Sociology BSc (Hons)

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Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

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Understand how society is shaped. Investigate the current issues and trends in society that fascinate you most. Graduate with advanced research and communication skills. Gain real world experience of taking part in social research and become a social researcher.

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

This course looks at the most important issues facing our society today including poverty, culture, immigration and refugees, families, global issues, social exclusion, race, disability, gender, sexuality, politics and policy, and social class divisions. You will cover topical and dynamic content, reflecting current social issues, policy and what is happening in society today.

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. You will not just leave with your degree in BSc (Hons) Sociology; you will have taken part in continuous training to become a social researcher – which is a valuable extra skill to have for future employment. Those who study BSc (Hons) Sociology want to change the world in their own way, and we help to equip them with the skills to do it.

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
  • This course has over 90% Overall Satisfaction according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • 100% of our BSc (Hons) Sociology graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on UK students)
  • In the 2018 UKES, 100% of year 1 BSc (Hons) Sociology students answered Very often or Often when asked how the course helped them with both ‘Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality etc)’, ‘Exploring complex real-world problems’ and ‘Being an informed and active citizen’ (based on 11 respondents)
  • In the 2018 UK Engagement Survey (UKES), 100% of year 1 BSc (Hons) Sociology students answered Definitely agree or Mostly agree to the statement ‘Overall I am satisfied with the quality of the course’ (based on 11 respondents)
  • ‘World-leading' research in Social Work and Social Policy, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • We have award-winning staff in the areas of equality and diversity and teaching and learning
  • A range of opportunities to enhance your employability, including a work placement with a research project, optional summer internships and volunteering opportunities
  • 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
  • A truly flexible course, with modules in globalisation, human rights and global issues to help internationalise your outlook and prepare you for a more global world, and a broad range of optional sociology modules in criminology, education, health and social care, media studies, history and politics
  • The University of Sunderland was ranked 12th in the Courses and Lecturers category of the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019
  • 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

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 and essays, source reports, blogs, factsheets, research projects, presentations 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.

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.

Part-time study

Part-time students study the same course as full-time students, just over a longer period of time. If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the day and you will be studying alongside full-time students.

BSc (Hons) Sociology is a flexible degree, offering you the opportunity to choose the subject path that most interests you. In addition to a broad range of sociology modules, you can choose from options in Criminology, Health and Social Care, Media, History, and Politics.

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)
  • Crime, Surveillance and Social Control (20 credits)
  • Dimensions of Health and Social Care (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Politics 1: Democracy and Tyranny (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)
  • Spaces for Reflective Practice, Participation and Social Action (20 credits)
  • Classical Readings in Criminology (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.

  • Placement (20 credits)

Put your social research skills into practice by taking part in a short social research placement in industry. This placement not only encourages you to become a better researcher, but also helps you to develop a portfolio of employability skills; such as preparing a graduate style CV, writing covering letters, applying for example graduate jobs and developing your own LinkedIn profile. We strongly encourage students to apply for the SuPA Award and have some of the highest take-up rates amongst all courses at the University. This placement module follows the guidance as set out by the British Sociological Association (BSA) on embedding employability into the curriculum.

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.

  • Preparing to Graduate

You will take part in an additional weekly programme which has been developed to prepare you for graduation and beyond. These sessions will take you through the graduate job market, how to find and apply for graduate jobs and exploring opportunities for you to go onto masters level study and further. 

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 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. It has excellent ICT facilities and access to the specialist research software that you will need to undertake this degree programme, such as NVivo and SPSS.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU and studying full-time
  • £6,935 per 120 credits if you are from the UK or EU and studying part-time
  • £12,000 if you are from outside the EU and studying full-time (part-time 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.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

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


A degree in BSc (Hons) 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.

Read more in our article career opportunities with a Sociology degree.

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.’ 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.

Extracurricular activities

During the course you may have the opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities to broaden your experience of the social world and to add to your CV. Our students have taken part in international development work on gender and education in Kenya and have worked with international NGOs on projects associated with girls rescued from bonded labour in Nepal. Students have also benefited from trips to London and locally, to enhance their subject knowledge and cultural awareness through museum exhibitions and public talks linked to topics in the curriculum.

Sunderland Abroad

At level five, you will have the optional opportunity to take part in a study abroad experience for either a semester or a full year, to study Sociology at an international university. Previous Sociology students have studied their discipline at universities in California, Melbourne and Vermont. See our Sunderland Abroad page for more information.

Meet the students

  • The University of Sunderland embodies the phrase 'life-changing'.
    Amaan Haq Small

    Amaan Haq

  • The support network is brilliant and I couldn’t have done it without that support.

    Christina Richardson

  • The University has changed me as a person academically and personally.
    Claire Clifford Square Photo

    Claire Clifford

  • My experience at Sunderland has opened my eyes to the possibilities that I now have.
    Kelsey Watts Small

    Kelsey Watts

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

    Laura Gregg

  • It’s the most frightening but most amazing thing I’ve ever done.
    Lynn Cuthbertson

    Lynn Cuthbertson

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

    Sarah Newton

  • I highly recommend a placement to other students as it gives you a chance to shine at university.
    Shorifa Khatun Case Study Square Image

    Shorifa Khatun

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

    Summer Broadhurst

  • The placement provided me with contacts and helped hone my research skills.
    Suzanne Gair Case Study Square Image

    Suzanne Butler

  • It has been simply the best three years of my life, by miles.
    Syeda Fahin Case Study Square Image

    Syeda Fahin

Meet the team

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