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Study Sociology at Otago

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.

Apply for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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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

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.

Career opportunities

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.

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.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Sociology

Level Papers Points
100-level

SOCI 101  Sociology of New Zealand Society

SOCI 102  Cultural and Social Identities

18

18

200-level

Three 200-level SOCI papers, one of which may be replaced with any 200-level GEND paper or CRIM 201 Crime, Justice and Society or SPEX 208

54

300-level

Four papers from GEND 311 and 300-level SOCI papers, one of which may be replaced with any 300-level GEND paper or SPEX 312 or SPEX 315

72 

Plus

198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts

198
Total   360

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Sociology

Papers

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

Papers

Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Sociology

Thesis
  • Thesis: SOCI 5

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

Level Papers Points
100-level Two 100-level SOCI papers 36
200-level Two 200-level SOCI papers 36
300-level

One 300-level SOCI paper

18

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

 
Total

 

90

Papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
SOCI101 2020 Sociology of New Zealand Society 18 points First Semester
SOCI102 2020 Cultural and Social Identities 18 points Second Semester
SOCI103 2020 Crime, Deviance and Social Transformation 18 points Second Semester
SOCI201 2020 Sociological Research in Practice 18 points First Semester
SOCI202 2020 Big Ideas in Sociology 18 points First Semester
SOCI203 2020 Young People and Society 18 points Second Semester
SOCI204 2020 Special Topic: Sociology of Health 18 points Second Semester
SOCI205 2020 Social Inequality 18 points Second Semester
SOCI207 2020 Families and Society 18 points Second Semester
SOCI208 2020 Environmental Sociology 18 points First Semester
SOCI213 2020 Concepts of the Self 18 points Not offered in 2020
SOCI301 2020 Mixed Methods 18 points Second Semester
SOCI302 2020 Theories of Social Power 18 points Second Semester
SOCI304 2020 Special Topic: Crime, Culture and Technology 18 points Not offered in 2020
SOCI305 2020 Family Demography 18 points First Semester
SOCI306 2020 Public Sociology 18 points Second Semester
SOCI309 2020 Special Topic 2: Science, Technology and Post-capitalist Futures 18 points Not offered in 2020
SOCI310 2020 Social Movements and Popular Protest 18 points Second Semester
SOCI313 2020 The Subject in Postmodern Society 18 points First Semester
SOCI319 2020 The Global Politics of Food 18 points First Semester
SOCI401 2020 Qualitative Research Ethics 20 points Second Semester
SOCI402 2020 Advanced Sociological Theory 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022
SOCI403 2020 Micro-Sociology 20 points Not offered in 2020
SOCI404 2020 Special Topic 20 points Not offered in 2020
SOCI409 2020 Special Topic: Pathways to Parenthood 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOCI410 2020 Alternative Futures 20 points First Semester
SOCI490 2020 Dissertation 60 points Full Year
SOCI590 2020 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

Key information for students

Contact us

Email sgsw@otago.ac.nz
Website otago.ac.nz/sgc