Study Sociology abroad

About this subject

  • About this subject
  • Is this the course for me?
  • Careers prospects
  • Studying Sociology
  • Where to study?

Defined as the study of human society, sociology covers a wide range of topics from the development of institutions to the interpretation of cultural attitudes. The reasoning behind the subject predates the foundations of the discipline and social analysis has been carried out by a number of great philosophers including Plato.

The phrase “sociology” was first used to describe the study of society in 1780 by French academic Emmanuel Joseph Steynes, and stemmed from the Latin word “socius” meaning companion. These days, sociology is a widely studied subject both as an academic discipline in its own right, and in conjunction with other subjects such as law, literature, history and philosophy.

Is this the course for me?

Do you love learning about human nature? Do you have a passion for understanding why society is structured as it is? Is human reasoning and logic something that fascinates you? If so, then sociology sounds like it could potentially be the perfect course for you. However, as part of your course, you will also be expected to study the historical and legal context, as well as understanding different theological believes, so having a strong interest in such subjects is extremely beneficial.

Most sociology courses are assessed through the written essays and examinations, with contact hours being lower than many other academic programmes. It is important that not only do potential students possess strong analytical skills, but that they are also motivated and capable of independent study and capable of engaging with key critical texts.

Careers prospects

Many of the graduates who choose to study sociology at University do so solely because of their interest in the subject. A qualification in sociology does not always lead to a specific vocational career, however there are a wide range of jobs available to potential graduates. A popular career choice for a sociology graduate is working within social positions such as a social researcher, gathering statistics in a range of topics causing concern within communities, or as a social carer or youth worker caring for vulnerable members of society.

However, it is also possible for sociology graduate to pursue a career in business, particularly in roles that include interacting with people. Many graduates find roles in sales departments, human resources departments or even in public relations positions.

For those willing to partake in further study, there is also the option to enter different fields such as journalism, sixth form teaching, or even to take the Graduate Diploma in Law to train as a solicitor or barrister.

Studying Sociology

There are a number of courses available for those wishing to pursue a qualification in sociology. If you already have a degree then you might want to consider studying a post graduate course such as an MA which will take a minimum of a year to complete. An undergraduate programme will take a minimum of 3 years, although some courses will allow students to partake in an Erasmus or work experience year between the second and third stages of the course.

The entry requirements of your course will very much depend upon where you study and at what level. Post-graduate courses will expect you to have a 2:1 degree and undergraduates will be expected to have a minimum of 3 A-levels, or equivalent in humanities – related subjects.

For those wishing to study in the UK who don’t speak English as their first language, it will be compulsory to sit an IELTS test and score a minimum of 6.0-6.5. Sociology is a course that is predominantly assessed through written work and examination. Although students are expected to attend lectures, a lot of the work for this particular course will be done outside of university contact hours.

Where to study?

Cambridge, Durham and Bath University have all been rated as top institutions for the study of sociology in the UK, and the prestige of your University is important if you are studying a non-vocational qualification. If your predicted grades are exceptionally high, then you should consider these establishments. If your predicted grades are slightly lower then there are still many great Universities offering fantastic undergraduate courses.

You should also carefully consider the fees and the cost of living while you are studying. To help make your decision easier, work out how much financial support you will be getting while you study and which scholarships and grants you are entitled to.

Many of the top recruiters look for graduates who can demonstrate previous experience within a working environment so it is important not only to look at the academic reputation of a University, but also its networking potential for future employers. Many universities hold networking opportunities for students where they can apply for any potential summer internships and work in order to increase employability in the post-graduate jobs market. Firms are also more likely to hire some-one that has worked for them before. Your personality will also have an impact upon where you choose to study. With all of the statistics and academic information you receive, it is easy to forget that for year or so, your choice of academic institution will dictate where you live. If you are planning on attending any university open days before you make your application, then make sure you investigate the local area to see if it is somewhere you could envisage yourself living.

What Sociology courses are there?


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