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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Sociology aims to understand the relationships between individual people and the wider cultural and institutional contexts within which they live. It is concerned with the nature of what we refer to as "society", how it shapes the way in which we live and, in turn, how it is shaped by our individual and collective action.

As a student of Sociology, you will join a dynamic learning and research community, which includes internationally recognised experts actively involved in collaborative projects focused on local, national and international issues. We are defined by our curiosity about the issues that impact the world around us and our drive to use our work to bring about positive social change.

Drawing on this expertise, this course explores key social issues that affect our everyday lives including education, employment, health, criminality, race and digital technologies. Alongside these kinds of topics, you will learn about historical and contemporary concepts that define sociological thought and place them within their social and political contexts.

You will also learn how to design and carry out sociological research through research projects carried out in the second and final year of study. We offer the option to undertake a placement with a local community organisation to deploy your knowledge in an applied setting. And we also offer the opportunity to study in conjunction with Durham's local prisons through our renowned Inside Out Prison exchange programme.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Classical Sociological Theory will introduce you to key sociological concepts and ideas that form the basis of a sociological perspective for understanding the world. Starting with classical sociological work from the 19th and early 20th centuries, the module demonstrates how sociological ideas have developed over time through refinement, evaluation and critique.

Social Research Methods examines the concept of social research and practice-based inquiry. You will learn how to produce and analyse different kinds of data and develop some basic practical skills in designing and carrying out social research yourself.

Societies in Transition offers a formative examination of modern societies and aspects of contemporary social life. It provides the tools to reflect upon the dynamic nature of societies, including the bases for social transformation and change.

Critical Scholarship in the Social Sciences supports the transition to university-level study by helping you develop the foundational academic skills that are needed throughout your degree. Through it you will learn key academic conventions and skills, for example: reading and evaluation; writing and argument; presentation and discussion; and so on.

Year 2

Core modules:

Modern and Contemporary Sociological Theory engages with contemporary theoretical perspectives and issues in the field of sociology. In doing so, you will learn to develop evaluations and critiques of sociological thought grounded in both conceptual discussion and empirical observation. 

Research Methods in Action supports your development of applied research skills. At the core of the module is a group-based research project you design and carry out on a topic of your choosing. In addition, you will learn a range of methods and techniques for analysing both quantitative (statistics) and qualitative (textual / verbal / visual) data.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Communities and Social Justice
  • Contemporary Criminological Theory
  • Crime, Power and Social Inequalities
  • Policing and Police
  • Self, Identity and Society
  • Sociology of Education
  • Sociology of Health and Medicine
  • Violence and Abuse in Society.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement year or year abroad)

In your final year, you will design and carry out an Dissertation project on a topic of your choosing, in the area of Criminology, Sociology or Social Policy. Your final 10,000-word dissertation thesis comprises one third of your final-year mark and is an excellent opportunity to develop expertise in a topic of personal interest or relevance to a future career area.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Community Placement
  • Cyberculture and Cybercrime
  • Drugs and Society
  • Feminist Anti-Violence Activism: Theory in Action
  • Globalisation and the Sex Industry
  • Inside Out: Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Justice, Violence and Abuse
  • Race, Racism and Social Justice in Britain
  • Sociology of Reproduction and Parenthood
  • The Body as Data: Technology, Power and Human Rights
  • Youth in Crisis: Young People, Crime and Justice.

Additional pathways

Students on the BA Sociology can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year.  Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


Our BA Sociology degree is taught through a mix of lectures, small-group seminars, research-based workshops, individual supervision and guided independent work. We also run a regular programme of research-focused lectures and seminars that are additional opportunities to learn about Sociology beyond your taught modules.

You will have typically have 8-10 contact hours a week, with the remainder of your study time focused on reading, preparing for classes, writing assessments and so on. As your studies progress, you will be afforded greater responsibility and discretion over your work, for example, developing projects or essays on topics of your choosing related to the themes of the modules you study. As such, over the course of the degree, you will develop skills in independent learning, organisation and motivation, preparing you for graduate employment at the end of your degree.


Assessment is largely coursework-based, with work such as essays, reports, portfolios, reflections and presentations accounting for approximately 80% of your final grade. Assessments aim to assess your knowledge and understanding in an authentic manner, as well as helping you develop your skills in critical thinking, analysis and communication.

There are also regular opportunities for practice and feedback, for example: practice essays; essay plans; one-to-one and group tutorials; and so on.

Entry requirements

A level offer – AAB.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD.

IB Diploma score – 36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • While not essential, applicants who have studied at least one strongly essay-based subject prior to entry will be better prepared for this course and preference may be given to such applicants over those who have not. A non-exhaustive list of example essay-based subjects includes: Business Studies, Criminology, English, Geography, History, Politics, Psychology, Religion/Philosophy and Sociology.
  • We also welcome applications from those holding or studying for qualifications equivalent to those standard requirements, such as an Access to HE Diploma, Cambridge Pre-U Diplomas, etc. Common alternatives are outlined here but contact University Admissions for advice if you cannot find your qualifications listed.
  • We do not include General Studies, Critical Thinking or the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as part of an offer, although any of these (especially the EPQ) may strengthen the overall quality of an application.
  • Offers one grade down from the standard A level offer may be made to applicants who show special merit and potential in their applications, while offers up to two grades down from the standard offer will be made in line with the University’s Guaranteed Contextual Offer
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programmes offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

We endeavour to make offers as quickly as possible, however, we are committed to the principle of equal consideration, which means that any application made to us through UCAS by the deadline of the 25th January has a chance of being considered for an offer. Because of this, we cannot make all our decisions straight away when they reach us, so we may not inform some applicants who applied as early as September of our decision until March. However, we do this because each application really matters to us and we want to make offers to those applicants who show the strongest merit and potential in their application.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £24,750 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £24,750 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time 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

Sociology and Criminology


As well as building detailed subject-specific knowledge of criminological issues, our courses are designed to develop transferable skills that are valuable for both personal and professional development including, how to assemble and evaluate evidence, how to turn evidence into an effective argument, how to design a research project and analyse data.

Our graduates work in a wide range of employment settings worldwide, including the criminal justice system, the Civil Service, local and national government, banking, academic research and law (through graduate conversion programmes).


The combination of sociological knowledge and transferable skills gained during your studies will prepare you for a career in many different sectors. From interpreting and evaluating information to analysing situations and constructing a persuasive argument, these skills are highly valued by employers and will give you a competitive edge.

Sociology graduates work in a wide range of settings all over the world, including health and welfare, local and central government and the Civil Service, education, the police, social research, the media and non-profit organisations. Many recent graduates from the Department have progressed to careers with high-profile employers including M&S, Mencap, Accenture and Unilever. Others have moved on to postgraduate study and academic research.

Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 90% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 65% are in high skilled employment 
  • With an average salary of £24,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Sociology and Criminology


Examine crime and deviance through a social lens studying this thought-provoking subject which challenges you to think deeply about the society in which we live. As a Criminology student at Durham you will learn to accept nothing at face value. Our courses are designed to shape students into critical, curious social scientists who seek out evidence as they get to grips with the complex causes of crime and the impact of crime on society.

Undergraduate study is shaped by real-world engagement and up-to-date research. You will learn from internationally recognised experts who are engaged in innovative, socially conscious research into some of the most challenging issues in modern society, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and abuse, and youth crime. Our academics also have close links with voluntary and community sector organisations national and globally, with many actively engaged in shaping criminal justice policy. 

Criminological theory forms a key element of this discipline. You will develop the critical skills to understand the key issues around crime, deviance and criminal justice in relation to wider society. We place a strong focus on contemporary issues, such as youth justice and cybercrime, as well as on providing an understanding of theories of crime and justice. 

An essential element of Criminology at Durham is the opportunity to put theory into practice with work placements, community-based modules and international study to suit your interests and career goals.


The field of Sociology helps us to understand the ways in which human behaviour is shaped by the way we think, feel and respond to different social settings. Our courses apply sociological theory to the issues that affect our daily lives from education, work and families to crime, physical and mental health, and culture. Sociology at Durham will help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself, others and the world around you.

Learning takes place in the Department of Sociology, a dynamic learning and research community of students and staff. We take a research-led approach to learning which means that courses are informed by subject specialists who contribute to shaping society through their innovative, socially conscious research.

We offer a BA in Sociology or a joint honours degree in Anthropology and Sociology, and students on the BA Education Studies or the BA Combined Honours Social Sciences can choose sociology modules as part of a broader social sciences curriculum. You will also benefit from hands-on work placements, community-based modules and international study opportunities. Whichever route you travel, flexible pathways can be chosen to suit your interests and career goals.


  • 2nd for Criminology and 6th for Sociology in The Guardian University Guide 2023
  • 2nd for Criminology and 3rd for Sociology in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
  • 8th for Sociology in the Complete University Guide 2024

For more information see our department pages.


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

Research Excellence Framework

4th in the UK for research impact (REF 2021).


Criminology at Durham is located at Old Elvet, within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, the colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its imposing Castle and Cathedral. We also use the local area as a learning environment, examining the connection between power and justice and exploring the locations of ancient and modern prisons around the city.

The Department of Sociology is located at Old Elvet, near the medieval Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, University Colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its Castle and Cathedral. Our buildings includes a student common space and networked computer access for our students to use.

Durham 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. We make extensive use of Learn Ultra, the University’s virtual learning environment, and teach in facilities across the whole Durham campus.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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