Sociology BA

students at event

The Sociology degree at Birmingham provides an excellent opportunity to explore the social changes reshaping the world today. This course provides the knowledge and skills to critically engage with key issues facing contemporary societies including globalisation; the changing nature of work and the family; gender roles and sexuality; multiculturalism; the impact of the media and information technologies; and new forms of politics.

In addition to these 'big picture' social theories we place a strong emphasis on developing social science research skills - so valued by employers - with research methods training in each year. This culminates in a final year dissertation where you research and write an extended piece on a topic of your own choice, with the support of an expert supervisor. 

96% of our students felt their communication skills had improved as a result of this course.

Sociology at Birmingham is an excellent place to develop a sociological imagination to understand the challenges and opportunities we face.

Course details: Details | Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply | Joint honours combinations.

Course fact file

UCAS code: L300

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 215 across the department

Applications in 2012: 874

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

Course details: Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply | Joint honours combinations.

This programme provides the knowledge and skills to critically engage with key issues facing contemporary societies including globalisation; the changing nature of work and the family; gender roles and sexuality; multiculturalism; the impact of the media and information technologies and new forms of politics.

In addition to these 'big picture' social theories we place a strong emphasis on developing social science research skills - so valued by employers - with research methods training in each year. This culminates in a final year dissertation where you research and write an extended piece on a topic of your own choice, with the support of an expert supervisor.

In addition to our Single Honours programme, Sociology can also be studied as part of a range of Joint Honours options including Political Science; Social Policy; Philosphy; and Education.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.

Sociology at Birmingham is an excellent place to develop a sociological imagination to understand the challenges and opportunities we face.

Why study this course

Sociology seeks to understand how social relations and structures influence all aspects of our lives. Join us and explore the dynamic, unprecedented social changes reshaping the world today.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our teaching. Our staff are active researchers who want to share their enthusiasm for sociology with you. We believe teaching and learning should be both rigorous and enjoyable, and seek to involve students in continually developing our activities. The Sociology programme at Birmingham presents a balanced view of the subject. You will be given a broad grounding in the major approaches to the discipline, with emphasis on the cultivation of research skills. Your degree will culminate in a dissertation on a topic of your choice. This reflects our view that you should be doing sociology, not just reading about it, from the very start of your degree.

As a Birmingham Sociology graduate you will be well equipped for your chosen career or further study. In particular you will have gained:

  • Critical ability – to read, absorb and assess complex ideas and arguments about the contemporary world
  • Research skills – practical experience of designing and conducting research, including interviews, questionnaires and using data analysis software
  • Presentational skills – to present your ideas and research in appropriate formats
  • The capacity to work alone or in groups – you will have gained experience of independent study and research as well as working, solving problems and debating ideas with others.

Students applying for this degree will join the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), a department that consistently scores high in the National Student Survey (NSS) and is consistently viewed as one of the best departments in the country.

The Department also has an excellent record in the Guardian League Table for Politics. We are consistently viewed as one of the best departments in the country since the Guardian started publishing their League Tables in 2000 and in the lastest (2013) Sociology placed 8/88, up from 15th.

POLSIS has a balance of expertise that covers all areas of the discipline and has long-established strengths in the fields of political theory, European politics, international relations theory, security studies, diplomatic studies, political sociology, political economy, Pacific Asian politics, environmental politics and British politics.

As well as benefiting from our world-leading expertise, you’ll also get the chance to take part in a range of in-house activities that vary by year and are designed to complement your curriculum and enrich your time at Birmingham. These have included:

  • Annual Student Conference 
  • Research Assistance Scheme, where students are paired with a member of staff to help them in specific research tasks 
  • Simulation exercises using real case examples 
  • Simulation events and research visits to local and national places of interest

Learn more about our student experience activities and the work of the Department.

Modules

The programme has been carefully designed to advance your skills and knowledge each year: from broad, introductory level modules in the first year to specialist options and a substantial piece of independent research in the final year.

Each year there is a balance between compulsory modules in the ‘core’ parts of the discipline (eg, theory and methods) and the chance for you to develop your own pathway with a range of specialist choices in and outside of Sociology. Each year students take 120 credits, typically six modules. (Note that as with all degree programmes, not all optional modules will be available every year).

Modules in the first year

In your first year you will be introduced to degree level sociology through Social Worlds and the Sociological Imagination, gain an understanding of stratification through Social Divisions, and learn the basics of research design and methods. In addition, you can select optional courses from a wide range of modules in or outside the department (for example, languages, politics, psychology, economics, social policy, history or African studies).

Compulsory core modules

Optional modules (60 credits)

A wide choice from modules in related disciplines including Politics, Social Policy, Social History, Economics, African Studies, Russian and East European Studies, American and Canadian Studies. A modern language course is also an option.

Criminology Pathway for Sociology Students

  • 20 credits - Introduction to Social Policy (Social Policy)
  • 20 credits - Social Issues and Social Policy (Social Policy)

Modules in the second year

The second year builds on these foundations by developing your understanding of Modern Sociological Theory, and introducing debates about the nature of Global Societies. You can choose a specialist option in either Gender and Sexuality or Ethnic Relations, and receive more advanced methods training in data analysis and preparation for your final year dissertation. In addition, you can again choose from a range of optional modules in or outside the department.

Compulsory core modules

An opportunity to specialise in and develop one of the 'Social Divisions' studied in the first year:

Optional modules (40 credits)

A wide choice from modules in Sociology and/or related disciplines including Politics, Social Policy, Social History, Economics, African Studies, Russian and East European Studies, American and Canadian Studies. A modern language course is also an option.

Criminology Pathway for Sociology Students 

  • 20 credits - Social Inclusion (Social Policy)
  • 20 credits - Social Theory And Social Policy (Social Policy)
  • 20 credits - New Migration and Superdiversity (Social Policy)
  • 20 credits - Crime, Victims and Society (Social Policy)

Modules in the final year

The focus of the third year is your independent, supervised dissertation which brings together your research skills on a project defined by you. Your training in key sociological ideas is completed with a module on Contemporary Social Theory, and you can then specialise in the areas of the discipline that interest you most. Our teaching staff, who are active researchers, run options in their own specialist fields including the family, political sociology, celebrity culture, the sociology of technology, religion and society and ethnicity and migration.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.

Compulsory modules (60 credits)

Optional modules (60 credits)

Criminology Pathway for Sociology Students

  • 20 credits - Identity, Politics and Everyday Life (Education)
  • 20 credits - Global Capitalism, Migration and the Changing Face of Europe (CREES)
  • 20 credits - Crime and Justice: Communities and Diversity (Social Policy)
  • 20 credits - Agency and Morality (Social Policy)
  • 20 credits - Poverty and Social Security (Social Policy)

Modules also include a wide choice from modules in related disciplines including Politics, Social Policy, Social History, Economics, African Studies, Russian and East European Studies, American and Canadian Studies.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: not accepted

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: L300.
Learn more about applying.

University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.

UCAS

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Joint Honours combinations

You can study Sociology as part of a Joint Honours degree with the following subjects:

Year abroad options:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

How will I be taught?

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Teaching and learning in the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) is based around three principles: student-centred, responding to individual needs, developing transferable skills and encouraging preparation for future careers; research-led, ensuring students are taught by experts in their field and prioritising 'learning by doing' to foster critical thinking and active enquiry; committed to social justice, concerned with issues of equality, inclusion, responsibility and reflexive awareness, and committed to an ideal of democratic decision-making – consulting all students about their learning experience.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre’s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

Read more about the student experience at POLSIS and our Sociology student profiles.

Personal Tutor

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

Contact hours

As well as time with your lecturers and personal tutor, academic and professional services staff (like our dedicated Careers Network team) will be avialable to offer individual and group support throughout your time here at Birmingham.

Learning settings

This degree is taught by our internationally renowned Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) which is located in Muirhead Tower on own main Edgbaston campus.

Departments from across the School of Government and Society are all based within the recently refurbished Muirhead Tower. Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.

Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soliel) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.

The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for post graduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.

Your lectures and teaching will take place in a variety of versatile lecture theatres and breakout rooms which have moved on a lot since the traditional whiteboard and pen. Our rooms are all equipped with wireless connection and constantly updated technology including all the audio-visual equipment that you would expect from one of the UK's premier insitutions.

Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside our lectures, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.

Self study is an essential part of the programme and requires self motivation and enthusiasm for your subject. It also allows you to pursue your own lines of enquiry and become an independent thinker.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Employability

100% of our graduates go on to work or undertake further study after graduation (KiS 2013)

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Career opportunities

Employers recognise that a sociology degree means critical thinking, the ability to communicate and knowledge of crucial social issues that affect both the private and public sectors. In addition, a strong training in research methods and evidence of an independent dissertation give our graduates a real advantage when they enter the jobs market. 

Our graduates have progressed into a range of occupations including management training, law, market and social research, the media, policy development, charities and teaching. Many also go on to postgraduate study and training.

How can the POLSIS Graduate add even more to their experience?

POLSIS runs a range of in-house activities that vary by year and are designed to complement the curriculum including an Annual Student Conference a Research Assistance Scheme (where students are paired with a member of staff to help them in specific research tasks); the opportunity to participate in simulation exercises using real case examples; and an annual Undergraduate Conference. Other activities have included simulation events and research visits to local and national places of interest. The Department is committed to enhancing these extra dimensions to the student experience in the years to come cooperating with elected student societies to find new ways of enriching students time at Birmingham.

Previous POLSIS student have also accessed "The Honey Pot" fund which provides financial support to undergraduate students at the University of Birmingham to undertake work experience over the summer vacation period. Students can apply for up to £800 to support low or unpaid work experience placements.

professional-development-module

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.