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.
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.
Careers using Sociology
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).
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
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
Four 300-level SOCI papers, one of which may be replaced with any 300-level GEND paper or SPEX 312 or SPEX 315
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
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.
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|SOCI101||2023||Sociology of New Zealand Society||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI102||2023||Cultural and Social Identities||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI103||2023||Crime, Deviance and Social Transformation||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI201||2023||Sociological Research in Practice||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI202||2023||Big Ideas in Sociology||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI203||2023||Young People and Society||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI204||2023||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI205||2023||Social Inequality||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI207||2023||Families and Society||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI208||2023||Environmental Sociology||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI209||2023||Health and Society||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI211||2023||Colonisation, Globalisation and Social Justice||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI213||2023||Concepts of the Self||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI301||2023||Telling Sociological Stories||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI302||2023||Theories of Social Power||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI304||2023||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI305||2023||Family Demography||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI306||2023||Public Sociology||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI309||2023||Special Topic: Science, Technology and Post-Capitalist Futures||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI310||2023||Social Movements and Popular Protest||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025|
|SOCI312||2023||Crime, Technology and Social Change||18 points||Semester 2|
|SOCI313||2023||The Subject in Postmodern Society||18 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI319||2023||The Global Politics of Food||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI401||2023||Qualitative Research Ethics||20 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024|
|SOCI402||2023||Advanced Sociological Theory||20 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI403||2023||Micro-Sociology||20 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI404||2023||Special Topic: Exploring Neuro-Disability in Health, Welfare and Justice Systems||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI409||2023||Special Topic in Sociology||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|SOCI410||2023||Alternative Futures||20 points||Semester 1|
|SOCI490||2023||Dissertation||60 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period|
|SOCI590||2023||Research Dissertation||60 points||1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|
Key information for students