This dynamic programme enables students to develop a critically informed sociological understanding of the social world with an emphasis on theoretical analysis and evidence-based evaluation of key social trends and issues. It aims to:
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 problems set within broader processes of social and political organisation and change.
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 employers 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 developing intellectual curiosity and personal growth.
Key to this programme is the introduction and sustained development of a ‘sociological imagination' to instil a life-long enthusiasm for the subject and key areas of sociological analysis (as identified in section 27).
FHEQ Level 4:
At level 4 students will gain knowledge of key sociological theories (all modules) and learn to apply these to the social world to gain an understanding of the relationship between the individual, groups and institutions (SO4102, SO4103). Students will explore the intersection of social, political and economic influences and understand how these may impact upon social life and social policy both locally and globally (SO4102, SO4103).
FHEQ Level 5:
At level 5 students will build on their knowledge base to develop a more in-depth knowledge and critical awareness of their social world. Students will learn to critically explore the role and organisation of power in societies (SO5101) and will be encouraged to think about how competing theories and ideologies help contribute to a critically informed position (SO5101, SO5106). Students develop practical knowledge about the process and practice of social research at this level and will be able to distinguish between research paradigms and understand their role in the production of knowledge in the social sciences (SO5103). Students also have an opportunity to apply their developing 'sociological imagination' in a work-based setting (WB5101).
FHEQ Level 6:
At level 6 students' knowledge and understanding will continue to be informed by a critical analysis of contemporary theory and will consider the tensions and possibilities of an emancipatory sociology (SO6101, SO6102). The core theoretical module will explore the contested nature of sociological knowledge (SO6101) and there are opportunities to consider the discipline's contribution to socio-political change (SO6102), the understanding of the cultural milieu (SO6203) and to understand the relevance of emotions as a way to interpret current events (SO6107). The dissertation module (SO6106) will further allow students to develop an independent, in-depth exploration of a topic of their choice through a literature based study or empirical research. The latter approach will allow students to apply their knowledge of qualitative or quantitative methods, as previously taught in SO5103, to complete their research.
As this is a combined honours programme not all of these modules will be taken but in line with the benchmark statement, where the curriculum consists of less than 50% of the final year (e.g. a minor route is taken), the University of Chester will decide upon the applicability to sociology benchmarks.
Thinking and cognitive skills are developed on an incremental basis as the student progresses through the three years of study. 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, critical analysis and synthesis in relation to the understanding of society will include; the construction 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.
FHEQ Level 4:
Develop structured, coherent and academic arguments about the relationship between the self and society (SO4102)
Synthesise key information from a range of sources and identify key themes and principles (all modules)
Find, read and understand academic and peer reviewed books and articles (all modules)
FHEQ Level 5:
Understand the ethical implications of carrying out research in the social world (SO5103)
Interpret different approaches to research and write a research proposal (SO5103)
Theoretically evaluate the various explanations for a multitude of social problems (SO5101, SO5106)
Recognise the limitations of various theoretical and empirical work (all modules)
Be able to solve problems (WB5101)
FHEQ Level 6:
Develop a critical argument throughout an extended, individual project (SO6106)
Apply a critical, sustained and analytical argument when explaining and debating about the social world (all modules)
Think self-reflexively about their own engagement with the social world (all modules)
Understand the uncertainty and limits of sociological knowledge and how contemporary theorists have attempted to overcome this (SO6101)
Express awareness of the ways in which sociological knowledge is constructed and contested within sociological debates (SO6101)
Students will develop an ability to manage their time and to plan, conduct and report research in a variety of different formats. Students will learn how to conduct themselves in professional contexts and will gain experience in conducting small scale research, will contribute to an academic conference and will refine their skills in a work-based environment. They will know how to handle qualitative and quantitative data and develop IT skills throughout their degree. Students will be able to work both independently and as part of a team, will be used to working to deadlines and will have been encouraged to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses to help continuing personal development.
FHEQ Level 4:
Combine, interpret and judge different types of evidence relevant to sociological enquiry (all modules)
Retrieve and utilise sociological knowledge to better understand our relationships with others and our responsibilities towards them (SO4102, SO4103)
Develop appropriate academic research and referencing skills and engage with scholarly material (all modules)
Reflect on their academic development (SO4102)
Establish good time management skills (SO4102)
Utilise IT equipment both as a means of information retrieval and communication (all modules)
Understand the role of statistics in identifying trends and information about the social world (SO4102)
FHEQ Level 5:
Establish a position in relation to academic debate (all modules)
Understand and utilise qualitative and quantitative data to make claims about the social world (SO5103)
Develop existing skills and exercise personal responsibility in a work-based environment (WB5101)
FHEQ Level 6:
Plan, manage and conduct an individual project (SO6102, SO6106)
Work as a member of a team (SO6107)
Apply sociological knowledge to a range of real-world problems and develop a position on how best to address these (all modules)
Carry out (where appropriate) empirical work in an ethical, safe, efficient, and effective manner (SO6106)
Enhanced reflection skills in considering the role of the 'sociological imagination' in contributing to social change (SO6101, SO6102, SO6203).
The programme offers opportunities to develop learning, thinking and communication skills by ensuring students work both independently and in conjunction with others across a range of different assessments.
FHEQ Level 4:
Write for an academic audience (all modules)
Communicate key ideas in different written forms (e.g. essays, reports, examinations) (all modules)
Verbally communicate ideas in class discussions (all modules)
FHEQ level 5:
Verbally communicate information and analysis to a variety of audiences (SO5101)
Co-operate and communicate effectively as members of a team (all modules)
Adapt writing styles for specific audiences (all modules)
FHEQ Level 6:
Write fluently and accurately and establish clear and critical argument and evidence-based reasoning (all modules)
Communicate critical argument through self-directed essay or dissertation (SO6102, SO6106)
Verbally debate through reasoned sociological argument (all modules).
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) SO5106 Citizenship and the Modern World (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):
Students will be given the choice of modules according to their degree weighting as follows:
Minor in Sociology: SO6101 Advanced Social Theory (core) plusone from the following:SO6203 Con_txts of Communication (optional) SO6102 Social Change and Social Movements (optional) SO6107 Sociology of Emotions (optional) and 80 credits from the other subject
Equal: SO6101 Advanced Social Theory (core) plus two from the following; SO6203 Con_txts of Communication (optional) SO6102, Social Change and Social Movements (optional), SO6107 Sociology of Emotions (optional), or SO6106 Dissertation (optional) and 60 credits from the other subject
Major in Sociology: SO6101 Advanced Social Theory (core), SO6106 Sociology Dissertation (core) plus one of the following; SO6203 Con_txts of Communication SO6102 Social Change and Social Movements SO6107 Sociology of Emotionsand 40 credits from the other subject.
Students combining Sociology with Politics share the module SO4103. They therefore will need to choose one of the following options: SO4104, SO4105 or SO4703. This is not offered for other combinations.
Students can take the programme as a four year rather than three year route which offers the possibility of one year abroad. Study Abroad students taking their third year abroad need to register on WB5008. This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their second-year (Level 5) of study. Students for Study Abroad must be recommended for the module, and the study programme that the student undertakes must be agreed with the department(s) that the student is studying in. Students must have successfully completed Level 5 with an overall average of 55% or higher (2.2 average), to receive final approval to participate in WB 5008.
Level 4: 20 credits per module A candidate who successfully completes Level 4 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 Level 5 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 Level 6 will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of an honours degree* in Sociology (BSc). (*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. (2008). The Framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Retrieved May 21, 2015, from http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Framework-Higher-Education-Qualifications-08.pdf)
Range of qualifications and/or experience required for admission
280 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - BCC/BBC
BTEC Extended Diploma - DMM
BTEC Diploma - D*D*
B in 4 subjects
Access to HE Diploma to include 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit
OCR National Extended Diploma - Merit 2
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DMM
OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*
Please note that we accept a maximum of 20 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.
Consistent with the University of Chester's commitment to widen access and participation, the Department of Social and Political Science 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. This is consistent with the entry qualifications for other Combined Honours Programmes across the institution. Applicants will not normally be interviewed.
This 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.
The sociology benchmark applies to honours degrees in sociology or combined honours degrees where sociology comprises at least 50 per cent of the curriculum in the final or honours year. Therefore depending on the weighting and on the other programme, the benchmark may or may not be fully applicable to the sociology component of the final degree.
Subject Knowledge and Understanding
Able to describe and examine a range of key concepts and theoretical approaches within Sociology and evaluate their application: The programme focuses on the need to establish a strong theoretical understanding of the social world beginning with a description of theory at level 4 (SO4101, SO4102) a critique of the construction of knowledge at level 5 (SO5101, SO5103) and an in-depth critical analysis of theory at level 6 (SO6101, SO6203, SO6106, SO6107).
Able to provide an analytical account of social diversity and inequality and their effects: Alongside its focus on theory the sociology programme couples this with a strong emphasis on its application to the real world to establish a critical understanding of social issues. At level four trends and issues are identified and evaluated (SO4101, SO4102, SO4103) and further problematised at levels 5 and 6 (SO5101, SO6107, SO6203).
Able to understand and evaluate the issues and problems involved in the use of comparison in sociology: It is important to be able to evaluate strengths and weaknesses between and within theories and to compare social issues both within a country (e.g. by considering intersectionality) and between countries. Comparison is utilised throughout the programme as a useful technique. Self and Society (SO4102) lays the foundation in adopting an evaluative comparative insight alongside other modules throughout the programme (SO5101, SO5103, SO5106, SO6102, SO6203).
Able to analyse the nature of social relationships between individuals, groups and social institutions: This broad foci is integral to our programme and the topic is covered in most of the modules within a variety of different contexts; in terms of the theory that underpin these analyses (SO4101, SO5101, SO6101), in an introductory module exploring a variety of contexts which impact upon the individual (SO4102), in the political context (SO4103, SO5101, SO5106, SO6102) and within a cultural context (SO6203).
Able to examine the processes that underpin social change and social stability: The importance of the political, economic and social processes that contribute to social change are explored throughout the different levels (SO4103, SO5101, SO5106, SO6102).
Able to examine a range of research strategies and methods and assess the appropriateness of their use: Research methods are introduced to students at level 4 (SO4102), further explored and refined at level 5 (SO5103) and theoretically interrogated (SO6101) and applied in an extended individually-led project by students at level 6 (SO6106).
Able to evaluate the relationship between sociological arguments and evidence in a range of contexts: Students begin by learning to apply sociological theory to a variety of contexts (including health, sexuality, media, welfare, transport, eating practices, consumptive practices) at level 4 (SO4102, SO4103) and are encouraged to evaluate policy practice, representations, laws and ideologies to establish sociological arguments. This is developed at levels 5 and 6 to establish a critical voice in relation to understanding the world (SO5101, SO5106, SO6101, SO6102, SO6107, SO6203, SO6106).
Able to analyse ways in which Sociology can be distinguished from other forms of understanding: The sociological interrogation of social issues is contrasted with 'common sense' ways of understanding to highlight the value of a 'sociological imagination' (SO4101, SO5101, SO6101). In other modules other widely accepted ways of understanding are challenged.
At the end of level 6, students on this programme will have obtained the range of cognitive abilities outlined in the Sociology benchmarks (2007*) these are as follows:
to assess a range of perspectives and discuss the strengths of each for the understanding of events
to draw on materials from a range of sources and demonstrate an ability to synthesise them
to draw on evidence to evaluate competing explanations
to evaluate the visibility of competing explanations in explaining problems and to draw appropriate conclusions
Particular modules throughout the programme offer the opportunity to utilise a range of sources and evidence to explore the social world (SO4103, SO5103, SO5106, SO6203, SO6102 and SO6106). In addition the core theory modules running throughout the programme help to refine and enhance the ability to develop an argument which includes competing positions (SO4101, SO5101 and SO6101).
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. In line with the Sociology benchmarks, 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).
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.
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.
This develops critical and evaluative processes by debate regarding perspectives, experiences and outlook.
These are intended to provide experience in collaborative and creative problem solving. Workshops may include relevant case studies, simulation and virtual experiences.
Seminar style exercises 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.
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.
Assessment and feedback
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 is marked anonymously for reasons of equity (although some exceptions apply to assessments such as presentations). 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 Programme Assessment Board.
Each 20 credit module is assessed on a 4000 word-equivalent basis. The module descriptors provide a clear indication of the relationship between individual assessment components and learning outcomes, both in terms of knowledge and understanding and different skills.
Negotiated title extended essay (4000 words): SO6102
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 engage 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 of Chester is committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity both as an employer and an educational institution. For this purpose it has an Equal Opportunities Policy and appropriate codes of practice to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010. The Policy covers discrimination in relation to the protected characteristics of disability, age, race, gender, religion and belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marriage and civil partnership and gender reassignment. The policy relates to all aspects of employment, academic and student experience. It is implemented by heads of department reporting to a designated member of the Senior Management Team. Support is provided by the Dean of Students and the Director of HRM in consultation with bodies such as the Equality Forum.
The aim of the policy is to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the University of Chester have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate unlawful or unfair discrimination.
The objective of the policy is to have a University which is open to all sections of the community, where people from all groups in society are represented at all levels, and in whose activities all members of staff and all its students can participate fully and equally for the benefit of the University of Chester.
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. Please note however, combinations will change and so please check with Admissions for an accurate list.
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