School of Law, Criminology and Government

BSc (Hons) Sociology

Looking at life through a lens of inequality, difference and diversity, sociology at Plymouth brings real issues into sharp focus. Supported by a nationally renowned academic team, you’ll explore how topics such as class, ethnicity, food, gender, health, media and poverty shape our lives and experiences. You’ll develop key transferable skills that employers actively seek through an established, work-based learning programme, field trips and international exchange opportunities to study abroad.

NSS results for BSc (Hons) Sociology

We are proud to be ranked 5th in the country for sociology in terms of the overall level of student satisfaction (Guardian League Tables, 2019). In the most recent National Student Survey, we received a 100% student satisfaction rating. 85% of students agreed that the course ‘challenged me to achieve my best work’, ‘provided opportunities to explore ideas or concepts in depth’, ‘provided me with opportunities to bring information and ideas together from different topics’, and ‘helpful comments were received on my work’.*

Thumb times higher education

A top 10 UK Young University for Sociology

Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2019

Careers with this subject

Advice from graduate Conor Wood: 

 "I would recommend BSc (Hons) Sociology at Plymouth, as it gives you a detailed understanding of how society functions in regards to the social, economic, and political aspects in our everyday lives. Furthermore, sociological perspectives offer insights about the social world that extend beyond individual explanations. Sociology as a degree provides a range of skills that are a necessity in many careers within contemporary society such as critical evaluation, logical thinking, research skills and problem solving."

Read more from our alumni 

Careers advice

We embed careers training and advice throughout the curriculum, which means we help you to find and develop a career path that is right for you, as an integral part of the degree using a dedicated team of personal tutors and careers advisers.


Throughout the course we develop key transferable skills that are actively sought by employers. Sociology at Plymouth has a strong applied focus with a particular focus on critical thinking skills, research methods, and project management. Publishing, media, leisure, museums, social research, the police, teaching, local and central government, and the voluntary sector, are all areas where our inquisitive and competent graduates can be found. Our work-based learning programme gives you the edge when applying for graduate jobs.

You will also have access to the University's Careers & Employability service which provides information, advice and guidance to students and graduates on building skills, experience and contacts, helping to improve your employability.

Key features

  • Learn from passionate and committed academics with active and wide-ranging research expertise. Our research and specialisms include health, well-being and social policy alongside politics and identities.
  • Explore a wide-range of topics including sustainability, tourism, health and wellbeing, media, deviance, work and employment, gender and sexuality, global development, methodological innovations, philosophy of social science and food, culture and society.
  • Apply sociological theory to contemporary issues in an interactively taught environment.
  • Explore and experience first-hand the world beyond the classroom with national and international field trips and exchange opportunities.
  • Engage in a pioneering, well established work-based learning programme along with voluntary opportunities to enhance your employability.
  • Develop key transferable skills that employers actively seek through novel research methods training.
  • Benefit from studying with a faculty of highly regarded staff who engage in innovative and experiential learning spaces.
  • Experience varied and engaging assessment formats supported through personal tutoring.
  • Join a course where overall student satisfaction is consistently rated at over 90 per cent in the National Student Survey (NSS), as reported by UNISTATS
  • Know that your teaching and learning is informed by prominent research, with 62 per cent of our research rated as world leading or internationally excellent (Source: Research Excellence Framework, 2014).

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, you’ll start investigating how and why societies change, looking into how individuals and society connect. Working in small tutorial groups, you’ll explore real-world research through topics such as health, poverty, housing, gender, race, family, education, religion, employment, global development and environmental sustainability. Throughout the year, you’ll learn what it is to be a sociologist and how to use evidence to better understand the social world.
    Core modules
    • GOV1000PP One Planet? Society and Sustainability

      This module addresses some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century from a variety of ideological and political perspectives. Through real-world case studies and critical reflection of lived experiences, we explore and debate the complex, interdependent processes underpinning sustainability and global inequality and insecurities. You develop an understanding of key drivers and public policy impacts and consider future alternative scenarios. The emphasis is on active, collaborative, learning via field trips and debates.

    • SOC1510 Social Identities and Inequalities

      This module explores how and why social inequalities influence lived experience and social identities. It focuses on a range of substantive issues, such as poverty, housing, education, health, morality, sexuality, gender, religion, work, unemployment, `race¿, dis/ability and explores how these influence culture, identities and lived experience throughout the life-course.

    • SOC1511 Introduction to Social Theory

      This module introduces students to key features of classical and contemporary social theory. These are placed within the context of the impact of the Enlightenment, and its impact on science and social science. One important objective is to encourage students to consider the contribution theoretical approaches can make to thinking about contemporary issues.

    • SOC1512 Social Science Research Methods

      This module introduces students to the role and value of social science to understanding the social world and social problems. It will provide students with grounding in the key strategies employed by social science researchers. The emphasis is on empirical research in both quantitative and qualitative approaches to gathering and interpreting social data.

    • SOC1513 Key Concepts and Skills for Sociology

      This module provides a foundation for the development of transferable conceptual and methodological skills through the Single Honours Sociology programme. Students will engage with contrasting sources of knowledge about the social world, with introductions to organisations working with local communities. C Wright Mills `sociological imagination¿ provides a platform for ongoing academic and personal development through a focus upon the interconnections between personal lives and public issues.

    Optional modules
    • CCJS1112 Criminology and Crime Problems

      This module introduces students to the subject of criminology. It emphasises criminology's multi-disciplinary and the different perspectives, methods and sources of information that it draws upon in developing theories about the different causes and problematizations of crime and deviance.

    • IRL102 International Relations Since 1945

      This module provides an introduction to the historical development of the international political system since 1945. It provides a crucial background to the major processes and actors that have shaped the contemporary international system.

    • POL101 Comparative Democracies

      This module introduces students to the key themes involved in the study of democracies. It examines each of these topics within a comparative framework. The application of the key themes will be achieved through the medium of theoretical approaches and case study application.

  • Year 2
  • In the second year, you’ll put into practice what you’ve been learning in the classroom and see sociology in action while gaining work experience relevant to your future career. In tutorials, you’ll explore the impact of global change and international social justice, and discover how these affect socio-cultural identity. You’ll also gain confidence in discussing contested social ideas and how they are applied in today’s global world, industry and employment.
    Core modules
    • SOC2516 Culture, Structure and Experience

      This module explores the relationship between culture, social structure and social identities. It focuses on how this relationship has been conceptualised & discussed through a range of theoretical approaches from modern & postmodern theory, cultural studies and the sociology of identity and difference. These theories are then applied to current empirical examples.

    • SOC2523 The Social Science Research Process

      This module introduces students to the key features and principles of design and data collection in social research using real world research to link theory, methods and evidence. It develops concepts and skills acquired at stage one and requires students to develop a critical analysis of different research methodologies.

    • SOC2524 Developments in Social Theory

      The module introduces students to the breadth of contemporary disputes in social theory framed within the context of classical social theory covered in Stage 1. These debates are linked to the historical events and empirical social research that were both informed by and influenced contemporary theoretical change. Foundational disciplinary questions are broached and formative critical thinking workshops assist in developing theoretical argument, analysis and evaluation.

    • SOC2525 Gender, Sex and Sexuality

      This module introduces students to the sociology of gender, sex and sexuality. It interrogates these concepts with particular reference to identity, activism and social change. It focuses on substantive issues, such as transgender, intersex, masculinities/femininities, bodies, family, media, work, culture and community. It develops an understanding of the similarities, differences and intersections between gender, sex, sexuality and other social signifiers of difference/diversity.

    • SOC2526 Work, Employment and Society

      This module will address both theoretical and practical aspects of work and employment, with particular attention given to `face-to-face¿ work with people. This will include an introduction to the sociology of work, and to relevant concepts for working with people including `emotional labour¿. The module will also include PDP and sessions with careers advisors.

    Optional modules
    • IRL201 International Security Studies

      This module considers the issue of security in contemporary international relations. It examines a variety of different security concepts from deterrence and the security dilemma to arms control, peacekeeping, terrorism, regional security complexes and governance. It then seeks to relate these to practical examples from world politics.

    • IRL203 International Relations of the Developing World

      This module embraces both theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding development issues and policies, at national, international and multilateral scale. The approach taken is deliberately inter-disciplinary, incorporating historical, economic, political and social perspectives. The module also uses case studies based in Africa, Latin America and Asia to illustrate and provide context for the discussion of various developmental concerns. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the development policy arena; how it is framed and constituted; the power relations between actors; and the impact on human communities and their environments.

    • SOC2522 Globalisation and International Social Justice

      This module investigates the key debates of globalisation and critically evaluates, in terms of its economic, political, socio-cultural and legal dimensions, the causes and consequences of a globalising world. It furthermore explores a range of international social justice issues to examine the relationships (causative and ameliorative) between policies and (in)justice .

    • SOC2527 Work Based Learning in Sociology

      This module provides students with opportunities to gain practical insights into the workings of organisations whose role and function have relevance to the focus and subject matter of their undergraduate degree in Sociology. Students are required to connect these insights and experiences with appropriate sociological theories and concepts. In addition to providing opportunities to apply sociology to an organisational environment, the module provides support for students in developing transferable skills for the graduate job market and their personal development planning.

  • Final year
  • In your final year, you’ll examine in more depth the sociological issues that particularly interest you and complete a dissertation. With teaching focusing on the links between theory and policy, and prominent topics in social, policy and professional debates, you’ll choose from a selection of modules including media, tourism, illness, food, gender, developing societies, globalisation, and qualitative and quantitative research.
    Core modules
    • SOC3545 Social Theory and Political Action

      This module considers the relationship between theoretical activity and practical political activity (the question of praxis) in terms of contemporary political issues and disciplinary debates. Students are asked to reflect critically upon the political and ethical dimensions of social science and the impact social researchers have upon the wider society.

    • SOC3546 Dissertation and PDP Review

      The module helps students to develop a capacity for independent research by conducting a substantial investigation in a specialist knowledge area. It brings together a variety of skills developed during the degree and consolidates them through an in-depth piece of individual work, either research or library-based, which explores a specific sociological question or problem. Also a series of group and one-to-one sessions help students to articulate their graduate employability attributes and reflect on progression in relation to the Plymouth Compass. Students are supported through a series of lectures, workshops, drop-in sessions and individual supervision.

    Optional modules
    • SOC3538 Philosophy of Social Science

      A critical introduction to the philosophical foundations of social scientific research, with an emphasis on the development of analytic skills through which students explore the philosophical and methodological possibilities and limits of knowing the social world. Critical reflexivity toward future research practice is sought.

    • SOC3543 Health, Healing and Healthcare

      This module will consider a range of issues concerning health, healing and healthcare in contemporary society. The module seeks to develop students¿ critical understanding of the impact of `medicalisation¿ on everyday life, as well as the importance of social divisions, such as age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status. There will be a focus on a range of sociological perspectives on health and the body with an opportunity for students to focus upon areas of particular interest to them.

    • SOC3544 Food and Foodways

      This module aims to provide a critical understanding of sociological issues relating to food and foodways, (the beliefs and behaviours surrounding the production, distribution and consumption of food both on an individual and collective level). The module encourages critical reflection and practical experience of research in the area of food and foodways through a mini project.

    • SOC3547 Media, State and Society

      The media occupy key arenas whereby various social groups compete with one another to set public, political, commercial and cultural agendas. This module examines the relationship between media, state and society. It covers a number of substantive topic areas such as environmental issues, terrorism, war reporting, hate speech and violence.

    • SOC3548 Work Based Learning in Sociology

      This module provides students with opportunities to gain practical insights into the workings of organisations whose role and function have clear relevance to the focus and subject matter of their undergraduate degree in Sociology, and to link such insights to their acquired knowledge and understanding of social science theories and concepts. In addition the module will prepare students for the graduate job market and encourage their autonomous engagement in personal development planning.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Sociology Programme Specification Oct19 0250

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

88 - 104

A levels
88-104 points including a minimum of 2 A levels. This course considers general studies.

24-26 overall to include 4 at any subject at Higher Level. English and Maths accepted within: Higher Level = 4, Standard Level = 5.

18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma
MMM–DMM in any subject.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

All access courses
Pass a named Access to HE Diploma in any subject with at least 33 credits at merit/distinction.  

All applicants must have GCSE (or equivalent) mathematics and English at grade C or above.

Other combinations and non-A level qualifications also considered.

Short of the entry requirements for this course? Don’t worry you may be eligible for a foundation year to prepare you for possible entry onto this course for the following year.

English language requirements

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,400 £13,800
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts and Humanities additional costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code.

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Intercalating students wishing to apply for the final year of this course should complete a direct entry form.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email


What’s it like to study sociology at Plymouth?

Sociology at Plymouth prides itself on its friendly and supportive learning environment, which is constantly recognised by students, and represented in our NSS scores*. We believe learning occurs everywhere, not only in the classrooms and from 2019/2020 we no longer have any formal exams, making sociology a 100% coursework-based programme.

Ranked 5th for sociology (Guardian University Guide 2019)

Find out about the teaching and learning methods and activities we use to help you develop, learn and reach your potential

Real world experience

Engaging with social issues for real change
There are many opportunities for you to gain real world experience, to apply sociology outside the classroom and bring those experiences back into your academic studies.

A wide range of work placements, internships, and volunteering opportunities are available to you when you study Sociology at Plymouth. We regularly work with a wide range of partners to ensure that there's something for everyone.

International study exchange for sociology students

Opportunities for sociology students to travel abroad, and for international students to study sociology at the University of Plymouth.

It is well documented in pedagogical research that students who participate in exchange opportunities abroad are more likely to achieve at a higher academic level, get a job and earn more when they graduate.

We encourage our students to take part in international exchanges and welcome international students to join us here at the University of Plymouth.

FInd out what's available and take the opportunity to spread your wings and visit new places, learn new ways of studying and make friendships that will last a lifetime. 

£500 High Achiever's Bursary

In the School of Law, Criminology and Government we recognise high achievements. Therefore, students who achieve 128 UCAS Tariff Points or more, which is equivalent to ABB grades at A level will receive a bursary of £500.

Eligible applicants awarded this bursary will receive further details upon receipt of your results in August with details on how to claim the bursary.

“I really enjoyed having a small group, it meant that you could chat to the lecturers. It wasn’t like they were speaking at you it was more of a discussion.”

BSc (Hons) Sociology graduate Benjamin Pike talks about his time at Plymouth

BSc (Hons) Sociology graduate Bob Curtis: from Plymouth to Japan

Plymouth has given me the confidence and independence necessary to live and work in a different country, and has made me challenge social norms that I would otherwise take for granted.

Read Bob's story


Brendan Heron Memorial Prize

The Brendan Heron Memorial Prize was established by Bill and Sheila Heron in memory of their son, a motivated and enthusiastic sociology student. The prize, a book token, is awarded each year to the sociology student with the highest dissertation marks. 

Bill and Sheila travel to the University of Plymouth graduation ceremony every year to meet the winner. The winner of the 2018 prize was Jimi Rettberg.

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.