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Sociology (TSM)

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+ EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO

+ Non-EU Applicants

+ Mature Student - Supplementary Application Form

+ Advanced Entry Applications

What is Sociology?

Sociology studies the interaction of people within social groups like families, schools and companies and how this shapes their behaviours and life chances. It explores questions such as: Why do migrants develop their cultural identities in different ways? How is privacy changing with the rise of digital technologies? How does a child’s family of origin shape their chances in life? Do state rules and regulations represent and protect elite power?

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. You will also gain the ability to understand topical issues and to present and communicate information and thoughts coherently. In addition, you will learn invaluable analytical, communication, research and presentation skills – transferable skills which can be applied to a wide range of careers and postgraduate programmes.

Why study Sociology at Trinity?

There has been a rich tradition of sociological education at Trinity since the 1960s. The department is committed to advancing the understanding of society and to igniting the passion of our students through exceptional teaching and research. The department is ranked number 1 in Ireland and in the top 150 in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015).

The Department of Sociology is internationally known for its work on education and employment, migration, identities, social inequalities, conflict and digital lives. The department has won several teaching awards – both for postgraduates and staff – for outstanding contribution in the pursuit of teaching excellence.

As a recent graduate put it, Sociology explains how the great 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.

What will you study?

Our modules cover Ireland, the wider European society, the non-European world and the global arena. 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.

Sociology teaching in the first and second 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 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 second year, you study issues around gender, work and family; European societies; power, state and social movements, and are introduced to sociological research methods.

Specialisation in sociological topic areas, and more advanced analysis, research and presentation skills are provided in the third and fourth years. In your 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 fourth year offers modules in a variety of topic areas, including Digital Lives and Social Networks, 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.

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 our undergraduate students participate in Erasmus and non-EU international exchanges. You may participate in full-year or half-year exchanges with the following partner institutions: Sorbonne University (France), University Lille 1 (France), Charles University Prague (Czech Republic), Umea University (Sweden), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Helsinki (Finland), University of Malta (Malta), Istanbul Bogazici University (Turkey), Utrecht University (Netherlands), Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (Germany) and St Xavier’s College Kolkata (India). In addition, you can compete for a smaller number of places on University-wide non-European exchanges with partners in Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Canada and the USA in your third year. Most of these universities offer their courses through English.


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 European Parliament, Citibank, RTÉ, Google, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Enterprise Ireland.

Further information


Tel: +353 1 896 2701

Facebook: ‘Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin’

Graduate Profile

Siobhan McDermott

Sociology is a multifaceted area of study which allows students to develop a more nuanced understanding of society. The department offers a fantastic array of modules for anyone with an interest in different cultures and communities. I was able to choose from a selection of modules which encompassed not only Irish society but also society on a global scale. We were constantly encouraged to think critically in tutorials, juxtaposing previously held perceptions with new insights gained from lectures and readings. The final year dissertation acted as a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the various research skills I had developed throughout the programme.

Student Profile

Peter Robert Gardner

"I came to Trinity planning to study economics, however I found the Senior Freshman modules in sociology 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 am now reading for a PhD at the University of Cambridge. 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.."