Ignite your sociological imagination.
Sociology considers the ways that everyday action contributes to the reproduction of social structures, and how these structures, in turn, shape identity, relationships and power in society.
Students of sociology develop a set of critical lenses that shed new light on the social world, and they acquire the necessary skills to analyse the operation and effects of social processes and structures.
A sociology degree will prepare students to dissect the multiple layers of our social reality – with all its pitfalls and promises – and apply that knowledge to guide our society to a better future.
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Sociology’s promise and the sociological imagination
If you believe that Sociology has meaning, relevance and applicability beyond the university, you are already one step ahead in developing your sociological imagination. This term was coined by the American sociologist, C. Wright Mills, who wanted us to see how our ‘private troubles’ related to ‘public issues’.
For instance, instead of blaming the poor for their circumstances, with our sociological imagination we can begin to see how political arrangements, economic forces and the broader social order operate to create a world in which some people have the opportunities to advance, while others do not.
While the experience of being poor, unemployed or discriminated against is felt very deeply at the personal level, our sociological imagination encourages us to understand how the thoughts, feelings and actions of the individual relate to broader structural and historical realities.
In the words of Mills, “The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and its promise. To recognize this task and this promise is the mark of the classic social analyst.” (Mills, 1959, p.12)
By igniting your sociological imagination, you will begin to understand how personal choice is shaped by social context.
Build a degree that makes you see the world differently
Are you interested in people and social relationships? Do you wonder why some people are marginalised, while others have the power to discriminate? Do you find habits, mannerisms and everyday life interesting? If so, Sociology is for you.
Sociology is useful for anyone working with people, particularly in groups or organisational settings. Sociological research and analysis can make an important contribution to the development of sound social policies that address inequality and promote social justice.
In addition, the study of Sociology will help you to acquire diverse skills that can be applied in a range of settings. These include the ability to:
- ask insightful questions about power, human behaviour and social processes
- deepen our understanding of social issues using a variety of research methods
- critically analyse information
- develop your own theories about the social world
- propose alternatives that promote social justice
The single most important requirement for the study of Sociology is curiosity and the willingness to look beneath the surface. A background in history, social geography and liberal arts is useful, but not required. Most students will be studying Sociology for the first time so everyone will be on an equal footing.
Sociology graduates work in a variety of fields such as local and national politics, government departments and non-profit organisations, trade unions, social services, public health, journalism, social policy development, advertising and marketing, human resources, socio-legal associations and academia.
Sociology at Otago
Sociology can be studied as a major or a minor subject within the 3-year Bachelor of Arts degree. Many students who choose to major in the Arts or Social Sciences include Sociology papers in their degree. Throughout your degree you will be challenged to design and conduct research that explores the operation of social power and the production of social inequality.
In their first year, Sociology students are introduced to key concepts and approaches in local and global sociology.
Topics include race, class and gender; deviance and crime; basic social processes (such as interaction, socialisation and culture); aspects of institutional life (such as family, religion, education, politics and the economy); and drivers of social change (such as globalisation, environmental sustainability and popular protest).
Second and third year courses expand on these foundations, and students are given the opportunity to develop their critical and analytical skills by engaging in social theorising, research design and data analysis.
Sociology at Otago has a reputation for teaching excellence and innovation. Our teaching style involves interactive lectures and small group tutorials, where students are encouraged to apply theoretical concepts to practical cases. Students are helped to prepare for University life and are given assessment tasks that incorporate incremental skills development.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom)
- Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc)
- Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons))
- Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts)
- Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework))
- Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))
- Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Sociology
SOCI 101 Sociology of New Zealand Society
SOCI 102 Cultural and Social Identities
198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts
Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Sociology
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Sociology
The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) programme in Sociology is the same as the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).
Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) in Sociology
Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Sociology
Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Sociology or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Sociology must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Sociology prior to undertaking the thesis.
Minor subject requirements
Sociology as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
|100-level||Two 100-level SOCI papers||36|
|200-level||Two 200-level SOCI papers||36|
One 300-level SOCI paper
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|SOCI101||2021||Sociology of New Zealand Society||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI102||2021||Cultural and Social Identities||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI103||2021||Crime, Deviance and Social Transformation||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI201||2021||Sociological Research in Practice||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI202||2021||Big Ideas in Sociology||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI203||2021||Young People and Society||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI204||2021||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024|
|SOCI205||2021||Social Inequality||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI207||2021||Families and Society||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI208||2021||Environmental Sociology||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI209||2021||Health and Society||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI213||2021||Concepts of the Self||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI301||2021||Telling Sociological Stories||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI302||2021||Theories of Social Power||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI304||2021||Special Topic: Crime, Culture and Technology||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI305||2021||Family Demography||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI306||2021||Public Sociology||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI309||2021||Special Topic 2||18 points||Not offered in 2021|
|SOCI310||2021||Social Movements and Popular Protest||18 points||Second Semester|
|SOCI313||2021||The Subject in Postmodern Society||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022|
|SOCI319||2021||The Global Politics of Food||18 points||First Semester|
|SOCI401||2021||Qualitative Research Ethics||20 points||First Semester|
|SOCI402||2021||Advanced Sociological Theory||20 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022|
|SOCI403||2021||Micro-Sociology||20 points||First Semester|
|SOCI404||2021||Special Topic||20 points||Not offered in 2021|
|SOCI409||2021||Special Topic in Sociology||20 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024|
|SOCI410||2021||Alternative Futures||20 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022|
|SOCI490||2021||Dissertation||60 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period|
|SOCI590||2021||Research Dissertation||60 points||1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|