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Sociology MSc

Become a keen observer of social life who questions the assumptions people take for granted on this Master's degree in Sociology. Use evidence to interrogate common sense logic on a vast range of social issues. 

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Overview

Sociology helps us understand how society works, connecting the dots between individual lives and the structures they live in.

Studying a Master's in Sociology can completely change the way you view the world around you, developing you as a skilled researcher, excellent critical thinker, robust theorist and agent for change.

On this MSc Sociology degree, you'll explore all aspects of social life, because it all matters. You'll cover topics such as identity, intimacy, wellbeing, popular culture, consumption, colonialism, global inequalities, social media, feminism, racism and sustainability.

You don't need to have studied sociology before, but we hope you'll have a passion for understanding social issues and a desire to make a difference. You'll use qualitative and quantitative research methods to generate reliable data and insights, and ultimately deepen your knowledge on these issues.

Once you graduate, you'll have skills and awareness to succeed further in a huge range of careers, such as social research, policy making, law, social work, charity or community work, marketing, advertising, teaching or human resource management. 

STANDARD LICENSE; PLEASE SEE ADDITIONAL ASSET FOR FULL LICENSE TERMS.

Discover more at our live webinar

Join the course team for an overview of this Sociology Master’s degree. Hear how the course is structured, and get all your questions answered.

Wednesday 7 August
12.00pm UK time

Book your place

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

The University of Portsmouth is ranked the number 1 modern university for research quality in Area Studies.

Research Excellence Framework (REF), 2021

Read more about our excellent research in Area Studies

Course highlights

  • Study with a Sociology team whose research has helped make us the top modern UK university for research quality and research power in Area Studies - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021
  • Discover how to use data and research to explore social issues and widely-held societal beliefs, across topics such as poverty, gender and the climate crisis 
  • Learn from active sociological researchers, in areas including trans and non-binary inclusion at work (included in guidance from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), and the sociology of migration (resulting in free legal advice and casework on complex immigration applications)
  • Develop sustainable and durable critical thinking and problem-solving skills you can apply in your career 
  • Have the opportunity to take part in short placements supporting staff research activity, such as in immigration advice and migrant homelessness
  • Become ready to take the next steps in your career with a deep understanding of the structural basis of inequality in contemporary society and gain insight into how to address some of our more pressing social injustices 

Contact information

Admissions

+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions

Entry requirements

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

September 2024 / January 2025 start

  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree in Sociology or other relevant subject.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2024 / January 2025 start)

  • Full-time: £10,400 
  • Part-time: £5,200 per year

All fees subject to annual increase.

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £10,400
  • Part-time: £5,200 per year

All fees subject to annual increase.

  • Full-time: £17,900
  • Part-time: £8,950 per year

All fees subject to annual increase.

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

Female Master's student
Explore funding

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for Master's courses

Explore Master's funding options, including loans, scholarships, bursaries and more.

Explore funding

Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees, so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: Such as photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Modules

Full-time

Core modules

Informed by critical debates about the genesis and development of modern society, you'll engage analytically, ethically and politically with significant processes of transformation in social life.

You'll consider how structural inequalities may be experienced differently by different people positioned across society, how they intersect to create unique experiences of privilege and disadvantage, and how those intersections frame identity constructions.

You'll join in key debates about the philosophical underpinnings of sociological research and how these might feed into research strategies and choice of methods.

You'll then consider the difficult but essential task of formulating feasible and original research questions. The module will introduce traditional approaches to data generation, such as surveys, ethnographies and qualitative interviews, as well as research methods involving more creative, participatory and emancipatory approaches.

You'll review key approaches to qualitative and quantitative data analysis, including basic inferential statistics, grounded theory, thematic analysis and discourse analysis.

By the end of the module, you'll have the tools and practical experience to design research projects that will systematically produce original and analytically sophisticated research findings. 

With academic guidance, you'll choose your own literature or empirical topic within a field of study that fits the parameters of your intended Master’s exit award. 

You'll bring together everything you’ve learned to design and evaluate ethical methodologies, conduct systematic research, and communicate your ideas professionally in your dissertation or report.

Optional modules

You'll develop social, historical and cultural analyses of a range of issues relating to cultural industries and a variety of fields of cultural production.

At the same time, you'll gain critical awareness of current debates about cultural identity in a globalising world, plus consumerism and its complex and varied consequences, taste, ethics, and aesthetics.

You'll learn about a range of theories and perspectives that can be applied to your areas of interest.

You'll also explore the links between the intimate and emotional life spheres and wider social structures and norms.

Grassroot political activist movements, empowered by communications technology, have grown exponentially. International NGOs are highly visible advocates in a range of policy areas. They are also important service providers, particularly in fragile and post-conflict states.

These developments raise interesting questions about the normative quality of 'global civil society' and the implications of civil society activism for the state system.

On this module, you'll explore the role of civil society organisations as changemakers and service providers on issues from sustainability to justice.

You'll investigate grassroots campaigners alongside major international NGOs - evaluating their tactics, contributions and accountability.

Part-time

Core modules

Informed by critical debates about the genesis and development of modern society, you'll engage analytically, ethically and politically with significant processes of transformation in social life.

You'll join in key debates about the philosophical underpinnings of sociological research and how these might feed into research strategies and choice of methods.

You'll then consider the difficult but essential task of formulating feasible and original research questions. The module will introduce traditional approaches to data generation, such as surveys, ethnographies and qualitative interviews, as well as research methods involving more creative, participatory and emancipatory approaches.

You'll review key approaches to qualitative and quantitative data analysis, including basic inferential statistics, grounded theory, thematic analysis and discourse analysis.

By the end of the module, you'll have the tools and practical experience to design research projects that will systematically produce original and analytically sophisticated research findings. 

Core modules

You'll consider how structural inequalities may be experienced differently by different people positioned across society, how they intersect to create unique experiences of privilege and disadvantage, and how those intersections frame identity constructions.

With academic guidance, you'll choose your own literature or empirical topic within a field of study that fits the parameters of your intended Master’s exit award. 

You'll bring together everything you’ve learned to design and evaluate ethical methodologies, conduct systematic research, and communicate your ideas professionally in your dissertation or report.

Optional modules

You'll develop social, historical and cultural analyses of a range of issues relating to cultural industries and a variety of fields of cultural production.

At the same time, you'll gain critical awareness of current debates about cultural identity in a globalising world, plus consumerism and its complex and varied consequences, taste, ethics, and aesthetics.

You'll learn about a range of theories and perspectives that can be applied to your areas of interest.

You'll also explore the links between the intimate and emotional life spheres and wider social structures and norms.

Grassroot political activist movements, empowered by communications technology, have grown exponentially. International NGOs are highly visible advocates in a range of policy areas. They are also important service providers, particularly in fragile and post-conflict states.

These developments raise interesting questions about the normative quality of 'global civil society' and the implications of civil society activism for the state system.

On this module, you'll explore the role of civil society organisations as changemakers and service providers on issues from sustainability to justice.

You'll investigate grassroots campaigners alongside major international NGOs - evaluating their tactics, contributions and accountability.

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, course content is revised and regularly reviewed.  This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take:

  • 1 year (full-time study)
  • 2 years (part-time study)

You can expect:

  • 3-4.5 hours of teaching time every week (lecture, seminar or workshop) for each module you study (pro rata for part-time students).
  • 24–30 hours of independent study each week if you study full-time, or 12–15 hours each week if you study part-time.

In the last three months of the course you'll be focusing on your dissertation.

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • workshops
  • active discussions and debates
  • some online learning

You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a web connection.

Teaching expertise

The teaching staff on our Sociology Master's degree bring a wide range of professional experience to the course from a range of settings within and beyond higher education.

Many of them are internationally-recognised in their fields. They're all research active and involved in publishing academic works, bidding for and securing research funding and disseminating research. They're also members of the Sociology and Social Theory Research Group as part of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR).

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

User profile default icon

Ms Patricia Gilbert

Lecturer

patricia.gilbert@port.ac.uk

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Barry Edward Smart Portrait

Professor Barry Smart

Professor of Sociology

Barry.Smart@port.ac.uk

School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Simon Alexander Stewart Portrait

Professor Simon Stewart

Professor of Sociology

Simon.Stewart@port.ac.uk

School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Rusten Menard Portrait

Dr Rusten Menard

Senior Lecturer

rusten.menard@port.ac.uk

School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

Read more

Assessment

You'll be assessed through:

  • essays

  • reports

  • research proposals

  • presentations

  • policy briefings

  • podcasts

  • dissertation

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark. This includes group discussions, peer review activities, and virtual seminars.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project / dissertation.

January start

Courses that start in January have the same amount of teaching as September-start courses, but they normally run over a longer time period.

January-start courses normally run between 14–18 months, beginning in January and ending in the spring / summer of the following year. There are breaks at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. In the last few months you’ll be writing your project / dissertation.

See key dates

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Career development

Careers this Master's prepares you for

In an increasingly polarised world, studying sociology empowers us with the knowledge and evidence to confront challenges in contemporary society.

Sociology is a subject with huge social and economic value. It can improve public policy by providing evidence on trends and public opinions, helping governments, charities and businesses make informed decisions. It can enable charities to serve their communities more effectively by researching their needs. It can help businesses to enhance their operations through analysing consumer beliefs, tastes and decision making.

Sociologists themselves occupy vital occupations within educational institutions, social services, business and non-profit organisations.

While a sociology degree might not necessarily lead you automatically into a specific field of work, it equips you with a wide variety of skills that are easily transferable to a number of different sectors. Rather than closing down options, this degree opens them up. 

Our Sociology team has developed resources and expertise to support your career. So, our guidance doesn't focus just on academic work, but also on your holistic professional development. 

Graduates of this course can go on to have a positive impact on society in ways such as:

  • informing fairer teaching or admissions policies in education
  • pioneering hiring initiatives to dismantle bias in recruitment and HR
  • providing insights into wellbeing, welfare and safety online
  • supporting community organisations to obtain funding for local initiatives by writing research proposals

Graduates of this course can go on to work in areas such as:

  • policy development
  • social research
  • youth work
  • community development
  • local government
  • marketing or advertising
  • market research
  • charities and fundraising
  • diversity and inclusion
  • human resources

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and from our Careers and Employability Centre, which you can access for 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

Work experience and placements

While studying this Sociology Master's degree, you'll also have the chance to take part in a number of extra opportunities that can develop your experience and further your career.

Halmstad Junior Research Associate Scheme

Each year, we run a competition offering successful candidates the opportunity to work with a researcher at Halmstad University in Sweden, getting involved with tasks like literature reviewing and data analysis.

Research assistance

We offer ad hoc opportunities to support ongoing research projects led by our academics from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Work shadowing

We can help you identify potential employers in the local area (or within a commutable radius) and support you in approaching them for a day or more’s work shadowing. This provides a very valuable ‘taster’ and a great networking opportunity.

Our Sociology team has connections with approximately 100 local and national organisations that may be of interest and strong relationships with a good proportion of these that we can capitalise on for students.

Volunteering

Our volunteering team within the Careers and Employability Service can help you find volunteering opportunities within local organisations.

Short-term placements

In collaboration with the Placements and Internships Centre and the Careers and Employment Service, we'll support students to identify and/or apply for short-term placements that complement their studies with employees within sectors of interest.

To fit in with the course, we anticipate these being closer to work experience than internships - lasting a week or two.

Example organisations you could work with

An indicative range of organisations we could collaborate with to explore or secure short-term placements, work shadowing and/or voluntary opportunities (locally, within a commutable distance or remotely) could involve:

  • Gender-based violence charities: Stop Domestic Abuse, PARCS, Revenge Porn Helpline, Survivor’s Network
  • Charities/organisations supporting people seeking asylum: Friends Without Borders, City of Sanctuary, Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Portsmouth
  • Social Research organisations (remote placements): Institute for Employment Studies, NATCEN, Ipsos
  • Environmental/Climate Crisis organisations: Portsmouth Climate Action Board, Wilder Eastney, Hampshire Wildlife Trust
  • Local Government: Portsmouth City Council, Havant Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council, Fareham Borough Council
  • Homelessness: Society of St James, Two Saints
  • Youth and community work

Supporting you

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • understanding and using assignment feedback
  • managing your time and workload
  • revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start dates in September and January, as long as there are places available. If you wait until your start month to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Ready to apply?

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2023, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.