Sociology with Social Policy BA2024-25 entry
If you have an interest in debates surrounding social justice, fairness and equality, or just want the opportunity to learn more about areas of health, welfare, income, labour and migration, then the Sociology with Social Policy BA could be for you.
Explore this course:
Use sociological theories to examine social inequalities, and challenge issues and prevailing governmental ideas.
Sociology with social policy at Sheffield is the study of bringing about change in society, particularly through policy making. This practical, applied dimension of the degree is what makes it different from pure sociology.
This cutting-edge discipline combines research techniques and information retrieval, along with presentation and analytical skills – encouraging you to develop a deeper understanding of contemporary societal issues such as inequality, health, welfare, income, labour and migration.
In your final year, you’ll complete your own research project on one of these issues – demonstrating how to use theoretical frameworks and methodological tools to investigate the biggest challenges of our time.
Why study this course?
- Learn from people making real change - academics use their current research to inform new and upcoming policy. For example, world expert on ageing, Dr Liam Foster's research has been referenced by political parties and international bodies. And Dr Ysabel Gerrard's research into how young people use and experience social media has been involved in a ground-breaking new policy change for Instagram.
- Variety, choice and flexibility - ‘sociological studies’ encompasses sociologists, social policy analysts, social workers and digital society experts under one roof. This means your optional modules will stretch your mind and your abilities, and bring you into contact with students from a range of other courses such as digital media and society, journalism and education, to name a few.
- Greater employability - a dedicated module in third year – 'Value of Sociology' – helps students understand the transferable skills gained from the degree, which can be applied in a range of careers.
- You are the focus - student reps, student voice week and our ambassadors all shape how our department runs. The Sociology Society, or SocSoc, is a group of students that organise a variety of social events including an annual ball, plus volunteering initiatives, and socials across the year, as well as dedicated learning support for students in the department.
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:
UCAS code: LL34
Years: 2022, 2023
- 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
- Doing Social Research
This module builds on the knowledge and skills acquired by students in the module Introduction to Social Research. Students will be given the opportunity to deepen their understanding of theoretical, methodological and practical issues in conducting empirical social research through a staff interview project. The project will be introduced and explained in lectures, and students supported in interviewing their assigned Departmental member of staff via tutorial sessions and guided independent learning. Students will produce a portfolio of research work and a final 1,500 word project report which they will present to the class. The module will equip students with some of the basic skills necessary to: undertake empirical social research, from project planning through interviewing to writing up research findings; develop their collaborative and presentational skills; and enhance their appreciation of the relationship between research, teaching and the concepts of sociology and social policy more broadly. An additional positive outcome of the module will be the familiarisation of students with the research interests of all staff in the Department, preparing them for study at levels 2 and 3 and, in particular helping them in their choice of dissertation topics at level 3.10 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
- 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 society10 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 debates10 credits
- Social Divisions Seminar
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. The unit will focus on how social constraints and opportunities arise from social divisions and will explore how various social divisions interact to produce unequal outcomes. It will evaluate critically sociological research that provides evidence of structured inequality in society. A key aim of the unit is to provide students with a sociological framework to assess critically how social divisions operate in their own lives through the constraints and opportunities they encounter.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 cases10 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
This 'zero credit module is designed to support students as they transition onto their degree programme in Sociological Studies (SCS) at the University of Sheffield (TUoS). In particular, it is designed to support student awareness of the high quality learning environment within which the programme aims and outcomes will be delivered. The module will introduce students to the notion of the Sheffield Graduate, and what it means to be a student at TUOS. Through a range of online activities and tutorials, it will induct and introduce them to the support services provided by the department and the University. Helping them to articulate their learning requirements, it signposts opportunities for personal, professional and peer support. In doing so, it will help to create a solid foundation for the distinct communities of learning that will help to sustain them throughout the course of their degree at Sheffield.
Optional modules include:
- 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
- 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
- Earth, Wind, Ice and Fire
This module introduces the general principles of physical geography for students with diverse backgrounds. The module seeks to develop a holistic understanding of how the Earth functions as a system, focusing in particular on the functioning of key elements of this system - notably the operation of the geosphere, atmosphere, and cryosphere - and how these elements interact to influence the evolution of the system as a whole. Consideration of the latter aspect will include discussion of the impacts and consequences of alterations to the operation of different parts of the system, such as those caused by past and present climatic change. Finally, we consider how the form of Earth's surface reflects current and past geosphere, atmosphere and cryosphere processes at a range of spatial scales, from small-scale fluvial, aeolian and glacial landforms, to the evolution of continents and large mountain ranges.20 credits
- Exploring Human Geographies
The module provides an introduction to key principles, relations and processes that contribute to a diverse array of social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects of human geography. It looks at spatial patterns of power, inequality and interdependence produced by economic and cultural globalisation, how we experience these at the local scale and and how they have changed over time. It outlines key concepts and current debates shaping how human geographers approach these issues by drawing on examples from around the world and at a variety of geographical scales. It highlights the value of a geographical perspective on the world we live in.20 credits
- Philosophy of Science
Science plays an important role in modern society. We trust science on a day to day basis as we navigate our worlds. What is about science that makes it so trustworthy? Why is science a good guide for understanding the world? The aim of this half-module is to introduce some of the philosophical issues that arise in science and through reflecting on science. Most of the questions considered concern the epistemology of scientific knowledge and methodology: what are scientific theories, what counts as evidence for these theories, what is the relationship between observation and theory, is there a scientific method, what distinguishes science from other ways of understanding the world, and how does the social structure of science help or hinder science in studying the world. This module aims to introduce these questions as philosophical issues in their own right and within in the context of the history of the philosophy of science.10 credits
- Philosophy of Sex
Sex is one of the most basic human motivators, of fundamental importance in many people's lives, and a topic of enormous moral, religious, and political contention. No surprise, then, that it turns out to be of great philosophical interest. We will discuss moral issues related to sex' asking when we might be right to judge a particular sex act to be morally problematic; and what political significance (if any) sex has. We will also discuss metaphysical issues, such as the surprisingly difficult questions of what exactly sex is and what a sexual orientation is. Throughout our study, we will draw both on philosophical sources and on up-to-date contemporary information.10 credits
- LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Queer) Studies
This module introduces students to study of genders and sexualities, and LGBTQ scholarship, both historical and contemporary. It examines genders and sexualities in society, culture, media, and their academic study, as well as contemporary issues of inequality affecting sexual minorities in different global contexts. The module is team taught by experts in different departments at the University of Sheffield, who will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives, such as philosophy, history, social sciences, psychology, evolutionary biology, education, cultural studies, and critical study of religion. The module is assessed by a coursework portfolio, where students answer a number of short questions on different topics in the syllabus.10 credits
- Information and Communication Skills
The skills needed to be able to find, evaluate, summarise and critically evaluate information are all vital to success in an undergraduate degree programme, and are also key transferable skills. This module provides basic knowledge of a range of methods for information-gathering and forms of communication. The teaching is delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials and seminars, with students expected to take more responsibility for their own learning as the module progresses. Lectures provide basic knowledge on method for information gathering and forms of communication, whilst seminars, tutorials and a range of exercises are used to develop these skills10 credits
- Child Psychology
This module explores the relationship between psychological theory and educational policy and practice, considering some of the ways in which Education and Local Authority services have been influenced by ideas about children developed in psychological research. Some of the core concepts of Psychology are introduced such as cognitive psychology (intelligence, language and learning), behaviourism (including modification techniques), social and emotional development (including family and attachment, trauma) as well as the study of individual differences (with reference to psychopathologies such as autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder).20 credits
- The Digital University
What is it like to be a University of Sheffield student, without ever setting foot on campus? What can learners in Mumbai, Adelaide, Capetown, and Shanghai learn from each other? And what new possibilities and challenges are digital technologies opening up for higher education? These questions, and more, will be explored in this module about online, distance, and blended learning: all forms of digital learning where students can be based anywhere with an internet connection. An experience of digital learning is part of the module, and participants will both take an active role in and learn from this experience.20 credits
- Popular Music Studies
This module provides an introduction to the academic study of popular music. You will explore the various definitions of 'popular music' in relation to their socio-cultural context, and investigate some of the major issues and debates of popular music studies.10 credits
Lecture materials and in-class tasks will engage with approaches to the analysis of popular music and media, issues of representation, and the relationship between popular musicians and their audiences. Assessments involve critical engagement with the themes of the module in relation to a popular music artist or piece of your choosing.
- Philosophy of Religion
This course will pose and try to answer philosophical questions about religion. These include questions about the nature of religion. For instance does being religious necessarily involve believing in the existence of a God or Gods? And is religious faith compatible with adherence to the scientific method? Other questions that the course will cover include questions about the theistic notion of God. Does the idea of an all-powerful being make sense? Is an all-knowing God compatible with human freedom? And is an all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good creator of the universe compatible with the existence of evil? Further questions concern God and morality. Is it true that if there is no God, then there is no right and wrong? The course will examine philosophical arguments for the existence of God, and question whether these arguments are sound.10 credits
- History of Ethics
How should we live? What is the right thing to do? This module offers a critical introduction to the history of western ethical thought, examining some of the key ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Wollstonecraft, Douglass, Bentham, Mill, Taylor Mill, Nietzsche, Rawls and Gilligan. It provides a textual introduction to some of the main types of ethical theory: the ethics of flourishing and virtue; rights-based approaches; utilitarianism; contractualism. We explore the close interconnections between ethics and other branches of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics), as well as the connections between ethics and other disciplines (e.g. psychology; anthropology).10 credits
This module is mainly about death itself . What is death? What happens to us when we die? Could there be an afterlife? Would it be a good thing if there were? What is it about death that we dislike so much, or that makes it bad? Is it rational, or even possible to fear death? What is the right attitude towards our own death? Do we have moral duties towards the dead? The course will clarify these questions and attempt to answer them. Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary sources.10 credits
- 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
- Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
Whether you're a journalist writing stories for the public, or a social research analyst working in government, you need to be able to understand, use and present data. This 10 credit module aims to demystify data and encourage critical thinking on statistics; often wrongly used, and sometimes in very misleading ways. The module will equip you with the knowledge and skills you'll need to become a discerning data user, through engaging teaching, active learning and examples from the news media. The module is comprised of a mix of lectures and computer workshops and is assessed through a multiple choice exam.10 credits
- Climate Action
Humans are altering the climate, with significant impacts on livelihoods, wellbeing, equality, and the environment across the globe. While international organisations and governments are crucial in mitigating and adapting to these threats, individual and small group collective action are also essential in creatively exploring how the necessary changes can be realistically and equitably implemented.10 credits
This module uses the community linked to the University as a Living Lab. Focusing on one aspect of daily life in which there is potential for more mitigation or better adaptation, you will identify and plan an investigation or intervention (a 'project') to take a step towards more or better climate action. You will need to justify your choices by elaborating what you would consider success, how you would deliver it, as well as assessing the impact of its wider implementation.
- 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
- Doing Qualitative Sociological Research
Qualitative research still dominates sociological research and the skills and techniques that researchers use to generate qualitative data have numerous other applications in the work-place and beyond. In this inquiry-based module students will continue to develop their ability to collect, analyse, and present qualitative data by working on individual and team-based projects. Not only will they come up with their own research proposal for their Level Three dissertation - and go through the process of having it approved by a departmental committee. They will also utilise interview, ethnographic, and indirect data, to produce a 'research in progress' newsletter, and critically reflect on the process of doing qualitative research.20 credits
- Doing Quantitative Sociological Research
This dynamic inquiry-based module will provide students with practical experience of conducting quantitative sociological research that has real-life application to the social world. Using the latest UK datasets provided by the Office for National Statistics, the module will develop students' experience of the realities of planning and conducting quantitative research, and allow them to develop their ability to communicate their findings in appropriate formats. There will be several hands-on workshops where students can develop and practice their skills in using SPSS.20 credits
- Dynamics of Social Change and Policy
This unit adopts a 'sociological perspective on social policy' to provide a macro perspective on contemporary social and economic transformations in the UK and globally, with a particular emphasis on the challenges posed for social policy theory and practice, as well as the potential to imagine alternative social policy scenarios. Issues considered include: globalisation, neoliberalism, falling fertility and ageing societies, precarious labour markets and migration and mobility. The unit adopts a comparative and international / global perspective, variously emphasising not only the perspectives of International Organisations, but also the challenges faced by other types of welfare regimes.20 credits
- Social Problems: Policy and Practice
This team taught unit adopts a 'sociological approach to social policy'. Drawing on current examples and comparative references, it explores social and ideological constructions of social problems and the role of the state and other agencies in responses to them. It explores key concepts and themes in social policy and practice such as inequality, justice and fairness; individual versus collective responsibility; and welfare versus social control. It focuses on major contemporary issues, including welfare and work; housing and homelessness; and community participation. The unit aims to equip students with the necessary critical perspective and skills to understand and explore social problems.20 credits
- Sociological Theory and Analysis
The aim of this module is to build on and develop students' understanding of Sociological theory, exploring its relevance to key themes and issues in contemporary society. The course will begin with an exploration of the work of modern social theorists such as Talcott Parsons and will conclude with a focus on contemporary theorists such as Donna Haraway. In order to foster student understanding of social theory, its aims and purposes, each theorists work will be applied to substantive issues in modern and contemporary society such as family formation, urbanisation, politics, and globalization. Overall, the module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the importance and use of modern and contemporary social theory.20 credits
Optional modules include:
- Crime, Justice and Social Policy
This unit examines the variety of responses to crime that encompass the use of both crime policy and social policy. Crime policy responses encompass the use of the role of the police, courts and prisons. Alongside this is the social policy approach which includes health, housing, education, employment, youth and family as a means of crime reduction. The module seeks to demonstrate the criticism of 'traditional' crime policy-based responses to crime and the way in which social policy has emerged as an alternative way to tackle the so-called 'crime problem'. The module includes a consideration of theories of crimes which make competing arguments for the use of crime or social policy as a response; the role of criminologists in policy making; and the criminalisation of social policy as an unintended outcome.20 credits
- Digital Media and Social Change
This module examines two key aspects of the relationship between digital media and social change. Firstly, it analyzes the large-scale social, economic, and political changes created by the Internet: including the new forms of participation that have been created as audiences become producers, as well as the new forms of surveillance and inequalities that are entangled with these developments. The second strand of Digital Media and Social Change examines purposeful activist uses of digital media to create social change, examining how new possibilities for participatory communication have been exploited by activists to contest inequalities: from influential social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter to environmental influencers on Youtube and Instagram. Students will be introduced to a range of core theoretical frameworks in order to understand, analyze, and evaluate the complex relationships between digital media and social change. In the process, they will have the opportuntity to develop critical skills in discussing and unpacking contemporary scholarship: offering vital scaffolding for final year dissertations.20 credits
- Sociology of Family: Continuity and Change
Using a sociological and anthropological perspective this unit seeks to problematise the concept of 'family' as a natural and universal phenomenon. Rather, it underscores the need to explore the notion of the family as a social and historical construction and will achieve that by examining the diversity of family life in countries around the world. While acknowledging the impact of social change on different family constructions, it will also seek to show how some family structures remain the same, creating a situation where one society can have multiple family structures. In particular, it will focus on the role of the state in constructing the family and highlight the impact these different constructions of family life (and the changes they have undergone) have on particular individuals such as women, children and the elderly.20 credits
- Men, Feminism and Gender relations
This unit provides a critical examination of the growing body of sociological and other literature concerned with men and masculinities. It will locate this growth of interest within the context of the feminist movement and subsequent writings/critiques of men and patriarchy. Significantly, the unit will connect to wider scholarship on gender relations, with topics and case studies including: men in sport, men and media, men and health/ well-being, men and feminism, as well as men and sexualities. Methodological and epistemological issues involved in the study of men and masculinities will also form part of this module.20 credits
- Sociology of Media and Consumer Culture
This module examines the relationship between media and consumer culture. It explores debates of audience research, influence, marketing, and advertising. Students will develop an understanding of media, consumer culture, and their wider impacts on society.20 credits
- The Sociology of Crime
Crime, and processes of criminalisation, are major features of all societies. Since the 19th Century, sociologists have developed a range of criminological theories to explain ‘criminality’. This module will review the historical development of a range of theoretical approaches to the study of crime; consider how sociologists have studied the primary institutions of social control such as the police and prisons; and examine the contribution of the sociology of crime to issues of contemporary significance20 credits
- Understanding 'Race' and Migration
This module explores the meaning of 'race' and migration in various social and political contexts. It aims to develop an in-depth understanding of sociological theories of 'race', racism and migration through an exploration of the development of 'race' as an ideology, as a concept influenced by history and politics, and through its relevance in the contemporary context. The module examines how ideas about race and migration help to shape and determine social and political relations. It also explores the role of race and migration as major sources of social divisions and how racism operates in the reproduction of structural inequalities. These issues are explored through sociological theory, as well as policy and practice areas such as theories of racialised identities, immigration regimes, education and criminal justice.20 credits
- Sustainable Development and Global Justice
Development in the Global South is a major issue of international concern in the 21st century. This module explores contemporary development issues and examines the contribution that geographers, and geographical thought, can make towards understanding inequality, poverty and socio-economic change. Definitions of 'development', 'poverty' and 'the poor' shift and are invested with political meaning which reflect specific geographies and ways of seeing the world: students develop critical understandings of such terminology and the power dynamics implicit within them. This module addresses diverse theories, paradigms and contemporary critiques of development, and explores some of the central issues affecting processes of development. Case examples are drawn from Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia.20 credits
- Theory of Knowledge
The aim of the course is to provide an introduction to philosophical issues surrounding the knowledge. We will be concerned with the nature and extent of knowledge. How must a believer be related to the world in order to know that something is the case? Can knowledge be analysed in terms of more basic notions? Must our beliefs be structured in a certain way if they are to be knowledge? In considering these questions we will look at various sceptical arguments that suggest that the extent of knowledge is much less than we suppose. And we will look at the various faculties of knowledge: perception, memory, introspection, and testimony.20 credits
Feminists have famously claimed that the personal is political. This module takes up various topics with that methodological idea in mind: the family, cultural critique, language. We examine feminist methodologies - how these topics might be addressed by a feminism that is inclusive of all women - and also turn attention to social structures within which personal choices are made - capitalism, and climate crisis .20 credits
- Children and Digital Cultures
Digital technology has transformed the lives of many, impacting on culture and society. Many young people have quickly seen ways of extending and deepening social networks through their uses of technology, and immersed themselves in Virtual Worlds, Facebook etc and enjoyed browsing on shopping sites. This module examines new technologies and associated social practices impacting on children's lives, considering the nature of new digital practices and how these affect identity, society and culture. Educational implications of new technologies is a developing field of research and students will engage critically with debates within the field alongside examining websites and new practices.20 credits
- Territory, Power and Policy
The module introduces you to contemporary debates within political geography. You will develop a detailed understanding of political processes at a variety of spatial scales, from the international, national to the local, from collective politics to individual political behaviour. You will explore questions of power, efficacy and conflict with an emphasis on the spatial and place-specific aspects of politics in relation to issues including: geopolitics and international relations; the state and territoriality; the politics of nationalism and citizenship; civic activism; and individual political participation.20 credits
- Who Gets What? Social Justice and the Environment
Environmental issues continue to be a key area of contemporary public concern and current political debate. They raise fundamental questions about the relationship between society and environment, and the politics and equity of that relationship. This module provides a geographical introduction to these issues and debates with examples from a range of scales from the global to the local. It also considers the role of stakeholders and how they benefit or are disadvantaged by policy that seeks to address issues to do with the environment-society relationship. The module then develops these core ideas through inter-related sections covering debates focused on different empirical themes.20 credits
Particular skills will be achieved including: policy analysis, ethical awareness, positive mindset, global awareness and self-awareness.
- Urban Culture and Conflict: The Making of Modern Cities
Cities are sites of social conflict and cultural production. The links between these two facets of modern urban experience have long fascinated scholars seeking to understand the cultural history of the urban imagination. In this module you will explore different ways artists, intellectuals, political activists, ordinary people and other thinkers have sought to understand and explain various experiences of and conflicts over urban life. You will learn to situate the relationships between sensory perceptions, aesthetic judgments and power relations in their own place and time. This module will draw from historical, cultural, social, and political geographies as well as other disciplines to engage with the shifting nature and spatiality of these relationships through case studies of selected cities, the particular changes in urban culture they occasioned, contemporary responses to those changes, and the theoretical debates they inspired. Key topics will include urban form and architecture, cultural difference and social inequality, representational practices and bodily experiences, and the overall consciousness of change in cities over the past two centuries.20 credits
- Ethnography and Lived Religion
The course begins with pioneering empirical studies on religion to introduce students to methods and issues in ethnography of religion. We will then move on to more contemporary perspectives in ritual study, and examine religious experience, rituals, mindfulness and spirituality, as well as intersections of religion, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality. The emphasis is on individualistic everyday expressions of faith, and spirituality, rather than on doctrinal and dogmatic discourses. Students will be able to undertake their own ethnography project as part of their portfolio to examine 21st century faith in its rich variety. The module will equip students with understanding of sociological and anthropological approaches on religion, contemporary religious diversity and intersectionality of embodied and lived religion.20 credits
Students submit weekly blog posts to prepare for interactive lectures and group discussions. Students can also submit a draft of their portfolio for detailed assessment, and get pre-submission feedback on knowledge, research, communication, referencing and presentation. They will then have an opportunity to improve their work before the final deadline. Feedback opportunities Weekly feedback in class based on blog posts and discussions. Detailed pre-submission portfolio draft feedback, assignment tutorial, and one-to-one consultations.
- Cities, Violence and Security
Introduces students to key examples of violence, conflict and insecurity in urban contexts around the world. The course focuses on efforts to make better and safer places and seeks to develop student understanding of the political, economic and social drivers of human insecurity in urban settings. Examples of urban violence and crime, policing, forced evictions, domestic violence, terrorism, gangs and the rise of gated communities and other modes of design and control to produce securitised urban spaces are discussed and analysed in their effectiveness.20 credits
- Solidarity: Politics, Law, and Society across the Globe
In this interdisciplinary module, we explore how solidarity has been understood, practised, and contested across the globe. From Cuban solidarity for African liberation struggles to cross-species solidarity in climate activism today, we explore the possibilities of solidarity in action. In doing so, we will look at the wide-ranging impact that solidarity has had from individual survival to regime change. Taking a critical approach to the topic, we will also explore situations in which acts of solidarity can amplify forms of exclusion and injustice.20 credits
- Sociology of the Body
This module examines the cultural and societal impact we have on bodies, and they have on us. In the social world we are understood first through our bodies, and this can have an impact on everything from our opportunities for employment to our access to medical care. During this module you will explore the social construction of the body and the ways it is controlled and experienced in contemporary society. You will also develop an understanding of some of the social factors that can shape bodily experience and identity such as racialisation, gender, ageing, weight, medicalisation, and representation.20 credits
To introduce students to key theoretical approaches to the sociology of the body.
To develop students' understanding of the social construction of the body.
To critically explore social factors that can impact the body and identity.
To explore how our bodies intersect with our multiple social identities.
To encourage students to create a social justice focused framework for understanding the marginalised body in contemporary society.
- Dissertation in Social Policy
The dissertation module gives students the opportunity, in the context of an original piece of empirical research (or analysis of secondary data) on a topic of their own choosing, to undertake an independent study with the support from a dissertation supervisor, plenary teaching and resources on MOLE. This will enable students to draw upon and develop both their knowledge and their thinking, to demonstrate their understanding of and ability to integrate both the conceptual and research methods foundations laid in the earlier part of the programme, and to undertake a critical analysis of a topic relevant to social policy.40 credits
- The Value of Sociology
This module builds on the subject-specific knowledge and skills that students have acquired at levels 1 and 2. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on both the value of Sociology as a discipline and the value of their degree programme overall. A critical assessment of the state of the discipline will be explored through a series of lectures delivered by a range of lecturers, leading to a series of workshop-type seminars in which students will reflect on the usefulness of what they have learned during their degree and how to communicate this to an external audience. Students will develop enterprise skills within the context of the discipline they are studying and enhance their understanding of the inter-connection between Sociology, the skills they have developed and their application in the wider world.20 credits
Optional modules include:
- Digital Health
This module looks at the social implications of digital technologies in health, considering what these mean for our experiences of health and illness as patients and as citizens, for the work of health care professionals, and for the provision of health care. The module will consider a range of contemporary areas such as self-tracking and gamifying health, telemedicine and care at a distance, health information on the net, electronic patient records, illness death and dying on the web, and health activism and online patient groups. Drawing across these, the module will consider questions about changing representations and cultures of health and illness, whether we can all be medical experts now, who has responsibility for health, how we relate to health care professionals, the commodification of health data and the relative benefits for state and industry.20 credits
- Digital Identities
This module explores how gender, age, race, class and other identities are being reimagined in what various commentators have called a 'social media age. It provides students with an understanding of social media platforms roles in peoples identity negotiations, examining users social media identities in different global contexts, and paying close attention to the intersections between different identities. It reviews debates about identity formations from the earliest digital media moments and considers contemporary concerns, such as: anonymity and agency; selfies and sexting; censorship, resistance and collective identities; social media fandoms; masculinity and gaming.20 credits
- Intimacy and Personal Relationships
The module explores approaches to theorising and studying intimacy and personal relationships. Beginning with the Individualisation thesis and its critics, the module will go on to explore recent moves towards conceptualising personal relationships in terms of embeddedness, relationality, intimacy and linked lives. Students will also explore a range of substantive topics within the field including memory, genealogy, material culture and home, marriage and sexuality, responsibility and care, and friendship.20 credits
- Organised Crime & Illicit Markets
The unit is an introduction to students to the growing field of organised crime studies. By focusing on an exploration of the primary literature concerning historical and contemporary developments in organised crime, students will be equipped to engage with sociological debates surrounding the development of this type of criminality, particularly its (alleged) increasingly transnational nature over the past two decades. In particular the unit will explore how governments and law enforcement agencies have tried to respond to this type of crime and will present a range of case studies specific to illicit marketplaces. The unit will also explore the role of the media and the influence of popular culture on the way organised crime is defined and understood.20 credits
- Perspectives on inequalities
This module is co-taught with local agency, community and family members. It asks students to think about the everyday experiences of inequality. It explores some of the core theoretical frameworks for interrogating inequality, and then explores everyday reality to apply the theories and concepts. The involvement of practitioners, community members and families means that the module is interactive and requires full attendance, in order to ensure a respectful experience for external contributors.20 credits
- Queer Theory and the Media
This module introduces queer theory and discusses the role of different media for how gender and sexuality are constructed, represented and expressed. We will trace activist and academic origins of the word 'queer' and explore queer (self-)representations in mainstream and alternative media such as newspapers, films, zines, blogs, social media and dating apps. We will also look into how those representations promote or challenge the binaries of male versus female, masculine versus feminine, and heterosexual versus homosexual as well as how they travel around the world and promote particular understandings of gender and sexuality transnationally.20 credits
- Sociology of Evil
Despite the increasing secularisation and rationalisation of society, evil is still an all too familiar term. For some it invokes images of devils, demons and witches, for others criminals, terrorists and murderers, whilst debates on the 'social evils' of poverty, prostitution and alcohol are continually recycled for each generation. This module aims to introduce students to a sociological approach to evil by asking them to develop their own innovative case-studies of evil in combination with published research. They will be asked to: explore the ontology of evil; examine how evil is explained and accounted for; investigate the consequences of evil; develop an understanding concerning the representation of evil and assess the aetiological precedents for that representation; and, ultimately, critically determine the role evil has within society.20 credits
- Sociology of Health, Illness and Medicine
This module explores sociological aspects of health, illness and medicine. It will focus on issues of health inequality exploring the ways in which patterns of health and disease vary according to class, gender and race. It also provides a critical examination of biomedicine, highlighting the contemporary challenges faced by medicine as a profession. Furthermore, it will focus on new dynamic developments in science and medicine linking health with the Internet and exploring the rise of the new genetics. The aim of this course is to provide students with a critical understanding of the role of health, illness and medicine within contemporary society.20 credits
- What it means to be human
New technologies and new scientific knowledge make powerful claims about `human nature’ that are reconstructing how we understand ourselves. At the same time, they also give us new potential to reshape our bodies and brains. This module aims to critically engage with these developments using concepts from a number of sociological traditions. Can biology tell us anything meaningful about social interaction or racial and gendered differences, or about ability and disability? What are the criteria by which we determine ‘the human’ and who decides what these shall be? Does our psychology have an evolutionary basis? How are the boundaries between humans and machines changing? What is the human impact on the environment? Should we use new technologies to enhance ourselves? The module will provide students with the opportunities and tools to grapple with these and other important questions.20 credits
- Whiteness, Power and Privilege
This unit explores the importance of studying whiteness in order to understand racism as a system of power relationships. It explains why the construction of whiteness has become a key focus in debates about race and ethnicity and examines critically some of the key themes to emerge in this field of study. This includes exploring the historical origins of 'white studies' and assessing representations of whiteness in literary and visual culture. It also includes exploring the racialised, classed and gendered boundaries of whiteness by examining, for example, the socially and politically constructed categories of 'white trash' and the 'chav'.20 credits
- Protest, Movements and Social Change
The unit is an introduction to the study of the ways in which protest and social movements drive social change. The unit will take an historical overview, tracing the development of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of social movements, matched with historical and contemporary case studies of movements from around the world. By focusing on what function movements play in society, as well as how they have been studied, students will be equipped with the tools to both analyse movements, and engage with sociological debates surrounding larger questions of inequality, identity, democracy and social justice.20 credits
- Children, Families and Welfare States
This module examines welfare state support and services for children, parents and families, informed by sociological and social policy theories, concepts and research. It does this with a focus on three case study welfare states the UK, France and Denmark as well as four public policy domains cash support for children and families; childcare and early years services; parental leave and work-family balance policies; and child welfare and family support services. and interventions.20 credits
- Digital Marketing and Consumer Culture
This module examines sociological perspectives on digital marketing and their broader impacts on consumer culture. It situates the emergence of data-driven marketing within a broader social history of marketing practices and discourses. Students will learn to critically understand the social implications and power dynamics of digital marketing and their impacts on everyday life..20 credits
- Algorithms, AI and Society
Algorithmic systems, AI, machine learning and other data-driven technologies are transforming society. They are having wide-ranging effects, including some benefits, but they are far from straightforward. Their use results in harms as well as benefits, and algorithmic systems and AI feed into and are fed into by inequalities. This module critically interrogates claims that AI, automation and algorithms will simply lead to a better society. It explores the negative effects of related change and the ways in which algorithmic and AI systems are not experienced equally by all. It reviews theoretical literature on AI-in-society and on algorithmic culture, and focuses on high profile accounts of their social consequences, for example in education, welfare, social care, big tech and the media.20 credits
- Feminist and Queer Studies in Religion, Global Perspectives
This module applies feminism, queer studies and trans philosophy in analysis of genders and sexualities in religious traditions and cultures around the world. We will examine deities and goddesses, gendered language in religions, cisheteropatriarchy, and LGBTQIA life in e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as in Chinese, and Japanese cultures. We will discuss genders, rituals, spirituality, sexual practices, procreation, abstinence, and asexuality, reading a range of feminist, queer and trans philosophical works, and texts ranging from the Kama Sutra to Confucius and the Vatican documents, Scriptures, and empirical research. Assignments allow students in Philosophy, Humanities, and Social Sciences develop their expertise using their preferred methods and topics, on religions of their choice.20 credits
- Sex Work: Rights, Regulation and Resistance
This module draws on a large and growing body of international scholarship to introduce students to the complexities and diverse realities of sex work. It will equip students with a sound understanding of a whole range of theories and concepts that help to make sense of the social, cultural, and legal dimensions of sex work. It will explore the various sex markets; gendered differences in the buying and selling of sex; violence, exploitation and trafficking; sex worker-led activism and resistance; and the regulatory models used across the globe to govern sex industries. In so doing, the module uses sex work as an entry point to consider key sociological and criminological debates concerning structure and agency, social justice, and race, gender, migration and class.20 credits
- Global Justice
What are the demands of justice at the global level? On this module we will examine this question from the perspective of analytic Anglo-American political philosophy. We will start by looking at some debates about the nature of global justice, such as whether justice demands the eradication of global inequalities. We will then turn to various questions of justice that arise at the global level, potentially including: how jurisdiction over territory might be justified; whether states have a right to exclude would-be immigrants; whether reparations are owed for past international injustices such as colonialism; and how to identify responsibilities for combatting global injustice.20 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
This course applies sociological insight to social problems and policy solutions, exploring the role of the state and other agencies in responding to them.
You'll learn through a mix of interactive lectures and seminars, with time for independent study.
The special character of social policy at the University of Sheffield is its sociological grounding and close collaboration with both sociology and social work disciplines.
You'll be taught by our academic staff, who are at the leading edge of critical sociology and who are actively involved in shaping future policy options. Our staff are recognised as world-leading experts in areas such as gender, migration, digital society & health and ageing, and our teaching reflects this research expertise.
You'll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams. Coursework may include:
- Policy analysis
- Creating websites
- Writing blogs
- Producing podcasts, vlogs and online zines.
Our assessments ensure that you develop key skills to prepare you for the world of employment after your studies, such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, digital literacy, group work and independence.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
- A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
- BBB + B in the EPQ
- International Baccalaureate
- BTEC Extended Diploma
- DDD in a relevant subject
- BTEC Diploma
- DD in a relevant subject + B at A Level
- Scottish Highers
- Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
- B + AB
- Access to HE Diploma
- Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction and 15 at Merit
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
- A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
- BBB + B in the EPQ
- International Baccalaureate
- BTEC Extended Diploma
- DDM in a relevant subject
- BTEC Diploma
- DD in a relevant subject + B at A Level
- Scottish Highers
- Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
- B + BB
- Access to HE Diploma
- Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 24 at Distinction and 21 at Merit
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
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Department of Sociological Studies
Our graduates work in a range of sectors including broadcasting, the police service, teaching and social work. They are also employed in local government, the civil service, charity and campaign organisations and market research.
Some have carried out graduate training with national and international companies, and are employed around the world. Many go on to masters courses in sociology and social policy and other areas such as human resources.
You could pursue a career in marketing, communications and PR, or work in museums, theatres or charitable organisations.
Department of Sociological Studies
Five reasons to study at the Department of Sociological Studies
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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 Sociological Studies
UK undergraduates, Graduate Outcomes Survey 2020-21
I think it's a really good department, the staff are very hands on and they all have their special subject knowledge.
Fees and funding
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.
Placements and study abroad
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.