Sociology

By Aedín Dunne - Last update


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Are you inquisitive, curious and interested in knowing how the social world works? If you want to learn about social structures and processes then a sociology course could be right for you. You will put your analytical critical skills to the test in exploring the social world and the societies within. 

What is sociology?

Sociology is the study of humans and their interactions and behaviours in the world around them. It takes into account human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction and cultures within society. 

What third level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:

  • Sociology – Arts
  • Economics and Sociology
  • English Literature and Sociology
  • Geography and Sociology
  • Psychology and Sociology
  • Sociology and Politics
  • Philosophy and Sociology
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Modern Language and Sociology

There is a large number of courses available in Sociology, the majority of courses offering a joint honours with another subject. 

Studying Sociology in college

The undergraduate courses available in this area range from 3 to 4 years. A large number of courses, if not all, see sociology studies alongside another subject or subjects. These include economics, psychology, english literature, geography, philosophy and more. 

When studying sociology, your first year will serve as a foundation year. You will learn the basics of sociology and become familiar with different sociological concepts and sociologists. Different courses may focus on different key areas and cover different materials. Some areas that are covered in courses include classical and contemporary social theory, quantitative and qualitative research methods, sociology of media, sociology of health and fitness, sociology of family and many more. 

As your course goes on you will look more in depth at complex situations, concepts and theories as well as the theorists behind them. A large part of studying sociology is to  delve into your mind and reflect on your critical thoughts and develop your analytical and research skills. It is important to be able to debate, opinions on theories and be involved in open discussion.

Depending on your course, you may be able to study abroad and take work placement, for example, in courses such as Arts in UL. 

Career Options

Many who study sociology will go on to study at postgraduate level to specialise in a particular area of their interest. Working as a sociologist is largely based on researching. It offers the opportunity to work in roles in universities such as researching and lecturing. 

Many may use a sociology degree to move into another area of their interest at postgraduate level such as psychology, for example. It also offers the opportunity to work in roles within the community and work with people from all backgrounds and societies. Sociology gives you an excellent foundation to work in a diverse range of careers such as media, journalism, community development, youth work, business and more.

Skills and qualities important in this area include excellent communication skills, excellent written skills, research skills, analytical skills, a critical thinker, problem solving skills, organisation skills, time management skills, presentation skills and a curiosity and interest in society and human behaviours. 

Related Jobs

  • Sociologist
  • Researcher
  • Lecturer
  • Psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Welfare Officer
  • Guidance Counsellor
  • Human Resources
  • Youth worker
  • Community worker

Further Study

Visit postgrad.ie for more information.

FAQ

Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should

include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

PLC courses will accept Leaving Certificate results. Specific courses may have their own requirements. For example, some courses may have a certain interview process or expect a portfolio of sorts so it is always important to look into these things in depth. 

The highest points needed for a course in this area was 589 last year to study Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology in Trinity College Dublin. The fewest number of points needed were 281 points to study Sociology and Politics in IT Sligo. The majority of courses fall between 300-500 points. 

Where can I study?

For other courses in the area you would like to explore, you can do so here.

Did you know?

  • Auguste Comte is credited with inventing the term ‘sociology’ and is often referred to as the father of sociology.
  • Three principal architects of modern social science are Durkheim, Marx and Weber.
  • Structural functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic interactionism are three paradigms which have dominated sociological thinking. 

Resources 

Student Grant Scheme

Course examples

An introduction to Sociology

Career options 


Aedín Dunne

Social Studies
Careers in Multimedia


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