Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

MA Single Honours in Sociology

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: N/A
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Sociology
UCAS code: L300
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Sociology
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Professor John MacInnes
Date of production/revision: June 2000/November 2008/April 2011/September 2011/May 2012

External summary

Sociology is the study of society, or the ways in which people produce and reproduce enduring relationships, institutions, cultures and systems, and of how these in turn influence both individual lives and public issues. It examines all aspects of society from intimate and personal life through to the economy, the state, science, technology and the environment. It ranges from historical and comparative studies of the evolution of entire civilizations to investigating the social basis of individual behaviour and belief. It investigates the elaborate basis of human cooperation as well as the many sources of conflict that arise within it.

Sociology uses empirical research such as surveys, ethnography, observation or documentary analysis. It also develops theories about the nature of society that raise philosophical questions about the nature of human understanding.  It draws upon classical thought from the enlightenment onwards, the ideas of key figures such as Marx, Durkheim and Weber, and later developments of that tradition.

At Edinburgh, both students and staff are drawn from all over the world, and we place particular emphasis on a global or international comparative perspective and on an empirical approach, so that all students undertake their own research projects in their final two years. Students have the opportunity to learn from staff who are leaders in their fields, in one of the UK's strongest research departments. Reflecting the breadth of sociology there are close links in teaching with other subject areas in the School of Social and Political Science. A vibrant Sociology Society draws together undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims to develop:

  • A sound knowledge of the major fields of study within sociology
  • Substantive knowledge of a range of areas of sociological analysis and the empirical evidence underlying them, informed by an active research culture
  • The ability to understand, evaluate and use a range of theoretical frameworks from contemporary sociology
  • The ability to use both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect, evaluate and interpret empirical evidence, and undertake independent research
  • The capacity to apply sociological knowledge to the understanding and evaluation of social issues and problems in the contemporary world
  • Key generic skills in critical thinking, evaluation of evidence, conceptual analysis, logical argument and oral and written communication.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

On completion of the programme students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts and theoretical approaches within sociology;
  • Understand the importance of social context, social processes, social diversity and inequality;
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the social processes underpinning social change and social stability;
  • Understand the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions;
  • Understand the relationship between sociological argument and empirical evidence;
  • Use a range of research strategies and methods to gain sociological knowledge;
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the methods and value of comparative analysis;
  • Demonstrate awareness of the distinctive character of sociology in relation to other forms of understanding, such as its relation to other disciplines and to everyday ‘common sense’ explanations.

How is this accomplished?

  • Compulsory and optional elements in the curriculum ensure coverage of the importance of social context, social processes, social diversity and inequality; the value of comparative analysis; the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions and the social processes underpinning social change and social stability
  • Course handbooks, lectures, lecture handouts, tutorials, seminars, and presentations, delivered face to face, hard copy or electronically through websites, blogs and wikis, are the key channels for dissemination of knowledge and guidance to further reading and research;
  • Content and assessment of courses and the requirements of the compulsory project/dissertation ensure cumulative knowledge and critical engagement with key concepts, theoretical approaches and research strategies in sociology;
  • Essays, examinations, oral presentations and project work require independent reading and research beyond knowledge and understanding provided in the classroom;
  • Essays, examinations, oral presentations and project work encourage application of alternative and comparative perspectives on and explanations of social phenomena, the weighing of evidence and argument and the identification of what is distinctive about a sociological explanation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Graduates in Sociology will be able to create new knowledge and opportunities for learning through the process of research and enquiry, including the abilities to:

  • Apply different theories to the interpretation and explanation of social processes or structures;
  • Recognise and account for the use of such theories by others;
  • Evaluate, critique, and build on the work of sociology scholars;
  • Discuss and assess empirical evidence and theoretical argument in a clear and reasoned way;
  • Understand the ethical implications of sociological enquiry;
  • Select and use appropriate methods of sociological enquiry, to identify a range of different research strategies and methods and to comment on their relative advantages and disadvantages;
  • Formulate sociologically informed questions including competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in sociology, and their application to social life;
  • Judge the value and relevance of empirical evidence and theoretical argument and interpretation in sociology;
  • Plan and carry out a research project and report its findings appropriately;
  • Creatively and constructively identify and design ways of solving problems with a social dimension;
  • Recognise, build on, and transcend the boundaries of the various social science disciplines – their empirical methods and their analytical traditions - in the pursuit of publically useful knowledge

How is this accomplished?

In addition to the above these will be accomplished through:

  • guidance on literature searching and web-based information sources in lectures and seminars;
  • specific assessed tasks in compulsory courses (e.g. textual analysis, production of research proposal);
  • requirements for seminar exercises and projects in ordinary and Honours courses;
  • peer and tutor feedback on tasks, exercises and projects;
  • the core courses, Designing and Doing Social Research, Doing Survey Research and Social Theory;
  • production, supervision and assessment of the honours research project.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Graduates in Sociology will be able to work independently and sustainably, in a way that is informed by openness, curiosity, and a desire to meet new challenges, including the abilities and dispositions to:

  • be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement;
  • be able to sustain intellectual interest by remaining receptive to both new and old ideas, methods, and ways of thinking;
  • be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues;
  • be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views;
  • be able to respond effectively to unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts;
  • have a personal vision and goals and be able to work towards these in a sustainable way.

In addition to the above these will be accomplished through:

  • requirements for tutorials to focus on students’ own reading and reflection;
  • requirements for completing written and oral coursework assignments independently;
  • requirements for planning, carrying out and writing up the research project within a given timetable;
  • requirements for self directed study guided by course reading lists;
  • requirements for students to manage their time effectively to meet deadlines.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates in Sociology will recognise and value communication as the tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, collaborating with others, and furthering their own learning, including the abilities to:

  • make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding;
  • use communication as a tool for collaborating and relating to others;
  • further their own learning through effective use of the full range of communication approaches;
  • seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness;
  • recognise the benefits of communicating with those beyond their immediate environments;
  • use effective communication to articulate their skills as identified through self-reflection.

In addition to the above these will be accomplished through:

  • requirements for and feedback on effective individual and group oral presentation and communication in tutorials and seminars;
  • assessed tutorial participation in some tutorials;
  • the requirements to communicate and present quantitative evidence effectively in the course Doing Survey Research and other courses;
  • the requirement to design, carry out and report on a research project, and feedback on it;
  • the optional honours course on project presentation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Graduates in Sociology will be able to effect change and be responsive to the situations and environments in which they operate, including the abilities to:

  • make constructive use of social analysis skills in personal, professional, and community life;
  • apply understanding of social risks, in relation to diverse stakeholders, while initiating and managing change;
  • be both adaptive and proactively responsive to changing social contexts;
  • have the confidence to make decisions based on their understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy;
  • transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another;
  • understand and act on social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities, and help others to do the same;
  • be able to work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking, experience and skills;
  • understand and promote effectively the values of diversity and equity, while also recognizing possible trade-offs between these.

How is this to be accomplished?

By the combination of skills acquired listed above under 11(a) to (d).

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Library, information location and retrieval skills; use of Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and other data processing and presentation software; use of word processing and presentation packages (e.g. Powerpoint).

Programme structure and features

NYT

Course

S

L

CT

1

Sociology 1A The Sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society

J

8

20

Sociology 1B The Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems

J

8

20

Further courses

A-Q, T & W

7/8

80

2

Sociology 2 Transformations of Self and Society

J

8

20

Social and Political Enquiry 2

J

8

20

Social and Political Theory 2

J

8

20

Further courses

A-Q, T & W

7/8

60

3

Social Theory

J

10

20

Designing and Doing Social Research

J

10

20

Doing Survey Research

J

10

20

Courses in Sociology

J

10

40

Courses in Social and Political Science†

J

10

20

4

Sociology Project*

J

10

40

Courses in Sociology

J

10

60

Courses in Social and Political Science†

J

10

20

*Students are expected to use part of the summer vacation of their third year on research for their Project.

†Students are allowed but not required to take up to 40 credits of honours options in other subject areas within the School of Social and Political Science. Students are allowed to take courses outside the School only with the approval of Head of Sociology, and the Head of the subject area offering the course.

Students who achieve marks of 50% or more at the first attempt, for all required second-year courses for their registered degree, are entitled to progress to honours.

Progression:

Y1

Students must pass all subjects.

Y2

A pass in six courses overall, with a mark of 50% or more in required courses.

Y3

End of semester degree examinations

Students with sufficient credits may exit at end of Year 3 with BA Humanities and Social Science. Students who choose not to continue after year 3 of the Honours programme may also, with the discretion of the examination board, be awarded the BA.

Y4

Degree classification based on performance in 240 credits courses taken in Y3 and Y4, assessed in the year they are taken.

Modes of study

Study in most courses in years 1 and 2 combines lectures and small group tutorials. Most courses in years 3 and 4 combine lectures with student discussion and presentation. The required research courses in year 3 include practical tasks and small group work in doing social research, including laboratory-based practicals. The Project is conducted by the student on an individual basis and is guided by a series of supervision meetings with a member of staff, and supported by a series of project preparation workshops. In the optional Project Presentation course students learn, via a series of workshops, how to present their project findings effectively in both oral and visual formats.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

In Year 1

Lectures

Tutorials

Seminars

Problem based learning activities

Group work with peers

One to one meetings with personal tutors

In Year 2

Lectures

Tutorials

Seminars

Problem based learning activities

Group work with peers

One to one meetings with personal tutors

In Year 3

Lectures

Tutorials

Seminars

One to one meetings with personal tutors

Problem based learning activities

One to one supervision (Sociology Project)

Workshops to develop data collection and analysis skills (Sociology Project)

Workshops to develop bibliographic and presentational skills (Designing and Doing Survey Research)

Group-work with peers

Computer lab-based work (Doing Survey Research)

In Year 4

Lectures

Tutorials

Seminars

One to one meetings with personal tutors

Problem based learning activities

Group work with peers

One to one supervision (Sociology Project)

Workshops to develop research skills (Sociology Project)

Practical activities – poster development (Project Presentation – optional)

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 119810
Year 217830
Year 313870
Year 410900

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and can take the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.

In Year 1

Essays

Written Examinations (unseen)

Assessment of participation in tutorials

In Year 2

Essays

Written Examinations (unseen)

Assessment of participation in tutorials

In Year 3

Essays

Written Examinations (unseen)

Examination of statistical reasoning and skills (seen – Doing Survey Research)

Assessment of Group Project (Designing and Doing Social Research)

Research Wiki (Designing and Doing Social Research)

Research Proposal (Sociology Project)

Exercise applying social theory to everyday news (Social Theory)

Assessment of Online Journal (Sociology of Intoxication option course)

Online Notice-board Multimedia Exercise (Youth Culture, Media and Society option course)

In Year 4

Essays

Written Examinations (unseen)

Take-home exams

Assessment of original research work (Honours Project)

Assessment of research-based poster (Project Presentation option course)

Assessment of oral presentation (Project Presentation option course)

Assessment of Online Journal (Sociology of Intoxication option course)

Online Notice-board Multimedia Exercise (Youth Culture, Media and Society option course)

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 130763
Year 217281
Year 30595
Year 400100

Career opportunities

Sociology graduates acquire valuable transferable skills that can lead to a wide range of careers in an ever-changing job market. You can choose to work within local and central government, the voluntary sector or journalism, or use your practical and research skills to work in market research. Many graduates also go on to study postgraduate degrees before entering teaching, social work or urban planning. Some of our students also choose an academic career.

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