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.

We are proud to be ranked 6th in the country for sociology in terms of the overall level of student satisfaction (Guardian League Tables, 2019). In the most recent published National Student Survey, 85 per cent 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’.*

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 Conor in his case study.

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.

Key features

  • Learn from passionate and committed academics with active and wide-ranging research expertise.
  • 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.

    • SOC2518 Developments in Social Theory

      This module introduces students to the breadth of disputes found in contemporary social theory while making reference to classical social theory covered in Stage 1. These debates are linked to historical events and empirical social research that these theories influenced and were influenced by. Foundational questions for the discipline are broached and students are expected to develop critical skills in aid of theoretical analysis, argument and writing.

    • SOC2521 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 a work-based placement or alternative activity focused on preparation for employment, together with PDP and sessions with careers advisors.

    • 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.

    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.

    • IRL202 The Third 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.

    • POL201 Democracy and Globalization: Citizens and the Modern State

      Students taking this course will discover how social and economic change in the modern era impacts upon traditional political structures. The course demonstrates how structures face increasing challenges from alternative forms of political action, ranging in scope from the local to global. Much of the analysis will be comparative in scope and specific case studies will be undertaken of countries initially examined at level 4.

    • SOC2520 Gender and Society

      This module explores how and why gender matters in shaping key areas of social life. It focuses on a range of substantive issues, such as childhood, family, sexuality, health, bodies, media, sport, work, development, education, politics, to develop an understanding of the similarities, differences and intersections between gender and other social signifiers of difference/diversity. NB - this module can also be studied at level 6 but can only be studied once.

    • 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 .

  • 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
    • LAW3244 Jurisprudence: law, society and justice

      This module follows jurisprudential inquiries into themes and topics relating to the concept of law and the intersection between law and society. It analyses key ideas and theories on the development of legal concepts and regulatory frameworks. It adopts a broad range of theoretical perspectives from sociology, cultural studies and economics to examine the phenomenon of law, providing a platform for developing rich interdisciplinary discussion and reflection.

    • LCG300A Research Traineeship

      This module affords students an opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding of social research by working under the direct supervision of an academic member of staff on an established research project. In particular, they will be involved in the collection and/or analysis of research data, and will be encouraged to reflect on the practical application of their research knowledge and skills in an applied setting.

    • LCG300B Research Traineeship

      This module affords students an opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding of social research by working under the direct supervision of an academic member of staff on an established research project. In particular, they will be involved in the collection and/or analysis of research data, and will be encouraged to reflect on the practical application of their research knowledge and skills in an applied setting.

    • 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.

    • SOC3540 Gender and Society: A Social Science Critique

      This module explores how and why gender matters in shaping key areas of social life. It focuses on a range of substantive issues, such as childhood, family, sexuality, health, bodies, media, sport, work, development, education, politics, to develop an understanding of the similarities, differences and intersections between gender and other social signifiers of difference/diversity.

    • 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 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

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,000 £13,400
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of 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.

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

  • > Ranked 6th overall in the country for sociology – with the highest overall level of student satisfaction across all of the top six universities (Guardian league tables 2019)
  • > Ranked amongst the top ten universities in the country for sociology for student satisfaction with teaching – 4th out of 88 institutions (Guardian University Guide 2018, published May 2017)
  • > Ranked amongst the top ten universities in the country for sociology for teaching quality – 4th out of 97 institutions ( Times & Sunday Times University Guide 2017, due to be updated in September 2017)
  • > Ranked amongst the top twenty universities in the country for sociology for student satisfaction – 11th out of 99 institutions (Complete University Guide 2018, published April 2017)
  • > Ranked amongst the top twenty universities in the country for sociology for student satisfaction – 11th out of 99 institutions (Complete University Guide 2018, published April 2017)
  • ? 94% overall student satisfaction (Unistats)
  • > 62% of research rated as world leading or internationally excellent
  • < National and international field trips and exchange opportunities
  • ' Well established work-based learning programme along with voluntary opportunities

Harvey Butchart – BSc (Hons) Sociology graduate

"Studying sociology at Plymouth has enhanced my personal development and given me the confidence to push and apply myself in different situations. I would never have thought I would have the ability to be a PALS leader and lead workshops on academic skills for the first years – by doing this my communication and  academic skills have improved. 

"I really found the sociology of health, of philosophy and of media modules interesting – the latter helped me frame a subject for my dissertation, which then narrowed my focus and led to me studying an MA in political communications.

"I really enjoyed studying at Plymouth. I made lots of great friends and found the course really interesting. Staff were very encouraging and helped me discover my potential – the University has a friendly feel about it. Plymouth is a fun, vibrant city, that’s beautiful on the Hoe, especially in the summer."

How has your sociology degree helped you?

"Sociology has helped me see things from other people’s perspective and how people’s identity, environment and history shape society and the individuals in it. It has probably made me more open minded and not to judge people quickly. When I was travelling I think it was also interesting to explore these different countries and cultures with a sociological point of view."

Josie Harness travelled around South East Asia, Indonesia and India for six months after graduating and now works as a Marketing Executive at Lotta from Stockholm.

Looking for foundation level entry to Business courses?

The following foundation level programmes are currently being updated for a 2019/20 start:

  • BA Accounting and Finance with Foundation Year
  • BSc Business Management (2 year fast track and 3 year programme) with Foundation Year
  • BSc Economics with Foundation Year
  • BSc Events Management with Foundation Year
  • BSc Marketing with Foundation Year
  • BSc Maritime Business and Logistics with Foundation Year
  • BSc Maritime Business and Maritime Law with Foundation Year
  • BSc Tourism and Hospitality Management with Foundation Year

Look out for further details here and on our UCAS pages.

If you are interested in hearing more about these developments, let us know at and we'll keep you up to date.


Faculty of Business Potential High Achievers Scheme

We recognise that our students are the future business leaders of the world. We know that our applicants will thrive in this environment, and we want to ensure our best applicants believe in this.

We will be contacting applicants who are not only on course to achieve top marks but who have an outstanding personal statement. 

As recognition of the potential we think an applicant has we will then change their offer to unconditional. Your place at the University of Plymouth will then be confirmed and you can go ahead and make arrangements for your accommodation and move to Plymouth in September.

Find out all the details

Study sessions for students by students: Peer Assisted Learning Scheme (PALS)

To complement your formal learning we offer regular sessions that provide the opportunity for you to learn with and from your peers. Share knowledge, discuss ideas, and ask questions in a relaxed and friendly environment

If you are a first or second year take the opportunity to study in a relaxed environment, along with other students on the same programme.

Find out more about how PALS can benefit your studies

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.

Maker Memories

'Maker Memories’ is a community project that aims to capture the rich and diverse heritage of Maker Camp in South East Cornwall. The project is led by volunteers from the Maker with Rame Community Interest Company. They have been working with a variety of community members to capture stories from the people who attended the Camp on a school holiday, to the musicians and artists who are based there today.

The project’s volunteers have been supported by Sociology and Media Arts students from the University of Plymouth.

Read more about Maker Memories

* 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.