Society under the Microscope ; A-Z of Degrees; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You Pick the Right Course. This Week: Sociology

Article excerpt

What do you come out with? BSc or BA.

Why do it? Because you're interested in understanding contemporary society and the way it's changing. And you'll learn all those good old transferable skills, such as how to conceptualise, how to link parts to the whole, to use evidence to support an argument, etc.

What's it about? Essex offers degrees in sociology, sociology and criminology and, from last autumn, media, culture and society, sociology and global change, and sociology and public policy. At North London, core elements include contemporary structural issues in society, social theory and applied research methodology. Goldsmiths looks at the way society operates and the processes that characterise British and Western society. Specific interests include the role of consumption in social change, the impact of new technologies on society, gender, race and ethnicity. Teesside specialises in body and society, youth and childhood, home, work and relationships.

How long is the degree programme? Three years; four in Scotland.

What are the students like? At Essex, up to 70 per cent are female. There is a reasonable proportion of mature students. Virtually none from private schools. At North London, 50 per cent are black, Asian or from other minority groups - and most students are over 21.

How is it packaged? At Essex, a balance of exams, essays and a 10,000- word project. Mainly coursework and dissertation at North London. At Goldsmiths, there are exams, essays, projects and dissertations. Lancaster is 60 per cent course work, 40 per cent exam.

How cool is it? Today's concerns about crime, hooliganism, drunkenness and the future of the family may prompt a resurgence of interest in sociology. The subject went through an uncool phase during the Thatcher years. Now, student interest is steady to buoyant - sociology is the eighth most popular A-level subject.

What A-levels do you need? Most departments are open to a range of A- level subjects. North London likes an A-level in sociology. If students are over 21 and don't have A-levels, they are interviewed and tested. Students have to demonstrate that they have the ability to benefit from degree study.

What grades? BCC at Essex and Lancaster; CCB at Goldsmiths; CC or BD at North London; CC or CD Teesside.

Will it keep you off the dole? Graduates go into social work, teaching, local government, the civil service, personnel and journalism. …