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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 was the first undergraduate public sociology degree in Scotland.

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 will learn how to critique preconceptions about social equality and justice. You will embrace new ideas and schools of thought on this intellectually stimulating and personally empowering course. You will graduate ready to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Why QMU?

  • You will learn how to make sense of complex and challenging social issues, and how to provoke change.
  • You will understand how the public sociologist and sociological knowledge can create radical approaches to solving social problems.

About the course

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 will reflect upon the ways in which sociological knowledge can affect 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 will 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 women’s body image on social media to a community campaign on gentrification.

In Year One and half of Year Two you will study a range of modules that 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 that 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 will develop in-depth understanding of a broad range of substantive debates within the discipline of sociology with a particular focus on engaging with public issues and groups. 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.


Year One

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

Year Two

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

Year Three

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

Year Four

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

The modules listed here are correct at time of posting (April 2021) but may differ slightly to those offered in 2022. Please check back here 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.


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/

On December 24th 2020, the UK Government announced that as an outcome of Brexit negotiations, the United Kingdom would not be seeking to participate in the Erasmus+ successor programme.

From 2022/23 Queen Margaret University will no longer operate under the Erasmus+ scheme. Over the coming year we will be working with new and existing partners on study abroad and exchange opportunities for the 2022/23 academic year and beyond.


You will change. You will grow. You will graduate with a wide range of knowledge, skills and aptitudes. You will 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: See our website at: www.qmu.ac.uk/college-qualifications

We welcome applications from mature students with relevant qualifications and /or experience.

Direct Entry:

Year Two

  • 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/

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.

View open day course presentation

Please note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2022/23 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Undergraduate). 

Teaching staff may be subject to change.

Start Your Application

Course Overview

3 or 4 years full-time
Start Date
September 2022
Study Abroad
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Fees & Funding