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Sociology MA

Course Description

This degree is intended for students with a general interest in sociology who wish to update, extend and deepen their knowledge and understand current developments in the field. The programme aims to provide students with opportunities to expand their knowledge of the discipline by engaging with contemporary research and by undertaking historical and comparative study.

Compulsory modules:

The Research Process: This module introduces the main varieties of both quantitative and qualitative research in the social sciences. Principles of research design and issues of data collection and analysis are studied.

Applied Social Research: This module delivers specialist training in sociological research. It draws upon generic social science research skills and knowledge and applies them to a joint group project. In the group project, students will select the topic in which they will develop their skills as empirical researchers. It is a ‘hands on’ module and students will engage in hypothesis development, research design, data gathering, data analysis and interpretation of the results.

Optional modules:

Researching Community: This module examines the developments in the field of community research and related theoretical and policy debates surrounding the application of ideas of ‘community’ to current economic and social changes. The module focuses on four main themes:

Conceptual issues: the meaning of ‘community’ and its use as a concept in social scientific and popular discourse. This will be considered in relation to different theoretical approaches such as social constructionism, realism, and post-structuralism.
Empirical applications: an examination of classic and contemporary examples of community research and relevant case studies dealing with different forms of ‘community’.
Policy issues: relating to contemporary forms of intervention in relation to community development, regeneration, mobilisation, participation, leadership and power. This will be considered in the context of frameworks such as communitarianism, social capital, and the ‘third way’.
Community methodology: examines how ‘community’ has been researched and the tools and methods available for empirical investigation. These include ethnographic studies, large-scale surveys, ‘community profiling’ and auditing, and action research.
Nationalism and Minorities: This module will examine key issues and debates concerning the growing claims by ethnic and national minorities and indigenous peoples for distinct language, territorial and other minority rights and recognition within nation-states and beyond. The relationships between nationalism, citizenship and minority rights will be considered with reference to empirical examples. Debates and policies concerned with the management of cultural and ethnic diversity by the state will also be considered. The approach is interdisciplinary drawing on sociology, political theory, anthropology, law and education, with case study examples provided from Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania. It aims to provide students with a global and comparative understanding of individual cases, of their historical antecedents, and of the key similarities and differences between them.

Sociology of Everyday Life: The module deals with different theories of everyday life, for example those focusing on face-to face communication. Other theories emphasize how social life is “performed” in everyday contexts and its “dramaturgy”. It is discussed how individuals construct meaning out of their social lives. Some approaches reflect on the constraints of society, especially of powerful institutions, and how they affect the “lifeworld”. Empirical studies of everyday life will also be part of the module. From airports to zoos, human behaviour in different settings has been described and placed in theoretical context. The creation of social stigmas, or of social spaces can be studied. Students will be introduced to the use of different methodologies, like observation and listening to individuals telling their story.

Culture, Race and Civilization: The module explores normative and descriptive concepts of culture, the dichotomy of culture and civilization, and the dialectical tension between all of these. Culture appears in a number of different contexts: for example as promise of Enlightenment, or as social reality of the everyday. The relation between “multiculturalism” and ideas of “nation” and “race” will be part of the discussion. What is the role of the idea of “civilization” for racism and racialization? Another aspect to be covered is the relation between wealth and culture. “Cultural critique” and globalization theories provide different answers. Finally, the role of violence in relation to culture, race and civilization will be discussed.

MA Dissertation

The dissertation is undertaken on completion of the taught modules. It is valued at 60 credits (one-third of the MA degree) and will be around 20,000 words in length.

Part-time students in employment may choose a topic related to their profession and an area in which they wish to develop further expertise and specialisation. Under guidance of a dissertation tutor, students will undertake their MA dissertation work independently on a topic of their choice. This may be a piece of empirical research including primary or secondary data analysis or a theoretical dissertation.

Visit the Sociology MA page on the Bangor University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in Sociology or a related subject (e.g. Social Policy, Sociolinguistics, Political Science, Social Anthropology, etc). An upper second class degree (or equivalent) is desirable but applications from candidates with a lower second class degree and professional qualifications and/or appropriate experience will also be considered.

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