About the course
What motivates so many people to migrate from their own societies to others? Why are some cultures so different from each other? Our course combines sociological and anthropological approaches to the study of society, exploring how humans understand their social worlds in different ways.
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 including:
- Witchcraft, potlatch ceremonies in North America, and the aesthetics of Nomadic people
- Anthropological approaches to gender, ethnicity, race and kinship
- Sociology of migration, religion belief, and multinational corporations
- Birth, sex and death
You also 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, and can complete a supervised dissertation on a topic that inspires you.
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.
“I’ve always been interested in issues surrounding child protection. Because Essex offers an impressive range of modules, I was able to specialize in this area. Now I have my dream job with the NSPCC! Spending time listening to young people and ensuring they are offered the best possible care is exactly what I want to do.”
Sindy Mohanathas, BA Criminology with Social Psychology, 2011
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.
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 Social Anthropology (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.
Sociology with Social Anthropology at Essex is led by Professor Andrew Canessa, Professor Colin Samson and Dr Sandya Hewamanne.
Professor Canessa has conducted extensive field research in highland Bolivia among an Aymara-speaking people.
Professor Samson has been working with the Innu peoples of the Labrador-Quebec peninsula since 1994. The early phases of this work involved a human rights campaign with Survival International, resulting in the publication of the widely-cited report Canada's Tibet: the killing of the Innu in 1999.
Dr Sandya Hewamanne is a Cultural Anthropologist specializing in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Economic Anthropology, and Anthropology of Globalization and Development.
- 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.
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
- 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.
How do you study culture? We analyse the history, methods, and theories of social anthropology, using a range of ethnographic and case studies (from witchcraft to the aesthetics of nomadic people). Develop a critical awareness of how your own culture, and that of others, can be studied.
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.
Certain ideas shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us—ideas like democracy, free speech, individualism, free markets, and humans rights. These ideas took their definitive modern form during a politically and intellectually revolutionary stretch of history known as the Enlightenment (1650-1800). This interdisciplinary module examines this period and thus serves as an essential prerequisite for students who want to understand the intellectual currents that run through the world they live in. Graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they’ve taken.
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.
How is the body understood and experienced around the world? In what ways does our culture affect this? Does gender and power also play a part in our understanding? And why does our experience of death vary across cultures? Study the basic facts of human existence from a cross-cultural perspective.
What research methods do anthropologists use and why? When is participant observation appropriate and what are the ethical issues involved? Gain an introduction to the research methods and practical issues that revolve around anthropological fieldwork, as well as building your understanding of the theoretical and ethical implications.
Want first-hand experience of a research trip? Spend two weeks in the Yucatan, Mexico. Examine Maya culture and society in Merida, visiting archaeological sites, museums and nature reserves. Undertake an ethnographic research project in the village of Yaxumah, under supervision from an anthropologist who has researched here for twenty years.
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 are the gender relations within indigenous communities? How does the tourist industry view indigenous people? Study anthropological perspectives on subaltern groups in Latin America, focusing on indigenous people and Afro-Latin Americans. Examine issues of representation, identity and political mobilisation.
What is it to be an American Indian today? Has the slavery legacy contributed to contemporary debates on criminal justice? What are the politics for a Latino presence? Examine social, political and economic encounters between European settlers, American Indians, African-Americans and Latinos that shaped the USA, from colonisation to today.
What did the first anthropologists, discovering places outside Europe, say in their biographies? How does this contrast with contemporary anthropologists? What did the first explorers put in their travel reports? Or early missionaries in their diaries? Study primary source materials, plus films, to learn more about depictions of other societies.
What is ‘trauma’ and how is its history connected to that of war in the modern age? How have stories of trauma become a feature of contemporary society, and why? This module traces the history of trauma in the age of ‘total war’, from the two World Wars, through the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts, to the present, linking the history and sociology of medicine to the cultural and social history of modern warfare.
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 about modules on 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.