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Guide to studying Sociology

Sociology is an increasingly popular course in the UK. It's the perfect subject for those keen to further understand how societies work.

Students attending a university lecture


  1. What's Sociology?

  2. Why study Sociology?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Sociology graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Sociology?

Sociology is the scientific study of behaviour by people in the society in which they live, how it came about, how it's organised and developed and what it may become in the future.

It's a social science. Studying Sociology uses methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis, which allows you to understand people as they adapt and change to order and disorder.

Why study Sociology?

Sociology teaches you to hold those in power to account. Why do governments do as they do? Why should we accept these norms? By studying societal behaviour we can make comparisons, attempt to solve issues and gain a rational understanding of some of society's more frustrating habits.

The skills developed during a Sociology degree are applicable to many areas of work. Improved critical faculties allow you to make rational and measured decisions in the interest of fairness, whereas a synthesis of group and independent projects provide you with skills of teamwork, self-dependence and autonomy. Furthermore, Sociology occasionally offers the chance of studying abroad, instilling skills of multiculturalism in students.  

Society as a whole is in a constant state of flux. Studying for a degree in Sociology will help you not only understand what is going on, but assist you in adapting or coping with societal change. Of all the subjects to attract a broad demographic of cultures, Sociology will certainly reap the rewards.

Study Sociology and you could combine it with another course. Examples of combinations include Sociology with Mathematics, Music or a modern language. Variety to your degree can help make your university experience that much more vibrant, and Sociology complements this very well.

University students sitting in a lecture

What jobs can you get as a Sociology graduate?

Sociology degrees teach transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as how to produce complex written work swiftly and accurately, on difficult intellectual topics.

Particular job areas, as well as sociologist, include community worker, teacher and lecturer, aid worker, social worker, youth worker, charity fundraiser, HR manager and PR.

Numerous companies offer graduate schemes in this subject, including Think Ahead.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Sociology have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Sociology students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Grade requirements depend on the university and course, but an essay-based A Level subject (or equivalent) is useful to have on your application.

Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular institution you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • BA Social Anthropology
  • BA Social Policy and Sociology
  • BA Sociology and South Asian Studies
  • BA Communications, Media and Sociology

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed via a variety of ways. These include: exams (both open and closed book), presentations, reviews, posters, policy briefs and essays. A dissertation in the final year is common, and some courses offer work placements as part of your studies.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include straight MAs in Sociology, as well as master's courses in Ancient Visual and Material Culture, Anthropological Research, Civil Society, Conflict and Social Development, and Contemporary Identity.

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