Undergraduate Course

BSc Sociology with Data Science

BSc Sociology with Data Science

Overview

The details
Sociology with Data Science
L310
October 2024
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

How can data science methods help answer social science questions? How can we combine a deep understanding of the social world, with the latest tools and data sources to analyse it? Discover how to ask the right questions, and develop the skills to answer them. By complementing a sociological understanding of the world with programming and analytical skills, you become a social scientist that can both understand and shape the big data revolution.

At Essex we investigate what connects people with each other, as well as what divides them. You experience a lively, informal environment with the opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics including:

  • The role of software in everyday life
  • Programming with Python and Java
  • Key ethical and social issues in digital societies
  • Data visualisation
  • Theories of social stratification
  • Race, class and gender
  • Sociological research methods
  • Natural language engineering

With research methods rapidly changing in response to the large-scale generation of data within society, sociology needs to ensure it is engaged with new digital methods to both benefit from them, and to shape them. Sociologists with programming skills are highly valued in any organisation that must gather and draw inferences from data. By combining a sociological understanding with practical programming skills you learn how to understand and be that change in society.

Our BSc Sociology with Data Science is taught by our Department of Sociology and Criminology in partnership with our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering to provide an interdisciplinary course. We are 2nd in UK for research power in sociology (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021) and 9th in the UK for research impact in computer science (Grade Point Average, REF 2021).

We offer expertise in many areas that complement the study of society and technology, including criminology, social history, visual sociology, economic sociology, US and European studies and cultural rights.

Why we're great.
  • You have access to a dedicated Student Resource Centre offering academic and personal support
  • We are committed to developing the data scientists of the future
  • By combining your study in the fields of sociology and computer science you acquire a range of skills valued by employers including research, interpreting data and debating

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond our university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement 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.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university.

Placement year

You can also undertake a placement year in which you gain relevant work experience with a 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.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

You are taught by a team of award-winning internationally renowned scholars widely regarded as leading experts in their fields.

Our academics believe in doing research that matters and makes a difference; whether it's the battle between big data and human rights or the policing of sex workers, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research in your course.

Couse leader and Digital Sociologist, Dr James Allen-Robertson, is interested in the relationship between humans and technology, digital cultures, and in the development of new digital methods using data science.

Specialist facilities

  • A unique Student Study Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students' work, and attend workshops on research skills
  • The common room is open all day Monday-Friday, has a hot drinks vending machine, water cooler and microwave as well as a small number of lockers 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
  • Collaborate with the Essex Institute of Data Analytics and Data Science (IADS) and the ESRC Business and Local Government (BLoG) Data Research Centre of the University of Essex

Your future

With a predicted shortage of data scientists, now is the time to future-proof your career. Data scientists are required in every sector, carrying out statistical analysis or mining data on social media, so our course opens the door to almost any industry, from health, to government, to publishing.

Our graduates are highly sought after by a range of employers and find employment in financial services, scientific computation, decision making support and government, risk assessment, statistics, education and other sectors.

We also work with the University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Enhance your degree and demonstrate your quantitative skills with Q-Step. By following the Q-Step pathway of modules within your existing course, you will graduate from Essex with a qualifier award at the end of your degree, signalling to employers your capability in highly sought after quantitative research skills.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

  • GCSE: Mathematics C/4.
  • A-levels: BBB - BBC or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A-levels.
  • BTEC: DDM - DMM or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of the equivalent of 2 full A-levels. The acceptability of BTECs is dependent on subject studied and optional units taken - email ugquery@essex.ac.uk for advice.
  • Combined qualifications on the UCAS tariff: 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A levels or equivalent. Tariff point offers may be made if you are taking a qualification, or mixture of qualifications, from the list on our undergraduate application information page.
  • IB: 30 - 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555-554. Our Maths requirement can be met with either: 4 in Standard level Maths; 3 in Higher level Maths; or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
  • IB Career-related Programme: We consider combinations of IB Diploma Programme courses with BTECs or other qualifications. Advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • QAA-approved Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • T-levels: We consider T-levels on a case-by-case basis, depending on subject studied. The offer for most courses is Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core.

Contextual Offers:

We are committed to ensuring that all students with the merit and potential to benefit from an Essex education are supported to do so. For October 2024 entry, if you are a home fee paying student residing in the UK you may be eligible for a Contextual Offer of up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, below our standard conditional offer.
Factors we consider:

  • Applicants from underrepresented groups
  • Applicants progressing from University of Essex Schools Membership schools/colleges
  • Applicants who attend a compulsory admissions interview
  • Applicants who attend an Offer Holder Day at our Colchester or Southend campus

Our contextual offers policy outlines additional circumstances and eligibility criteria.

For further information about what a contextual offer may look like for your specific qualification profile, email ugquery@essex.ac.uk.

If you haven't got the grades you hoped for, have a non-traditional academic background, are a mature student, or have any questions about eligibility for your course, more information can be found on our undergraduate application information page or get in touch with our Undergraduate Admissions Team.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Undergraduate Admissions team at ugquery@essex.ac.uk to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall, or specified score in another equivalent test that we accept.

Details of English language requirements, including component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

If we accept the English component of an international qualification it will be included in the academic levels listed above for the relevant countries.

English language shelf-life

Most English language qualifications have a validity period of 5 years. The validity period of Pearson Test of English, TOEFL and CBSE or CISCE English is 2 years.

If you require a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Pre-sessional English courses

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.

Pending English language qualifications

You don’t need to achieve the required level before making your application, but it will be one of the conditions of your offer.

If you cannot find the qualification that you have achieved or are pending, then please email ugquery@essex.ac.uk .

Requirements for second and final year entry

Different requirements apply for second and final year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK. Details of English language requirements, including UK Visas and Immigration minimum component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

The Sociological Imagination
(30 CREDITS)

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.

View The Sociological Imagination on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Researching Social Life
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Researching Social Life on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: CORE

Introduction to Programming
(15 CREDITS)

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the fundamental concepts of computer programming. After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles and concepts that underlie the procedural programming model, explain and make use of high-level programming language features that support control, data and procedural abstraction. Also, they will be able to analyse and explain the behaviour of simple programs that incorporate standard control structures, parameterised functions, arrays, structures and I/O.

View Introduction to Programming on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Object-Oriented Programming
(15 CREDITS)

Want to become a Java programmer? Topics covered in this module include control structures, classes, objects, inheritance, polymorphism, interfaces, file I/O, event handling, graphical components, and more. You will develop your programming skills in supervised lab sessions where help will be at hand should you require it.

View Object-Oriented Programming on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Unlocking Your Academic Potential: How to Study at University
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

SC104-4-FY or SC106-4-FY or Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Power and Agency in a Global World
(30 CREDITS)

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.

View Power and Agency in a Global World on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Social Data Science
(15 CREDITS)

With research methods rapidly changing in response to the large-scale generation of data within society, Social Science needs to ensure it is engaged with new digital methods to both benefit from them, and to shape them. In this module students will learn to combine their growing knowledge about society, social processes and research design, with powerful tools to both draw on and analyse the vast amounts and forms of new social data in a way that is With research methods rapidly changing in response to the large-scale generation of data within society, Social Science needs to ensure it is engaged with new digital methods to both benefit from them, and to shape them. In this module students will learn to combine their growing knowledge about society, social processes and research design, with powerful tools to both draw on and analyse the vast amounts and forms of new social data in a way that is critical, ethical and valuable.

View Introduction to Social Data Science on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Quantitative Research: Crime and Inequality Across the Life Course
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Quantitative Research: Crime and Inequality Across the Life Course on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Researching the Real World: Quantitative Approaches to Studying Crime and Society
(15 CREDITS)

This module provides 2nd year students with the tools to put into practice what they have learned in their first year methods module(s) using computer software to analyse data, both qualitative and quantitative. With these foundational skills, students can then specialise in the spring term by choosing either qualitative (SC203) or quantitative-based (SC208) methods modules.

View Researching the Real World: Quantitative Approaches to Studying Crime and Society on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Social Data Science: Uncover, Understand, Unleash
(15 CREDITS)

This module provides a broad overview of health systems in the UK and abroad, and a discussion of public health and how medical sociology informs public health. Topics covered will include, but will not be limited to: - the design and history of the UK medical system - the role of professional organizations in medicine and how doctors are socialized into their roles - how patients experience illness, health policy and health equity, medical technology and digital health - medical advocacy and activism - mental health policy and treatment - mental illness, crime and the prison system - disability - reproductive health - alcohol and drug use - the anti-vaccination movement - STIs, HIV and AIDs - global pandemics

View Social Data Science: Uncover, Understand, Unleash on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

CE205-5-AU or CE203-5-AU
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

CE212-5-SP or CE218-5-SP
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY

Career Development and Making a Difference
(0 CREDITS)

This is a co-curricular module carrying zero credits but is compulsory. Upon the completion of the module, each Sociology student will have developed an understanding of their skills, interests, and goals and how these can be implemented to address the societal challenges of the future. 

View Career Development and Making a Difference on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Modelling Crime and Society
(30 CREDITS)

The first term of the module begins with simple OLS regression and provides a framework for modelling strategy and variable selection. Students are then taken through extensions to the basic OLS model, with categorical predictors, interactions and non-linear terms. Next, we introduce models for categorical outcomes: binary logistic and multinomial logit. The term concludes with a discussion of practical topics in data analysis - how to deal with complex sample designs, weighting and non-response adjustments.

View Modelling Crime and Society on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Quantitative Research Project
(30 CREDITS)

Many undergraduates in the Department of Sociology at Essex carry out a research project in the final year of their degree. The third-year project offers you the opportunity to focus on a topic of your choice that relates broadly to your degree course. You will find that this can be an extremely worthwhile learning experience. Carrying out a project improves your employability skills, and can be a springboard to postgraduate study. Note: you must take this module in order to qualify for an AQM (Q-Step) degree.

View Quantitative Research Project on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Natural Language Engineering
(15 CREDITS)

As humans we are adept in understanding the meaning of texts and conversations. We can also perform tasks such as summarize a set of documents to focus on key information, answer questions based on a text, and when bilingual, translate a text from one language into fluent text in another language. Natural Language Engineering (NLE) aims to create computer programs that perform language tasks with similar proficiency. This course provides a strong foundation to understand the fundamental problems in NLE and also equips students with the practical skills to build small-scale NLE systems. Students are introduced to three core ideas of NLE: a) gaining an understanding the core elements of language--- the structure and grammar of words, sentences and full documents, and how NLE problems are related to defining and learning such structures, b) identify the computational complexity that naturally exists in language tasks and the unique problems that humans easily solve but are incredibly hard for computers to do, and c) gain expertise in developing intelligent computing techniques which can overcome these challenges.

View Natural Language Engineering on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Information Retrieval
(15 CREDITS)

This module offers you an understanding of standard IR models, of their merits and limitations, and teaches you how to design and implement a standard information retrieval system. Discover the essential foundations of information retrieval and gain solid, applicable knowledge of state-of-the-art search technology. Explore advanced concepts of search applications such as personalisation, profiling and contextual search.

View Information Retrieval on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Sociology option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY

Career Development and Making a Difference
(0 CREDITS)

This is a co-curricular module carrying zero credits but is compulsory. Upon the completion of the module, each Sociology student will have developed an understanding of their skills, interests, and goals and how these can be implemented to address the societal challenges of the future. 

View Career Development and Making a Difference on our Module Directory

Placement

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.

Year abroad

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

  • Undergraduate students in the Department of Sociology and Criminology typically attend a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each module per week. There are some variations in place depending on the module.
  • Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience, with a focus on discussion and problem solving as well as laboratory work and individual assignments.
  • Lab sessions to improve technical research skills including computational methods.

Assessment

  • Assessed through a combination of written coursework, project activities, and end-of-year examinations.
  • Complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250 per year

International fee

£19,500 per year

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have 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

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 17 August 2024 - Colchester Clearing Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details on how to apply can be found on the filling in your UCAS undergraduate application web page.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Offer Holder Days

If you receive an undergraduate offer to study with us in October 2024 and live in the UK, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Offer Holder Days. Our Colchester Campus Offer Holder Days run from February to May 2024 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus events run in April and May. These events provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. To support your attendance, we are offering a travel bursary, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Offer Holder Days, including terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for our travel bursary, please visit our webpage.

If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Offer Holder Days if you are able to - we will let you know in your invite email how you can do this.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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