University of Chester

Programme Specification
Sociology BSc (Hons) (Combined Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Science (Combined Honours)



University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester, Chester Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September


L 300


17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science


Not applicable

Department of Social and Political Science

Friday 1st January 2010

  • Consolidate a dynamic degree Programme which exemplifies the Department’s ability and significance as a major deliverer of the social sciences within University of Chester.
  • Introduce students to a sociological perspective and provide the opportunity to explore key issues and unresolved debates in Sociology and the social sciences.
  • Encourage students to relate the themes and issues of the Programme to their everyday experiences and understandings of the world.
  • Recognise the value of a ‘sociological imagination’ to a critical understanding of substantive social problem issues set within broader processes of social organisation and change.
  • To introduce students to the notion that Sociology adopts a distinctive epistemological 'attitude' to the social world,    and to examine issues surrounding the 'possibility of naturalism' and how Sociology might be utilised as a practical tool of social enquiry.
  • Equip students with the generic transferable skills demanded by industry to enable them to function effectively in the world of employment, and to play a positive and effective role in the wider community at a macro and micro level.
  • Promote an academically challenging environment through offering a Programme at the ‘cutting edge’ of social enquiry that is attractive to quality students and that stimulates a lifelong enthusiasm for Sociology and its inherent ability to examine social events in new and exciting ways.
  • Provide a course of study which will be of value to students in terms of personal growth and unpredictable futures.

Knowledge and Understanding
The introduction and sustained development of a ‘sociological imagination' and to instfil a life-long enthusiasm for the subject. Familiarity with a range of theoretical perspectives. Application of these perspectives to the study of the social structure of contemporary Britain, especially patterns of structured social inequality related to race, class and gender. The process and practice of social research including the history of ideas that social enquiry is built upon. Questions surrounding the ‘possibility of naturalism'. The critical analysis and synopsis of a range of influential contemporary advanced social theory as to what it may inform us of the present, and questions surrounding possible futures.
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

These skills are developed on an incremental basis as the student progresses through the Programme. Description, together with the fostering of intellectual curiosity, at Level 4 is enhanced at Level 5 and Level 6 by the development of skills that demonstrate the ability to progressively engage in analysis and synthesis respectively. Techniques of description and critical analysis and synthesis in relation to the understanding of society, to include the making of reasoned arguments, the critical interpretation of evidence in relation to research methodology and texts, and the development of an ability to practice reflection on knowledge which has been accumulated and developed.
Practical Skills
Communication skills, speaking, discussion, reading, discourse and argument. Presentation skills; Information and communications technology (to include the use of computers and word processors). Statistical and quantitative and qualitative techniques, information retrieval (primary and secondary sources).     
Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

The University, through the activities of the Key Skills Advisory Group (KSAG), has established proposals for the integration of key skills within programmes of study. The Combined Honours Programme in Sociology addresses the identified need for students to demonstrate the acquisition of key skills in parallel with the development of intellectual and cognitive skills as they progress in their studies. The QCA lists six key skills (see bullet list above) that form a comprehensive package for the development and enhancement of skills.
The Combined Honours Sociology Programme embeds key skills in two modules per level of study in order to provide a focus for skill development and to explicitly identify outcomes for students. This does not mean that key skills are not present in other modules, merely that they have not been specifically identified. Consistent with the recommendations of the KSAG not every module tackles every skill, although each is present within the six modules which comprise the focus of skill development in the Programme. Key skill acquisition is progressive with students expected to demonstrate greater proficiency in either depth or breadth as they move from Level 4 to Level 6.
Key Skills Table


Information Literacy and Technology
App of number

Working with others

Improving own learning and Performance

Problem solving

The Sociological Imagination





Self and Society







Research Methods







The Shaping of Society




Debates in Sociology






Advanced Social Theory




E = Each Skill is explicit as a learning outcome
A = Opportunity to demonstrate key skill during assessment and learning process.
Students who successfully complete the Programme will have demonstrated expertise in all of these key skills and will find them useful and relevant in a wide variety of situations and contexts in the future.
Transferable Professional Skills

Learning, thinking and study skills, communication skills, the capacity to work both independently and in conjunction with others.

Sociology has been widely acknowledged as the ‘science of society’, and it is the establishing of a ‘sociological imagination’ and the development of generic skills and tools of social analysis that provide the theoretical and methodological backbone of the Programme.  In sum, the Programme is comprised of intellectually stimulating modules that provide an emphasis on theory, and especially practice, and the significance of applying sociological knowledge with respect to the understanding of contemporary social problem issues and questions surrounding what might be done to overcome them.The Programme has been designed to conform to the structure of Combined Honours Degrees at the University of Chester. In this structure students at Level 4 will complete three 20 credit (or equivalent) modules from each Combined Honours subject. There are a further two 20 credit (or equivalent) modules from each subject at Level 5 (plus WBL) and a further one 20 credit module from either subject. Finally, a further six 20 credit (or equivalent) modules are required at Level 6. These can be apportioned between combined programmes to minor, major, or equal weighting degree.  The modules are as follows:

Level 4 (20 credits)SO4101 The Sociological Imagination (Core)SO4102 Self and Society (Core)SO4103 Welfare Politics (Core)And 60 credits from the other subject. 

Level 5 (20 credits)SO5101 The Shaping of Society (Core)SO5102 Conference (Core)SO5103 Research Methods (optional)WB5101 Enhancing Employability through Work Based Learning (optional)And 40/60credits from the other subject. 

Level 6 (20 credits except for Dissertation 40 credits) SO6101 Advanced Social Theory (Core)Students will be given the choice of modules according to their degree weighting as follows:

Minor in Sociology One from the following:SO6203 Con_txts of CommunicationSO6102 Social Change and Social MovementsSO6104 Debates in Sociology 

Equal Either two of the above modules or SO6106 Dissertation 

Major in Sociology SO6106 Sociology Dissertation and one of the above modules

Combined Honours only
Mod-Code Level Title Credit Major Equal Minor
SO4101 4 The Sociological Imagination 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO4102 4 Self and Society 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO4103 4 Welfare Politics 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5101 5 The Shaping of Society 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5102 5 Conference 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5103 5 Research Methods 20 Optional Optional Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6101 6 Advanced Social Theory 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO6102 6 Social Change and Social Movements 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6103 6 Globalisation in Question 20 N/A N/A N/A
SO6104 6 Debates in Sociology 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6106 6 Sociology Dissertation 40 Comp N/A Optional
SO6203 6 Con_txts of Communication 20 Optional Optional Optional

Level 4: 20 credits per module
A candidate who successfully completes Level4 will have accumulated 120 academic credit points,and will be eligible for the award of Certificate of Higher Education*. These 120 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.
Level 5: 20 credits per module
A candidate successfully completing Level5 will have accumulated 240 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Diploma of Higher Education*. These 240 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.
Level 6: 20 credits per module (dissertation 40 credits)
A candidate successfully completing Level6 will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of an honours degree* (BSc/BA and title depending on combination).
(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. (2008). The Framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from


Consistent with the University of Chester's commitment to widen access and participation, the Department of Social Studies and Counselling has a flexible admissions policy, and encourages applications from mature students and from groups normally under-represented in higher education. The general policy is to look for a good level of literacy, together with proven interest and/or experience in an appropriate subject. A definitive version of the admissions criteria may be found in the Undergraduate Prospectus, and on the University and UCAS web sites.


There is a good potential articulation between this Programme and the AS and A2 Psychology and Social Science-related qualifications and AVCE (Health & Social Care) offered as part of the new post-16 qualifications framework. GCE AS and A2 levels in related subjects may also be accepted as an entry qualification. These qualifications may be mixed with, or offered alongside, a BTEC National Diploma and/or Level 3 key skills units.


The typical applicant will have a minimum of 240 UCAS points, of which 200 points must be obtained from GCE A2 or Vocational A Level (6 or 12 unit) awards, including a grade C in one related subject (see Interface with Curriculum 2000). The remaining points may be from A2, AS, Vocational AlAS level (3, 6 or 12 units) awards, or from Level 3 skills certification. This is consistent with the entry qualifications for other Combined Honours Programmes across the institution. Applicants will not normally be interviewed.

The programme relies on the Sociology benchmark statement (QAA, 2007*).  The Combined Honours Sociology Programme emphasises the skills of critical analysis, synthesis and the generation of a reflexive capacity.  These are highlighted in the Benchmark statement. The attainment of these skills is gradual and incremental, and the process of achievement of subject knowledge and understanding, and cognitive abilities is embedded within the Programme's modules throughout the levels.

Subject Knowledge and Understanding: Typical achievement -

Able to describe and examine a range of key concepts and theoretical approaches within Sociology and evaluate their application: The Sociological Imagination (4)Self and Society (4)Research Methods (5)Advanced Social Theory (6)Dissertation (6)

Able to provide an analytical account of social diversity and inequality and their effects: The Sociological Imagination (4)Welfare Politics (4)The Shaping of Society (5) Debates in Sociolog(6) Con_txts of Communication (6)

Able to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in the use of comparison in Sociology: Self and Society (4) Con_txts of Communication (6)

Able to analyse the nature of social relationships between individuals, groups and social institutions: The Sociological Imagination (4)Welfare Politics (4)Debates in Sociology (6)Sociology Dissertation (6) Con_txts of Communication (6)

Able to examine the processes that underpin social change and social stability: Welfare Politics (4)The Shaping of Society (5)Advanced Social Theory (6) Debates in Sociology (6) Social Change and Social Movements(6)

Able to examine a range of research strategies and methods and assess the appropriateness of their use: Research Methods (5)Dissertation (6)Advanced Social Theory (6)

Able to evaluate the relationship between sociological arguments and evidence in a range of contexts: Self and Society (4)The Sociological Imagination (4)Conference (5)Advanced Social Theory (6) Sociology Dissertation (6) Con_txts of Communication (6)

Able to analyse ways in which Sociology can be distinguished from other forms of understanding: The Sociological Imagination (4)Conference (5)Advanced Social Theory (6)


Cognitive abilities: Typical achievement -

Able to assess a range of perspectives and discuss the strengths of each for the understanding of events: Self and Society (4)The Sociological Imagination (4)The Shaping of Society (5)Conference (5)Research Methods (5)Advanced Social Theory (6) Con_txts of Communication (6)

Able to draw on materials from a range of sources and demonstrate an ability to synthesise them: Social Change and Social Movements (6)Sociology Dissertation (6)Advanced Social Theory (6) Con_txts of Communication (6)

Able to draw on evidence to evaluate competing explanations: Self and Society (4)The Shaping of Society (5) Research Methods (5) Advanced Social Theory (6) Social Change and Social Movements (6) 

Able to evaluate the visibility of competing explanations in explaining problems and to draw appropriate conclusions: The Sociological Imagination (4)Research Methods (5)Sociology Dissertation (6) Con_txts of Communication (6)

(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. (2007). Sociology. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from


Learning and teaching on the Sociology Programme is disseminated through a variety of learning and teaching methods.  As the student gains skill and confidence in their approaches to learning, higher levels of reflexive and critical learning will be facilitated.  There will be significant emphasis on student participation and an overriding attempt to relate sociological knowledge and understanding to everyday concerns that students bring with them to a course of study.  Teaching and learning will emphasise the shaping of critical thinkers who are able to describe and evaluate competing arguments and perspectives. The programme's approach to learning and teaching is informed by the need to take account of assessing for diverse ability, and addressing issues of student progression and retention. The teaching will be underpinned by the scholarship and research activities of the teaching team. Formative assessment will be embedded throughout and across all modules with the aim of enabling students to take ownership of their own learning. Time is dedicated at the end of one module at each degree level to review and reflect upon the wider transition between levels or the transition to Graduand and beyond (SO4102, SO5103, SO6101).

  • Lectures

These are employed for the purpose of orientation and for the transmission of key knowledge and perspectives in a structured form.  Lectures also introduce a model for the generation of critical evaluation, as a fundamental process, in higher education.  Finally, they provide a basis for self directed study.

  • Interactive Lectures

In this format the lecturer encourages discussion made during the presentation and interacts with participants by alterations and adaptations to both the content and pace of the lecture.  These lectures will also typically include a range of formative assessment techniques including, for example, question and answer sessions and group discussions.

  • Discussion

This develops critical and evaluative processes by debate regarding perspectives, experiences and outlook.

  • Workshops

These are intended to provide experience in collaborative and creative problem solving.  Workshops may include relevant case studies, simulation and virtual experiences.

  • Seminars and Presentations

These provide the participant with the opportunity to investigate issues and present these to the rest of the group.  They have the role of providing the participant with investigatory experience, the sharing of knowledge, the justification to others of the conclusions reached and experience of semi formal or structured presentation.  Presentations will be the vehicle by which some summative assessment is provided.

  • Tutorial exercises

These are learning exercises, which are participatory.  Small groups of participants share knowledge and experiences and attempt to develop information, which arises from the formal Programme or from self directed study.  

  • Self directed study

This is regarded as an essential component of any Honours Degree.  Participants have a wide range of resources and learning materials at their disposal.  These are introduced at the beginning of the course, and their use is encouraged and reinforced through the delivery of modules.  These resources may include tutorial support, audio-visual materials, library and information technology facilities.

  • Work based Learning

This provides the participant with experience of a work environment that is relevant to the Programme of Study.  In addition it provides a key basis on which to advance the process of reflection.

  • Problem based learning

This provides the participant with the opportunity to work through problems that encourage the study of related disciplines to advance the understanding of realistic situations.  Studying in context, especially where a skill can be developed, is an excellent way to encourage the participant to think of how to learn and not necessarily what to learn.

Written coursework is marked according to the generic marking guidance criteria that can be found in the programme handbook. Examinations are also marked according to these criteria, although account is taken of exam conditions.  All examination assessment, and coursework assessment whenever appropriate is blind marked for reasons of equity. Moderation of marking is undertaken in accordance with University of Chester regulations. Students are reminded that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the External Examiner and the Awards Assessment Board.

The range of assessment methods utilised by the programme include coursework essay, written report, in-class tests, 'unseen' and 'seen paper' examination, presentation and interview.  There is an attempt to balance formal examinations with coursework and presentations.  All modules incorporate an element of formative assessment.  

With regard to reassessment, students will only need to be reassessed in the component of the original assessment that they fail.  Where possible, reassessment will be in the same form as the original assessment.  However, there are some cases, for example, where students are involved in a collaborative presentation, where, for logistical reasons, reassessment in the same form is not possible.

Finally, the Sociology Programme endeavours above all to promote excellence in research and teaching to the benefit of all our students, with the primary aim to enhance the student experience. The Programme team are encouraged to take part in scholarly activities, study for further qualifications, take part in staff development and further training, and to recognise and understand issues around student diversity, retention and progression.

The Sociology Programme does not prepare students for specific vocational or professional employment.  Indeed, this would be difficult as Sociology is a diverse discipline which has a number of professional and vocational applications.  However, students completing the degree will exit with a range of attributes that they can apply in a vocational context. The Combined Honours Sociology degree emphasises the skills of critical analysis, synthesis and the generation of a reflexive capacity. These are skills demanded by industry that can enable graduates to function effectively in the world of employment, and to play a positive and effective role in the wider community. It is anticipated that many students who complete this Programme will gain employment in a field that will have a relationship to social process and enquiry. Sociology provides a pathway towards many possible career choices, ranging from the caring professions through teaching to business, management, the media, local government and the voluntary sector.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The Department of Social and Political Science in the Faculty of Social Science is acknowledged as ‘a central focus for the provision of social science within the University'. The Sociology Programme combines particularly well with all other programmes offered within the Department of Social and Political Science , including Criminology, Counselling Skills, Politics and International Relations. It combines equally well with a large range of other programmes across the Faculty of Social Science, and also the University more broadly, including, for example, Education Studies, English Literature, English Language, International Development Studies, French, Spanish, and many others.

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