BGU’s sociology programme provides a comprehensive and exciting introduction to the study of all aspects of social life. The course takes you on a journey from the 19th-century foundations of the discipline through to the social, cultural and political changes that are reshaping our globalising world. Along the way, you’ll see how sociological thinking is crucial for people who want to understand the world around them, whether as students, tuition-fee payers, citizens, employees (or via any of their other social roles).
The course showcases sociology’s relevance beyond the confines of academia. So for instance when you study sociological theory at BGU, you won’t “just” be studying sociological theory: you’ll be exploring the ways theories help demystify phenomena like terrorism, nationalism, sexism, surveillance, globalisation and multiculturalism. Similarly, when you study research methods you won’t “just” be studying research methods: you’ll be looking at how those methods are used in the real-world by marketing agencies, governments, local councils, advertising agencies, PR companies, polling companies and many others.
That’s why BGU Sociology graduates leave us equipped with a wide range of transferable skills that work successfully in an array of public, private and third-sector settings.
About Sociology at BGU
Sociology at BGU will provide you with state of the art understanding of key classical and contemporary social, cultural and sociology theories as well as rigorous training in social research methods that are in demand from employers. You will also begin to grow and develop your knowledge and understanding of social phenomena including globalisation, multiculturalism, new media and digital technologies, surveillance, the body, race, nationalism and sexuality.
Some of the unique advantages of studying sociology at BGU include:
Small Class Sizes
At BGU our commitment to small group teaching and one-to-one supervisions means that you’ll never be an anonymous face in a large lecture theatre. Over the course of your degree, you’ll benefit immeasurably from such direct access to academics.
A Focus on Public and Applied Sociology
We’re passionate about bringing sociological theories and research methods to bear on the world outside academia. So when you graduate from BGU, you’ll be equipped with a wide range of transferable skills that will work successfully in an array of settings worldwide.
We believe that students learn best when they’re being taught by staff who are actively engaged in high-quality research. That’s why our staff have drawn upon their own extensive research experiences to create this degree programme.
What You Will Study
One of the advantages of Sociology at BGU is that we’re committed to bringing social and sociological theories, research methods and contemporary ideas about society, politics, culture and the economy to bear on the world beyond academia. In other words, as a BGU Sociology student, you will get to see how sociology as a discipline can, and should, have relevance to the “real world”.
As a result, teaching on the course is delivered via a wide range of styles and methods, including:
- one/two hour lecture sessions
- small group based projects
- field visits
- debating sessions
- problem based learning activities
- technology based workshops
- one-one tutorial meetings
All teaching and learning is divided into a number of modules. Each module covers a specific topic or area of study and is given a credit value depending on how intensive the module is. Student must successfully complete 120 credits each year to progress to the next level of the undergraduate study programme.
Assessment is a powerful driver of student learning and a means for demonstrating what students have learnt. At BGU, we believe it’s a great way to develop the employability skills that employers demand from graduates. As a result, the course incorporates a range of assessment methods which will allow you to demonstrate a wide range of skills whilst providing a selection of post-degree career paths.
Assessment methods include:
- Small group work
- Report writing
- Oral presentations
- Multi-modal presentations (posters, videos, print)
- Individual dissertation projects.
Where appropriate, assessment tasks are designed to mimic the type of challenges faced by employees in graduate level jobs.
Careers and Assessment
The wide range of graduate-levels employment related opportunities and positions available to BGU Sociology graduates include:
- Activism and campaigning
- Bankers (e.g. investment bankers, analysts)
- Charity administrators
- Community and youth workers
- Film makers
- Financial analysts
- Police officers
- Public relations (PR)
- School and college teachers
- Social workers
Fees and Funding
A lot of student finance information is available from numerous sources, but it is sometimes confusing and contradictory. That’s why at BGU we try to give you all the information and support we can to help to throughout the process. Our Student Advice team are experts in helping you sorting out the funding arrangements for your studies, offering a range of services to guide you through all aspects of student finance step by step. Click here to find information about fees, loans and support which will help to make the whole process a little easier to understand.
How To Apply
Undergraduate course applicants must apply via UCAS using the relevant UCAS code. The application fee is £12 for a single choice or £23 for more than one choice. For all applicants, there are full instructions at UCAS to make it as easy as possible for you to fill in your online application, plus help text where appropriate.
Writing and Thinking Sociologically
The transition from a school or college learning environment to that of a university can often seem challenging. This module will support you as you adapt to life as a sociology undergraduate. The basic study skills, techniques and values that make for successful undergraduate learning are introduced via lectures, practical group tasks and seminars. On completion of the module, you will then possess the skills necessary to undertake various types of sociological research, from effective database searching, digital information retrieval and literature reviewing, through to successful coursework preparation (including the art of referencing!) and exam revision.
What is (the point of) Sociology?
This module demonstrates the impact of sociologists on modern societies, politics, cultures and economies. A broad range of classical and contemporary sociological theories are introduced, showcasing the power, promise and potential of a sociological imagination for anyone wishing to understand the world around them and their place within it, whether as student tuition fee payers, citizens or soon-to-be members of a global job market. In this way, you are equipped with the intellectual resources to understand the point and purpose of sociology.
Social Research Skills: Texts and Interactions
At BGU we place great emphasis on developing research skills that are valued by employers in the UK and internationally. This module is the first in a research methods “pathway” that continues across Year 2 (Advanced Social Research Skills) and Year 3 (Dissertation). Students are introduced to the basics of social research. Qualitative and quantitative methods for studying textual and interactional data are also discussed, as are their respective strengths and weaknesses. Throughout, an emphasis is placed on showcasing these methods in action, making a difference in the world beyond academia.
Sociology of the Moving Image: Film and Television
The moving image is a central feature of modern societies, and employers increasingly look to recruit graduates who are confident working across various communicational formats (e.g. documents, videos, websites). This module prepares students for further study in Years 2 and 3 by introducing the idea of television programmes and films as a phenomenon that can be “read” sociologically. Screenings, lectures and class activities foster understanding of the formal narrative conventions of television formats (e.g. news, soap operas, sit-coms) and film genres (e.g. horror, rom-com, thriller), as well as the social and political contexts within which such programmes and films are produced.
Advanced Social Thought
This module introduces students to a selection of the central yet diverse theoretical approaches to the study of society to be found within sociology. Students explore the work of classic and contemporary social and sociological theorists such as Durkheim, Weber, Castells, Foucault, Baudrillard, Giddens and Bauman. In keeping with the overall ethos of the programme, “theory” is used to cut into real-world topics that may include: the sacred and the profane in modern life, the internet of things, surveillance, information and new media, digital identities, globalisation, risk, consumption and ethics.
In Dialogue: Subject Study Across the Arts and Humanities
Students are introduced to the exciting contemporary challenges of interdisciplinary investigation in the arts and humanities. Lectures and workshops explore the benefits (as well as the complexities) of thinking and working across subjects in order to study contemporary social, cultural and political issues. Content will typically include relevant and topical themes that encourage and enrich interdisciplinary approaches such as religion, belief and blasphemy; war and commemoration; culture, multiculturalism and identity; the country and the city; revolution, reaction and social change.
Public Sociology: Critical Issues in the 21st Century
Because we live in a global and increasingly complex world, sociologists have a crucial role to play in working with partners from the private, public and third sectors to debate (and respond to) pressing social, political and cultural issues. This module demonstrates one way in which sociologists can (and do) play that role. Students are familiarised with contemporary debates on major social issues, before then learning how to debate these issues. Each week students debate a set question, constructing “for” and “against” arguments in response to a recent book that addresses a significant social and/or political issue.
Discourse and Identity: Local, National and Global Contexts
Identity attracts some of sociology’s (and society’s) liveliest and most passionate debates: from nationality, ethnicity and religion through to class, political affiliation and sexual orientation, everyone has a theory of who “they” and “other people” are. This module provides an engaging overview of key contemporary approaches to the study of identity in the social sciences and humanities. Putting theory into practice, students study a range of real-life environments in which people do identity work, including phone calls, job interviews, undergraduate living rooms, television studios, Facebook pages, and during encounters in shops.
Professional Contexts (Placement Module)
This module introduces the world of work via placements, work experience or projects with employer involvement. Students identify and then experience opportunities that capture the excitement, challenges and uncertainties of situated work-based learning. The application of academic knowledge and skills in real-life contexts provides students with valuable experience to draw on as and when they present themselves to employers upon graduation. Working with supervision tutors, students are allocated placement and/or projects best suited to their individual needs and future career ambitions.
Advanced Social Research Skills: Online and Offline Contexts
For most of us, most of the time, social life is lived in a world where online and offline contexts are entwined – when we interact with people, we do so as much via the internet as via face-to-face communication. This module focuses on equipping students with the skills necessary to collect and study data from both online and offline contexts. Traditional, or “offline” methods (e.g. interviewing, focus groups, ethnography) are taught alongside cutting-edge methods for studying online sites like internet chatrooms, websites, blogs, vlogs and social media.
Visual Culture, Communication and Commerce
The ability to understand and communicate effectively through various technological forms (e.g. PC/Mac compatible production software) and technological platforms (e.g. social media, blogs, vlogs) are a vital employability skill. This module develops those skills via hands-on, practically oriented teaching. During lectures, students are equipped with the skills required to utilise cutting-edge production technologies. Study time is then devoted to the completion of two assessed projects: first, the production of a poster that effectively communicates each student’s dissertation project; and second, the production of a five-minute video presentation that fulfils a fictional client brief.
Surveillance and Society
Drawing on sociological concepts like crime, inequality, gender, race and ethnicity, this module looks at how various forms of surveillance pervade individuals’ everyday lives and how they are utilised by agents of control. Students study competing explanations for the rise of surveillance in modern societies and investigate theories of surveillance, social sorting and the interrelationships between modern nation-states, power and population control. The module also investigates real-world issues like CCTV and crime prevention, biometric surveillance, popular culture and reality television, “dataveillance”, sexuality and the “male gaze”, cyber-surveillance and the rise of drone technologies.
Persuasion and Communication
Attempts to persuade others of something – e.g. that they need to take out a loan with your company, that they should buy a particular type of car, or even that they should choose to go to BGU as the best university in the UK (!) – are endemic within modern societies. To know how persuasion works is thus to be a highly employable graduate. This module introduces students to the study of persuasive rhetoric. Key analytic concepts and techniques are outlined, and then applied during workshops on data drawn from the media, marketing, advertising, public relations (PR) and political communication.
Sociology of the Body
The human body is at one level biologically given. But it is also socially inscribed by various cultural norms, expectations, fears and anxieties. As such, it is an object of social interest, upon which sociologists find expressions of (and resistances towards) various forms of power. This module considers key social theories of the body, examines how power works through bodies, how we take up (or refuse) invitations to work on our bodies, and how various forms of identity are visible in our bodily dispositions. Topics include tattooing and body modification, cosmetic surgery, fitness regimes and the neoliberal body and lifestyle and makeover television.
Supported by formal training seminars and supervision meetings, students on this module have the opportunity to undertake a piece of sociological research on a topic of their own choice. An indicative list of topics covered in the formal training sessions includes: writing a literature review; literature searching; referencing and preparing a bibliography; analysis and improving the quality of a written argument. The choice of research project topic is greatly influenced by the student’s interests and negotiated with members of Sociology staff in light of feasibility and sociological relevance.
With a Sociology degree from BGU your career opportunities will be exciting and diverse. During your time at BGU you’ll gain personal, practical and work based skills that are sought after by employers in the public, private and third sectors in the UK and internationally.
In fact there’s never been a better time for a Sociology graduate to enter the job market. In an increasingly global, information-rich and people-centred world, employers recognise the importance of hiring graduates who possess detailed and systematic understandings of social life and social interaction in all their various manifestations. That’s why:
- Internet based companies are appointing chief social science officers
- Advertising, PR and marketing agencies deploy social scientific research methods to capture public opinion, public reaction to new-to-market products, changing consumer tastes, and so on
- Local authorities across the UK are commissioning (or conducting their own) social research to plan housing and provision of school places
- Charitable organisations recruit sociologists to help measure the impact of their work and to persuade donors of their effectiveness
- Executives in the financial, energy, transport and retail sectors commission and utilise intelligence on consumers and consumer behaviour.
It’s also why, 3.5 years after graduating, the proportion of sociology graduates in employment (at 84%) is higher than that of graduates of science based (78%) or art-humanities based (79%) subjects! *
*Campaign for Social Sciences (2013) What do Social Science Graduates do? London: HESA
English Language Teaching Assistant Scheme
The opportunity of working abroad is a great learning experience for students wanting to prepare for life in a globalising world. That’s why sociology at BGU offers its students the option of applying to the British Council’s English Language Teaching Assistant Scheme.
For UK applicants looking to become Language Assistants abroad, the programme presents the chance to boost skills and employability and become immersed in another culture. The scheme involves taking a four year degree, in which a student applies for a British Council placement to work as an English language assistant in a school abroad during their third year.
There are no fees charged for this year and you have a working contract with the school in which you work meaning you earn a monthly salary! If you work as an assistant in an EU country you can also apply for an ERASMUS grant.
Competition for places on this scheme is fierce – you’ll be up against students from across the UK. But at BGU we provide each of our applicants with direct supervision as they complete the necessary application forms.
Useful sources of information include:
- Read about the scheme on the British Council’s website
- Have a look at the British Council’s blog post on ’10 reasons to apply’
- Contact the Academic Coordinator for Sociology, Frederick Attenborough, to learn how BGU supports students on this scheme.
Dr Frederick Attenborough – Academic Co-ordinator and Senior Lecturer
Frederick’s major research interests are in language and discourse. Across over 30 publications he has studied how issues of incidents like sexism, gender, sex, pornography, sexual violence, feminism and rape are represented within texts like newspapers, novels, blogs, vlogs, videos and websites. His approach to the study of language and discourse is set out in a student textbook, Discursive Psychology and the Media, which is set for publication with Edinburgh University Press for 2017. Frederick is also on the Editorial Boards for both the Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, and Gender and Language. He has recently edited a special issue for Gender and Language, entitled Gender, Language and the Media.
Frederick joined BGU in 2015 and brings with him a reputation for high-quality teaching. At his previous institution, Loughborough University, he was nominated for Lecturer of the Year (2013) and an Innovative Teaching Award (2014).
To view more of Frederick’s recent published research, please click here.
Professor Chris Atkin
Professor Chris Atkin’s research focuses on the policy and practice of post-school education and training. In that context, Chris is particularly interested in sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s work on and around class distinctions, social stratification and the social construction of value and taste. Professor Atkin has completed a range of research projects funded by various UK funding councils (ESRC, EPSRC, NERC), the British Academy, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy (NRDC), Local Authorities and the Learning and Skills Council. Chris has held academic posts at De Montfort University (1994-99), University of Nottingham (1999-2010) and the Liverpool Hope University (2010-12). Chris joined Bishop Grosseteste University in September 2012.
Dr. Yvonne Hill
Dr. Yvonne Hill is an ethnographer with research interests in feminism and gender studies, critical ethnographies, action research, critical discourse analysis and social anthropology. Her recent research has involved two distinct yet interrelated research projects: first, an interrogation of the concept of globalisation and its relationships to the international development of education; second, a study of the social construction of student satisfaction in higher education. Prior to joining BGU in 2012, Yvonne was Director of Learning and Teaching in the School of Public Policy and Professional Practice at Keele University where she was also course leader for the PGCE in Social Science (Sociology, Psychology and Politics).
Dr Andrew Jackson
Dr Andrew Jackson’s research background is in rural sociology, history and geography. Current research and publication interests include: twentieth-century rural and urban change; newspapers and local media history; theory and practice in community, local and regional history; public history; the significance of digitisation for archives, heritage and e-learning; and histories of Lincoln, Lincolnshire and Devon. He is currently Reviews Editor for the International Journal of Regional and Local History. Andrew is also a member of the History of Lincolnshire, The Survey of Lincoln, and Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Publications committees, the City of Lincoln Council Historic Environment Advisory Panel, and regularly gives public lectures for local and regional historical societies.
Herminder completed her Master’s degree in Social Research at the University of Warwick in 2012. She is currently finishing off a PhD at Loughborough University and will become “Dr Kaur” very soon! Whilst at Loughborough University Herminder taught across various undergraduate and postgraduate modules that focused on social research methods such as ethnography, video diaries, participant observation and content analysis. Herminder’s research interests centre on understanding the uses of the internet by teenagers with physical disabilities. There are four key themes in her research: the enactment of disability; internet surveillance and its resistance; the uses of the internet and how it is that teenagers build and maintain relationships online.
Head of School
Dr Andrew Jackson – Head of School of Humanities
Dr Andrew Jackson is the Head of the School of Humanities. Andrew is a historian and with current research interests that include twentieth-century urban and rural change, and local and regional history. He also engages in consultancy and project work relating to community history and heritage, digitisation and e-learning. Andrew joined the staff of Bishop Grosseteste University in 2007, following ten years at the University of Exeter.
Andrew contributes to the teaching of the undergraduate subject of History, Masters programmes in Heritage Education and Community Archaeology, and the Doctoral programme in Education. Andrew’s teaching interests include rural, urban and landscape history; local and regional history; historical and cultural geography; country houses and garden history; archives and history education; heritage and community identity; Lincolnshire’s history and heritage; and Devon history.
What You Could be Doing...
To give you an idea of what you’ll learn – and how you’ll be assessed – as a Sociology student, we’ve created the following pages. They include assessment examples and final pieces from each of the three years of the degree.
Writing a Review
The module Writing and Thinking Sociologically is about developing the basic study skills, techniques and values that make for successful undergraduate learning. That’s why we like using the literature review as an assessment method on this module. Lectures provide you with the skills to conduct an engaging, comprehensive and critical literature review. Supervised study time then allows you to explore an academic and/or popular topic that you want to know more about.
To give a taster of what you’d do on this module, here’s a shortened version of the assessment guidelines for the project along with an assessed student review.
In this literature review, you have to develop an essay style account of the key writings and findings on a particular topic. You can choose from one of the following topics, or discuss a topic of your own choosing with your lecturer:
- Globalisation and the media
- The commercial film industry
- Sexualisation of popular culture
Once you’ve chosen a broad topic, do a preliminary literature search to get a sense of the issues or questions discussed in relation to the topic. The topics listed above are intentionally broad, so unless you choose a focus it will prove impossible to produce a good literature review. Your chosen topic and sub-question should be clearly indicated in your title.
A Student’s Literature Review
This is a great example of a student review focusing on ‘The Commercial Film Industry’.
Writing a Report
As part of the module Discourse and Identity: Local, National and Global Contexts, reports are used as an assessment method as the ability to write clear, concise and effective reports is highly valued by employers. During lectures, you will learn about the various aspects of discourse and identity as well as report-writing skills, including:
- Marshalling literature
- Utilising qualitative and quantitative data
- Presenting information textually, visually and graphically
- Writing for particular audiences
- Developing an appropriate writing style
Building on subject-specific ideas introduced during the module, each project is designed so that you will experience writing reports for external partners, such as government agencies and local authorities. To give a taster of what you might be doing during this module, here’s an example of the assessment guidelines for one project.
Fictional Client Brief: Sexism, Football and the Print-Press
You are part of a research team within the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). IPSO is the new independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK and was set up in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry. Recently, a number of pressure groups that focus on women’s rights issues (End Violence Against Women, Equality Now) wrote to IPSO lodging a formal complaint about the ‘unacceptable’ ways in which incidents of sexism are often represented in British newspapers. Their complaint detailed a number of cases, one of which centred on an incident from 2011 in which two Sky Sports presenters, Andy Gray and Richard Keys, made disparaging remarks about ‘f***ing women’. You have been tasked with preparing a report into that episode, detailing how male and female characters involved in the story may have been represented in unequal ways in certain newspapers. Your aim is not to agree or disagree with the complainants, but to develop an analysis that will allow others, higher up in the organisation, to discuss issues of ‘unacceptability’ in more detail.
Directing a Video
As part of the module Visual Culture, Communication and Commerce students are divided into small project groups. Lectures equip students with the skills required to utilise cutting-edge production technologies, whilst group study time allows for the development and production of five-minute video presentations that fulfil a fictional client brief.
There are always three fictional client briefs for groups to choose from. Each project is designed to build on subject-specific ideas introduced during earlier modules. As a student, you’ll get detailed guidelines for all three client briefs. But to give a taster of what you’d get up to with us at BGU here’s one of those briefs along with the final version of a student video project.
And remember: barely any of the students who take this module have ANY prior knowledge of video production techniques! Everything you need to know you get taught as a BGU student!
Fictional Client Brief
A recently‐established (and now publicly traded) telecommunications company based in
London is trying to tap into a multi‐million European funding stream that’s recently been established by the European Commission’s ‘Digital Agenda for Europe: A Europe 2020 Initiative’. The company have a new smartphone in the late stages of development and believe that securing this extra funding (€25‐30 million) will boost sentiment towards the company on the London Stock Exchange. To bid for the funding, however, they need to make a case to the European Commission that smartphones have contributed to the growing phenomenon of ‘citizen journalism’ in the UK and worldwide.
As a team of academic researchers with a successful spin‐off consultancy business, you’ve been commissioned to produce a 3‐5 minute video report that will help the company’s board of directors and the administrative team put together a funding application. They want an answer to the following question: How have smartphones contributed to the rise of ‘citizen journalism’?
Project Group’s Presentation
This is a great example of an effective video presentation produced by a student group.
What our students say
“The teaching methods used are excellent – multiple classroom techniques such as group work, practical and discussion sessions really help you to think about the topics being studied.”
“A really great course and the way in which research methods training has actually been made into an engaging and interesting topic has surprised me!”
“I’ve appreciated the ready access we have to tablets whilst engaging in group activities”