About the course
What holds societies together? Do people pull together because they have to or because they want to? What motivates so many people to migrate from their own societies to others? On our course you explore why individuals, groups, and cultures are the way they are, and examine why they might be different.
At Essex we investigate what connects people with each other, as well as what divides them. We consider every aspect of our daily lives, from how we relate to politicians, celebrities and friends, to how we define ourselves, our families, and others. You study topics ranging from digital media and society, to psychiatry and mental illness, to Japanese culture, to the art, film and personal testimony of war.
We are a large and friendly department, offering a range and diversity of specialisms including:
- Social divisions, inequality, the nature of work and commercial culture
- Culture, identity and subjectivity
- Public policy regarding health, the environment, crime and aging
- Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights
- Receive training in sociological methods – how to design a survey, conduct an interview, and use quantitative analysis from basic statistic to big data – in order to ask the difficult questions
You also have the opportunity to complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you, encouraging you to think differently and connect with live issues and debates, and preparing you for your graduate career.
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 91% overall student satisfaction in 2014.
“Prior to coming to Essex, I discovered how highly ranked the Department of Sociology was for student satisfaction and research. I attended an open day and discovered for myself what Essex could offer me – I knew then this was a place I could see myself studying at. I now work for the registered charity, Essex Coalition of Disabled People, and every day I feel like I can help people in my job and use the skills gained throughout my degree.”
Faye Savage, BA Sociology, 2009
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education through providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
You can also undertake a placement year in which you gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
Training social scientists of the future
We offer you the opportunity to follow a specialised pathway that embeds quantitative methods in your degree. Successful completion of specified modules entitles you to receive the qualifier ‘(Applied Quantitative Methods)’ at the end of your degree title, for example BA Sociology (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript. You can also receive student bursaries to go on work placements, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.
Our expert staff
You may already be familiar with our academics before you meet them in lectures; core A-Level texts are written by us.
Our world-leading academics have their fingers on the pulse of modern society; whether it’s the battle between Apple and Spotify or the exploitation of female bodybuilders, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research into your course.
As well as publishing bestselling books, our academics have appeared in radio and television broadcasts such as Professor Mike Roper on the BBC World Service broadcast, London: The Psychology of War and Professor Pam Cox in the BBC TWO series Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter and Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs.
Sociology at Essex is led by Professor Mike Roper, Professor Joan Busfield, Dr Michael Halewood, Dr Roisin Ryan-Flood, Dr Linsey McGoey, Professor Pam Cox, Professor Ewa Morawska and Dr Neli Demireva.
- 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, can open many doors.
Sociology students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including local and central government, NGOs, social work, market research, project management, fundraising, auditing, marketing, case-work, youth and community work, voluntary sector management and lobbying.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- The Institute of Public Finance
- Guardian Professional
- Synergy Healthcare Research
We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore 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 just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.
Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.
What research methods do sociologists use? And what are the methodologies underpinning them? Wish to learn how to critically evaluate social research? And receive training in collecting quantitative and qualitative data? We study the principles of social science investigation and how to carry out original research.
How can sociology help you understand the world in which you live? What are some of the major features and trends in present-day societies? Using sociological tools, you analyse key features of different societies, such as stratification, poverty, racism, consumption, multinational corporations, religion, and the gender division of labour in low-income countries.
Does the media make people violent? Objectify women? Tell you what to do? Study the modern media as a social terrain, order of communication and domain of ideas, using examples from cinema, photography, newspapers and TV. Examine popular debates and consider practical methodologies for undertaking media research in the future.
What are different forms of crime? What is the role of criminal justice? And how effective are penal sanctions? We provide a critical introduction to the problem of, and responses to, crime. You examine the history of criminological ideas, Britain’s criminal justice system, and current debates on crime and control.
Want to study sociological classics? Wish to read and interpret original texts by Marx, Durkheim and Weber? Then study a selection of the contemporary writers who followed? We look at classic and modern thinkers, carrying their ideas into new contexts and inverting approaches to social understanding.
What methods are used in carrying out empirical sociological research? How do you critically analyse approaches to social research? And what are the skills required to undertake such research? We introduce the statistical foundations for empirical research and methods of analysis for qualitative data, building practical skills for your final-year project.
How have lesbian and gay lives developed since the 1950s? What key films provided a visual culture for such change? And what are the recent developments in queer theory? Study the issues raised and analyse the sociologically significant developments in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives.
What is wrong with using punishment as a criminal justice institution? How is punishment a social phenomenon? What are the formal elements of punishment? And how does punishment fit into our wider social world? Study the problem of punishment in a philosophical, social and contemporary context.
How do you understand contemporary society? What role do key topics like modernity, post-modernity, feminism and capitalism play? And what do contemporary theorists like Foucault and Bourdieu say? Learn why philosophical knowledge is vital for sociological understanding, while deepening your own awareness of the subject.
Want to focus on your own topic? Keen to conduct research and write up original work? Your project can range from empirical research to theoretical studies, with guidance from your supervisor. The eventual success of your research will depend on the ideas that you develop, plan and undertake.
How has the concept of mental health been developed by psychiatrists? What role do genetic, psychological, social and cultural factors play in causing mental illness? How has mental health treatment developed? Critically examine mental illness, psychiatric thinking and practice, and mental health services, using real-life examples in your debates.
What impact has the printed press had on our social and cultural life? What about radio, cinema, TV and recorded music? And how important is all this in the light of new technological advancements? Examine the development of our mass media culture, from the nineteenth century to the present day.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience, with a focus on discussion and problem-solving
- Lab sessions to improve technical research skills
- Assessed through a combination of written coursework and end-of-year examinations
- Weighting is 50% coursework and 50% examinations
- Complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you
If you already have your results and want to apply for 2016 entry through Clearing, complete our Clearing application form
and we’ll get back in touch with you or give us a ring
to discuss your grades.
IELTS entry requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)
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.
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.