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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.

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.

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.

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).

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.


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

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 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



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

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts

Total   360

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

  • 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

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.





Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
SOCI101 2022 Sociology of New Zealand Society 18 points Semester 1
SOCI102 2022 Cultural and Social Identities 18 points Semester 2
SOCI103 2022 Crime, Deviance and Social Transformation 18 points Semester 2
SOCI201 2022 Sociological Research in Practice 18 points Semester 1
SOCI202 2022 Big Ideas in Sociology 18 points Semester 1
SOCI203 2022 Young People and Society 18 points Semester 2
SOCI204 2022 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2022
SOCI205 2022 Social Inequality 18 points Semester 2
SOCI207 2022 Families and Society 18 points Semester 2
SOCI208 2022 Environmental Sociology 18 points Semester 1
SOCI209 2022 Health and Society 18 points Semester 1
SOCI211 2022 Colonisation, Globalisation and Social Justice 18 points Semester 1
SOCI213 2022 Concepts of the Self 18 points Not offered in 2022
SOCI301 2022 Telling Sociological Stories 18 points Not offered in 2022
SOCI302 2022 Theories of Social Power 18 points Semester 2
SOCI304 2022 Special Topic: Crime, Culture and Technology 18 points Not offered in 2022
SOCI305 2022 Family Demography 18 points Semester 1
SOCI306 2022 Public Sociology 18 points Semester 2
SOCI309 2022 Special Topic: Science, Technology and Post-Capitalist Futures 18 points Summer School
SOCI310 2022 Social Movements and Popular Protest 18 points Not offered in 2022
SOCI313 2022 The Subject in Postmodern Society 18 points Semester 2
SOCI319 2022 The Global Politics of Food 18 points Semester 1
SOCI401 2022 Qualitative Research Ethics 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOCI402 2022 Advanced Sociological Theory 20 points Semester 1
SOCI403 2022 Micro-Sociology 20 points Semester 1
SOCI404 2022 Special Topic: Exploring Neuro-Disability in Health, Welfare and Justice Systems 20 points Semester 2
SOCI409 2022 Special Topic in Sociology 20 points Not offered in 2022
SOCI410 2022 Alternative Futures 20 points Semester 1
SOCI490 2022 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period
SOCI590 2022 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

Key information for students

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