BSc/BSc (Hons) Public Sociology

Public sociology is about understanding society and how to bring about change.Public sociologists ask sceptical questions about the taken-for-granted nature of social inequalities and try to develop knowledge which can enhance the living conditions for the majority of people living within societies.

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. It opens the door to a wide range of careers by enabling you to make sense of complex and challenging social issues. It offers a study abroad opportunity*.


Why QMU?

  • This is the first specifically public sociology undergraduate course in Scotland.
  • You will develop the ability to make sense of complex and challenging social issues.
  • You will be able to reflect on how the public sociologist and sociological knowledge can effect positive changes in the quality of the everyday lives of individuals.
  • QMU is ranked top in Scotland and 14th in the UK for Sociology (out of 91 institutions) in the Guardian University League Table 2019.


About the course

Public sociology is a useful branch of the social sciences, not least in terms of the ways in which it encourages a sense of social responsibility among those who study the discipline. Such an endorsement of the acute sense of social responsibility that has underpinned the development of the discipline of sociology has inevitably informed the substance and structure of the course.

On this course, students are encouraged to engage with a diversity of communities and to develop a sense of the ways in which a public sociological imagination can meaningfully intervene in real world political and social events. In a variety of modules, students are encouraged to reflect upon the ways in which sociological knowledge can effect real change in people’s everyday lives. You will find this course particularly suitable if you have an enquiring, questioning mind and you want to understand more about human societies, social problems, interactions and experiences.

In Years One and 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.

Years Three and Four are designed to enable you to develop in-depth understanding of a broad range of substantive debates within the discipline of sociology, eg 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. Your ability to understand the relationship between complex sociological theory, practical research and contemporary public issues and concerns will certainly enhance your employability on completion of this course.



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.



Year One modules

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

Year Two modules

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

Year Three modules

  • 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 modules

  • Dissertation
  • European Social Policy and Politics
  • Options may include: Gender Justice and Violence: Feminist Approaches
  • Queer Theory, Gender & Sexual Politics; Sociology of Scotland
  • Sustainable Development: Theory & Practice
  • Sociology of Religion

The modules listed here are correct at time of print (Feb 2018) but may differ slightly to those offered in 2019. Please check the website for any updates.




Exchange opportunities*

In Year Two, you have the opportunity 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/

*subject to availability



You will develop a wide range of knowledge, skills and aptitudes on the course and this will be reflected in the diverse array of jobs open to you on graduation. Social and community work, consumer and social research, public policy development, teaching, academia, marketing and human resource management have often been favoured by graduates. This degree is suitable for all kinds of general graduate employment.


Entry requirements

Scottish Higher: BBCC

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 subjects: Maths and English at S/Int2/N5/GCSE.

Mature/Access: See related Access courses. 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 2019/20 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Undergraduate).

Teaching staff may be subject to change.

 Special Information for EU Applicants The Scottish Government has confirmed that undergraduate EU students enrolling in the 2019/20 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland for the duration of their course. Those assessed as eligible will remain so for the duration of their course. You must apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for funding. For guidance on eligibility and funding please visit the SAAS website


Course Overview

3/4 years
Start Date
September 2019
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." Ready my story...

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