Download the course booklet to find out more about Lancaster University, how we teach sociology and what you'll study.
Sociology and Social Work
Discover what makes Sociology and Social work special at Lancaster University.
Have you ever wanted to know the full story behind the important issues in our society? Are you interested in understanding more about gender inequalities in our societies and women’s experiences of everyday sexism? What can sociology teach us about disasters and when things go wrong with technology? How can we think sociologically about the future? How important is what we consume to our sense of identity and social relationships? How have the financial crisis and austerity measures impacted on people’s daily lives?
Here at Lancaster you can engage with these questions and have chance to ask your own by studying on our BA Sociology course. We help you to make the familiar strange, to ask critical questions, to understand a wide range of classic and contemporary sociological writing, and to develop skills that allow you to carry out independent research.
Since being established in 1969, Lancaster Sociology has developed an excellent reputation and ranks well globally. Both our staff and students contribute to important public discussions through lectures, blogs, media appearances and social media.
Our Department offers a range of opportunities to foster your personal and professional development. You can participate in activities such as field trips, placements, studying abroad, film screenings, public events, seminars, and major international conferences. All this makes for a vibrant and supportive atmosphere.
The structure of our degree and department allows you to study sociology alongside complementary topics, such as media and cultural studies and social problems and policy. Whether you have diverse interests or aren't quite sure what you want to major in, we are here to help you make the most of your time at Lancaster.
The study abroad option is an exciting and informative experience for anyone who is thinking of working abroad during their career or who simply wants the experience of living and studying overseas as part of their degree. You will study in your third year at one of our international partner universities. This will help you to develop your global outlook, expand your professional network, and gain cultural and personal skills. During your year abroad, you will choose specialist modules relating to your degree as well as other modules from across the host university.
Lancaster University will make reasonable endeavours to place students at an approved overseas partner university that offers appropriate modules. Occasionally places overseas may not be available for all students who want to study abroad or the place at the partner university may be withdrawn if core modules are unavailable. If you are not offered a place to study overseas, you will be able to transfer to the equivalent standard 3-year degree scheme and would complete your studies at Lancaster.
Lancaster University cannot accept responsibility for any financial aspects of the year abroad.
With a degree in Sociology from Lancaster University, which is a Top 10 UK university and a top university globally, your career opportunities are exciting and diverse. They include working in the charitable sector, community engagement organisations, social enterprises, the caring professions, the civil service, research organisations, teaching, specialist recruitment, media and creative industries, human resources, and graduate trainee management.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
A Level ABB
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 32 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Merit
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via email@example.com
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme to complement your main specialism. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster please visit our Teaching and Learning section.
The following courses do not offer modules outside of the subject area due to the structured nature of the programmes: Architecture, Law, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Sports and Exercise Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and Biomedical Science.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, and the University will make every reasonable effort to offer modules as advertised. In some cases changes may be necessary and may result in some combinations being unavailable, for example as a result of student feedback, timetabling, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research.
What does it mean to ‘think sociologically’? When there are so many academic disciplines and non-academic areas of professional expertise, what is unique and important about starting with the social? This module begins with fundamental questions about the value of sociology in understanding the contemporary world and goes on to explore how the significance of our questions and everyday experiences are transformed when investigating all kinds of contemporary social problems, from inequality to globalisation, sociologically.
This full-year module is organised into different ‘blocks’ that connect themes in sociology – such as the relationship between self and society or between self and power – to both long-standing and newly emerging research. Whether or not you have studied sociology before, this module will introduce you to new areas of sociology, as well as demonstrating how key themes such as consumption, identity, social justice, or culture and media intersect with different sociological questions and sites of enquiry. Lecturers draw upon the ongoing research undertaken at Lancaster, giving you access to current insights that are inspiring change in policy and professional organisations.
The benefit of having multiple topics and themes addressed within one year-long module is that the assessments are carefully designed to slowly build up your research and study skills over your first year of study, whilst still giving you the flexibility to write major essays on the topics that are most interesting to you. The module provides you with a fantastic opportunity to explore new ideas and find new inspiration for understanding how we lead our lives today, and what possibilities there are for change tomorrow.
This module is designed around active learning – helping you to develop skills to do your own research.
Lectures address cross-cutting methodological debates as well as established methods (such as interviewing, discourse analysis, ethnography and quantitative surveys). Most of your time, however, is spent in seminars where you will try out methods such as interviewing, analysing media texts, and doing observation on campus.
There are ample opportunities for feedback as you develop ideas for your project-based final assessment, and build diverse skills to support your final year dissertation.
This module introduces the development of social theory from the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century to contemporary debates about the character of knowing. This module will introduce important models developed by classical social theorists (and especially Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel) for analysing modern societies and considers how they have been adapted, updated, or displaced by recent social theories. It explores how these theories have been shaped by social and political change in eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century Europe. Particular stress is placed on relating theories to contemporary social life. You will critically consider different current understandings of the role of social theory as privileged knowledge, tool of social control, ideology, and discourse. You will explore critically the theme of everyday life in modernity.
This module offers the opportunity to learn skills in reading, analysing, comparing, and critically evaluating major social theories of the rise of modern societies.
This module will introduce students to sociological thinking on climate change. Debates about climate change are shifting, and beginning to make much stronger links between a vast and complex planetary perspective (a globe in crisis) and the private sphere (the home, low-carbon lifestyles, urban living, consumer demand, etc.). In this context, social theorists have been considering what sociological thinking can offer to contemporary debates on climate change issues. The module aims to introduce you to a range of new and emerging sociological analyses which examine: climate change and social change; new subjectivities, institutions and collectives under climate change; climate activism; dynamics of crisis and denial; the contested politics of climate change science; the global political economy of climate change; utopias and dystopias of climate change.
This module explores how consumption, advertising, branding and promotion shape society. In the module we will ask questions such as:
This module explores the question of how information and communications technologies, in their multiple forms, figure in our everyday lives. The aim of the module is to develop an appreciation for the range of experiences affected by digital media, including the progressive expansion of life online, and the increasingly intimate relations between life online and off. We’ll explore global divisions of digital labour; hactivism. The module will consider the new possibilities that the changing social infrastructure of digital technologies afford, while also learning to look at the rhetorics and practices of the virtual with a questioning and critical eye. Throughout the course we’ll be attentive to issues of gender, race and other marks of sameness and difference as they operate among humans, and between humans and machines.
Family and intimate relationships form a crucial part of everyday social life. We are born into family and intimate relationships. We establish, maintain and dissolve family and intimate bonds over the life course. We navigate our changing relationship with parents, siblings, and relatives. We establish, maintain and re-establish intimate ties with partners and perhaps children.
But what are ‘families’? What makes intimate relationships ‘intimate’? How do people date, marry, separate, divorce, and re-partner? How do people ‘do’ families and intimacy in the everyday vicissitudes of match-making, romance, conflicts, care, money, domestic labour, and power? Why do people practise families and intimacy as they do? How do broader social, economic, political and cultural institutions configure our ‘private’ lives? How do the ways in which we relate to family members and intimate others shape the societies in which we live?
In an increasingly interconnected world, family and intimate relationships — personal and private as they are — are increasingly shaped by social forces operating on a global scale. The changing forms and practices of families and intimacy also help shape social trends as grandeur as globalisation.
In this module, we explore theoretical and empirical issues pertaining to the resilience and transformation of family and intimate relationships in a global context.
Everyday life is often described as bombarding us with images, and contemporary culture is therefore frequently understood as a visual culture.
This module will introduce theories and practices that have addressed these questions. Examples of topics studied include:
On this module you will have the opportunity to gain a critical understanding of recent and ongoing themes in Media and Cultural Studies and Sociology on the topic of vision and visuality, media and culture, develop different reading and writing skills and participate in lively discussions and analytical exercises.
This module focuses on racism and racial formations in the world today in both historical and contemporary perspectives. We will consider how ideas of race are historically constructed and look at how racism takes on different forms. Topics may include: the slave trade, colonialism and imperialism; ‘everyday racism’; structural racism; the social construction of ‘whiteness’; anti-racists politics and movements. The aim of the course is for you to gain an overview of various sociological approaches to explaining ‘race’, but also to gain an understanding of how such theories make a difference in the world today.
In this module we explore the challenges facing young people in the UK today, particularly those involved with the criminal justice system. Youth justice has been a contentious area of social policy for many years, and the contemporary situation is no different, with the national and local policy formulations posing particular considerations for social work within the values, ethics, skills, and methods which are so important to it, within a multi-professional and multi-agency setting.
The module seeks to draw out the particular features of a system which contains within it a variety of identifiable views on the causes of youth offending, and various means to deal with the problems which the young people themselves might face, and problems which they may present to others.
Social work is a messy, unpredictable, complex and intangible activity. This is because it is tied up with human emotions and emotions are very difficult to explain, quantify, objectify or fit into neat boxes. Actively engaging and using the emotions involved, both in terms of the practitioner and service user, enables a deeper social work approach to take place and enables the forming of relationships. Such relationships can then be used as the tool themselves to bring about positive changes for children and families who are receiving intervention from youth justice social workers.
Social workers working within the youth justice system know through their experience what is most likely to be effective in meeting the aims of the system – that is prevention of offending. To achieve this means real questions need to be asked about the effectiveness of the technical-rational risk focused approach of the current youth justice system in favour of a system which adopts the principles of Munro (2011). Such a system empowers social workers to actively use critically reflective and reflexive practice and supports the use of self to build powerful social work relationships with the vulnerable children they work with.
This module focuses upon developing your understanding of the contribution that social work can make to the lives of disabled and older people who use adult social care services or who may be in need of support.
Its starting point is that concepts such as the social model of disability, independent living and personalisation are ways of thinking as well as doing. This requires social workers to understand the philosophy and principles that underpin ways of delivering support and that enable choice and control for people who use services.
This module helps you to appreciate how working effectively in partnership with service users and the wider community around them requires social workers to understand the legacy of paternalistic, oppressive and dependency cultures in creating ways of understanding the problems of disability and old age, and the forms of provision that these understandings have led to.
This module helps you to apply a wide range of knowledge and skills to help build family relationships, resource and resilience so that the welfare of the child remains paramount. You will learn the latest child care law, policy and statutory guidance, and how to think critically about the assumptions, language and practices that underpin ‘risk’ assessments and social work practice relating to child care.
We explore the role played by developmental psychology in shaping concepts of childhood within welfare and protection practices. We also consider child harm and crimes against children and the problematic nature of child-rearing practices in conditions of poverty, isolation, single parenthood and cultural diversity.
You are introduced to key elements of effective practice, with a particular focus on how to safeguard and engage children and families – especially when the social worker also has to balance the often competing interests of parent and child and to deal with the challenges of multi-agency working.
The importance of timely assessment and intervention to prevent family breakdown is also stressed, as is the need for care planning and partnership working with parents whose children have become subject to legal proceedings. You will study court structures, roles and processes relevant to child care social work.
The module exposes you to the latest research, including analysis of serious case reviews, enabling you to demonstrate a high level of skill in evidence based, effective social work approaches to helping children and families which support change.
Television remains one of the most pervasive and prevalent communication mediums. It shapes how we perceive and make sense of the nation, and offers representational frameworks through which a sense of identity and community can be constructed. Television has its critics - who consider it vulgar, mundane, stupefying, 'chewing gum for the eyes' - yet despite consistent predictions of its decline, television appears to have weathered the storm of fragmentation and digitalisation and remains a crucial media site that shapes national values and debate. This module introduces students to the field of television studies, its empirical and theoretical tools and the critical perspectives that help us explore and evaluate the recent history of television and explore its possible futures.
Want to "go viral"? In this module you will make stuff: tweets, blogs, videos, GIFs, wikis, music mash-ups, photo essays, machinima, memes. We will hang out in social media worlds like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pirate Bay, 4chan, Second Life, World of Warcraft, Know Your Meme, tumblr. You will learn to tie all of these media and platforms together into a viral video and social media campaign. You will become digitally literate while at the same time exploring the most cutting edge new media theory. When you complete this module you will know how to make most types of simple digital media, you will develop a portfolio of content that may assist you in entrepreneurial work in the new media industries, and most importantly you will understand how new media are challenging existing forms of culture, politics, law, and business.
In your third year you will study at one of our international partner universities. This will help you to develop your global outlook, expand your professional network, and gain cultural and personal skills. You will choose specialist modules relating to your degree as well as other modules from across the host university.
This module provides an opportunity to bring together knowledge and skills you have developed into an 8,000 word dissertation that you complete in your final year. You will have the opportunity to undertake an independent piece of research (under supervision) and to apply your general understanding of the research process to real world examples that are of particular interest to you. There is the option of conducting your dissertation as part of a placement with an appropriate organisation or group.
You will plan, present and design a dissertation proposal in tutorial groups, with a detailed, step-by-step web-based guide available for extra support. This will help you develop an idea for a research project, work out what is possible, which methods to use, and begin to plan it. You will have opportunities to get feedback from other students and your supervisor during regular meetings. After carrying out your own data collection and analysis, you will then write it up as a dissertation.
This module uses case studies of disasters (technical and social) to explore these questions and what sociology can teach us about them.
How do we make sense of the various understanding of being a fan nowadays? How has the experience of being part of a media audience transformed over the decades in different parts of the world? In what ways do fan culture and audience community manifest social transformations in both the local and global scale?
This module aims to provide you with a critical understanding of fandom and audiences in a global and transnational context. You will first be introduced to the contested concepts and typologies of ‘audience’ and ‘fan’ and the cultural hierarchy of knowledge underneath theses definitions. The module will focus on four dimensions – participation, pleasure, performance, and power – by investigating fan culture and audience communities of a wide range of transmedia texts (television, music, film, and other media) in a global perspective. You will analyse the multi-layered dynamics between individual fan, fan community, audience participation, media texts, and the industry through sociological and interdisciplinary lenses, for example, cultural studies, feminist studies, queer studies, and postcolonial studies.
This module investigates gender inequalities within society through a focus on historical and contemporary debates in feminist theory and activism. The module has an `intersectional` focus that means we will consider gender inequalities as bound up with other forms of discrimination and marginalisation, particularly racial and ethnic inequalities, disability and social class.
The module will challenge you to think about `what feminism means today` through a consideration of key aspects of feminist thought and activism from the late 1960s onwards. We will consider the continued relevance of the idea of ‘The Personal is Political’ and ‘consciousness raising’. We will overview feminist approaches to social research and explore feminist interventions in practices of gender inequality, for example inequalities in paid and unpaid work, childcare and women’s health. You will complete an intergenerational interview research project on ‘women, work and social change’ through which you will analyse and reflect upon your experience of the research process.
We will also take the feminist manifesto as a central document which expresses lived experiences of gender inequalities and collective desire for social change. Through some practices of inequalities, such as art, beauty contests, capitalism and patriarchy, we will explore the contemporary resonance of ideas such as black feminisms, art activism, the occupy movement and backlash.
By the end of the module you will have been given the opportunity to become familiar with some of the key debates within feminism today. We aim for you to be able to make connections between feminist theory and forms of feminist practice. The module engages you in debate, original research and feminist activism through analysis of varied media including academic texts, advertising, art, film, news media and social media.
Belonging to a nation is widely seen to be as natural as belonging to a family or a home. This module will explore how such assumptions about national belonging come about by introducing students to a range of theoretical approaches and debates.
You will explore how notions of belonging are socially constructed, how the nation is defined, who belongs and who doesn’t. The module addresses these notions by examining what everyday practices, discourses and representations reveal about the ways people think about, and inhabit, the nation. The module also pays particular attention to nation formation in relation to debates about multiculturalism, diversity and migration and asks: What are the impacts of migration and multiculturalism on definitions of the nation? How is multiculturalism defined and perceived?
Although focus will be on the example of Britain, the issues raised will be of interest to all students concerned with the effects of nationalisms and ideas of belonging and entitlement, which many countries of the contemporary world are presently debating in the context of the 'Age of migration' (Castles and Miller 1998).
In this module, you will learn about the basics of journalism -- reporting and storytelling using digital technologies. From audio recording and video production to writing, photography, and innovations using data, technology, and interviews, this module is an introduction to journalism of today and tomorrow. You will also interact with key theories and practices of journalism, discussing and debating international perspectives. In the end, you will have a final journalistic product based on a story of your selection.
Mental health is an increasingly complex area of social work practice, due to competing rights and sanctions, fast-paced legal change and controversial case law precedents. The boundaries between lawful and unlawful practice are not easily identifiable, which presents a challenge for social work – especially given our duty as social workers to defend people’s human rights.
This module is designed to enable you to develop a critical understanding of the nature of contemporary mental health services, and the associated legislative, policy and practice context. It emphasises the importance of alternative constructions of mental health, as opposed to the dominance of the medical model, and asserts the importance of service user expertise.
The module concludes by re-evaluating the role of social work in mental health services and considering implications for future practice.
This module introduces and explores the writings of a number of key twentieth-century social and cultural theorists, and radical thinkers offering perceptive and provocative critiques of some of the many ills of modern western capitalist society, such as alienation, reification and domination; environmental exploitation, pollution and the destruction of nature; media supersaturation, cultural commodification and ideological manipulation; technocracy, instrumentalism and ‘scientism’; violence, genocide and the perpetual threat of nuclear extermination.
This module provides an opportunity for you to engage with perspectives in the social sciences that interrogate our common and comfortable assumptions about the supposedly benign and beneficent character of contemporary capitalism, scientific development, technological innovation, and affluent consumer lifestyles. In so doing, the very concepts of historical enlightenment, progress and civilisation are called into question.
This module considers not only how to interpret the world in various ways, but also how to change it.
This module will explore how the politically powerful and the politically radical use the internet to consolidate and revolutionise the distribution of power around the globe.
Like many communication platforms before it, the internet is mobilised by the politically and economically powerful as well as those seeking radical change. However, unlike other platforms, it has created an almost universally accessible platform for public dialogue. Pro-democracy revolutionaries, freedom hackers, feminist mediasmiths, anti-capitalists, data leakers, and others use the internet to organise their social movements. Conversely, those opposed to the liberal project, such as authoritarians and extremist groups, also use the affordances of the internet to distribute their message and rally their supporters.
This module examines these issues and investigates the implications of “big data” control by governments and corporations. The module looks also at the understanding social networkers and other content uploaders have of this “big data” control along with the consequences that it comes with.
This module addresses contemporary debates in sociology and cinema by focusing on a single film each week. Its overall aim is to employ cinema for the purpose of social diagnosis.
The module engages with cinema as a social fact, before linking together cinema (producing images of the social) and sociality (socialisation of the image) for analysis.
We live in societies in which forecasting and planning for the future is an important activity for governments, institutions, businesses and individuals. We live in societies in which imaginings of the future as a better time or as a more fearful one circulate in the here and now, calling us into action or invoking threats or desires. This module considers how we should understand the future from sociological and cultural perspectives. The module will address both how we can look into the future through various techniques in order to gain a foresight into what might happen, and we will look at the future – how images of the future circulate in the present through the work of scientists, artists, filmmakers, writers, academics, politicians and others.
This module analyses the relationship between society and terror, taking point of departure in the discussion of 9/11 and the political responses it has provoked. The module focuses on how different forms of terror are related to the changing nature of society and how terror can be theorized from a sociological point of view. It also explores how the study of terror can contribute to the discipline of sociology. An example of concepts covered are: terror, the war against terrorism, dispositif, nihilism, flow, consumerism, post-politics, politics of security.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2023/24 entry fees have not yet been set.
At Lancaster, we believe that funding concerns should not stop any student with the talent to thrive.
We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover the cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small college membership fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2022, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2023 have not yet been set.
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
In addition to travel and accommodation costs, while you are studying abroad, you will need to have a passport and, depending on the country, there may be other costs such as travel documents (e.g. VISA or work permit) and any tests and vaccines that are required at the time of travel. Some countries may require proof of funds.
In addition to possible commuting costs during your placement, you may need to buy clothing that is suitable for your workplace and you may have accommodation costs. Depending on the employer and your job, you may have other costs such as copies of personal documents required by your employer for example.
Fees are set by the UK Government annually, and subsequent years' fees may be subject to increases. For international applicants starting in 2022, any annual increase will be capped at 4% of the previous year's fee.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.