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Studying sociology

The subject for people watchers – sociology is probably the most ‘social’ science of all.

What is sociology?

Sociology is the study of human society. Sociology examines how people interact with others, and institutions and other factors that influence their behaviour. The kind of things sociology might look at include:

  • Whether a person’s social class make them more likely to commit certain types of crime
  • How religion influences people’s attitudes
  • The history of education

A lot of sociology is research-based. This will be either quantitative, which means analysing data collected from people in surveys and involves lots of maths and statistics, or qualitative, which means interviewing people and drawing conclusions based on their answers.

Some other aspects of sociology are theoretical, which means studying ideas like:

  • Positivism: Human behaviour can be studied in a scientific way
  • Interpretivism: Human beings give different ‘meanings’ to the idea of society
  • Modernism: Human behaviour can be explained by ‘big’ theories of politics, economics and culture
  • Postmodernism: Human behaviour cannot be explained by any one ‘big’ theory

Sociology has a lot of crossover with other social sciences like anthropology and psychology, as well as other subjects like media studies, history and politics.

Where can I study sociology?

Sociology can be studied as a single subject at the following levels: 

You won't need to have studied sociology at GCSE or A-level to study it at university, but you will need a good mix of facilitating subjects like maths and English. A lot of universities also offer sociology as a joint honours degree combined with a subject like philosophy or economics

Where can it lead?

Read our article What can I do with a sociology degree? to find out about some of the career pathways open to you with a sociology degree.

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