Sociology BSc (Hons)

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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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Overview

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
  • Our Sociology courses are in the top 25% for Learning opportunities and Assessment and feedback, according to the National Student Survey 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)
  • ‘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 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
  • 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 wide variety of extra-curricular activities that you can get involved with. Our sociology students have, for example, taken part in national and international trips to London and Kenya

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.

Study Abroad programme

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, USA, Melbourne, Australia and Vermont, Canada.

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)
  • 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)
  • Introduction to Criminology (20 credits)
  • Britain since 1945 (20 credits)
  • Industry, Economy and Society, 1750-1970: Economic and Industrial Development in Britain (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)

The Reg Vardy Centre,
Sir Tom Cowie Campus,
Sunderland,
SR6 0DD

54.912052,-1.374524

  • 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

Facilities

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 admissions@sunderland.ac.uk 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
  • £5,000 per 120 credits if you are from the UK or EU and studying part-time
  • £10,750 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

Employment

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.

 

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), 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.

  • 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

  • My experience at Sunderland has opened my eyes to the possibilities that I now have, and has given me friends for life.
    Kelsey Watts Small

    Kelsey Watts

  • I have a strong idea of where I want my career and life to go; I was never able to develop this understanding before coming to the University.
    SuzanneGairSmall

    Suzanne Gair

  • My lectures are always interesting! I always come away from them with a different view on things!
    Jodie Weatherston, Social Sciences graduate

    Jodie Weatherston

  • I enjoyed the placement in the second year where I carried out and conducted a mini sociological research project at an Oxfam charity shop.
    Amaan Haq Small

    Amaan Haq

  • Attending the University Open Day really opened my eyes and I was so encouraged by sitting down and talking to the tutors.
    Lynn Cuthbertson

    Lynn Cuthbertson

Meet our academics

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