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Study Sociology at Otago

Illuminate the connections between everyday experience and social structure.

Sociology considers the ways that everyday lives relate to the social structures that shape identity, relationships and power in society.

Students of Sociology develop a set of critical lenses that shed new light on the social world.

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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Why study Sociology?

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 people 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, p12)

By igniting your sociological imagination, you will begin to understand how personal choice is shaped by social context.

What will I study?

Are you interested in people and social relationships? 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.

Career opportunities

Sociology graduates work in a variety of fields such as local and national politics, government departments, non-profit organisations, trade unions, social services, public health, journalism, social policy development, advertising and marketing, human resources and academia.

Sociology at Otago

Sociology can be studied as a major or a minor subject within the three-year Bachelor of Arts degree, or a Bachelor of Arts and Science. Many students who choose to major in the Arts or Social Sciences include Sociology papers in their degree.

In their first year, Sociology students are introduced to key concepts and approaches in local and global sociology. Second- and third- year papers explore theory; methods; basic social processes (such as interaction, modernity and culture); aspects of institutional life (such as family, education, health, politics and the economy); and drivers of social change (such as colonisation, globalisation, environmental sustainability, technology, youth culture and popular protest).

Teaching style

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.

Background required

The single most important requirement for the study of Sociology is curiosity and the willingness to look beneath the surface. A background in social sciences, history, geography or 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 as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, 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 Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), 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-levelTwo 100-level SOCI papers36
200-levelTwo 200-level SOCI papers36

One 300-level SOCI paper

 One 18 point SOCI paper may be replaced by any GEND paper at the appropriate level, CRIM 201, SPEX 312, SPEX 315 or STAT 110. 
Total 90

SOCI papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
SOCI101 2024 Sociology of New Zealand Society 18 Semester 1
SOCI102 2024 Cultural and Social Identities 18 Semester 2
SOCI103 2024 Crime, Deviance and Social Transformation 18 Semester 2
SOCI201 2024 Sociological Research in Practice 18 Semester 1
SOCI202 2024 Big Ideas in Sociology 18 Semester 1
SOCI203 2024 Young People and Society 18 Semester 2
SOCI204 2024 Special Topic 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI205 2024 Social Inequality 18 Semester 2
SOCI207 2024 Families and Society 18 Semester 2
SOCI208 2024 Environmental Sociology 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI209 2024 Health and Society 18 Semester 1
SOCI211 2024 Colonisation, Globalisation and Social Justice 18 Semester 1
SOCI213 2024 Concepts of the Self 18 Semester 2
SOCI301 2024 Telling Sociological Stories 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI302 2024 Theories of Social Power 18 Semester 1
SOCI304 2024 Special Topic 18 Semester 2
SOCI305 2024 Family Demography 18 Semester 2
SOCI306 2024 Public Sociology 18 Semester 2
SOCI309 2024 Special Topic: Science, Technology and Post-Capitalist Futures 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI310 2024 Social Movements and Popular Protest 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI312 2024 Crime, Technology and Social Change 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI313 2024 The Subject in Postmodern Society 18 Semester 1
SOCI319 2024 The Global Politics of Food 18 Not offered in 2024
SOCI401 2024 Qualitative Research Ethics 20 Not offered in 2024
SOCI402 2024 Advanced Sociological Theory 20 Semester 1
SOCI403 2024 Micro-Sociology 20 Not offered in 2024
SOCI404 2024 Special Topic: Exploring Neuro-Disability in Health, Welfare and Justice Systems 20 Not offered in 2024
SOCI409 2024 Special Topic in Sociology 20 Not offered in 2024
SOCI410 2024 Alternative Futures 20 Semester 1
SOCI490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year
SOCI590 2024 Research Dissertation 60 Full Year, 1st Non standard period

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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