What holds societies together? Do people pull together because they want to, or because they have to? What have been the major achievements, setbacks, and challenges to the global human rights movement? How do different societies interact, in ways that are important for the promotion and protection of human rights?
Our course provides a thorough training in the major areas of sociology and human rights. Growing your understanding of both fields, and developing a wide array of practical research skills, you are encouraged to explore and address the broadest questions about our society. You cover the many different social tensions, interactions and networks that make up everyday life, as well as the definition, development, and abuse of rights around the globe. With an impressive range of optional modules to choose from, you can engage your curiosity about a wide range of topics such as:
- Forms of democracy
- Principles and practices of human rights
- Ethics and public policy
- Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights
- Social divisions and inequality
You also have the opportunity to complete a supervised dissertation on a topic that inspires you, encouraging you to think differently and connect with live issues and debates, and preparing you for your graduate career.
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.
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 can 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 Placements Team.
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.
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.
Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
- 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
You also benefit from our human rights facilities
- Work on key human rights projects at our Human Rights Clinic
- Network at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights Society, Bar Society and Amnesty International Society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
- Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
- Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
A good sociology course, especially one from a recognised centre of excellence like Essex, opens many doors.
Our 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. Take a look at our dedicated careers pages for Sociology and Human Rights.
Why we’re great
- Ranked in the top 50 for Sociology in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021)
- You acquire a range of skills valued by employers including research, interpreting data and debating.
- You develop the critical and inventive thinking skills necessary for many graduate jobs.
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 on modules for 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 to improve technical research skills
- Assessed through a combination of written coursework and end-of-year examinations
- Weighting is 50% coursework and 50% examinations
- Complete a supervised dissertation on the topic that most inspires you