use and Society (20 Credits)
  • Violence Gender and Society (20 Credits)

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, group work and e-learning. We encourage you to develop independent study skills. You will also have opportunities to present ideas to other students and develop concepts within groups.

As well as assessments that count towards your degree, there are also on-going assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include written coursework, projects, presentations and exams.

To find out more about how modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see how courses are taught. Information about course regulations and documentation can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

The course is based at the Priestman Building on City Campus, just a few minutes from the main Murray Library and close to Sunderland city centre. Thanks to a major renovation programme, the Priestman Building provides state-of-the-art teaching space and resources as part of a vibrant and outward-looking learning environment.

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on social science topics, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your course include:

  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
  • Project Muse, which provides over 180 full-text humanities and social sciences journals
  • SocINDEX with full-text articles, which is probably the world's most comprehensive and highest-quality sociology research database
  • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
  • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles

CIty Campus

IT provision

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in The David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s Library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.


Priestman Building

City Campus, Green Terrace, Sunderland, SR1 3PZ

Entry requirements

Our typical offer will be in the region of 260 points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (for example 1 x AVCE double award).

We accept a maximum of 20 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 260 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 260 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 260 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000. 

Returners to Learning: The University of Sunderland runs a dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email: or alternatively, call the Student Helpline on 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Fees & finance

The annual fee is:

  • £7,800 if you are from the UK
  • £9,500 if you are from outside the UK

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

Possible destinations for graduates from this course include civil service departments, local government, non-government organisations, international institutions, industry, commerce and further education. The course can also lead on to more advanced studies at Masters or PhD levels.


Employability is embedded throughout the course. In particular the ‘Research Methods’ modules provide you with valuable transferable skills. There is plenty of scope for developing effective approaches to group-working and for demonstrating personal initiative (particularly with the dissertation).

To further enhance employability, we arrange workshops in conjunction with the Careers and Employability Service that focus on possible careers for sociology students. We also integrate work placement and internship opportunities within the course. Intern opportunities are advertised throughout the year.

University Language Scheme 

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme, which will earn credits towards your degree. The language module can be taken on top of or as part of the 120 credits needed to complete a year.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Study Abroad 

It may be possible to switch your studies to another country for one or two semesters during the second year. You can choose from over 150 universities in 20 countries, either English-speaking (such as Australia, Canada and the USA) or non English-speaking (such as Argentina, Brazil and Japan). This gives you an opportunity to get an international perspective on the issues that you are studying.


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience.

CV-enhancing opportunities include:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For full details, please see our Employability page.


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, seminars and practical activities. There is also non-contact time when you will be studying on your own. If you have any particular problems with certain assignments, it’s usually possible to arrange one-to-one surgeries with tutors.

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers and Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support & guidance.

"We help you develop a wide range of transferable skills that will enhance your future employability and prepare you for future professional roles."

Sheila Quaid - Academic

Dr Sheila Quaid - Academic

Programme Leader

"Sociology at the University of Sunderland is for students who aspire to make a difference in the world. The course will broaden your understanding of the biggest issues facing society today, including social exclusion, race, disability, gender and social class divisions. The course explores the enormous social transformations occurring throughout the world, the changing relationships between individuals and the values and ideals within our own lives. What you will discover is that sociology allows for critical thinking in ways that other academic subjects cannot match.

"According to the National Student Survey 2013 100% of students were highly satisfied with the course and believe that staffs are approachable, enthusiastic and adept at explaining difficult subjects. As a result of their comprehensive teaching, over 94% of our students are more confident in tackling unfamiliar problems. The core of the course is focused on the principles and practice of social theory and social research. Broad pathways are; Gender and Culture, Health and the Social Body, Family and Identity and Crime and Justice.

"Staff at Sunderland are actively engaged within many specialist fields of study, which is reflected in the variation of modules available, and which enables you to study the areas of sociology that are of most relevance to you and your aspirations. We are all members of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences research centre which students are encouraged to join and can follow on twitter @CASS 180661. We help you develop a wide range of transferable skills that will enhance your future employability and prepare you for future professional roles. Our graduates have gone on to have successful careers in media, management, teaching, industry and education amongst others.

"We had positive and heartening results from the National Student Survey in 2013 with 100% of students saying they were satisfied overall with their BA (Hons) Sociology programme, and 97% said that teaching on their course was very good. In relation to organisation and management of their course 98% were happy with arrangements. Students commented on the amount of support received with 80% of students saying that they were very well supported by the University and academic staff and 91% said that they had significant personal development during their studies in Sociology."

"The University of Sunderland not only helped me change my life but enabled me to begin my career."

Eve Harrison - Graduate L300 and M930

Eve Harrison - Graduate

Turning Point

"Studying Criminology and Sociology certainly paved the way for me into a career in social care.

It gave me the confidence and theory I needed, including a module on substance misuse, to carry out the work I do now.

On the practical side, my voluntary work as a Special Constable and a Youth Worker provided me with priceless insights into the real grass-roots.

I can honestly say that the University of Sunderland not only helped me change my life but enabled me to begin my career at Turning Point, and I'm now helping change the lives of others."

"Modules within the sociology specification teach you to be objective, whilst giving you the radical realisation that all may not be as it seems."

Summer Broadhurst BA Sociology Case Study

Summer Broadhurst


"Sociology gives you a whole new outlook on life, makes you question what most take for granted as normal behaviour.

"Modules within the sociology specification teach you to be objective, whilst giving you the radical realisation that all may not be as it seems.

"The staff are friendly and passionate about what they do and they make learning fun."

"Combined Subjects gives you the flexibility to really tailor your degree to your interests."

Justine Short - Sociology

Justine Short


"Combined Subjects gives you the flexibility to really tailor your degree to your interests. I have found that my chosen subjects of English and Sociology have gelled well together which has ultimately enhanced my knowledge and understanding in each of my modules. I have found the support of my teachers across each of the three years to be incredibly helpful and the prompt and efficient feedback useful in my academic development.

"Sociology offers such a strong basis on entering the big world of employment, you can pretty do anything with a Sociology degree and it’s a fascinating area of research. In September I will be doing a Masters in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion at the University of Sunderland and furthering this I will be completing a Teacher Training Programme, so eventually I will become a Special Needs Teacher. What I also want to do in my spare time is to become an academic write in Sociology, possibly directing towards Disability; I’ve enjoyed my experience, not only being a student at Sunderland University but studying Sociology that I want to continue delving into what Sociology has to offer."

"The lectures are really interesting, there's so much to learn."

Claire Moffatt - Student Sociology case study L300

Claire Moffatt - Student

"There are so many good things about this university. The lectures are really interesting, there's so much to learn academically and socially. Sunderland is an amazing vibrant city. I love it!"

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

  • Next open day:
  • Date: Saturday 4th October 2014
  • Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: City Campus and Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's

Contact Sunderland

Programme Leader: Dr Sheila Quaid

Contact the Faculty of Education and Society for general questions about studying at the University of Sunderland: / 0191 515 3845

The details

Course Name Sociology
Classification BA (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 15 September 2014
UK/EU Fee £7,800
Intl Fee £9,500

Entry Requirements

Typical accepting offer: 260 points

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