Politics and Sociology BA

2024-25 entry
Department of Politics and International Relations
Department of Sociological Studies

This is the perfect course if you’re looking to understand how personal attitudes and experiences relate to wider issues in politics. You'll be able to explore modules from both disciplines, which means you can analyse key topics such as globalisation, migration and gender from a political perspective and then examine how issues such as these impact our society.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    Houses of parliament at sunset

    Study the big societal challenges in the world - applying your knowledge of political and sociological theory and policy analysis to address global issues.

    You will be introduced to political theory and the big issues in contemporary politics. Expert academics with real industry experience will teach you how to analyse political ideas, institutions and practices, and you can choose from a variety of fascinating topics ranging from political economy, to human rights and security.

    The modules you study in sociology blend excellently with what you will learn in politics, while offering a different perspective on topics such as health, gender and migration. You'll also learn the fundamentals of sociological analysis, and study modern industrial societies - patterns of social change, social interaction and the sociology of everyday life.

    You’ll also receive training in research techniques. You will apply these skills, along with knowledge you have gained throughout your taught modules, to carry out your own research project in your final year in a topic of your choice.

    Why study this course?

    • Supporting you with the transition to degree-level study - as part of your politics studies, we hold study skills workshops in your first year, which take you through everything you need to know about university study, such as referencing, academic writing and building your employability skills.
    • Greater employability - a dedicated module in your third year, 'Value of Sociology', helps you understand the transferable skills gained from the degree, which can be applied in a range of careers.
    • Get more out of your degree - you’ll have the opportunity to study abroad, undertake a placement year or take part in a whole host of other global and work experiences.
    • Learn from people making real change - our academics’ research has helped shape policy on a range of topics like digital campaigning, access to education and social media.

    Dual and combined honours degrees

    Students sat together studying

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

    Title: Politics and Sociology BA course structure
    UCAS code: LL23
    Years: 2022, 2023
    First year

    Core modules:

    Analysing Politics

    This module is about (1) politics, and (2) how to analyse it. More specifically, it involves (1) understanding how power and truth operate in the contemporary world; and (2) discovering different ways to research these dynamics so as to build compelling and rigorous accounts of the political worlds that we find ourselves a part of. Students will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and independent study; and will be assessed on the basis of an essay and online multiple-choice tests.

    20 credits
    Classical Sociological Theory

    The aim of this module is to introduce foundational theories in sociology. The lectures will describe the ideas of leading theorists Durkheim, Marx, Du Bois and Weber with reference to the social context in which they lived and wrote. Lectures will analyze the primary texts of sociological throught with reference to the social contexts in which they emerged. This will include a look at the concerns of the first generation of sociological thinkers, their understanding of changes in European societies at the time, and the way in which their ideas inform an understanding of issues and problems in the contemporary world.

    10 credits
    Exploring Classical Social Thought Seminars

    The purpose of this seminar module is to provide a medium for students to discuss, evaluate, assess, and engage foundational theories in sociology. The seminar topics will seek to relate major sociological theories to (historical) events of concern to the theorists themselves, and events of interest to contemporary students of social affairs. The discussions will emphasise ideas and concepts in key sociological writings and their contribution to shaping sociological enquiry.

    10 credits
    The Sociological Imagination Seminar

    Drawing upon the lectures in the accompanying module (SCS100), students will use the seminars to explore a range of everyday life situations - such as mobile phone use, shopping, and travel - from a sociological perspective. Emphasis will be placed on students reflexively exploring their own experience, on the one hand, and gathering exemplary material from print and digital media. Students will be required to do exercises on specific topics.

    10 credits
    The Sociology of Everyday Life

    This module aims to introduce students to basic sociological concepts, such as 'the sociological imagination', 'social interaction', 'social identity', 'deviance' and 'globalisation' and illustrate how these can be applied to everyday life. Drawing on the work of key thinkers in sociology, a range of everyday life situations, such as mobile phone use, shopping and travel will be used as exemplary cases

    10 credits

    Optional modules:

    British Politics

    This module will introduce students to key concepts and debates in British politics through an examination of post-1976 British political history. Each lecture will take as its starting-point one day in recent British history and will describe what happened on that day and what happened as a result of that day. Each of the seminars will then follow that discussion: paying particular attention to concepts and ideas within the study of politics which can help us make sense of those events.

    20 credits
    Gender and the World

    This module aims to interrogate the role of gender and sex in shaping world politics. To do this, it asks how notions of masculinity and femininity shape our institutions, how gender might influence the political problems we prioritise and whose voices are taken seriously in developing responses to these problems. 

    Students will answer these questions through the study of the politicisation of sex, the relationship between gender and violence, how current practices of gender are shaped by colonialism and a range of other timely topics that shape the world today. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of different approaches to gender, be introduced to key concepts from feminism and queer theory, learn to apply these ideas practically to a set of case studies and debate what the future of gender is in world politics. 

    20 credits
    Introduction to Comparative Politics

    This module examines the utility of the comparative approach to politics with a particular focus on democracies, dictatorships, and semi-democratic regimes. The key features of each regime type are considered and these are used to explain the nature of the comparative method, its strengths and weaknesses. This course also applies a comparative lens to processes such as democratisation, modernisation, and mobilisation. This course will draw on a wide range of examples from democratic, authoritarian, and semi-democratic countries.

    20 credits
    Introduction to Global Political Economy

    This module provides an introduction to global political economy (GPE). It covers key mainstream and critical theories and considers critically what GPE is. Following this, the main focus will be on sketching the outlines of the global economy (past and present) by considering particular commodities. This provides a novel way to introduce the student to the major processes of global trade, finance and production. It also considers the political economy of race, class and gender as core theoretical themes that interweave the empirical examination of the global political economy, from roughly 1500 through to the 21st century.

    20 credits
    Introduction to Western Political Thought

    This module provides an introduction to key themes and thinkers in Western political thought. It explores the different meanings of the nature of politics and the political in this tradition. One key theme will be the relation between human nature and politics. This will be explored through a series of deep conflicts between reason and desire, the state and individual, and the public and private. These conflicts are examined through the different visions of politics of a selection of ancient and early modern thinkers. The module will also engage with critiques of the canon of Western political thought itself, in particular from a postcolonial perspective.

    20 credits
    Planet Politics

    From the atmosphere to Antarctic ice sheets, the Earth has been fundamentally transformed by human activity: we now inhabit a ‘human planet’. At the same time, from mining and agriculture to modern patterns of resource consumption, humankind has become dependent on the very activities that have caused these transformations. 

    Far from being automatic or inevitable, these transformations are deeply political on multiple levels – in their causes, in their consequences, and in the many arguments and differences over how to respond to them. 

    This module will introduce students to some of this ‘Planet Politics’. It will consider questions such as: 

    Are we on the verge of a planetary ecological crisis? 

    Is capitalism the problem, or the solution? 

    Are there just too many people? 

    Is meaningful international environmental cooperation possible? 

    What are the vested interests obstructing change? What forms of social resistance are appropriate? 

    What is ‘environmental justice’? 

    Examining both key environmental and resource issues and the main approaches to studying them, the module asks some of the biggest questions about life: how should we live, and what should we do?

    20 credits
    Political Violence

    This module will provide students with an introduction to political violence and begins by engaging with debates over the conceptualisation of violence, and when violence should be understood as “political”.  It will then introduce students to debates over the causes and consequences of violence through an examination of specific topics, which may include:

    histories of violence

    terrorism

    interstate war

    settler-colonial violence

    structural violence

    slow violence

    gender based violence

    war ecologies

    the politics of violence prevention

    violent resistance

    attempts to regulate violence.  



    We will explore these themes by asking how violence is refracted through race, gender, ethnicity, and other forms of social difference. Students will have the opportunity to explore these topics through specific examples and develop the necessary skills to apply them in practice. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of the key theories, concepts, issues and themes in the study of political violence by:

    understanding the debates on the conceptualisation of “violence” and what makes violence “political”

    developing skills in critical analysis, writing, and presentation

    developing the ability to apply theories and issues to specific cases of political violence

    20 credits
    Race and Racism in World Politics

    Through historical and contemporary case studies, students will study how our world today has been shaped by historical events, many of which continue to inform current relations. We will discover how discourses around race, ethnicity, gender and class construct realities today, determining who rules and who is ruled, who lives and who dies. 

    The module will give students a theoretical toolkit, including approaches from the majority world, enabling them to appreciate power and the political significance of silences in accounts of the global and political.

    We will learn about the historical production of the idea of race; how it configured the world in particular ways; how race mandated the colonial project. However, the module will also go beyond race to think about colonialism and the identities that operate in conjunction with race including class, ethnicity, and gender, and how they can determine what type of life people can live or whether they can live at all. For example, they determine whether a child has the right to security, or has to risk losing life in the Mediterranean escaping violence at home. 

    Students will also learn about resistance and efforts to construct a different and more just world. Through rich historical and contemporary case studies, students will learn how to connect theories to understand current affairs, drawing on thinkers from various backgrounds to counter some of the dominant narratives within international relations.

    20 credits
    The World's Wicked Problems

    This module will introduce students to key international relations concepts and discussions. Students will be able to understand, analyse and reflect on some of  the most pressing issues in the international arena including: 

    migration

    climate change

    poverty and global inequalities

    sexual violence 

    armed conflict 

    This introductory module will equip students with the tools to continue engaging with more in-depth theoretical and empirical international relations discussions as they progress through their studies.

    20 credits
    Gender, Sexuality and Society

    This unit intends to address the following questions regarding gender and sexuality and their interaction with society: What do we mean by gender and sexuality? How do we do gender and sexuality? How do we see gender and sexuality? How do we control gender and sexuality?

    10 credits
    Introducing Criminology

    Crime is a major social problem in virtually all societies. In this module, sociological understandings of crime are discussed, often with reference to their implications for policy. The module will introduce you to major research about crime in contemporary Britain and help you to understand the contribution of sociology to its analysis. This module will be of value to anyone thinking about a career in the criminal justice services, journalism, public service, the voluntary sector and anyone interested in understanding the significance of crime in contemporary British society

    10 credits
    Introduction to Media and Communication in Society

    This module examines the relationship between media and society. It examines the nature of influence and persuasion, representation, ownership, and identity in contemporary media environments.

    10 credits
    Introduction to Social Research

    Students will be introduced to theoretical, methodological and practical issues in conducting empirical social research and become equipped with some of the basic skills necessary to undertake qualitative and quantitative projects, from project planning through to writing up research findings. Students will also be given the opportunity to explore different areas of social research in small groups through class presentations and debates

    10 credits
    Understanding Inequality

    The aim of this unit is to explore a key concern of sociology to explain how and why material and symbolic rewards are distributed unequally. It will consider the unequal distribution of wealth, privilege and power and, in doing so, will question common-sense understandings of various inequalities in society. It will focus on various social divisions including the 'big three' of social class, gender and race, as well as sexuality, age, religion and disability. Major themes will be explored with a predominantly British- and policy-related focus, although global divisions and inequalities will also be included for consideration.

    10 credits
    Welfare Politics and the State

    This unit introduces students to some of the material and theoretical concerns of social policy by focusing on the politics of 'welfare'. It is organised around unpacking common contemporary 'welfare myths' - e.g. 'the benefit scrounger', 'welfare tourism' and the need for austerity - by taking a long view of their articulation through history, exploring their ideological roots, examining policy responses and assessing the empirical evidence to support them. In doing so the unit also focuses on the policy making process, examining in particular issues of power in contemporary UK and the role of the media in perpetrating 'welfare myths'.

    10 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    Lectures take place in one of the large lecture theatres on campus. These sessions are led by the module leaders, and are designed to provide you with core ideas, concepts, key reading and debates.

    You’ll be equipped with all of the information you need for that week so that you can contextualise your readings and apply your learning in your seminars. 

    Seminars are smaller group sessions in which you discuss and debate the content that you learned in your lectures. You’ll prepare for seminars by reading materials, so that you can actively engage with other students and bring your own perspective and research into lively discussions.

    In some seminars, you may have the opportunity to do more practical based learning such as creating websites, videos, posters, podcasts and blogs, so that you can demonstrate how you can creatively communicate your research to different audiences, both independently and in groups. 

    We have great connections with policymakers and practitioners from various sectors, and we often invite these external speakers into seminars to share their own experiences or insight on topics that you will be learning about in your modules.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    Assessment

    We understand that everyone has different strengths when it comes to assessment. We also use diverse assessment methods so that not only does everyone have a chance to thrive, but also hone key skills and gain practical experience to prepare you for your future in the workplace. 

    Assessments can include:

    • Exams/quizzes
    • Dissertation
    • Short and long form essays
    • Podcasts
    • Editorial style writing
    • Book reviews
    • Policy reports
    • Presentations and group work
    • Websites
    • Vlogs
    • Zines

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    ABB

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    BBB + B in the EPQ; BBB + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    33
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + B at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AAABB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AB
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in either Law, Business Management, Humanities or Social Sciences, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction and 15 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    BBB

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    BBB + B in the EPQ; BBB + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    32
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDM in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + B at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AABBB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + BB
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in either Law, Business Management, Humanities or Social Sciences, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 24 at Distinction and 21 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    English language requirements

    You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Graduate careers

    The great thing about studying politics and sociology as a dual degree is that you will gain a whole host of transferable skills and knowledge that apply to a range of different careers. It is the perfect subject if you’re interested in jobs in government, PR and journalism, policy analysis, human resources or academia.These are just a few examples of the different career paths this programme can lead to. 

    Alumni from both departments have gone on to work in professional, political and administrative organisations across the world, in local, national, and international government, the charitable sector, education, the media, research and the private sector.

    We recognise how important employability is to our students, so we ensure that there are plenty of opportunities to add valuable work experience to your CV. This could be from projects that you work on as part of your course, such as drafting policy reports, or one of the many work experience options you can undertake with support from the faculty employability hub.

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    Video featuring students from the Department of Politics and International Relations speaking about their experiences studying at University.

    We're proud to be one of the UK’s top departments for research and teaching in politics and international relations. Our academics are recognised internationally for their research expertise and for informing changes to national and international policy.

    We have over 55 specialists in department, working at the cutting edge of the discipline on issues such as: Brexit, transgender politics, animal rights, environmentalism, populism and Middle East Politics. This research directly shapes and inspires what you're taught on all levels of our programmes.

    The Department of Politics and International Relations is based next to the Wave, the new home for the faculty of Social Sciences. The Wave features state-of-the-art collaborative lecture theatres, study spaces and seminar rooms.

    Teaching may take place in the Wave, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space. Many of the University buildings are close together so it’s easy to walk between them and it’s a great way to get to know the city.

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    Department of Sociological Studies

    Five reasons to study at the Department of Sociological Studies

    1. Tackle contemporary challenges - our course is designed to engage with and discuss society’s big challenges and our staff will bring their research expertise to your learning
    2. Develop your own expertise - our wide range of optional modules means you can develop your own research interests, crafting your degree to match your interests
    3. Comprehensive support - feel supported throughout your whole University journey and beyond, with a wide range of support available, including academic tutors and dedicated support services
    4. Diverse and interactive teaching - our mix of teaching formats means you’ll be engaged in a variety of ways throughout your course, helping you to learn in new and innovative ways
    5. Be career confident - our diverse assessments ensure that you develop the key skills you will need for the world of work. You’ll also have opportunities to build your work experience with placements and other employability opportunities

    Our interdisciplinary approach brings sociologists, criminologists, social policy analysts, digital media scholars and social workers together under one roof.

    Our staff are experts in their field and work with organisations in the UK and worldwide to address society’s major challenges, and in doing so they bring fresh perspectives to your studies. They'll give you the advice and support you need to excel in your subject.

    Department staff also play key roles in the Faculty of Social Science's Digital Society Network (DSN), an active group of researchers working on all aspects of digital-society relations. The DSN hosts events and activities to stimulate and support research in this area.

    Our courses develop students who are socially aware, with strong analytical skills and a flair for approaching problems in new ways. You'll become skilled at research and bring your own insights to key issues that affect our lives. In your third year, specialist modules allow you to investigate current thinking on a wide range of topics. You'll learn about the latest research from subject experts and explore your ideas in workshop-style sessions.

    Department of Sociological Studies students are based in the world-class Faculty of Social Sciences building, The Wave. It features state-of-the-art collaborative lecture theatres, study spaces and seminar rooms. Teaching may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space. If you want to have a closer look, check out our 360 degree tour.

    All the University buildings are close together, so it’s easy to get around. The University Sports Centre is just over the road and accommodation, the Information Commons library and the award-winning Students’ Union are all within easy walking distance.

    Department of Sociological Studies

    Why choose Sheffield?

    The University of Sheffield

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report


    Department of Politics and International Relations

    94 per cent of our research in the Department of Politics and International Relations is rated in the highest two categories

    Research Excellence Framework 2021

    Top 10 in the UK for international relations

    Guardian University Guide 2024

    Top 20 in the UK for politics

    Guardian University Guide 2024

    Department of Sociological Studies

    92.6% of sociological studies students who graduated in 2020 were in employment or further study 15 months after leaving university

    UK undergraduates, Graduate Outcomes Survey 2020-21

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    Funding your study

    Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

    Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

    Placements and study abroad

    Placement

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the three year course to a four-year Degree with Placement Year. 

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range of transferable skills
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget. 

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually between the second and third year. We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

    Campus tours

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2024-2025

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    This is the perfect course if you’re looking to understand how personal attitudes and experiences relate to wider issues in politics. You'll be able to explore modules from both disciplines, which means you can analyse key topics such as globalisation, migration and gender from a political perspective and then examine how issues such as these impact our society.