Welcome to the Sociology Department

  • You will spend at least 15,000 hours of your life in a classroom. Why? What are schools for?
  • Why, on average, do girls outperform boys in education?
  • Is the line between adulthood and childhood becoming blurred in modern society?
  • Two out of every five marriages end in divorce. Why? How might this affect society?
  • Why do people commit crime? Why is it more likely to be men?
  • The police are 6 times more likely to stop and search a black man than a white man. Why? Are they racist or realistic?
  • Is society really fair? Do we all have the same opportunities to reach the top?

What is Sociology?

Sociology literally means the “science of society”. At its most basic level, sociology is the study of why we are the way we are. Sociologists believe that humans are born as blank canvases and are “built” by society. Think about it – how would you and your life be different if you’d been born into a rich family or 200 years ago?
The one thing that we can be (almost) certain of is that you would not be the same person you are today. This tells us that society has moulded and shaped you. The job of the sociologist is to explore this link between society and the individual.

What makes a good sociology student?

Sociology does not claim to have all of the answers to the questions above. Because we are dealing with people, and people have the ability to think, act and respond to things differently, it is hard to make any fixed laws about human behaviour. We will therefore be debating various viewpoints and providing evidence for each side (note that sociology is not about discussing opinions). It is therefore important that sociology students have an open mind, a willingness to engage in discussions and debates, and an interest in the world around you. Racism and sexism in society will be explored in the course, but racist and sexist attitudes from students will absolutely not be tolerated.

Why is sociology important?

There is, perhaps, more of a need than ever to understand the world we live in. Just think about the endless public debate there is on issues such as the high crime rates in our inner cities, boys’ underachievement in school, the effects of divorce on children, racism and the police, the effects of the media on violent behaviour  and so many more. They are the subject matter of countless views and opinions, many of which may be ill-informed or prejudiced. Many views are expressed simply from personal (and often very limited) experience.

This is where Sociology comes in – because they are all SOCIAL issues. The interaction of people, ourselves, as members of society is what Sociology is about. Social events and changes do not occur by accident. Sociology attempts to bring a systematic understanding to our knowledge of what goes on around us – locally, nationally and even internationally.