BSc/BSc (Hons) Public Sociology

This course encourages rigorous critical thinking on complex and challenging social issues, opening the door to a wide range of careers. This is the first undergraduate public sociology degree in Scotland, in a university ranked top in Scotland for Sociology in the Guardian University League Table 2019.


What is the nature of society and how can we change it for the better? This is the kind of sceptical question that you’ll learn how to ask – and answer – on this course. You’ll learn how to critique preconceptions about social equality and justice. You’ll embrace new ideas and schools of thought on this intellectually stimulating and personally empowering course. You’ll graduate ready to make a real difference to people’s lives.




Why QMU?

  • QMU is ranked 1st in Scotland and 14th in the UK for Sociology (out of 91 institutions) in the Guardian University League Table 2019. QMU is ranked 1st in Scotland and 5th in the UK for student satisfaction in Sociology (NSS 2018).

  • You’ll learn how to make sense of complex and challenging social issues – and how to provoke change.

  • You’ll understand how the public sociologist and sociological knowledge can create radical approaches to solving social problems.

  • We’ll enable you to develop a wide range of transferable skills.



About the course

What is the nature of society and how can we change it for the better? This is the kind of sceptical question that you’ll learn how to ask – and answer – on this course. You’ll learn how to critique preconceptions about social equality and justice. You’ll embrace new ideas and schools of thought on this intellectually stimulating and personally empowering course. You’ll graduate ready to make a real difference to people’s lives.

What are the root causes of social injustice and inequality? How could we change society’s perception of them, and make the actual changes themselves? On this course you’ll reflect upon the ways in which sociological knowledge can effect real change in people’s everyday lives.

If you have an enquiring, questioning mind and you want to understand more about human societies, social problems, interactions and experiences, you will thrive here. You’ll engage with a diversity of communities and develop a sense of the ways in which a public sociological imagination can meaningfully intervene in real-world political and social events. Many of our staff are actively involved in social justice, and so you’ll see first-hand how we can bring what we study to life.

This was Scotland’s first public sociology course and we continue to be pioneering in the way we think. Our students have chosen fascinating and original topics to research for their dissertations — from womens’ reception as scout leaders to how newspapers reported on human rights during Brexit.

In Year One and half of Year Two you will study a range of modules which will provide you with a thorough grounding in the key concepts, theories and schools of thought in sociology, as well as some modules in psychology. You will develop a sound understanding of the historical development and contemporary applications of sociological knowledge. Specifically this will include how sociological knowledge can help us to make sense of the public issues and concerns which affect the communities within which we live, as well as understanding the philosophical debates that underpin sociological interpretations of the world around us. In addition, considerable emphasis is placed on enhancing a wide range of transferable skills, paying particular attention to improving your interpersonal and presentation skills, effective reading and writing, analytical thinking and critical reflection, as well as a sustained focus on the development of your research skills.

From mid-way through Year Two until you graduate, you’ll develop in-depth understanding of a broad range of substantive debates within the discipline of sociology. You will refine your knowledge of sociological theory, research design and implementation, social movements and global change, sociologies of gender and sexuality, sociologies of liberation, and social policy and politics. Working closely with a member of academic staff, you will conduct your own independent research project in Year Four, in which you will be encouraged to bring together your knowledge of sociological theories and concepts, as well as refining your research skills. You will develop an ability to understand the relationship between complex sociological theory, practical research and contemporary public issues and concerns. Our graduates find that they are well qualified for a range of jobs, further study and other life choices.



You can opt to study for an honours degree over four years or an ordinary degree over three years. You will complete a range of modules each year as outlined in the following modules section..



Year One

  • Introduction to Academia & the Sociological Imagination
  • Foundations of Psychology
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Diversity, Identity & Wellbeing
  • Methods of Investigation

Year Two

  • Social Inquiry – Philosophy & Design
  • Social & Developmental Psychology
  • Psychological Literacy
  • Production & Consumption of Culture
  • Engaged Sociology

Year Three

  • Current Debates in Sociology
  • Sociology of Liberation
  • Interaction & Social Order
  • Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Social Research – Theory & Practice
  • Changing World: Social Movement & Global Change

Year Four

  • Dissertation
  • European Social Policy and Politics
  • Options may include: Gender Justice and Violence: Feminist Approaches/ Queer Theory, Gender & Sexual Politics; Sociology of Scotland/ Public Sociology Education

This modules listed here are correct at time of posting (Feb 2019) but may differ slightly to those offered in 2020. Please check the website for any updates.

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will be taught in lectures, seminars and practical workshops. Outside these timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning through self-study. You will be assessed by essays and a variety of other ways including written reports, presentations and groupwork. >>Click for more information on 'Teaching, Learning and Assessment'




Exchange opportunities

In Year Two you have the opportunity (subject to availability) to study for one semester at a university overseas. For more information, see www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/international-students/exchanges-and-study-abroad/

Please note that exchange opportunities are subject to availability. In addition, please note that where exchange opportunities are arranged in the EU, Erasmus+ funding is available subject to the UK remaining in the Erasmus+ scheme.




You’ll change. You’ll grow. You’ll graduate with a wide range of knowledge, skills and aptitudes. You’ll also have a richly developed sense of social responsibility and – hopefully – a burning desire to make a powerful, positive change to the world around you. Previous graduates are now shaking things up in social and community work, consumer and social research, public policy development, teaching, academia, marketing and human resource management.



Entry requirements

Scottish Higher: Standard BBCC, Minimum BCCC

A Level: CCD

Irish Leaving Certificate: H3 H3 H3 H3

International Baccalaureate: 26 points

International: IELTS of 6.0 with no element lower than 5.5

Required: English required and Maths preferred at Nat 5/GCSE

Mature/Access: Related Access course — see www.qmu.ac.uk/college-qualifications. We welcome applications from mature students with relevant qualifications and /or experience.

Direct Entry:

Year Two

  • HNC: HNC in a related subject with B in the graded unit
  • Scottish Higher: BC at Advanced Higher in relevant subjects plus BB at Higher
  • A Level: BBB in relevant subjects

Year Three

  • HND in a related subject with CB in the graded units

For details of related HNC and HND courses, see www.qmu.ac.uk/college-qualifications






Associate student places

You can study this course as an associate student completing your first year at Newbattle Abbey College or West Lothian College. For more information, see www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/access-to-higher-education/associate-student-scheme/

Professional registration/ accreditation


Teaching staff, class sizes and timetables

For more information, please see ‘How we teach and how you’ll learn’.

Awarding body

QMU. For more information, please see ‘External Review’ section on the How we teach and how you'll learn page.

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2020/21 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Undergraduate).

Special Information for EU Applicants: EU students starting their studies up to and including academic year 2020/21 will have the costs of their tuition fees met by the Scottish Government for the duration of their course. For more information, see https://www.qmu.ac.uk/brexiteu-student-funding-update/

Teaching staff may be subject to change.


Course Overview

3/4 years
Start Date
September 2020
On campus
Study Abroad
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Fees & Funding

A Student Story - more at foot of page

Steve Phair - BSc (Hons) Public Sociology "The best part of my course so far has to be the Engaged Sociology module as it gives us the opportunity to make up our own picture of what we are studying, and provides the opportunity to get some real work experience engaging with groups within society." Read my story...

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