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BSc Sociology

Our Sociology course will provide you with an in-depth understanding of social processes, organisational dynamics and inter-group relationships.
Teaching Award

Why choose this course?

  • Sociology at Aston is currently ranked Top 20 in the UK in the 2015 Guardian University Guide.
  • Sociology at Aston is currently ranked Top 5 in the UK for student satisfaction in the 2015 Complete University Guide and Guardian University Guide. 
  • Sociology at Aston is currently ranked Top 15 in the UK for Employability in the 2015 Complete University Guide. 
  • Sociology at Aston achieved 97% Overall Satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey.

3 years full time or 4 years with integrated placement year

UCAS Code:
L300

Typical Offers
A-levels:
 BBB from 3 A-levels. General Studies accepted. 

If your predicted grades are close to those stated in Aston's typical offers and if you are interested in Aston University and the courses we offer we encourage you to apply to us as one of your 5 UCAS choices. In addition to your predicted grades, when making offers we also consider your previous academic performance (eg AS grades, GCSEs), your school/college reference and the commitment and motivation you demonstrate for your chosen course via the personal statement. Applicants and their teachers/advisers are welcome to contact us with individual queries about entry qualifications via lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk.

View our Admissions Policy. 

IB: 32-33 points in the IB diploma including TOK/Bonus points. Standard level Maths and English 5 required.
Access: Pass Access to HE Diploma with Merit in each module.  Humanities or Social Sciences Access course preferred, but other courses considered on an individual basis. 
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.  Mix of Diploma/ Subsidiary Diploma/A-levels acceptable.

We accept a wide range of UK, EU and International qualifications: please contact us for further advice.

Specific subject requirements:
GCSE English Language and Maths Grade C.

Tuition fees 2014/15: £9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU students. More on fees

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.

Subject guide and modules


Our Sociology course will provide you with an in-depth understanding of social processes, organisational dynamics and inter-group relationships. They combine an introduction to specific skills such as research design and use of comparative method, with an emphasis on social change. Strengths of the programme include its focus on key contemporary social issues, social policy and decision making, and international comparisons of social structures and policies.

Sample module options

The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

Year 1

This module will introduce the major sociological traditions, focusing on the works of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel. Special focus will be given to the role of structure and agency, of economic and cultural factors, and of methodology.

Assessment method: 2 hour closed book examination (100%) at the end of TP1.

This module introduces students to sociological understandings of social change. It will look at issues such as the enlightenment, industrialisation and enfranchisement and trace how and why social change happens. Through exploring issues such as modernity and post-modernity, the module will help students understand the social processes and their impact of different areas of society such as the family and education.

Assessment method: 
Essay (1) 1000 words (Teaching Period 1)                             20%
Essay (2)  1500 words (Teaching Period 2)                            35%
Exam.    MEP                                                                     45%

This module introduces students to a variety of methodological approaches to social science research, and develops students’ research skills by giving them small tasks relating to these approaches. In the first term, these tasks encourage students to evaluate their own interests, ideas about research and how you actually carry it out. In the second term, they move from qualitative to quantitative methods, learning the basics of SPSS (a popular software package designed specifically for social scientists) and using an actual live database (the National Child Development Study) to do a project. This ‘Mixed Methods’ project requires the students to combine the qualitative skills they learned and developed in the first half of the module, with the statistical ones they learned at the beginning of the second term in order to analyse the database.

Assessment method:  Portfolio in Teaching Period 1 (50%); Mixed methods project in Teaching Period 2 (50 per cent).

This module seeks to introduce students to sociological thinking around two key and overlapping areas; ‘social identities’ and ‘social inequalities’. During the first term, the emphasis will lie on learning how to develop critical analytical skills and introducing concepts of social class, ‘race’ nation. During the second term, the module will focus more on gender and sexuality. The aim with all of these sets of identities is to establish the ways in which they are constructed, and the maps of social inequalities on which they can be located.

Assessment method: Class test In Teaching Period 1 (10%); Assessed essay in Teaching Period 2 (40%); 2-hour exam in summer exam period (50 per cent each).

This module seeks to provide you with a good understanding of the drivers for change in welfare and public services in recent years and in historical and comparative perspective.  You will gain knowledge of the theoretical and ideological basis of welfare and public services reform.  In the first term we focus on key theoretical concepts and explanations of welfare states and welfare state change.  In the second term we analyse processes of change in key public services.  The programme is delivered through lectures, student presentations and class discussion. 

Assessment method: two class tests during teaching period 1 (40%); a 2,500 word assignment in teaching period 2.

Year 2

Year 3 - Placement Year

This course builds on students understanding of research methods studies in year 1 and aims to expand and depend methodological understanding. It will expand alow the students to develop a greater understanding of how research methods shape what we know about the world and the strengths and weakness of different approaches. It will have a particular emphasis on undertaking analysis and ensure that students know who interpret data both through manual analysis and using software such as NVIVO. 
 

Methods of Assessment: 
Quantitative Methods task (Group work - Teaching Period One)        35%
Qualitative Methods task (Individual - Teaching Period Two)              35%
Exam    MEP                                                                               30%

This module seeks to enable students to acquire a competent understanding of the ways in which different social inequalities intersect with ‘race’, and the complexity of social inequalities. In doing so, they will be able to conceptualise the social (i.e. dynamic) rather than natural character of ‘race’ using specialist literature, and demonstrate a critical understanding of the key debates around racism. The concepts explored in this module include; ‘race’, racism(s), racialisation, and ‘intersectionality’. The substantive areas through which these are then developed are migration into the UK from 1948 to the present; the impact of the European Union on British migration policy; the politics of immigration in Britain; and responses to Asylum-seeking in the Contemporary UK.

Assessment method: Assessed essay (2,000 words)

This module explores competing feminist theories through focusing on topics within the sociology of the body. It uses empirical studies to explain and explore theoretical issues and assist the understanding of a number of key feminist theorists. The empirical studies will also introduce sociological understanding on a range of social and political issues including the aging society and the growth of cosmetic surgery. It will also explore the social construction of bodily issues such as love and sexuality.

Assessment method: essay (30%) exam (70%)

This module aims show the central role of the media in society. It will examine how the production and reception of different media industries is shaped by its norms and practices and is an integral part of the social construction of social issues. Key areas to be covered include: It will consider the extent of media power and the changing shape of mass communication.

Assessment Method:  
Essay 2000 words                   100%

This module introduces students to sociological understandings of crime and examines criminal justice policy. It will explore what crime is and the ‘causes’ and consequences of crime. The module will also examine the construction of the criminal justice system and the implications this has ‘criminals’, ‘victims’ and wider society. The module will explore crime, subversion and injustice from a critical perspective which students will develop the tools to understand the social processes involved in defining crime and enacting punishment.

Assessment method: exam.
This module seeks to introduce students to the key environmental challenges facing policy makers and their responses to these. We examine key theories such as risk society, ecological modernization and environmental economics and instruments of policy implementation, comparing regulatory, market and voluntary approaches.  We explore these in relation to specific areas of environmental policy, but with particular emphasis on climate change and climate change mitigation.  We examine policy making at the local, national and supranational level. The programme is delivered through lectures, student presentations and class discussion.  

Assessment method: a class test (20%) and a 2,500 word assignment.

This module follows on from Classical Social Theory I and reviews some well-known and some not so well-known social theorists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course examines the preoccupations of sociologists working in different times and contexts and considers the relationship between social theory and wider popular debates. Students will be expected to read original writing by key theorists and to link discussion of this material to a consideration of key themes in the course.

Assessment method: essay.

Final Year

This module offers students the opportunity to undertake an independent project of social research. The topic and methodology are chosen through consultation with an academic supervisor, and may address any sociological problem using appropriate method(s). The module is an advanced exploration of designing, conducting and presenting social research; undertaking independent intellectual work; and extending critical and organisational abilities. There are six taught sessions during the first term which outline the research process and strategies for organising independent work. The remaining time is spent on independent study in cooperation with individual supervisors.

Assessment method:  Viva of work in progress, during term (10%, TP1), written dissertation of 6,000-8,000 words, due during exam period (90%, TP2)

Religion is a key dynamic shaping the contemporary world. Religion is increasingly recognised as an important factor in understanding national and global politics, equalities and power relationships. Religion can be both constituted as an empowering as well as a restrictive entity, which intersects with other social divisions such as gender, ethnicity, class, age and sexuality. The module takes this juxtaposition of empowerment and restriction as its starting point, to critically examine the key sociological issues and debates that arise in relation to contemporary religion. It will examine not only the historical relationship between religion and sociology, but will also map contemporary sacred/secular divisions, and why religion is now firmly back on the sociological agenda. We will also be closely examining the sources of tension in relation to religion, such as issues of gender, sexuality, fundamentalism and atheism. A strong focus will be placed on empirical data to understand how individuals utilise religion in their everyday lives, recognising religion as a fluid process rather than a static entity. There will also be an opportunity for students to undertake a small-scale piece of research work, allowing students to be reflexive about what it means to be a researcher of religion.

Assessment method: The course will be assessed through a 3000-word portfolio of work that may include components such as a critical literature review, write up of small-scale data collection and a research reflection. Feedback will be given informally in seminars, as well as formal written feedback on the returned portfolio.

Students will align classical theorists, many of whom they will already have studied, with examples drawn from popular culture. This mix of historical and contemporary subject matter is intended to treat social theory as a living set of ‘social blueprints’ (Barron, 2013) to be grappled with, criticised and applied to the modern global and technological world around us. In terms of approach, the module links each theorist/approach with an example drawn from popular culture, the media or modern technologies, as these increasingly overlap, via the Internet. This is intended to demonstrate the continuing cultural validity of the thought of theorists such as Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Adorno, Gilman, Barthes, de Saussure and Milton Friedman.

Assessment method:  
Coursework: 500 word abstract 15%
2,500-word essay 85%
Feedback will be given through: Written feedback on abstract, and essay when it is returned, plus ongoing feedback during classes.

Through the systematic examination of a series of theoretical perspectives underpinned by relevant empirical examples, the module explores corporations as social actors, paying particular attention to their ability to shape the world according to their interests.  Case studies include Rupert Murdoch and News International, and the Oil Industry. 

Assessment method:  exam.

In this module students will develop an understanding of the specialist literature relating to the topics taught, and the skills required to critically engage with the three key terms in the module’s title both in relation to a variety of subject areas, and as intersecting lines of identity.

The field of study is drawn from the scholarship on racism, and we note the many overlaps and connections between the three systems of inequality; ‘race’, class and gender. There is a deliberate attempt to mix historical and contemporary subject matter, as well as to use international points of comparison. The range of substantive areas addressed includes; ‘race’ and science; slavery and its legacy; eugenics & Social Darwinism; segregation; white identities; mixed-ness, and anti-Nomadism.

Assessment method:  Assessed essay (3000 words).

Education is a key institution of power and social change. Its importance is illustrated not only by the centrality of education to government policy, but also in the faith that is placed in its capacity to empower individuals, advance equality, and enable democratic participation. But education can also disempower people and divide societies. This module offers a framework for understanding why. It examines the history of education in the UK and comparatively, students’ educational autobiographies, theoretical perspectives on education, and current debates in British education to explore relationships between education and the state, family, social movements and identity.

Assessment method:  Portfolio of coursework, due during exam period (100%)

This module looks at changes in society brought about by campaigning groups and protest.  It combines theory and case studies in order to examine the relationship between social movements and social change.  Case studies range from the US civil rights movement to the current “Occupy” protests.

Assessment method: The module is assessed by exam.

The Placement Year is optional for students studying Sociology. If you choose to take a placement year, this will take place during your third year at Aston and is worth 10% of the final degree result. Unlike some other universities, the placement year at Aston is not a ''bolt-on'' year it is an integral part of your degree for which you are prepared in your second year. 

A distinctive feature of our placement year is the flexibility that we offer. You will be able to choose between undertaking a paid work-experience placement with a company or working as a teaching assistant in a school (either in the UK or abroad) - you might even choose to combine two of these options. 

We are extremely proud of the high level of preparation, orientation and support that we provide before and during your year abroad. We have a full-time Placements Team who will give you plenty of individual help and advice, and even come and visit you during your time away.  

You will participate in lectures, tutorials, seminars, group and individual project work. The courses deal with many topical issues, and as a result we try to incorporate current media coverage and public debates into class discussions and to link these to academic research and commentary wherever possible.

You will be require expertise in critical reading, writing, research and presentation. For his reason, many of our courses are designed to help you develop skills in these areas. You will undertake a range of different kinds of course work and research, from informal interventions into issues of concern to formal research dissertations. Modules are assessed through essays, written and oral exams, project work and presentations.

For further information, see the Sociolgy programme specification.

Aston is ranked 5th in the UK and 1st outside London for graduate employability - beating Oxbridge (2012 Sunday Times University Guide). 

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers who value their understanding of different organisations, their communication skills and motivation for team work.   Recent destinations for our Languages and Social Sciences graduates include:   

  • Graduate Trainee Managers for British Airways, Aldi Stores, John Lewis Partnership and Selfridges
  • Journalist for Tatler Magazine
  • European Union/European Parliament Officers/Assistants
  • Marketing Assistant at Beiersdorf (makers of NIVEA amongst other products) 
  • Trainee Accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers 
  • Case Worker - Crown Prosecution Service
  • PhD Forensic Linguistics - Aston University
  • MSc Human Resource Management, King's College London
  • Tenancy Support Worker, Midland Heart  

The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a dedicated Learning Support Team and excellent facilities including:

  • 70 computers in 4 rooms
  • Free DVD library (French, Spanish, German, English)
  • Audio and video-editing tools
  • corpus linguistics tools (Wordsmith and Antconc)
  • research software (NVIVO and PASW/SPSS)

Read what the Sociology staff have to say about their courses:

Dr Chrissie Rogers - Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Chrissie Rogers

“Sociology enables us to understand the personal and private lives of individuals and engage with the messy nature of everyday life. All of this can then be viewed in the context of the public sphere. For example, one of my areas of research is around the impacts of inclusion and exclusion for children and young people and in the UK ‘Every Child Matters’ promotes a meaningful sense of well-being for all children and ‘Education for All’ positions a global inclusive education strategy. These are just two of the policy contexts that address education as a means to promote inclusion and meaningful learning. But do they? Large numbers of pupils are not included, have poor educational experiences and are either marginalised or demonised. Education is failing children and young people. Not least of
all because they are disengaged, alienated and excluded from a meaningful learning process. League tabling and competitive schooling is stifling. We need to address these divisions as sociologists. This focus is just one area that within teaching sociology we can really get to the heart of understanding difference and diversity. More broadly, as a sociologist I have written Parenting and Inclusive Education, Critical Approaches to Care (with Susie Weller) as well as working on Intellectual Disability and Social Theory.”

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777
Email: lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk

Graduate Profile

Graduate Profile

Tomi Olarewaju, Graduate 2013

BSc Sociology

During my placement year I went to New York where I worked in marketing, advertising and promotions.My placement year helped me with my final year studies when it came to deadlines, presentations and organisation.

 

Graduate Profile

Graduate Profile

Amy Leighton, Graduate 2012

BSc Sociology and Business

I undertook my first 12 month placement at a creative undergraduate agency, designing marketing campaigns for companies such Morgan Stanley, UBS and Nestle. My Placement Year strengthened my ability to communicate with others effectively and take on vast amounts of responsibility quickly. I now work as a Product Marketing Manager for Atos.

 

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