Sociology with Integrated Foundation Year BSc (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BSc (Hons) Sociology course, with an integrated foundation year. Understand how society is shaped. Investigate the issues that fascinate you most. Graduate with advanced research and communication skills.

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Sociology is the scientific study of human social relationships and institutions. It is a diverse area of study, and includes, crime, religion, the family, the state, education, globalisation, health, welfare, and poverty. Its focus is to consider how social structures interact with individual choice, the divisions which can undermine social stability and the shared beliefs which create the basis for common culture.

This course looks at the most important issues facing our society today including; poverty, culture, immigration, families, global connections, social exclusion, race, disability, gender, sexuality, politics and policy, and social class divisions. You will cover topical and dynamic content, reflecting current social issues. The emphasis is on careful gathering and analysis of evidence to broaden our understanding of key social processes.

You will graduate capable of working in a range of employment settings due to the transferable skills, broad knowledge base and critical awareness that studying Sociology provides.

Why us?

  • Our Sociology courses are in the top 10 in the UK for Satisfaction with Teaching according to The Guardian University league tables 2018
  • There are four broad pathways: Health and the Social Body; Gender and Culture; Crime and Justice; Family and Identities. These optional pathways help you think about and plan your future careers
  • We are a University that is nationally recognised for supporting learners particularly from non-traditional backgrounds and many students come to us with no formal qualifications but with valuable work experience
  • We have award-winning staff in the areas of equality and diversity and teaching and learning
  • A wide variety of extra-curricular activities that you can get involved with. Our sociology students have taken part in national and international trips to London, Kenya, and most recently, Nepal. Read more about their awe-inspiring experiences in their guest blogs
  • The wide variety of optional modules will allow you to tailor the course to your particular interests and career aspiration
  • Four optional specialist pathways: Health and the Social Body, Gender and Culture, Young People, Representation and Society and Family and Identities. These optional pathways help you plan your future career and gain specialist knowledge in a particular area
  • We also offer several modules in globalisation, human rights and global issues which internationalise our curriculum to prepare you for a more global world
  • In addition to a broad range of sociology modules, you can choose from options in criminology, education, health and social care, media studies, history and politics
  • A range of opportunities for sociology students to enhance their employability after graduation, including a work placement with a research project in the second year, and optional summer internships and volunteering opportunities throughout the degree

Course structure

A typical week for you will include lectures, seminars, workshops, group work, and computer-based learning. Your progress will be assessed with written coursework, projects, debates, portfolios, presentations, digital media and exams.

Throughout the degree, you'll have one-to-one support from academic staff to help you get the best out of your assignments.

In addition to a broad range of sociology modules, you can choose from options in Criminology, Health and Social Care, Media, History, and Politics.

Skills for Sociologists programme

At level four, you will take part in a unique weekly development programme, designed to support you in your academic career; this will give you the confidence to succeed in your degree. You will access a wide range of other support services across the University. You will develop your skills in academic referencing, essay planning, writing skills, and presentation skills. There is a strong emphasis on professional opportunities and employability.

Foundation year 

The Social Sciences and Law Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:

  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Maths (20 credits)
  • Foundation module (40 credits)
  • Project (20 credits)
  • Subject Specialism (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Introduction to Social Theories (20 credits)

How did Western society develop, and did it develop fairly for all of us? This module introduces you to some of the early sociological theorists and you will explore opportunities to apply their theories to the ‘real world’ around us. You will examine issues of power, social class, inequality, deviance, stigma and wealth and poverty as you explore these classic theorists.

  • Social Problems (20 credits)

This module examines how and why groups and communities become defined as a ‘social problem’ and you will begin to explore contemporary social problems and the policy solutions offered to tackle them. Topics covered may include immigration, domestic abuse, single-parent families, young people and homelessness.

  • Applied Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences (20 credits)

As part of your training to be a social researcher, you will begin to explore the nature of qualitative research; such as interviews, focus groups and life histories. You will write up a small scale social research project and use cutting edge technology to begin to analyse the findings from it, such as the computer software NVivo.

  • Inequality, Diversity and Society (20 credits)

How do we socially construct ideas about class, gender, sexuality, disability and ethnicity? This module will begin to introduce you to the nature of inequality, diversity and difference through the lens of gender and feminist theories. You will examine topics such as cultural identities, parenthood and diversity within local and global contexts, making you aware of much wider social trends.

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Introduction to Digital Media Cultures (20 credits)
  • Socio-Cultural Issues in Education (20 Credits)
  • Crime, Surveillance and Social Control (20 credits)
  • Dimensions of Health and Social Care (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Politics 1: Democracy and Tyranny (20 credits)
  • Classical Readings in Criminology (20 credits)
  • Britain since 1945 (20 credits)
  • The Transformation of Britain: British History since 1750 (20 credits)
  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System (20 credits) 


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Social Theory of Industrial Society (20 credits)

Building upon your introduction to social theory module in level four, this module will examine the impact of some of the key theorists leading up to the twentieth century as society ‘modernised’ at a rapid social pace. You will explore social theories of progress, social change, forms of social division, crisis and conflict which are central to understanding our unequal world.

  • Applied Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences (20 credits)

As a developing social researcher, this module will introduce you to another strand of research, which is quantitative research. This module will show you how to use computer software, such as SPSS and other survey programmes, to examine real life social and cultural trends from surveys and questionnaires. 

  • Contemporary Issues in Social Policy (20 credits)

This module builds upon your study of ‘social problems’ at level four and engages you with thinking critically about the nature of social policy, the ideologies behind it and the effects of social policy on populations and groups. Topics you may cover could include contemporary policies such as austerity and government cuts, immigration controls, the welfare state, social benefits and unemployment.

Recommended optional modules:

  • Practical Application in Sociology (20 credits)

This is your opportunity to go out into the social world and to take part in a real placement, where you can put your social research training into practice. With support from the placement team, or your own networks, you will take part in an actual research project (with guidance). Your placement may be in an organisation such as a charity, a research centre or a local authority department. This module will give you the ‘on the ground’ experience within a place of employment as you take part in doing research for them.

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Sex, Families and the Construction of Personal Lives (20 credits)
  • Health Improvement and Healthy Lifestyles (20 credits)
  • Medicalisation, Normality and the Body (20 credits)
  • Gender, Diversity and Human Rights: Global Perspectives (20 credits)
  • Youth, Crime and Criminology (20 credits)
  • Early Life Course Approaches in Health and Social Care (20 credits)
  • British Politics and Government (20 credits)
  • Experiencing the 20th Century (20 credits)
  • European Political Ideas (20 credits)
  • Theoretical Issues in Criminology (20 credits)
  • Offender Management in Criminal Justice (20 credits)
  • Continuing Independent Study in HE (with presentation) (20 credits)

Final year (national level 6):

  • Advanced Social Theories (20 credits)

Has society become increasingly globalised? What does this mean for us and how does this impact on the world that we live in? You will examine concepts of gender, work, consumption, ethnicity and spatial inequalities and what this means for our own social identities. This module will examine advanced theoretical approaches which have attempted to explain our society as it is today. It will engage you with the most recent social theories in preparation for your dissertation.

  • Sociological Dissertation (40 credits)

The dissertation offers an opportunity for sociology students to become increasingly specialised in their own particular area of interest within their discipline. With guidance from a supervisor, you will put your sociological theorising, your training as a social researcher and your subject knowledge together, to form a research project based on a specialist topic of your own choice.

Optional modules (choose three):

  • The Clinical Gaze: Medicine, Disability and Confinement (20 credits)
  • Violence, Gender and Society (20 credits)
  • Global Health (20 credits)
  • Substance Use and Society (20 credits)
  • ‘Race’, Racialisation and the Criminal Justice System (20 credits)
  • Justice for Young People (20 credits)
  • Youth, Gender and Identities (20 credits)
  • Gender, Sexuality and Identity (20 credits)
  • Punishment and Society (20 credits)
  • Life Course Approaches to Health and Ageing (20 credits)
  • Re-Imagining Crime and Criminology (20 credits)
  • Advanced Independent Study in HE (20 credits)
  • We’ve got thousands of  books and e-books, 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.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful 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
    • Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Database, which includes full-text journal articles on topics spanning emotional and behavioural sciences, psychiatry and psychology
    Library Services - social sciences
  • Map and directions


You'll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, situated on the award-winning St Peter's riverside campus. The location benefits from dedicated library services and has superb transport links with the city centre and City Campus.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

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

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2019, the foundation year will be £4,500.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


A degree in Sociology creates a huge number of career options. Your skills in analysing data, undertaking research and developing strong arguments will be highly valued by many employers.

You will graduate ready to work in a range of employment settings due to the transferable skills, broad knowledge base and critical awareness that studying Sociology provides.

Previous graduates now work in the fields of education, mental health, work with vulnerable adults and children, the criminal justice system, government, international development, charities and community work, political campaigning and social research.

Many of our graduates also choose to continue their studies at masters and PhD level.

Career opportunities with Sociology

Sociology students go on to access a wide range of employment opportunities, further study and research including:

  • Welfare services: Housing and homelessness, domestic violence support, substance misuse, immigration and working with minority groups such as BAME and LGBTQI+ populations;
  • International institutions and humanitarian work: NGOs and INGOs, the United Nations, human rights, women’s rights, international aid, poverty and development;
  • Criminal justice system: such as the Youth Offending Team, probation, working with hate crime victims (and perpetrators) and the police;
  • Community work and work with young people and children;
  • Campaign work on social issues, trade unions and advocacy;
  • Social policy: social researcher and policy analyst;
  • Health and social care: public health, disability services, older people and family support;
  • Teaching: primary, secondary, further and higher education;
  • Media: journalism and editing;
  • Central and local government;
  • Human resources, project manager and consultancy work;
  • Masters degrees: criminal justice, social work, social policy and politics, social research;
  • PhD: Sociology, Politics, Media, Gender Studies, Criminology.


Sociology placement and internships

We have strong links to employers and our Sociology students take part in a placement to work on a research project at level five of their degree. We also offer optional summer internships in a range of employment settings. Sociology students have undertaken previous internships with organisations as varied as COCO (an international development organisation for Eastern Africa), Street Child Nepal, Team Kenya, Northumbria Police, Albert Kennedy Trust (an LGBTQI+ homelessness charity), Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Grace House (children and young people with life-limiting conditions).

Social Sciences blog

Many of our Sociology students have published their first class degree work on our ‘Social Sciences Blog.’ Please take a moment to check out their excellent assignments.

Centre for Applied Social Sciences

The University of Sunderland’s Centre for Applied Social Studies (CASS) combines original academic research with practice-based collaborations and reach-out activities, often working directly with practitioners, policymakers and front-line delivery staff regionally, nationally and internationally. According to the most recent National Research Excellence Framework Exercise, almost half of our outputs are either 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

The mission of CASS reflects that of the University's aim as a civic university: to take an active interest in the social issues that affect the region and beyond by engaging in research and practice-based collaborations that aim to improve living conditions, address inequalities and social exclusion and promote social justice. Currently our research focuses around three strands: children, young people and families; communities, health and social exclusion; and crime, victims and social justice.

CASS regularly hosts visiting speakers and holds events that you will be invited to. This can be an excellent way to learn from the real-life experience of people who already have a strong track record in sociological and social policy related social research. This is a great way to learn from experts in their field.

Meet the students

  • The support available at Sunderland allows you to grow and develop your skills and confidence.

    Laura Gregg

  • The lecturers are fantastic and take pride in delivering the course.
    Sarah Newton

    Sarah Newton

  • The staff are friendly and passionate about what they do and they make learning fun.
    Summer Broadhurst, Sociology graduate case study

    Summer Broadhurst

  • Studying at the University of Sunderland has been the best decision I've ever made.

    Suzanne Gair

Meet the team

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