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Sociology in Combined Honours - information for current students

Key benefits

  • Aston ranked 4th equal overall for student satisfaction in Sociology (www.unistats.com)

  • Staff expertise in areas such as ethnic and gender inequalities, educational policy, globalisation, new technology and employment, risk and the environment, and theories of social change

  • Aston is distinctive in offering a placement year in the public or private sectors 
    Strong track record of graduate employment success

  • Sociology at Aston is ranked 4th in the UK by the Guardian online University Guide 2006

students near guild

It is our aim to provide a sound training in techniques of sociological research and analysis. Combining cross- country and historical analysis, this will help you to understand contemporary societies. You will gain the skills to carry out your own empirical research, based on theoretical paradigms and methodological tools. Through a range of teaching and assessment methods, we provide a variety of learning experiences, including ample opportunity for students to express themselves and develop their abilities.

 

Subject guide & modules

Year 1

  • Research Methods I: Students will have an understanding of the three broad approaches to social science research methods, and of how these are actually implemented in real research projects. They will also have a beginner’s knowledge of SPSS software and be able to perform the basic analytic functions using it.

  • Identities and Inequalities: This module introduces the social identities and their importance in understanding social inequities within society. The module will introduce understandings of power relationships within society and the impact of historical context on the structuring of contemporary society.

  • Classical Social Theory I: The module will introduce the major sociological traditions and will be organised around an analysis of the division of labour and power with its associated political, economic and social dimensions.

Classical Social Theory II:

Year 2- Core modules

  • Research Methods IICritical understanding of social science research.

  • Contemporary Social Theory:

Optional modules:

  • Embodiment and Feminist Theory: This module helps develop an understanding of feminist theories by focussing on the debates surrounding the body. It introduces a number of key feminist theorists and draws on empirical studies to explain and explore theoretical issues

  • Sociology of Sport: We are interested in the cultures and societies in which sport exist, the social worlds created around sports  and the experiences of individuals and groups associated with sports

  • Sociology of Racism

Knowledge and Society

Placement Year (optional)

This provides an opportunity to set your studies in context by participation in, usually, paid employment in private industry, the state or voluntary sector. During the placement year students write an extended essay which analyses the links between University studies and the placement experience. This contributes to the assessment for the final degree. This is usually paid employment. As many students as possible are encouraged to undertake a placement as it is a definite advantage in gaining a job after graduation.

Final Year (choice of six of these modules)

Typical Modules offered:

  • Sociology of work & Society: Analyse jobs, our labour market opportunities and shape of our individual career paths

  • Sociology Final Year Project*: The Sociology/PP Project is an option where students submit an individual research project of between 6,000 and 8,000 words for LY3008 students and between 10,000-12,000 words for LY3014 students on a topic agreed between the student and an academic supervisor. Supervisors are allocated, where possible, on a best fit between the topic under investigation and the research interests of the supervisor 

  • Risk, Enviroment & Society*: This double module looks at the problem of how contemporary societies relate to the natural environment. It aims to explore the emergence of environmentalism, as a way of thinking, as a social movement, as a political and institutional challenge to capitalist/industrialist society. It also looks at the political, institutional and social reactions to environmental problems.

  • Globalisation, Multinational Corporations and Power*: Through the systematic examination of a series of theoretical perspectives underpinned by relevant empirical examples, the module explores notions of globalisation with particular emphasis on multinational corporations as powerful global actors able to direct the process of globalisation towards their own ends.

  • Health Matters: Understanding Patterns and Policies*: This module aims show how although rooted in biological issues health and illness are not reducible to them. It will begin by introducing key theories and empirical evidence to demonstrate a range of issues such as the relationship between social inequalities and health and the social construction of medical power.

*Part I of a double module-if you take any of these modules, you must take them in teaching period two as well

  • Race, Class and Gender:

  • Sociology Final Year Project**: The Sociology/PP Project is an option where students submit an individual research project of between 6,000 and 8,000 words for LY3008 students and between 10,000-12,000 words for LY3014 students on a topic agreed between the student and an academic supervisor. Supervisors are allocated, where possible, on a best fit between the topic under investigation and the research interests of the supervisor 

  • Risk, Enviroment & Society**: This double module looks at the problem of how contemporary societies relate to the natural environment. It aims to explore the emergence of environmentalism, as a way of thinking, as a social movement, as a political and institutional challenge to capitalist/industrialist society. It also looks at the political, institutional and social reactions to environmental problems.

  • Globalisation, Multinational Corporations and Power**: Through the systematic examination of a series of theoretical perspectives underpinned by relevant empirical examples, the module explores notions of globalisation with particular emphasis on multinational corporations as powerful global actors able to direct the process of globalisation towards their own ends.

  • Health Matters: Understanding Patterns and Policies**: This module aims show how although rooted in biological issues health and illness are not reducible to them. It will begin by introducing key theories and empirical evidence to demonstrate a range of issues such as the relationship between social inequalities and health and the social construction of medical power.

**Pre-requisite: Completion of part I in teaching period one

Learning, teaching & assessment

You will be involved in lectures and seminars, small-group work, project work and independent study. There are opportunities for group and collaborative work. Students undertake a major piece of independent research in final year.You will be allocated a personal tutor who can provide you with help and advice. Assessment is through a combination of exams, coursework, essays, presentations and an extended dissertation during your final year.

Placement year

By taking a 4 year Sandwich programme you will have the opportunity to undertake a year’s professional experience in industry or commerce in your third year of study. You will gain invaluable experience which will set you apart from other graduates and you are normally able to earn a salary.   

You will be given support and advice on finding a placement. Many employers return each year to employ our placement students.

Recent Sociology placements include:

  • Eurocity (Recruitment Agency) in Brussels
  • BRMB Radio Station  - Charity Coordinator
  • Voluntary Work in Tanzania
  • People and Planet (Charity group)
  • Teaching English in Thailand
  • Birmingham Youth Offenders Service (Birmingham City Council)
  • West Midlands Police
  • NFU Mutual Services
  • Hertfordshire City Council – project management
  • Hayes (recruitment consultancy)
  • Behaviour support service
  • Independent Property Group in Dubai

Career prospects

Our Graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers where a sound understanding of societies, organisations, team work and communication skills are required. For example, our 1999-2005 Graduates found employment/study in a wide range of areas.

Recent Graduate positions include:

  • NHS – Management Trainee
  • Warwickshire County Council, Nestlé, Deloitte and Touche – Graduate Trainees
  • Focus Housing Group – Housing Manager
  • PhD Research – Sociology and Social Sciences
  • BP – Procurement
  • English Heritage – Finance Officer
  • Police Constable
  • Marketing Assistants (variety of companies)
  • IBM – Financial Analyst
  • MandS – Human Resources Management
  • PGCE – Primary/Secondary/College Teaching for teaching careers


The fact that Aston is distinctive in offering a placement year for our Sociology students gives them a particular edge and our students are encouraged to take up the opportunity of this valuable experience. 82% of our Sociology Graduates went into employment in 2005-6, against a UK average of around 70% for the subject.

Personal development

This course helps you to develop team working skills, presentation and communication skills.  Your IT skills will also benefit from use of our newly refurbished e-learning language centre. The Placement Year will develop your initiative, confidence and independence, as well as giving you invaluable professional experience.  In your final year you complete an individual research dissertation which improves your independent research skills and report writing skills. All students are encouraged to undertake Personal Development Planning (PDP.)

Facilities & equipment

The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a dedicated e-learning centre for the exclusive use of its students.  The e-learning centre is supported by a dedicated team and has all of the standard software that you will need (e.g. Microsoft Office etc). Extensive use is also made of our Virtual Learning Environment to help support your studies. Our newly refurbished “Cadbury Room” contains social seating areas, study stations and meeting tables as well as networked printing facilities and wireless internet access.

Further information

Tel: 0121 204 4283; Email: ids@aston.ac.uk

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research