Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Study Sociology

Matches cropped for website 186

Ignite your imagination: Study sociology

‘Sociology is not in the school curriculum and in my first year at Otago I was intrigued by it. I took two Sociology papers and soon realised that it was a subject I wanted to major in. What I liked about Sociology was how it applied to people. It didn’t just reduce them to numbers.’ William Phillips, BA (SOCI) 2014

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

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 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.  

Careers using Sociology

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 Humanities 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.  

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 supported for university life and are given assessment tasks that incorporate incremental skills development.