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Hear from our Graduates

Jake Hurley

Sociology and Social Policy Graduate 2017

The Sociology and Social Policy course at Trinity provides an excellent overview of the area of study through the provision of a diverse range of interesting module choices. These modules range from classes which cover the development of the field of social theory, to contemporary applications of sociology in, for example, our behaviour online. A module which was of particular interest to me was the Digital Lives class taught by Dr. Anne Holohan, as the topics it addressed felt particularly relevant during my time of study given the seeming rise to prominence of online far right groups in tandem with the 2016 United States presidential election. As such I feel that the sociology course was an ideal choice for me as it allowed me to interact with a broad range of ideas and concepts before I focused my studies towards certain areas of the field in my third and fourth years. The varied nature of the topics which can be approached from a sociological angle also made for a more pleasant dissertation experience as one can choose a topic that truly suits their interests. In conclusion I would highly recommend Sociology at Trinity to anyone interested in gaining a greater understanding of the forces which have shaped and continue to shape the society in which they live.

Ellen O'Keeffe

TSM Sociology Graduate 2017

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/with 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.


Siobhán McDermott

TSM Sociology Graduate 2014, currently working as Publicity Assistant in Penguin Ireland Siobhan McDermott

Sociology is a multifaceted area of study which allows students to develop a more nuanced understanding of society. Trinity 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 module I found most fascinating was Popular Culture and Digital Lives by Dr. Anne Holohan. This module employed various social theories as a lens through which to examine our emerging modern society. The final year dissertation acted as a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the various research skills I had developed throughout the programme. Although the length and required depth of the dissertation was potentially daunting, the continued guidance and assistance from not just my supervisor, but all member of the teaching staff, meant that it was impossible to feel overwhelmed at any stage of the process. My experience of the entire programme was extremely positive. Whilst this was undoubtedly aided by a pre-existing interest in sociology, I would argue that the approachability of the entire faculty, combined with their genuine - and highly infectious - passion for their respective topics, were central to transforming the course into a rewarding and academically fulfilling experience.

Barry Price

BESS Graduate 2014, currently enrolled in the M.Phil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict in the Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin.

Sociology investigates the things we take for granted in our everyday lives, from seemingly natural aspects of life like nationality, gender, and sexuality, to the institutions which shape our daily life experience such as marriage, work, and education. These are varied, diverse aspects of society, and what was good about sociology at Trinity was its ability to offer modules that encompassed such a wide range of topics – over the course of its four years the program covers extensively everything from ‘Power,State and Social Movements’ and ‘Gender, Culture and Society’ to ‘Race, Ethnicity and Identity’ and ‘Digital Lives and Social Networks’. Enhancing this wide variety of thought learning is the program’s commitment to training students to conduct their own social research. This training culminates in the form of a final year dissertation, which offers students the opportunity to research any topic of their choice. Doing this research project was particularly enjoyable not only because of the freedom I was given to choose my own research topic, but too because of the exceptional standard of support offered by the program’s teaching staff: no question was ever left unanswered and everyone’s door was always open. Coupled with the diverse range of materials covered in the program, it was this remarkable quality of teaching that made studying Sociology at Trinity such an overwhelmingly positive experience. I would recommend the program to anybody who has ever wondered if we should really believe what we see and what we are told. 

Emma Chubb

Sociology and Social Policy Graduate 2014, currently enrolled in the MSc in Applied Social Research, Trinity College, Dublin.

I initially chose the B.A in sociology and social policy because I wanted to understand the underlying forces that shape societies and the groups within them. The course turned out to be ideal in this respect. Not only did it help me explore these issues in a concrete way but it fostered an enthusiasm for learning that will stay with me for life. In first year, I was exposed to a wide range of introductory courses such as political science, economics and law. This was extremely beneficial as it gave me a strong foundation of knowledge in the social sciences. In the years that followed, I was able to narrow my module choices to suit my academic interests. This included topics on globalisation, race and social theory. My favourite course was conflict studies, taught by Dr. Andrew Finlay. For me, this class embodied everything I loved about sociology and the department. By addressing conflict through critical theory it encouraged us to deconstruct pervading assumptions about power, culture and society. The final year dissertation was an invaluable aspect of the degree. Students identified an area of interest and then conducted an independent project. This was one of the most fulfilling experiences I had at university and helped me realise my passion for research. Ultimately, studying sociology at Trinity has forever changed how I view the world around me, and has set me on a path of life-long learning.

Lucy Roberts

TSM Sociology Graduate 2013, currently working in Brussels for a think tank (FGB) involved in gender equality and labour market issues

I thoroughly enjoyed studying sociology at Trinity because it gave me the opportunity to learn about such a large range of relevant and interesting topics from European welfare states and migration to popular culture and social media. However from a practical side it has also equipped me with real and valuable research skills that I am now realising are so valuable and sought after in the labour market. The Sociology Department has some great connections around Europe and the world and fully encouraged us to make use of the exchange opportunities on offer. I spent my third year in Sweden and the Department made it all very easy and were extremely accommodating. I also enjoyed the size of the Department: it made such a difference that the lecturers and teaching assistants knew you by name and that you felt you could always stop by their office. The modules that I took over the four years were perfectly arranged as building blocks and each year you were able to build on the knowledge you gained in the previous year. My favourite module was European Societies taught by Professor James Wickham. From this I developed a passion for European affairs and then took the Economic sociology of Europe module in final year which led to my current job.  

Sinéad Sweeney

Sinead SweeneyTSM Sociology Graduate 2013, currently enrolled in an MA in International Relations, Department of War Studies, King’s College London.

Undertaking a degree in Sociology at Trinity was both the most important and best decision I have ever made. As an international student, moving to Dublin was a real adventure and it quickly became ‘home’. For me, what makes Sociology so special is that you leave the lecture but you don’t leave your subject behind. Sociology pervades everything in our daily lives and it was a real strength of the department’s teaching that, whatever the subject matter, you were able to see the impact and importance of the field in a real-world setting. It was a pleasure to use this sociological lens, and put it to the test in conducting my own research dissertation. Unlike many of my friends in other fields, I found doing a dissertation in Sociology was a real treat. Having free reign to decide what (or who!) to study over the year was an incredibly exciting prospect and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was so gratifying when research participants read the final piece and recognised that ‘wow, that is definitely what’s happening when we’re doing that- how did we not know?! In Sociology at Trinity you are exposed to so many different phenomena that everyone finds what they are fascinated by and what they really feel strongly about, moreover it teaches you to see your previously held assumptions about these things, see past them, and therefore fully understand them.

Hannah Popham

Hannah PophamTSM Sociology Graduate 2013, currently enrolled in the MA in Journalism at DIT

I was originally drawn to study sociology as I have always had a keen interest in the ways in which people interact and make up society – something which I have carried with me into my chosen career as a journalist. Although the modules in first year were tough as students study economics and politics, by second year the programme offers a really engaging look at issues such as subcultures, identities and how to actually begin to study and discuss them in a concrete way. However, the last two years of the programme were by far the most interesting as we began to cover subjects such as social inequality and the ways in which conflict plays out in different societies. My favourite module was Popular Culture and Digital Lives taught by Dr. Barbara Bradby and Dr. Anne Holohan, in which we covered such diverse topics from gender within 50 Shades of Grey to the extent to which social media can be considered a community. The continual thought-provoking debate we had in sociology tutorials kept me constantly assessing and re-assessing almost everything I encountered in society. Studying sociology allows us to see the world in a completely different light and reminds us to question everything within it.

James Richard White James White

BESS Graduate 2012, currently working in the not-for-profit sector

I chose Sociology because I am interested in people, society and what happens to us. The Sociology department in Trinity College, through a wide and topical range of modules, explained how the great sociological thinkers predicted the ills of modern society from social isolation to empty hospital wards. It explored the power, energy and potential of open source computing and modern interactive technology as the audience interacts to itself. It charted the decline of Russia as it moved overnight from communism to the free market economy. It questioned the future, will and can India become the next China? Will the internet undermine traditional communities? It explained the underlying reasons why European societies are culturally so different. It tackled the big social issues of conflict, race, migration, gender and popular culture. It thought me how to understand, research and explain all of these topics in a logical organised fashion. Sociology is sold short. We now hear that it is not about the economy it is about Society. If you care about society, our society, Sociology in Trinity College will make you think critically, question widely and challenge the important issues. That is a good choice for you and for a future employer.

Eleanor Friel

PPES Graduate 2012, MA EU International Relations & Diplomacy College of Europe 2014, currently working in international development in Egypt

Having started my university life as a medical student, I never could have predicted that I would eventually graduate with a double honours degree in Political Science and Sociology. Nonetheless, never have I regretted this change of track for the slightest moment. Particular highlights over my four years, for me, were the modules on European Societies in SF year, and Economic Sociology of Europe in SS year. Moreover, many of the topics I studied in sociology classes greatly complemented my coursework across Political Science, Economics and Philosophy. An Erasmus year at the University of Helsinki in Finland stands out as one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. The Sociology Department was extremely helpful and encouraging in terms of facilitating exchanges. Studying sociology has made me look at the world in new ways, and has given me analytical and critical thinking skills that have strongly stood to me in diverse positions thereafter, whether as a political intern in Sierra Leone, as a Masters student at the College of Europe or in my current role working in international development in Egypt.

Peter Robert Gardner

BESS Graduate 2012, currently reading for a PhD at the University of Cambridge

I was originally attracted to the BESS programme because it would provide me with a broad base of subjects in junior freshman year (with modules in Economics, Sociology, Business, Political Science, and a choice between law and a language) whilst allowing me to specialise in a single subject by senior sophister year. I came to Trinity planning to study economics, however I found the senior freshman modules in sociology ('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 academia. 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.

Elizabeth Hayes

Sociology and Social Policy Graduate 2012, currently enrolled in the MSc in Human Resource Management at UCD

Like many of my contemporaries, my CAO form was subject to last minute revisions and additions as I blitzed my way through the course prospectus before settling on my final choice of a BA in Sociology and Social Policy. Crucially, in both the first and second year of this programme, students are deliberately exposed to subjects across the social sciences such as political science, economics as well as introductory modules in law and languages. This allows the student to gain experience within a wide range of subjects, something I found invaluable in attempting to narrow my post- graduate options following my final exams. I personally found that the final two years of the programme were characterised by smaller, more intimate classes that attempted to challenge the student intellectually and encourage problem solving and critical thinking skills in terms of thinking about contemporary society. In terms of my own learning experiences, I found that the final year dissertation was invaluable in terms of enabling the student to create an original piece of research and develop core research skills as well as improving literacy skills. Indeed, overall the BA in Sociology and Social Policy provided me with the core competencies and skills that allowed me to pursue a Master's degree.