About the course
What holds societies together? Do people pull together because they want to, or because they have to? What have been the major achievements, setbacks, and challenges to the global human rights movement? How do different societies interact, in ways that are important for the promotion and protection of human rights?
Our course provides a thorough training in the major areas of sociology and human rights. Growing your understanding of both fields, and developing a wide array of practical research skills, you are encouraged to explore and address the broadest questions about our society. You cover the many different social tensions, interactions and networks that make up everyday life, as well as the definition, development, and abuse of rights around the globe. With an impressive range of optional modules to choose from, you can engage your curiosity about a wide range of topics such as:
- Forms of democracy
- Principles and practices of human rights
- Ethics and public policy
- Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights
- Social divisions and inequality
You also have the opportunity to complete a supervised dissertation on a topic that 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.
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, 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.
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 with Human Rights (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript. You can also apply for student bursaries to go on work placements, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.
Alternatively, on a placement year you can 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.
A Placement-Linked Project module is also available as an alternative to the dissertation module in your third year. You attend shorter placements (a minimum of 150 hours in total), and use your learning on placement to inform a research project; fantastic work experience for your CV.
Our expert staff
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.
Members of our Human Rights Centre work closely with our alumni and extensive practitioner network to ensure that our research is focused on priority issues that are of direct relevance to beneficiaries such as victims of human rights violations, governments, NGOs, and international organisations such as the UN.
Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
- 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
We also offer a range of opportunities for working with projects associated with our Human Rights Centre:
- Essex Transitional Justice Network
- International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy
- Human Rights in Iran Unit
- Essex Autonomy Project
- Detention, Rights and Social Justice Programme
A good sociology course, especially one from a recognised centre of excellence like Essex, opens many doors.
Our 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
- Home Officer
- Synergy Healthcare Research
We also work with our 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 are human rights? How do we protect them? And what challenges do we face when promoting human rights on an international level? Discover the fundamental principles and practices, including topics related to international law and philosophy, which underpin the protection and promotion of our human rights.
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.
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.
Who were the key sociologists studying the United States? And how have issues like democracy, inequality, gender roles, poverty, gangs and guns become sources of enchantment and disenchantment in the US? Studying one sociologist per week, we explore important and exciting interpretations of American society.
How far should modern governments be allowed to exercise their power over their citizens? Should citizens be free to use drugs? Should the police have greater surveillance powers? Should the government draft its citizens into its military and send them to stop genocide abroad? Investigate these difficult questions through readings both by contemporary political theorists and canonical work, by renowned authors such as Plato, Rousseau and Marx.
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.
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 are the problems with class analysis? And how can you understand citizenship rights? Are they useful for analysing inclusion and exclusion, how do they relate to gender, and where does migration fit into the picture? Build your understanding of race, class and gender by learning more about how these concepts relate to social inequality, rights and identity.
How does stratification lead to inequality in education? Is there social mobility between generations? Do early life experiences influence your later choices and decisions? Examine sociological empirical research on class, gender, and racial inequalities across the life course. Engage with the evidence to formulate your own research questions and hypotheses.
How important are human rights today? What role do they play in contemporary society? And can you analyse their impact on topics like freedom of expression or global justice? Learn to identify and evaluate human rights issues in range of real-life situations, within a regional, national and international 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.
What effect does globalisation have on crime and justice? How do we deal with global crime issues, like terrorism or illegal migration? Can we prevent large-scale crime, such as genocide? Study the changing nature of criminology, looking at contemporary developments, alongside the problem of balancing human rights with human security.
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. Our Programme Specification gives more detail on modules for your year abroad.
- 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.