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Sociology (JH)

B.A. ; 4 years full-time ; 59 places ; CAO points: 456-565 (2018)

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 of educational success and future job? Do state rules and regulations represent and protect elite power? Sociology is foremost among the social sciences in its understanding of social change.

Sociology: The 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.

Sociology @ 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 Sociology Department is in the top 100 in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2018). 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.

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

Your degree and what you’ll 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; power, state and social movements, and are introduced to sociological research methods and theory.

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 Globalisation and Development; Comparative Sociology of Europe; Race, Ethnicity and Identity; Social Stratification and Inequalities, 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; Labour Markets, Gender and Institutions; Migration, Mobilities and Integration, and Conflict Studies. You have the opportunity to carry out your own independent Capstone 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-semester examination. In addition, students specialising exclusively in Sociology in their final year complete a Capstone research project. Lectures and tutorials take up 6 to 10 hours a week, depending on the year.


In your final year of study, you will undertake a Capstone project – an independent research project which comprises an in-depth investigation of a specific area of scholarship. The Capstone project is a catalyst to enable you to reflect on your learning from the programme as a whole and to demonstrate your ability to think independently, communicate effectively, develop continuously and act responsibly as you transition to the world of work or to postgraduate studies.

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). 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.

Ellen O’Keeffe, Graduate

Studying sociology has been an incredibly enriching, mind-opening and rewarding experience. I was initially drawn to sociology because it seemed as though it could offer me a way to explore all the confusing questions that I had about our complex, messy, violent, beautiful world. I wanted to explore the society I had grown up in and others around the world to try to understand why we do the things we do, why we believe what we do, why inequalities persist, where power comes from and how it operates, and why and how people resist and struggle for a better world. The course helped me to explore all those questions and left me with so many more. It fostered in me a deep enthusiasm for learning and a desire to understand the issues we are facing together. The first two years allowed me to develop a strong foundation in the social sciences. For the final two years I was able to choose the modules which suited my interests. I particularly enjoyed studying conflict studies, taught by Dr. David Landy on the situation in Israel-Palestine, using critical theory to unmask the different complexities, histories, power relations, inequalities, struggles and conflicts within those societies. The part of the course which I enjoyed most was the final year dissertation as it allowed me to focus in depth on a research area which interests me. I wrote my dissertation about those going through the asylum system (direct provision) who are activists fighting for the rights and dignity of asylum seekers. The research focused on their lived experiences in a for-profit asylum system where a private company has control over their daily lives and profits off their miserable situation. Learning how to conduct research was invaluable. Studying sociology at Trinity has changed how I view the world, helping me to develop a more critical understanding of power, inequality and the forces shaping our society.

Course Details



CAO Points Required

456-565 (2018)

Number of Places


Minimum entry points required are 456-565 (2018)
More information on minimum entry points

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here

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Telephone Number

+353 1 896 2701