Department of Social & Policy Sciences

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of how people create, organise and sustain their societies. It explores how human action, both shapes and is shaped by, surrounding economic, social and cultural structures and processes.

People walking

Having a diverse subject matter - from class to health, education, technology, crime, social welfare, death, science and sexuality, Sociology reveals new perspectives of social interaction and the world we live in.  You will learn about critical tools and explore possibilities for creating a better world.

Sociology was established as a science during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries, at a time when the idea emerged that ‘social’ sciences could provide scientific explanations of observable social behaviour emerged.

Today, Sociology addresses a wide range of issues at local, national and international levels, and it is a truly global discipline.

Why study Sociology?

21st Century Enlightenment video

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) video provides a good overview of some of the topics covered as part of a sociology degree.

The work of sociologists is fundamental to many spheres of society. As a graduate, you will be part of the development of an exciting profession.

Sociologists have many career options, including:

  • civil service and government departments
  • journalism and media
  • work with NGOS, pressure groups, social and labour movements
  • overseas development
  • lecturer or researcher at a university
  • policy-making
  • public relations, public opinion and politics
  • social and policy research
  • social care and health services.
By studying sociology you will:
Students sitting
  • develop critical skills as a researcher
  • learn how to gather and analyse complex information
  • understand how society and the State work
  • understand community and national issues in a global context
  • contribute to proposals and produce changes that can improve society.

Learn how to think sociologically

You will learn how to pose relevant questions such as:

  • what is power and how does it manifest itself in a globalised world?
  • why is our society divided by class inequality?
  • how do we deal with health, illness, ageing and death in contemporary society?
  • why is there still poverty in the XXI Century ?
  • how have childhood and family life been transformed over time?
  • why do people engage in protest?
  • how science, technology and society are connected?
  • how does social change come about?

Develop and use your sociological imagination

You will develop a broad and scientific approach by:

  • linking personal experiences with public issues
  • situating events and issues in an historical and socio-political context
  • questioning taken for granted assumptions
  • grasping the complexity of human society.

Contribute to changing the world

As a sociology student, you will learn how to create theoretically informed empirical research that can influence how the major challenges that modern society faces today are tackled.

You will be encouraged to use your sociological knowledge to learn about specific situations in different settings and apply a variety of methods to explore many different areas of study.

Why study with us?


Studying Sociology with us will give you a specific set of critical tools through which to define and discuss the substantive concerns of people and sociology.

We ground our theoretical understanding on significant contemporary socio-political events that occur as a result of economic, political and social transformations.

We promote participation and the involvement of students in a deeper awareness of their own approaches to the issues addressed during their studies.

High quality teaching with a student-centred approach

We take a student-centred approach, which is supported by a one-to-one personal tutoring system and other forms of pastoral support. We provide a range of teaching and learning experiences, including:

  • engaging lectures
  • one-to-one tutorials
  • seminars
  • guided reading
  • student presentations
  • role play
  • online discussion groups and activities
  • film analysis
  • placement opportunities.

You will learn how to work individually and in groups, write concisely and persuasively, support you arguments with evidence, undertake statistical analysis and qualitative research methods, make effective presentations.

Improve your employability

We remain one of the top universities in the country for graduate employability. We achieve this thought our unique combination of academic tuition, research training and skills and an opportunity for  undergraduate students to take a placement year.

Professionally active department with ground-breaking world-wide research

Our Sociologists are active members of numerous interdisciplinary networks that combine sociology with politics, policy and international development.

We are connected to world Sociology and participate at different levels in professional associations such as the British Sociological AssociationEuropean Sociological Association and the International Sociological Association

We regularly advise policy makers, pressure groups and social movements on specific issues and conduct research for a wide- range of organisations, to give expert advice.

Our researchers are regularly interviewed or asked to provide opinion articles for the national and international media.

Degrees in Sociology