Department of Sociology

Undergraduate study

Female looking onto busy street

Develop your sociological imagination

You look at big questions about the world. Why are societies unequal? What is equality? What does it mean to hold power over others? Why are some societies violent?

We teach you techniques such as interviews, surveys and observations, to research and answer these questions. We'll stretch and push you outside your comfort zone as our courses are intellectually demanding but we help you develop a sociological imagination to take out into the world and change it for the better.

In return, our community of staff and students, and our Student Resource Centre, which offers essay writing, revision, presentation skills workshops, one-to-one support plus lots more, provides all the back-up you need to excel in your studies.

Explore our undergraduate courses
Why choose us?
  • Ranked among the top 50 departments in the QS World University Rankings (2019)
  • Top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014)
  • Ranked 6th in the UK for criminology (Guardian University Guide 2021)

Taught by experts

You may already be familiar with our academics before you meet them in lectures - core A-level texts are written by us. They look at subjects from many different viewpoints, challenging and pushing themselves as much as they will you, ensuring our research and teaching is evolving.

You will explore a range of fascinating topics with us including culture, citizenship, crime and deviance, the environment, globalisation, health, the media, work, sexualities and intimacies. We love inquisitive students who ask bold questions, challenge beliefs and get involved in debates.

"Essex helped me develop in many different ways; it instilled in me confidence both academically and personally."
Beth Astley-Serougi ba sociology with human rights

How will teaching in the Department of Sociology be delivered in 2020?

Will COVID-19 change the way my course is taught?

If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to.

We are planning to ensure every course will incorporate an element of face-to-face teaching. Lectures and classes - whether online only or face-to-face - will be recorded and made available to you to listen again, giving you greater flexibility to learn at a time that suits you.

What will this mean for my learning experience?

For the 2020 academic year, we are focusing on ensuring that we are able to deliver a quality education and that your teaching and learning can continue if there is further disruption. That’s why we’ve been working hard to ensure that our students are able to start with us in October – in whichever way possible. The changes we have made to support you and protect your health and wellbeing mean that, for most of our courses, this will include blended learning – with lectures, classes and other teaching taking place both online and face to face. Much of this teaching will be offered “live” (even if online/ virtual) but will also be available to access at times that suit you.

We know that your learning experience is about more than just attending classes, and our campuses can provide you with all you need to make the most of your studies. This includes private space to study, in your on-campus study bedrooms as well as in PC labs and other spaces on our three campuses for self-study. We can also offer you access to laptops on loan and access to our library services; as well as enhanced WiFi provision across our campuses.

The Department of Sociology is also home to a lively student-led Sociology Society. The society is open to students from across the University and welcomes those interested in discussing social issues and who wish to become part of a network of friends from the world of sociology and criminology. The Sociology Society organises a broad range of social and academic events, to find out more please visit the Sociology Society web pages.

The Department also operates weekly academic support hours, in which you can speak confidentially to lecturers. These sessions may be held face-to-face or online and are designed to ensure you have plenty of continuous support and a dedicated space to discuss your studies, work, assessments and feedback. Alongside our highly developed support network we will also be hosting our student mentorship scheme. Volunteering as a student mentor is deeply rewarding and a central part of our Department ethos where we all care for each other. More than ever before, we will be making sure you are fully supported every step of the way.

What happens if the situation changes before I start or during my time at Essex?

We recognise that some students may have difficulty travelling to campus in time to start the academic year. If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. All of our modules are designed to support you to continue learning and still be able to access one-to-one consultation and guidance that you would normally get from the lecturers on your course, if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. This means you can join us in full confidence that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

There is lots of helpful information about starting at Essex in our guide for applicants should you have any questions, feel uncertain about something in particular, or, would like up to date information on specific topics if your situation changes. In this guide you will also find specific information which relates to non-UK nationals planning to travel to Essex from abroad.

What will my broader student experience be like?

Your student experience is central to the Department of Sociology. We know that your Essex life is not just about the learning, but the experience of being a member of our campus community. We are committed to making sure we get to know each and every one of you, whilst ensuring you enjoy a safe environment which allows you to get to know each other. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to interact online or face-to-face, with members of the Department and with your peers.

In addition to your academic programme we will be hosting a range of lively seminars throughout the year and making plans for Welcome Week to ensure we build a sense of community within the Department. Our dedicated Sociology Study Support Manager will be organising events to help maintain the close-knit network of learning and support outside of normal teaching, and our Sociology Society will also be hosting plenty of academic and social get togethers. To learn more about the range of events we have to offer, please visit our Departmental events calendar.

We have been working in partnership with our Students’ Union to ensure that you can enjoy our clubs, societies, activities and services. We have built in flexibility to enable you to access support and activities, and to shape your experience around your life. To learn more about the range of events Essex will be hosting, please visit our events calendar. To stay up to date with the very latest guidance on how to visit your campus, view our coming onto campus guide.

How will the University support me during this time?

The health and wellbeing of our students is our priority, and this has been one of the focuses to ensure students can start on campus – safely – in October.

This means we are constantly monitoring advice from the UK Government, Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

To protect our community on campus once the academic year starts again in October, we will be looking to introduce the following measures:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes
  • Social distancing in line with international guidance
  • Signage and floor markings in key locations to help you move around our campuses safely

We’re asking you to wear face coverings in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or in specifically designated locations. We’ll be supporting you by giving two washable face coverings to all students.

There is a number of support systems available to you whilst you are at Essex, for whenever you need them and for however long you wish to use them.

These include:

The University also runs a variety of online events throughout the year including at-home yoga and mindfulness sessions.

To find out more about the network of support you will benefit from during your time at Essex, please visit the Student Directory.

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