MA

Sociology

Rows of seats in a stadium
  • Level(s) of study: Postgraduate taught
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time (day)
  • Location: City site
  • Starting: September 2016
  • Course duration: 1 / 2 year(s)
  • Entry requirements: More information

This Masters course offers you an exciting opportunity to study sociology at an advanced and specialised level with a distinctive focus on the tradition and contemporary forms of public sociology.

The MA Sociology at NTU has a distinctive and specialist focus on Public Sociology. This is a course that enables you to link theory, research and practice, develop in-depth knowledge and insights as well as build your expertise as Public Sociologist through public engagement activities, projects, creative assessments and the dissertation.

What you'll study

Public Sociology awakens and empowers your sociological imagination by connecting what you study with the social issues and challenges faced by contemporary civil society. It not only gives you the opportunity to develop advanced and specialist knowledge of sociological theory and research: it supports and challenges you to use this knowledge in ways that directly benefit others. The course is designed and delivered by academic professionals with expertise in carrying out research for and with many different clients, groups and communities.

Public Sociology reaches beyond the University, creating the spaces where academics, students and diverse publics can interrogate and apply sociological research and methods to real world situations. From day one of the course, you will take what you learn in the classroom to the various 'publics' of Nottingham and beyond, gaining valuable experience through modules that emphasise working with communities, engaging with local and national policy makers and contributing to debates that ignite public interest.

The course embodies not only the pursuit of understanding, critique and argument essential to advanced sociology, but also a call to action. Through a course design that emphasises the continuous interplay between theory and practice, you will develop both your in-depth knowledge and your practical skills in being a Public Sociologist

Throughout the course you'll explore historical and contemporary issues and debates with a focus on social inequalities and social issues and develop an understanding of a range of global issues. You'll also become part of a lively and creative research culture with staff who have specialist interests in the study of disaster, race, gender and social class.

Through dedicated service learning placements you will apply your sociological imagination in work with practitioners, academics and community members to propose and test solutions to some of the challenges those groups face.


Fellowship of the RSA

As a result of an exciting partnership with the national policy organisation, the RSA, you will also be automatically enrolled as an Honorary Fellow. The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today's social challenges. Honorary Fellowship will open up a number of opportunities for you to engage with this important national organisation.

This course has been designed to provide a challenging contemporary curriculum, which reflects the specific features of public sociology as an area of specialised advanced study.

  • Course modules

    The MA Sociology consists of 180 credit points, consisting of four taught modules (30 credit points each) and a dissertation (60 credit points). All modules are compulsory.

    Theorising Public Sociology

    This module will explore the theoretical origins and contemporary developments of a distinct form of sociology: public sociology. You will be provided with a critical introduction to a range of interpretations of the possible ‘public’ roles of sociology. Beginning from a consideration of Burawoy’s seminal statement on the need for a public sociology, the module will dissect this position and analyse pre-existing traditions of engaged, activist and critical sociology.

    The module will also examine contemporary theories of sociological engagement and dissemination with communities and a variety of publics, and the tension between these traditions and the objective ‘scientific’ tradition in sociology. From this you will be able to develop a view on, and place yourself in, a continuum of engaged sociological practice.

    Researching in and with Society

    This module will build your awareness of methodological debates in quantitative and qualitative methods and in doing so will ensure that you have a grounding in and working knowledge of a variety of approaches to researching social issues. You will explore some existing empirical studies, and approaches to community-based research, to encourage you to reflect on appropriate methods, approaches and problem-solving techniques related to a variety of public sociology research areas.

    The module will focus on research with communities and hard to reach populations and will encourage you to apply your research skills to specific research populations and circumstances.

    Service Learning

    This module provides the opportunity to link work within social and civic organisations seeking to make a difference to a wide range of contemporary social issues, and public sociology. Through a service learning placement, you will apply the sociological imagination to issues in the civic sphere, and work with practitioners, academics, and community members to propose and test solutions to some of the challenges those groups face.

    Through structured academic input you will also be encouraged to think critically about the sociological debates that have informed contemporary understandings of social citizenship and welfare. The module will explore the following themes: the Social Democratic tradition of social citizenship and welfare; the challenge from the New Right; Communitarian approaches; the relationships between issues of disability, race, class and gender and social citizenship and welfare; race, social citizenship and welfare; gender, social citizenship and welfare.

    Contemporary Approaches to Public Sociology

    This module explores a number of different contemporary topics of social significance. It does so through a selection of guest lectures and / or self-contained, focussed engagements in public sociology drawn from the research areas of current academic staff. The specific module topics will reflect cutting edge issues in research and practice.

    Examples of such areas of practice could include:

    • Sexualities
    • Political activism
    • Homelessness
    • Community health
    • Domestic violence
    • The nature of career and employment
    • Community health

    Dissertation

    The dissertation is a sustained, independent, advanced and critical piece of work in a self-chosen area of Sociology. You can progress research ideas commenced elsewhere in your MA, or you can choose an entirely new topic.

    The module culminates with a presentation on key findings to a public audience comprising local policy makers and practitioners, members of the public and academics from the School of Social Sciences.

    The first two of these four modules are designed to provide you with a firm grounding in a theoretically informed analysis of a publicly engaged sociology, and a solid preparation for carrying out both academic and participatory forms of sociological research. Together they provide you with a firm foundation to become a critical, creative, and engaged sociologist. You will also be familiar with the enduring concerns of professional sociology and the problems and challenges of the social world it seeks to study.

    The other two taught modules, Service Learning and Contemporary Approaches to Public Sociology, provide a carefully structured exploration of the huge variety of ways in which public sociology can be, and is, practiced. The Service Learning module seeks to integrate the worlds of sociological scholarship and its application to the lived experience of community groups and citizens, to strengthen and transform them both. Through dedicated service learning placements you will apply your sociological imagination in work with practitioners, academics and community members to propose and test solutions to some of the challenges those groups face. The Contemporary Approaches to Public Sociology module consists of four 'mini modules' in which practicing sociologists from the course team introduce you to their research and various aspects of public engagement associated with it.

    The dissertation is intended to be a crystallisation of all your learning and development of the theoretical, methodological and substantive knowledge, understanding and skills covered in the course. It gives you a structured, supported opportunity to display your knowledge, creativity and imagination in the design and execution of a research project. As such, you will be able to display specialist skills of design and project management, critical, analytic and synthesising skills that would be transferable to further postgraduate studies or to working in other professional settings. Academic staff across the Division of Sociology will be available to supervise dissertations in their area of specialism, and where possible we could allow a dissertation to be supervised by another colleague from the wider School of Social Sciences.

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

Work with local, national and international organisations to gain hands-on experience of using sociology to identify and address the big social challenges.

How you’re taught

The teaching and learning for the course will involve a mixture of lectures, workshops, enquiry-based learning, blended learning, and individual dissertation / project support to ensure that you develop a critical and in-depth understanding of key themes, issues and topics in a supportive environment.


Assessment will be through a variety of written forms, for example: traditional academic essays, a personal manifesto, reports, and through a presentation, as well as your dissertation.

Learn a new language

Alongside your study you also have the opportunity to learn a new language. The University Language Programme (ULP) is available to all students and gives you the option of learning a totally new language or improving the skills you already have.

Learning a new language can:

  • enhance your communication skills
  • enrich your experience when travelling abroad
  • boost your career prospects.

Find out more about the University Language Programme.

Be part of a lively and creative research culture with staff who have specialist interests in the study of disaster, race, gender and social class.

Careers and employability

It is envisaged that you might be entering the course because at a later date you will seek employment within the fields of community development, charity and voluntary sectors, social entrepreneurship, or public service. You'll also be well placed to pursue careers and training in a wide variety of professions such as, politics or public administration.

You may consider progressing on to a MPhil / PhD program to continue the intellectual curiosity and imagination the MA will have fostered.

As an MA Sociology graduate you will have had the opportunity to reflect on the subject and the transferable skills that you develop during the course. These include expertise in writing complex yet concise analytical pieces, developing and implementing a research project, and the ability to present in-depth ideas. You will also have been helped and encouraged to articulate those skills in relation to the pursuit of your career development plans.

The course further develops and enhances the qualities and skills desired by prospective employers operating in the ‘third sector’, as well as the academy. Above all, these include independent critical thought, analysis and evaluation, partnership working and organisational skills, and self-directed learning. Furthermore, this course offers the opportunity to develop the following skills: communication, time-management, team-working, and IT and modern technologies.

Careers and job application advice is available to all our postgraduate students and is provided on a one-to-one basis by our School employability team, supported by the university-wide careers service.

As a result of an exciting partnership with the national policy organisation, the RSA, you will also be automatically enrolled as an Honorary Fellow.

Entry requirements

  • You will need an undergraduate degree equivalent to a UK undergraduate honours degree (normally a 2.2 or above).
  • Applicants without formal qualifications will be considered but will be required to outline their motivation for study in their personal statement as well as demonstrate an ability to study at postgraduate level.
  • No references are required when applying for this course.
  • You will need an undergraduate degree equivalent to a UK undergraduate honours degree (normally a 2.2 or above).
  • Applicants without formal qualifications will be considered but will be required to outline their motivation for study in their personal statement as well as demonstrate an ability to study at postgraduate level.
  • No references are required when applying for this course.

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our postgraduate degrees. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.

Pre-masters and foundation courses

If you need to do a foundation or pre-masters course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our foundation and pre-masters courses page.

English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

For a list of our language requirements please visit our English language page.

If you need to do a pre-sessional English language course to meet the English requirements please visit our pre-sessional English course page.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University please contact our international team for advice.

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page to complete your application. You can apply for this course throughout the year. Most of our postgraduate courses are popular and fill up quickly though, so apply as soon as you can.

Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Writing your application
Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. Make sure you include as much information as possible, including uploading evidence of results already achieved, as well as a personal statement.

Keeping up to date
After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder. You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU in our postgraduates’ guide. Here you’ll find advice about how to write a good personal statement and much more.

Good luck with your application!

Open days
The School of Social Sciences holds open events throughout the year. Come along and learn more about our courses, speak to programme leaders and find out about studying with the School. To find out more about these events visit the School of Social Sciences website.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Apply directly to the University online using the NTU online application portal.

Apply for your course as early as you can so that you have time to prepare for your studies. If you need a visa to study here you need to plan this into your application.

Keeping up to date
After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding page will answer your questions.

You may be able to get a competitive scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our postgraduate funding page for information about postgraduate funding opportunities.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

Please visit our postgraduate fees page for further information on course fees.

We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study on eligible courses at the University.

For more information on these and other opportunities for funding please visit our international scholarships page.

For information on how to pay your fees to the University please visit our international fee payment page.

Prestigious postgraduate scholarships are available. Find out more on our postgraduate scholarships webpage.

Still need help?

School of Social Sciences Enquiries
+44 (0)115 848 4460