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Transform the world – Further your studies in sociology

A postgraduate qualification in sociology prepares you for a rewarding career in a range of academic and professional fields in New Zealand and abroad. Our students draw upon classical and contemporary social theories and employ multiple research methods to understand and explain social phenomena. Employers from diverse sectors value our students' writing and critical thinking skills, as well as their ability to analyse and interpret data and communicate effectively. Sociology postgraduates push the boundaries of social science in ways that inform social policy and promote social justice.

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We are a vibrant interdisciplinary programme in a university with a strong academic and research culture. Our postgraduate students are valued members of our programme.

Supervision: Sociology staff offer supervision in a broad range of areas, including: commodity chains, economic markets, environment and sustainability, families, demography, food and agriculture, gender and sexuality, globalisation, inequality, labour, parenthood, power, precarity, research ethics, rural sociology, science and technology, sexual violence, social change, social identities, social movements and popular protest. Where necessary, to ensure that you have access to the best possible expertise, co-supervision may be sought from other programmes.

Your Training: Our graduates are offered strong theoretical and methodological grounding, paired with research and practical experience that launches them as independent and critical thinkers.

Find out more about staff expertise and life as a postgraduate student with us:

Questions? We'd be happy to help!


Annual Postgraduate Symposium

Held annually in August, our Postgraduate Symposium is a one-day fully catered event that brings the Programmes together and showcases the research of our postgraduates. The event provides a platform for students at any stage of their research journey to share their ideas and gain feedback from staff and fellow students in a convivial environment.

A survey of postgraduate students determines who will be invited to give the Symposium keynote address. In previous years students have elected celebrated researchers including the Dean of the Graduate Research School Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith (2019), University of Victoria Wellington Professor Elizabeth Stanley (2020), University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady (2021) and MP and LGBTQ+ activist and scholar Dr Elizabeth Kerekere (2022).

BA(Hons) in Sociology

This programme is for Otago sociology majors who want to enhance their BA degree. It offers students an excellent foundation if they wish to pursue more advanced postgraduate qualifications at a later stage. Both coursework and research are required for the 2-semester programme. Students who obtain a minimum of a B+ average in their 300-level papers in Sociology are eligible to apply. Requirements include SOCI 490 (60 point dissertation) and three further 400-level SOCI papers (20 points each).

If you are interested in applying, please contact:

Professor Anita Gibbs

Further information about the Bachelor of Arts with Honours BA(Hons)

Postgraduate Diploma (PGDipArts)

The PGDipArts is a further qualification for BA graduates in their major subject and is aimed at sociology majors from other institutions or graduates with related majors. Coursework and research requirements are the same as for the Honours programme. Students must achieve a B+ average in their 300-level sociology papers in order to be admitted to the PGDipArts. This course may be taken full time for one year, or part time over a longer period.

If you are interested in applying, please contact:

Professor Anita Gibbs

Further information about the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts

Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)

This programme is a 2-semester coursework-only programme for non-sociology majors. It may be necessary preparation for non-sociology majors to be able to pursue postgraduate study in sociology. The DipGrad is a flexible programme. It is a one-year full time course (or part time over a longer period), which enables graduates in one discipline to start studying another discipline without doing the full requirements for a major. This path is often followed by students wanting to advance to postgraduate study in a subject other than their original major, or as a way of adding disciplinary breadth to their initial degree. For example, someone with a BA in Gender Studies who wants to have a qualification in sociology could do a DipGrad year. The DipGrad comprises 120 points, of which 72 must be at or above 300-level.

Further information about the Diploma for Graduates

Master of Arts (Coursework) programme for Humanities students

The Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA (Coursework)) programme is designed to give students the balance of specific subject knowledge plus broad-based skills employers are looking for.

The programme will take either 12 months or three semesters of full-time study to complete. The programme can also be studied part-time.

More about the new Master of Arts (Coursework) programme.

Master of Arts (MA), Thesis only

The Master of Arts (MA) degree normally requires up to two years of full-time study, or its equivalent in part-time, study and entails completion of a thesis. The normal admission requirement is a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA Hons) degree in one of at least 24 subjects, but admission on the basis of alternative qualifications and experience is possible. Students with a minimum of a B+ average for their Honours degree are eligible to apply, but the final decision rests with your home programme. Some degree candidates may be required to pass approved postgraduate papers before embarking on the thesis research, but will be advised of that before enrolment.

The thesis is a major piece of supervised research on a topic of current interest. The primary aim of the programme is to develop in a candidate skills needed to identify a significant topic, design and implement an extended piece of research, and present the findings in a form acceptable to an expert readership. It prepares candidates for employment in education, regional and national government agencies, the private sector, and industry. The degree is also an entry qualification for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), depending on grades and supervision capacity.

Further information about the Master of Arts programme

Start your application


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree offered by the University of Otago. It is awarded on the submission of a thesis of 100,000 words, which must meet rigorous standards. It requires highly developed academic ability, independence and perseverance. Most students take between 3-4 years of full-time study to complete their PhD.

Further information about the PhD programme

Start your application

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