About the course
Join one of the top sociology departments in the UK and further your understanding of the tensions, interactions and networks that dictate how societies are organised. You contribute to the thinking that guides organisations such as the Home Office, Amnesty International and the United Nations.
You explore some of the most important and significant debates in contemporary social theory, learning to think analytically about theoretical questions. You discover the importance of social theory in developing a politically engaged understanding of concepts such as post-structuralism, feminism and actor-network theory, focusing on topics such as:
- The history of digital piracy
- Sociology of human rights
- Media and criminology
- Gender and sexuality
You also develop the skills needed to make your own contribution to the field, gaining a critical and coherent perspective on empirical research and examining the key assumptions and ideological underpinnings of qualitative and quantitative research.
Our Department of Sociology was rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and we consistently receive strong student satisfaction scores, including 96% overall student satisfaction in 2015.
Our expert staff
We are a large and friendly department, offering a diverse range of research interests and with staff members who are committed to teaching, research and publication that covers a broad geographical spectrum.
Many have worked at the local level with local authorities, justice councils, community partnerships and charities. Others have worked at a national and international level with bodies like the United Nations, the European Commission’s Expert Group on Public Understanding of Science, Amnesty International, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Home Office and national non-governmental organisations.
- Dedicated postgraduate support facilities
- Our renowned off-campus Graduate Conference takes place every February
- A unique Student Resource Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students’ work, and attend workshops on research skills
- The Sociology common room is open all day Monday-Friday, is stocked with daily newspapers, magazines and journals, and has free drinks available
- Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
- Our students’ Sociology Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates
A good sociology course, especially one from a recognised centre of excellence like Essex, opens many doors.
This course provides excellent preparation for further academic study, and many of our postgraduates go on to successful academic careers, both in the UK and overseas.
Others have established careers in non-governmental organisations, local authorities, specialist think tanks, government departments, charities, media production, and market intelligence.
We work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.
What is the significance of 'the de-centring of the subject'? What problems does the materiality of the body pose for sociology? Do claims for objectivity now make any sense at all? Gain an understanding of the significant debates in contemporary social theory, while learning to think analytically about theoretical questions.
How do you design social research for projects? Examine the research process, from forming initial research questions through to writing up your findings. Develop your own research ideas via the approaches discussed, building a critical perspective on empirical research that will help you with future research goals.
What interests you? Do you want to deepen your knowledge, build invaluable research skills and develop your academic freedom? Your dissertation lets you study a topic of your choosing, in depth, with supervision and guidance from our world-leading academics.
How do you critically analyse quantitative data? What are the appropriate statistical techniques for your research questions? And how do you interpret your results? Learn to conduct investigations relevant to your own research, as well as be a critical user of other research.
Do hackers have ethics? Who owns digital media? Is surveillance justified? Explore the history of the digital media economy, looking at hacking, digital media piracy and peer-to-peer networks. Build your understanding of the social, economic and cultural role that digital media now plays in developed Western societies.
Who are the key thinkers regarding the media? How did the modern media developed? And what role does it play in regulating society? In discussion-oriented classes, examine the relationship between society and media technology, analyse the economic and social organisation, and study ethics and regulation of our modern media.
How can feminist and queer theory be used to analyse sociological issues? What impact does gender and sexuality have on topics like kinship, globalisation, digital intimacies, and the body? Explore contemporary sociological developments in the study of gender, sexuality and intimacy.
How has advertising tried to understand the consumer? What challenges are posed by international advertising? Or by the arrival of new media and alternative delivery systems? Explore the history of advertising in Britain and North America, then learn how to analyse and theorise about advertising and the wider creative industries.
What are the different approaches to qualitative data analysis? And when should qualitative interviews be used? Learn about the qualitative research process, including design, selection of interview subjects and analysis, so that you are equipped to tackle your own qualitative research in the future.
How do you critically assess documents? What should you look for when analysing qualitative research? Learn the skills to critique documents based on their authenticity, representativity, validity, and meaning. Apply this knowledge to real-life case studies and class discussion.
How does ethnographic research enable you to analyse relationships? Let you document symbols that inspire belief? Or inform you about social marketing and behaviour change? Study ethnographic research techniques from the perspective of both a social scientist and a policy maker, developing your critical abilities and understanding.
How have human rights practices been socially created? What social change is likely in the future and how will that change take place? Do human rights vary across cultures? Do human rights offer a basis for rights which can transcend the nation state? How do they accommodate migration and global inequality? Study human rights from a sociological perspective, developing a historical, critical and cultural understanding of the major theories and concepts in light of these questions.
How are work and home life organised differently across the globe? Does gender add to this? Can we challenge our traditional understandings of work and home? As work helps to define your identity, explore the nature of both formal and informal work, using case studies from around the world.
How do we challenge our conventional understanding of crime? And what can we do about this? Examine the history of criminology and learn about the contemporary debates. Study topics like criminalisation, social deviance, and surveillance and punishment. Look ahead with analysis of new work by leading authors in the field.
What do we mean when we talk about organised crime? And how is this used as a tool for governance? Explore landmark studies and emerging horizons in the field of organised crime studies. Gain an understanding of the social, political, media, cultural and ideological topics related to organised crime.
Is one man’s terrorist another’s freedom fighter? Go beyond that debate to really challenge your understanding of terrorism. Learn how to define and analyse terrorism. Examine themes on dimensions of terrorism, including political, animal rights and religious extremism. Explore counter terrorism, covering topics like surveillance, policing and the law.
How do we understand crime in our increasingly globalised world? And what about forms of control and criminal justice policy? Critically examine criminological thought on globalisation, migration, policy convergence, punishment, and crimes against the state.
How do you interpret studies using panel data? What are the various approaches to panel data analysis? And can you analyse the same data using different methods? Gain the knowledge and confidence to manipulate panel data sets, while developing practical skills in selecting and conducting panel data analysis.
What are the principles of modern survey design? And what is best practice? Explore the fundamentals of survey design and the concept of survey error. Analyse different types of design and modes of data collection, drawing on real-life examples. Build the transferable study skills required to conduct professional surveys.
How do you deal with sampling error? What problems arise from non-response errors? And can you reduce such errors? Examine methods for mitigating non-responses errors and understand the key issues in managing data and survey processes, while gaining practical experience of designing samples.
How do coverage and nonresponse errors arise in surveys? And what impact do they have on your estimates? Improve your understanding of coverage and nonresponse in surveys. Study practical methods to deal with the problems that come from this. Apply estimation procedures that correctly incorporate adjustments for such errors.
Wish to design questionnaires? Build your theoretical knowledge and the practical tools to develop and write survey questions, and to construct questionnaires. Apply your understanding to the development of your questionnaire and implementation materials. Receive feedback on your questionnaire design.
- We have a strong research group culture
- Graduate students are encouraged to take part in our weekly Departmental Seminar which regularly features eminent outside speakers
- Your modules are assessed by coursework and your dissertation
- Your 15,000-word dissertation allows you to focus in-depth on your chosen topic from April onwards
- You work with close supervision from academic staff
UK entry requirements
A degree with an overall 2:1.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
IELTS entry requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.