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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

The MSc Sociology will enable you to gain an advanced and critical understanding of how to apply sociological theories and perspectives to contemporary issues and social transformations. Through a range of engaging learning approaches, you will be invited to explore the interrelationships of power, social divisions, social diversity and social inequality and their application to social action and public sociology.

To do this, the course draws directly on active research specialisms in the Department of Sociology (gender, violence and abuse; health and social theory; education and social inequalities; and communities and social justice). This is supported by developing your own advanced understanding and application of approaches to researching these topics, including the methodological, epistemological and ethical issues inherent in sociological research, activism and public engagement in contemporary societies.

Core modules:

The MSc is underpinned by three core modules as follows:

  • Public Sociology: Theory and Practice (30 credits)
  • Researching Society, Policy and Practice (15 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits) - 15,000 word dissertation based on a supervised research project.

The MSc Sociology is also grounded in the core research themes associated with the Department of Sociology, along with related areas of research expertise. The following indicative optional modules are listed below and you will be required to take at least one of them during your study, out of those available in that year:

  • Gender Violence and Abuse (30 credits)
  • Social Policy and Society (30 credits)
  • Communities, Civil Society and Social Justice (15 credits)
  • Education and Social Inequality (15 credits)
  • Sociology of Health, Illness and Medicine (15 credits)

Depending on the number of these options taken, you may also choose from a range of optional modules available within the department, which have included in the past those covering topics such as:

  • Participatory Action Research (15 credits)
  • Intermediate Statistics for Social Science Research (15 credits)
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Social Science Research (15 credits)
  • Quantitative Methods and Analysis (15 credits)
  • Qualitative Methods and Analysis (15 credits)
  • Prisons Crime and Justice (30 credits)

The MSc also offers you the option to undertake a 15 credit placement module.


The MSc Sociology course is full-time, starting in early October and continuing over 12 months following university terms.

The main teaching methods include lectures, seminars, and computer practical sessions. Lectures introduce the key concepts, theories, current debates and other issues critical for understanding the topics. Seminars are opportunities for you to discuss any questions arising from the readings, to share experience of conducting research and to present your own work for comments. Modules that teach the use of computer software packages have practical sessions in computer rooms so that you can carry out hands-on exercises under supervision and further assistance.

Modules are usually assessed through coursework. Statistics modules may require you to complete specific analyses with more structured instructions. Some module conveners may allow you to submit formative assignments in order for you to obtain a sense of how well you understand the subject.

Some modules’ assessment may contain a proportion of presentations and group projects.

Further academic support is available. You will have the opportunity to learn from your dissertation supervisors at individual tutoring meetings, dissertation workshops and forums. Every member of teaching staff has two hours of office hours each week where you can access additional support for your modules, assignments and so forth. In addition, the University, the Department and Departmental research groups host seminars for external speakers that are open to all students. Our four key research themes are Communities and Social Justice, Higher Education and Social Inequality, Health and Social Theory and Violence and Abuse. We also have expertise in research areas that cut across these themes, such as social policy, prisons and social work. Check out our staff profiles online for more detailed information about their individual research interests.

You will have access to a variety of learning resources, including learning spaces in libraries and teaching rooms, readings and textbooks, computers, databases, etc.

Academic learning is assessed through a range of assignments, including summative essays, statistical/computer-based projects, research proposals, and a dissertation.

Entry requirements

Normally an upper second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

An undergraduate degree in social sciences is desirable but not compulsory and we welcome students with degrees in arts, humanities and science subjects. You should demonstrate clearly why you are interested in the MSc Sociology in your personal statement. Explaining how your interests align to the teaching and research done in the Sociology Department will assist in assessing your application. This is particularly useful if you are coming from a different discipline.

Additional requirements

When submitting your online application, you will also need to provide:

  1. Current Transcript and Certificate (if possible)
  2. Two academic references (it is the applicant's responsibility to obtain their references from their referees).

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,300 per year
EU students £24,000 per year
Island students £10,300 per year
International students £24,000 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £5,700 per year
EU students £13,200 per year
Island students £5,700 per year
International students £13,200 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our degrees are an excellent foundation for careers in a wide range of sectors, including health and welfare, the Civil Service, local government, the voluntary sector, banking and academia.

We support students in gaining excellent employability skills. As well as pursuing further study, recent graduates have proceeded to careers with a range of high-profile employers.

Department information


We are a leading international centre of excellence in applied social research that shapes and informs social policy and practice. We enhance individual, community and social wellbeing, promote social inclusion, and form the foundations of research-led education. We have expanded over time to provide a focus for collaboration across the related academic disciplines of applied sociology, criminology and social work.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 150 in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Sociology 2022
  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Department of Sociology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • We are 4th in the UK for research impact (REF 2021)


Our Departmental buildings are located in the centre of Durham City and we teach, supervise and meet students in these. Our main office building is in 32 Old Elvet and includes a student common space, networked computer access and our main teaching and learning offices.

Our University library is one of the best in northern Britain and is well resourced with books, ebooks and journals supporting all of our areas of study. College libraries also hold copies of some of the main textbooks.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Postgraduate Open Days - Online
  • Date: 13/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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