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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Year 1 and 2

Year 1 and Year 2 (pre-honours) Handbook 2020-21

Sociology 1 consists of two half-courses, Sociology 1A (taught in the first semester), and Sociology 1B (taught in the second semester). Sociology students must take both courses.

Sociology 1A: The Sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society 

Course Organiser: Dr Tod Van Gunten

Room 6.10, Chrystal Macmillan Building
Tel.  (0131 6)50 4637
Office Hours (Semesters): Tuesdays, 11am - 1pm (or by appointment)  

Course Administrator - Abby Gleave

Room 1.16, Chrystal Macmillan Building
Tel. (0131 6)51  1337  

Sociology 1A Handbook 2020-21
This course is designed to introduce you to some of the key ideas of the discipline of sociology by examining the relationship between the individual and society. The course explores how wider social processes shape individual lives and how changes that occur around us influence our sense of self. The course therefore stresses the importance of sociological perspectives oriented around understanding the role of concepts such as social order and social change. The course also investigates how these perspectives aid our understanding of issues such as digital culture and nationalism and their impact upon social relations.

Sociology 1B: The Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems

Course Organiser: Dr Nathan Coombs

Room 6.10, Chrystal Macmillan Building
Tel. (0131 6)50  8259
Office Hours (Semesters): Wednesdays, 3pm - 5pm  (or by appointment)

Course Administrator - Abby Gleave 

Room 1.16,  Chrystal Macmillan Building
Tel. (0131 6)51  1337
Sociology 1B Handbook 2020-21
This course is designed to explore sociological thinking with regard to a number of issues of contemporary concern in modern society. It examines basic sociological assumptions explaining the different forces that shape our lives and revealing the complex relationships between the individual and society, between private issues and public problems.  Topics include the role of power in society, self and identity, the sociology of the body, the relationship between finance and society, and emerging forms of inequality.

Entry conditions

No prior knowledge of Sociology required. Students may do 1A or 1B as self standing courses but all sociology students must take both courses.

Sociology 2A: Thinking Sociologically

Course Organiser: Hugo Gorringe

Room 1.02, 22 George Square
Tel. (0131 6)50 3940    

Office Hours (Semesters):  Wednesdays, 9am - 11am (or by appointment) 

Course Secretary - Ewen Miller 
Room  1.16, Chrystal Macmillan Building
Tel. (0131 6)50 3925 

Sociology 2A Handbook 2020-21

This course looks to introduce you to some of the key theoretical approaches in the discipline. It is broadly focused around questions of social change and the interplay between structure and agency in the contemporary world. It considers the significance of issues of agency, social stratification and social change in contemporary social life, and raises searching questions about how we should understand the world around us.  Most themes are based on UK material, but there is also a strong emphasis on processes of globalisation meaning that material from elsewhere in Europe, Asia and North America is also used to illustrate key debates.

The course builds on some of what you have learnt in Sociology 1a and 1b, acts as a preparation for Sociology Honours, and serves as a course complete in itself for those who will not be taking any more Sociology undergraduate courses in Edinburgh.

NB this is only a half-course. To make a full course equivalent you will need to take another half-course. Those intending to proceed to Sociology Honours must take Sociology 2b: Researching Social Life (SCIL08013) in Semester 2. If in doubt check your degree curriculum!

Entry Conditions

Students MUST have passed Sociology 1A OR Sociology 1B

Student Workload
Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163)

Sociology 2B: Researching Social Life

Course Organiser: Sophia Woodman

Room 3.09, 18 Bucchleuch Place
Tel. (0131 6)51 4745
Office Hours (semesters):  Fridays, 2.30am - 12.40pm (or by appointment)
Course Secretary - Ewen Miller
Room 1.16, Chrystal MacMillan Building
Tel. (0131 6)50 3925 

Sociology 2B Handbook 2020-21

In this course we introduce the various ways that sociologists do the research that lies behind most sociological ideas. In other words, we look critically at the various ways sociological evidence can be produced. We do this in the context of in-depth study of some key areas of sociological interest such as health and illness, nationalism and national identities, and globalization. The course will deepen students' understanding of these topics while at the same time using them to exemplify how sociologists do research and the key concepts and debates that relate to this research process. As well as helping students to prepare for doing their own research at Honours level, the course will also help them evaluate evidence they encounter in non-academic sources such as politics and the media.

Entry Conditions

Students MUST have passed Sociology 1A OR Sociology 1B

Student Workload

One essay, a tutorial participation component and a degree examination in December. In order to pass Sociology 2 you must achieve an overall mark of at least 40%. You must also achieve a mark of at least 40% in the exam. In order to proceed to Sociology Honours, a mark of at least 50% overall must be achieved.

Students should also refer to the School's Handbook for courses in Years 1 and 2 for further guidance.

Erasmus Exchanges in Copenhagen and Bremen

Joint and single honours Sociology students in second year may apply to spend their third year at the University of Copenhagen or Jacobs University in Bremen under the Erasmus+ exchange scheme. This is an ideal opportunity to study abroad at a leading university which is host to many international students. Many courses at Copenhagen are offered in English, and all the courses at Jacobs University are taught in English.

You can find out more about exchanges here, including guidance on how to apply by clicking here

More about the University of Copenhagen here

More about Jacobs University here

If you would like further information, please contact Professor Nick Prior ( 

The deadline for applications for an exchange in the 2019-20 academic year is late November 2018

Erasmus activities are carried out with the support of the European Commission within the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme.

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