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Sociology (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

How can sociology help you make sense of a world defined by change and disruption yet, at the same time, shaped by enduring and pervasive inequalities?


Global society insight

With the 21st Century (so far) characterised by change, disruption and uncertainty; this course will help you make sociological sense of the world.


Internationally recognised

Leading experts and pioneers of new fields of inquiry will work with you to develop your own sociological imagination.


Interdisciplinary sociology

We'll encourage and enable you to develop a dialogue between disciplines that is essential for making sense of contemporary world.


Vibrant intellectual community

Join a community shaped by leading international research centres that hold regular events and seminars organised around both substantive and methodological topics.


Methodological rigor and innovation

Research skills development, including engagement with traditional forms of social inquiry, their application to emergent forms of life and the new ways of handling new forms of social data.

This postgraduate programme is designed to develop your sociological imagination, giving you the critical and analytic skills that are needed to understand the social transformations that will characterise life in the 21st century. You will work with experts from across key areas of sociology who will introduce you to their cutting-edge research, and that of other leading scholars. Through the course material, you will learn to integrate theory, method, and data in addressing pressing global challenges caused by phenomena such as:

  • Digital and physical mobilities
  • Human-environment relations
  • Contemporary urban life
  • Digital disruptive technologies
  • Bio-medicine and socio-genetics

The programme offers you the opportunity to engage with contemporary global society from a theoretically informed, conceptually rigorous, and methodologically innovative knowledge-base. Working with and between these themes, you will study the impact of recent developments in these areas on the principal institutions of society, and classic areas of sociological inquiry, such as work, families, education, leisure, religion, health care, science, and the state. At the same time, you will consider how and why social inequalities remain a pervasive feature of social life and the ways in which these inequalities might be tackled. In this way, the course will also develop your critical appreciation of the work of policy makers, professional groups, contrasting sites of expertise, and civil society. 

Where you'll study

School of Social Sciences

Our degrees are delivered by internationally recognised experts with a track record of influencing policy and practice around the world.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 5179
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided. 

With your online application you will need to provide: 

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as, criminology, education, international relations, law, psychology, social policy, sociology or other social science disciplines, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates. 
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in all other subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS. 
  3. Two academic reference which demonstrates your suitability for the programme.  References should be signed, dated and less than six months old at the time you submit your application. 
  4. A personal statement which outlines your reasons for wanting to pursue postgraduate study, wanting to study sociology at postgraduate level, and wanting to study sociology at Cardiff University.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references. 

Application Deadline 

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of June but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process 

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements and demonstrate adequate motivation for and understanding of the programme, we will make you an offer. 

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

The MSc Sociology is organised around the completion of six 20-credit modules and a 60-credit supervised dissertation on a sociological topic of your choice.

Taught modules
The taught phase engages with substantive topics, theory and method, in contemporary sociology and, if you choose a related field. The programme consists of four specialist sociology modules, of which you must take at least three, and two compulsory research methods modules, one in qualitative methods the other in quantitative methods. If you choose to take three sociology modules, you will make up the remaining 20 credits by choosing from a list of optional modules drawn from other schemes offered by the School. All modules include the opportunity to pursue your own interests within the overall topic area.

Each taught module is worth 20 credits, which means it should take approximately 200 hours to complete including formal teaching, independent study and time spent on assessment tasks. The timetabled teaching for each module will last for 10 weeks and you will take two single semester substantive modules in each of the autumn and spring semesters alongside the two methods modules, each of which runs across both semesters.

Learning opportunities will be varied and include lectures, group discussions, group problem-based learning and student presentations of preparatory and classroom-based work. Students will be required to undertake preparatory reading for each session.

The final component of your degree is the production of a dissertation. This piece of independent research is worth 60 credits (so around 600 hours of work in total).  Preparation for this will begin during the spring semester, with the majority of the work completed over the summer.

The dissertation is intended to provide you with the opportunity to pursue a contained and manageable piece of research in an area that interests you (whether that be politically, substantively, or intellectually). The dissertation is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the skills and understanding developed in the taught component of your course across a sustained piece of work. You will be allocated a personal dissertation supervisor with whom you will meet regularly and who will assist you in planning, conducting, and writing up the research project.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

The taught programme runs from October to the following May, across two semesters of 10 teaching weeks plus additional time for completing assessments. The sociology and optional modules are single semester and will introduce you to key issues contemporary debates in social theory as well as specific areas of research in relation to various aspects of social change, transformation, and social disruption and organisation. The methodologically focused modules run across both autumn and spring semesters and will prepare you to undertake your dissertation research.

The 4 specialist sociology modules are:

  • Cities and Mobilities in Digital Society
  • Digital Society and Emerging Technology
  • Global Political Economy of Capital and the Future of Work
  • Planetary Health: sociological perspectives and contributions

Following successful completion of the taught modules, you'll be asked to produce a 60-credit dissertation on a contemporary sociological topic of your choice. Dissertations can be theoretical or empirical in nature. Although you will work with a supervisor, this is an independent piece of research.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

Drawing on current research at the leading edge of sociological inquiry, the programme offers the opportunity to study live social issues in a vibrant and engaging manner. The course is taught by internationally recognised experts reflecting the contemporary and global character of the course. Each component of the taught element of the course will draw from classic and contemporary social theory, as well as current innovations in social science research methods. You will learn to apply and critically engage with the core elements of the course content through an active engagement with ‘real world’ drivers of disruption and social change. These skills will be applied in the dissertation; a piece of independent research, undertaken by all students on the programme, on a topic of their choosing.  

The main mode of delivery will be face-to-face teaching that will take a variety of forms. Teaching methods will include lectures that provide ‘road maps’ for new and challenging areas of content and more interactive sessions that will provide an opportunity for you to discuss your own engagement with the materials and content with subject specialists and peers. Staff will facilitate learning opportunities that enable you to critically connect “personal troubles with (global) public issues”. Sessions will be organised around key sociological ideas and methods, with activities designed to assess their capacity to make sense of social life in the 21st Century. 

You will be expected to attend all the teaching activities as set out in the timetable. You will also be expected to undertake independent study to prepare for class-based activities and to develop these in order to complete your assessments successfully. For the dissertation stage, you will be assigned a supervisor who will work with you to develop your ideas and complete an independent research project.

How will I be assessed?

Due to the nature of knowledge, understanding, and skills developed during the course, the primary mode of assessment will be written coursework items. These will take a variety of forms such as long form essays, policy briefings, secondary data analysis, shorter reflective pieces, analytic notes, and portfolio tasks. Other forms of written work, such as manifestos and creative writing, may also be used. These written tasks will be complemented by other forms of assessment where this is appropriate to the module. Examples of these tasks include videos or posters, group, or individual presentations and online or in-class tests.

All modules will have more than one assessment item, typically split between mid-term and end of semester tasks. Assessments will be closely mapped to the module and programme learning outcomes and you will have ample opportunity to demonstrate your competence and expertise across the range of assessments offered by the programme.

Each module will provide at least one formative feedback opportunity (see the section on “How will I be supported?”). Formative feedback will be closely linked to the summative assessments and will help you to work toward completing them successfully. Feedback (of various forms) will be provided on all pieces of coursework. 

How will I be supported?

A personal tutor from the sociology team will be assigned to you and will be available to discuss your progress and provide advice and guidance on your academic studies. The Student Hub, and the Taught Programmes Office, both located in the Glamorgan Building, can also provide advice on your course, as well as how to access university services.

All modules within the course make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – Learning Central – on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and information relating to assessment tasks including, for example, assessment criteria, study skills, and guidelines for submitting assessments.

Additional module-specific support is provided by academic staff who will hold weekly office hours or drop-in sessions either face-to-face or online. The dissertation will be supported by a supervisor who will meet with you regularly and will guide you toward completing this piece of independent work.

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete the coursework items that make up your grade for each module. Formative feedback is intended to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your work, as well specific areas of skill development.

A key form of formative feedback will be gained through participation in learning activities but especially in-class discussions. These are important opportunities for you to test your understanding of key ideas and concepts as well as trying out arguments ahead of writing coursework items. Each module will include a range of additional formative feedback opportunities such as presentations, leading discussions, short reports, reviews, and others forms of written work. These opportunities are all designed to help you develop your work for the summative assessment items in each module and your dissertation research. 

Summative Feedback

In addition to your grade, feedback on summative assessments will highlight specific strengths and weaknesses in relation to the marking criteria for that task and/or the module. From this feedback you will be able to better understand how well you have met the learning outcomes of the module as well as areas that need to be developed. The feedback will be written in a constructive manner such that you can identify clear areas for improvement ahead of your next assessments. 

All feedback on written coursework is provided electronically to ensure it is readily accessible and easy to read. Some module convenors may choose to make additional digital voice recordings. In the case of class tests, the module convenor will provide feedback to the whole class but you are also able to discuss your individual test paper and the mark it was awarded with the module convenor.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successful completion of your programme, you will be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

  • KU 1 Demonstrate a deep and systematic understanding of a range of global changes and challenges from a sociological perspective 
  • KU 2 Critically discuss classic and contemporary sociological theory and research in relation to “real world” issues 
  • KU 3 Assess and evaluate different, and often competing, sociological accounts of contemporary phenomena  
  • KU 4 Demonstrate a critical appreciation of traditional and innovative social research methods and their application in studying the social world
  • KU 5 Design and develop an independent research dissertation focused in the area of sociology, drawing on appropriate analytical skills and research methods

Intellectual Skills:

  • IS 1 Synthesise and integrate theory and data in building a demonstrably sociological analysis of contemporary issues and phenomena 
  • IS 2 Select and apply classic and contemporary social theory in discussing contemporary social issues 
  • IS 3 Collect and/or evaluate research data generated by a range of social research methods and related to matters of sociological concern.
  • IS 4 Identify and develop a suitable topic of sociological inquiry to be pursued in independent research  

Professional Practical Skills:

  • PP 1 Critique, challenge, and move beyond common sense understandings of social phenomenon  
  • PP 2 Defend and debate theoretically informed and empirically grounded proposals to promote social justice and ameliorate inequalities
  • PP 3 Articulate an understanding of complexity in language that is precise, persuasive, and intellectually rigorous
  • PP 4 Critically analyse and evaluate a range of evidence to reach a reasoned judgement for a research dissertation  

Transferable/Key Skills:

  • KS 1 Synthesise and critique research findings and theories relating to diverse social problems for a range of different audiences
  • KS 2 Utilise and apply information technology in scholarly work and the conduct of qualitative or quantitative research
  • KS 3 Develop effective strategies for independent research, time management, and working with peers within an institution/workplace  
  • KS 4 Communicate summaries, interpretations and evaluations of research and policy in a variety of written formats.
  • KS 5 Independently gather, evaluate, and analyse data and evidence for research task including research dissertation

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £10,450 £2,500

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £23,200 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs


Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Careers and placements

The high-level research, literacy and numeracy skills developed during the degree are highly valued in a range of management and leadership roles where critical thinking and an understanding of organisations and cultures are important.

The substantive topics covered are particularly well-suited to careers across the public and private sectors, as well as civil society and third sector organisations, that are concerned with issues of social justice, inequality and/or innovation. If you're interested in further study, the programme also provides strong foundations for doctoral work, either through a traditional PhD or a professional doctorate. We encourage our students to think about life beyond university from day one, and offer modules to give you a competitive advantage upon graduating.



Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.