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Sociology (TSM)

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What is Sociology?

If you are curious about people and society, then sociology is for you. As an area of university study, it includes numerous ways of understanding, describing and analysing society. Ireland and the world are currently experiencing rapid processes of social change. The old world is changing, but what will the new world be like, and how can we participate in its development? Sociology is foremost among the social sciences in its understanding of social change.

We teach modules in a wide variety of areas of sociology. Staff members include experts on culture and identity, work and employment in Europe, migration, education, multiculturalism and ethnicity, gender, conflict resolution, social policy, development and globalisation. Our modules cover Ireland, the wider European society, the non-European world and the global arena. You will also learn key skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, good communication and social research skills.

Course overview

Sociology provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the rapidly changing nature of contemporary society. With core themes in migration, race and gender, conflict studies, digitalisation, identities and employment studies, you will gain a critical perspective on a variety of social issues. The first two years are more general and foundational in nature while the third and fourth years are characterised by smaller, more intimate classes that attempt to challenge you intellectually and encourage problem solving and critical thinking skills. There are opportunities to participate in a wide variety of study abroad and work abroad programmes organised by the Department.

Is it the right course for you?

If you want to understand the social changes taking place in the world today, and you are curious about people and society, then Sociology is for you. As a recent graduate put it, Sociology explains how the great sociological thinkers predicted the ills of modern society from social isolation to empty hospital wards. It questions the future of whether India can and will become the next China, and whether the internet will undermine traditional communities. It explains the underlying reasons why European societies are culturally so different. It tackles the big social issues of conflict, race, migration, gender and popular culture. It teaches you how to understand, research and explain all of these topics in a logical organised fashion. You will also gain the ability to understand topical issues and to present and communicate information and thoughts coherently.

Course content

The Freshman years

Sociology teaching in the Freshman (first two) years emphasises the understanding of the basic principles of sociology and the acquisition of both quantitative and qualitative skills necessary for more in-depth study. In the Junior Freshman (first) year, you are introduced to the distinctive questions that sociologists ask about human society, and the theories and concepts used in the search for answers. You have approximately 6 hours of lectures and 3 hours of tutorials per week in sociology. In the Senior Freshman (second) year, you study issues around gender and society in different cultures; European societies; power, state and social movements, and are introduced to sociological research methods.

The Sophister years

Specialisation in sociological topic areas, and more advanced analysis, research and presentation skills are provided in the Sophister (third and fourth) years. In your Junior Sophister (third) year, you learn about social theory, globalisation and development, race, ethnicity and identity, social inequality, and carry out research projects involving analysis of both numerical data from surveys, and verbal data that are the outcomes of recorded interviews and focus groups. The Senior Sophister year offers modules in a variety of topic areas, including popular culture and digital lives, the economic sociology of Europe, migration, and conflict studies. You have the opportunity to carry out your own independent research project from start to finish on a topic of your choice (recent projects included: Immigration and the prison system, Unmarried fathers’ participation in their children’s lives, and Counter-urbanisation in the Irish countryside). Many students find this a great asset when talking to employers and applying for jobs.

Assessment

Modules are examined by a combination of continuous assessment including essays, portfolios, individual and group presentations, and the formal end-of-year examination. In addition, students specialising exclusively in sociology in their final year may choose to complete a dissertation. Lectures and tutorials take up 6 to 10 hours a week, depending on the year.

Study abroad

Around one third of Sociology undergraduate students participate in Erasmus and non-EU international exchanges. You may participate in full-year or half-year exchanges with European partner institutions in France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Malta, Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as non-European partner institutions in Australia, Singapore, China, Canada and the USA in your third year. Most of these universities offer their courses through English.

Career opportunities

Sociology graduates find that their broad training and appreciation of how society and people work means they can thrive in careers in the media, journalism, consulting, academia and teaching, policy analysis, non-governmental organisations, management, and advisory roles in the public service. Graduates are working for organisations as diverse as Goodbody Stockbrokers, the ESRI, the Abbey Theatre, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Friends of the Earth and Enterprise Ireland.

Did you know?

  • Sociology was first taught in Trinity College in 1968. The Department is the only Irish institution to feature in the Top 100 QS World University Subject Rankings for sociology in 2013.
  • The Department of Sociology is internationally known for its work on race and ethnicity with particular strengths in migration. Other research themes include conflict and social movements, employment and work in Europe as well as digital lives and social networks.
  • The Department recently won two Provost’s Teaching Awards for outstanding contribution in the pursuit of teaching excellence
  • More than one third of undergraduate students participate in mobility programmes such as studying or working abroad.

Further information

www.tcd.ie/sociology

E-mail: sociology@tcd.ie  

Student Profile

Peter Robert Gardner

“I came to Trinity planning to study economics, however I found the Senior Freshman modules in sociology (especially ‘Anthropology of Gender’ and ‘European Societies’) so fascinating that I decided to change to single honours sociology.

Sociology alters the lens through which we view the world. It provides us with a means of critically taking apart everything held to be obvious or normal in society, and so to better understand social phenomena. Sociology at Trinity supplied me with the chance to take apart issues of race, ethnicity, gender, popular culture, globalisation, developing societies, migration patterns and conflict zones. After graduating I decided to continue studying sociology at Trinity, taking a masters in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict, and I hope to pursue a career in academics. Through the lectures, reading material, discussions with students and lecturers, and the general academic environment, Sociology at Trinity has been invaluable to me in my development.”

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