Why should we obey the law? What is democracy, and what is its relation to good government? In a liberal society, can limitations on freedom of speech ever be justified? Do people pull together because they want to, or because they have to? Political and social issues dominate domestic and international news, impacting on our day-to-day lives as well as shaping the future.
Our course provides a thorough training in the major areas of political science and sociology, investigating the different kinds of social tensions, interactions and networks that make up everyday life. Offered at Essex by two of the UK’s leading social science departments, these two disciplines are fundamentally linked. Through developing your understanding of both fields, you explore and address the broadest questions about our society.
Due to the flexibility of our courses, you can choose from a broad range of areas including:
- Public policy regarding health, the environment, crime and aging
- Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights
- The nature of work and commercial culture
- Political power
- Obligations, freedom, rights and equality
Our Department of Sociology was rated top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and ranked 9th in the UK for Sociology in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.
Meanwhile our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Alternatively, on a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
A Placement-Linked Project module is also available as an alternative to the dissertation module in your third year. You attend shorter placements (a minimum of 150 hours in total), and use your learning on placement to inform a research project – fantastic work experience for your CV.
Training social scientists of the future
Through our Q-Step Affiliate Status, we offer you the opportunity to follow a specialised pathway that embeds quantitative methods in your degree. Successful completion of specified modules entitles you to receive the qualifier ‘(Applied Quantitative Methods)’ at the end of your degree title, for example BA Sociology (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript. You can also receive student bursaries to go on work placements, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
You are taught by a team of award-winning internationally renowned scholars widely regarded as leading experts in their fields.
Our academics believe in doing research that matters and makes a difference; whether it’s the battle between big data and human rights or the policing of sex workers, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research into your course.
As well as publishing core texts and bestselling books, our academics often appear on TV and radio. Recent examples include Professor Mike Roper on The Psychology of War for the BBC World Service and Professor Pam Cox in her BBC TWO series Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter. Others engage with politics and policy making, such as those running our specialist centres for Migration Studies and Criminology.
- A unique Student Study Centre where you can get help with your studies, access examples of previous students’ work, and attend workshops on research skills
- The common room is open all day Monday-Friday, has a hot drinks vending machine, water cooler and microwave as well as a small number of lockers available
- Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
- Our students’ Sociology Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates
- Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
- The ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
- Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
- A dedicated study skills advisor in your first year for one-to-one advice
- A personal tutor and peer mentor for every student
- We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis
A good sociology course, especially one from a recognised centre of excellence like Essex, can open many doors.
Sociology students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including local and central government, NGOs, social work, market research, project management, fundraising, auditing, marketing, case-work, youth and community work, voluntary sector management and lobbying.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- The Institute of Public Finance
- Guardian Professional
- Home Officer
- Synergy Healthcare Research
We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- Our teaching is underpinned by research – new ideas and theories are tested in the classroom.
- You acquire a range of skills valued by employers including research, interpreting data and debating.
- We are ranked 9th in the UK for Sociology and 7th in the UK for Politics and International Studies in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about modules on your year abroad.
- Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience, with a focus on discussion and problem-solving
- Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
- Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
- Assessed through a combination of written coursework and end-of-year examinations
- If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience