University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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The Department of Sociology and Social Policy is part of the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS).

About the major

How does society shape you as an individual? How do you shape the society in which you live? Such questions are central to sociology. Sociologists study human behavior, beliefs and identity in the context of social interaction, social relationships, institutions and change. A major focus of sociological research is understanding how society shapes us and we shape society. Sociology is also concerned with how the ‘modern’ world came about, how it is changing today, and how it might develop in the future.

When you study sociology you will be introduced through our junior units to key ideas and concepts to help you understand social life and social change. You will also be introduced to methods and techniques that will enable you to develop your own skills as a sociological researcher. These foundational ideas will be consolidated through our senior theory and methods units. Your ability to ‘think like a sociologist’ will be consolidated by the study of specific areas within sociology, such as religion, mass media, sport, environmental issues, social movements, and many other topics. Key concepts include inequality, class, gender, power, deviance, change, agency, and identity.

You will engage with diverse aspects of sociology in both classroom situations and the real world. You will learn to think and write sociologically through essays, reports, oral group work, posters, debates and new social media.

Pathway through the major

A major in Sociology requires at least 36 senior credit points from the unit of study table, including at least 12 credit points of core 2000-level units of study and at least 6 credit points from core 3000-level units of study.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Sociology. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You can find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete two junior units: SCLG1001 Introduction to Sociology 1 and SCLG1002 Introduction to Sociology 2. In these units you will learn about:

  • what makes sociology a distinctive way of thinking about the world around you – the ‘sociological imagination’;
  • the key topics sociologists engage with, including class, gender, race, globalisation, family life, education, inequality, and power; and
  • the basic theoretical concepts and research methods used by sociologists.
Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You complete 12 credit points from core senior intermediate (2000-level) units of study:

  • SCLG2601 Sociological Theory and either
  • SCLG2602 Social Inquiry: Qualitative Methods or SCLG2632 Quantitative Methods.

These core senior intermediate units extend your understanding of the introductory material of junior units and focus on the twin ‘engines’ of all sociology – an understanding of social theories and of empirical methods, and how they relate to each other.

You also complete at least 6 credit points from core senior advanced (3000-level) units of study. Senior advanced units of study will further develop your understanding of sociological theory and research methods.

The remaining credit points for your major can be taken from senior units of study listed under electives in the unit of study table. These units provide specialist content (eg, religion, social inequality, terrorism, power, celebrity, the environment, crime, law, human rights, childhood, deviance, media and communication, health and illness) enabling you to focus on particular topics in more detail.


Students intending to proceed to Honours must have completed at least 48 senior credit points of Sociology or Social Policy with an average of 70 percent or above. You must complete SCLG3602 Sociological Theory and Practice as a bridging unit to the research intensive year of honours. This unit allows you to undertake work around a specific empirical/theoretical project, pulling together your learning across the major. You are also strongly recommended to take SCLG3601 Contemporary Sociological Theory to strengthen your theoretical capacities.

Contact/further information

Department website:
Undergraduate Coordinator: