Examine the social world and investigate how it is changing. Our Sociology MA provides a comprehensive overview of the foundational concerns and current debates in sociology. You gain knowledge of current theoretical tools and learn to think critically and systematically about society, culture, and human behaviour.
Develop the skills in research and analysis which can be used in a range of professional fields or as an excellent basis for further research in sociology and applied subjects. Our world-leading research academics challenge you to become a creative thinker, with your own opinions and ideas, and help you to develop useful skills for your future career.
The course focus is empirical, analytical and comparative in nature, drawing on research into European, Asian and North American societies. You gain a thorough grounding in sociological research on modern societies and contemporary culture, alongside contemporary social theory.
A good honours degree in sociology or a related social science discipline, or substantial experience in social or political research or a relevant profession.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
This course is designed to provide a guide to the foundations of sociology by exploring the most influential traditions of writing in the discipline and examining how these were forged on the basis of an ongoing dialogue with the legacy of the Enlightenment. After situating sociology in its historical, philosophical and theological contexts, the course analyses how the founders of the discipline developed a series of a competing visions of those processes elementary to social and moral life. Focusing mainly on the French and German traditions of sociology, but also incorporating the British tradition, we progress by examining the tensions that have arisen between collectivist visions of the social whole and competing conceptions of voluntarist inter/action, before focusing on Parsons's attempt to reconcile these approaches within an overarching conception of 'the sociological tradition’. The second part of the course moves away from these classical visions of sociology to those post-classical attempts to reconstruct the discipline on the basis of alternative concerns such as conflict, culture and post-modernity. Here we study a number of perspectives that have contributed to a fragmentation of the discipline. Whilst most sessions are concerned with debating the dominant theoretical interests that have defined the discipline, others are devoted to investigating key junctures in the development of methodology and research practice. The course aims to provide students with critical insights into the ways in which sociology has been configured as a discipline in response to key junctures in its history.
Social theory is a nebulous field of inquiry with fuzzy boundaries. Some of the most significant contributions to it in terms of ideas and concepts have historically originated in the work of thinkers diversely identified with a wide range of disciplines - such as psychoanalysis, philosophy, anthropology, literary and aesthetic theory, historical and cultural studies, as well as with sociology. This module approaches contemporary social theory by exploring a set of themes through close readings and analyses of several texts by 20th and 21st century theorists whose work has been to varying degrees appropriated across the social sciences and the humanities, but yet whose contribution to 'social theory' per se is still open to question, in any case far from canonical.
In working through these selected primary texts within a seminar group, the aim is to critically investigate and evaluate what they offer to social theory, and to critically assess their usefulness for understanding various social and political phenomena characteristic of contemporary life and society in a globalised world. During the course of such detailed discussions, we will also, no doubt, reflect on the distinction between modern and postmodern social theory; the 'linguistic turn', the ‘cultural turn’, the ‘ethical turn’, the shift from narrative to image based culture, and other general parameters of social theorizing in recent times.
The module will serve to provide students with an overview of the scope and expectations of a dissertation at MA-level. We discuss the ethical challenges of doing empirical research in the 21st century, and prepare students for carrying out an independent piece of research within a given timeframe. If the dissertation requires ethical research approval, an application will be submitted to the School research ethics committee.
The module is organised around the general theme of a discussion of current debates in the sociology of health, illness and medicine drawing on both theoretical and empirical research. More specific themes will include: the social construction of health and the changing boundaries between health and illness; medicalisation and the discovering of new mental and physical illnesses ; narratives of illness and identity in the context of chronic illness and disability assessing the value of concepts such as 'biographical disruption': the changing structure, nature and regulation of medicine and the explanatory power of the new sociology of professionalism.; the political sociology of medicine which explores the relationship between the state and organised interests such as the pharmaceutical industry; changing approaches of the public /patients to maintaining health and managing illness in the context of a culture of consumption where health and lifestyle might be seen as commodities and maintaining a healthy body keeps control over an uncertain and changing world ; trust, risk and mental health ; consideration of the growth in the use of non-orthodox health care and the development of medical pluralism and a discussion of the relationship between structure and agency in the context of social inequalities in health.
This module focuses on the theory and practice of qualitative research. It explores the various aspects of using and collecting qualitative data. The aim of the module is to illustrate a range of practical techniques while considering related problems of evidence and inference in qualitative analyses.
Students will be versed in a range of techniques and will have the opportunity to practice some of them, this includes
• the theory and practice of interviewing and different varieties of interview;
• focus groups;
• oral history;
• case study methods;
• ethnographic theory and method;
• action research;
• critical discourse analysis;
• narrative analysis;
• visual methods.
The module will provide an introduction to the use of Statistical Analysis within the Research Process. It will begin by introducing and discussing different types of measurement and the practical use of SPSS. After discussing basic data description and transformation the focus will shift to Exploratory Data Analysis and the need to examine the data carefully. Approaches to summarising data and distributions will then be examined. This will then be followed by methods to test research hypotheses through bi-variate and multivariate regression methods, including more advanced techniques such as logistic regression, and interaction terms. The final part of the module will look at various issues surrounding the practical quantitative data analysis, such as how to find appropriate data and about presenting research outcomes.
The module is designed so that, as well as covering a core of central concepts and theories, students will have the opportunity from selecting from among a range of optional topics. The core topics which are covered every year include:-
? Introduction: questions of definition – protest, collective action, social movements, social movement organisations. NGOs, pressure groups
? Collective behaviour or political action? The question of rationality; mass society theory; relative deprivation
? Resource mobilisation theory and its critics
? Political opportunity structures
? Ideas, values and knowledge in the making of social movements
? Mass media and social movements: framing and its consequences
? New communications media and social movements
This module explores the economic, social, political and moral aspects of neoliberalisation in low- and middle-income countries. Notions of power, the state, capital, class, agency and morality are central to considerations of economic and political change. Several key topics, including gendered politics, state corruption, international aid and donation, global finance, informal settlements and migration, will be discussed. The module is interdisciplinary, giving students the opportunity to engage with key ideas and studies from sociology and political science to development studies and ethics. Each week students will explore a broad range of literature, spanning from political sociology to moral economy, so that students gain a deeper appreciation of people' politics and values in emerging and newly liberal societies.
This course provides students with the understanding and skills necessary to use research, whether within a research career or outside of it. Building on other training in the details of specific methods, it focuses on two sets of broader questions. Firstly, it critically analysis central concepts such as truth, power, ethics and uncertainty in social research. When addressing these issues, the module engages with how they are dealt with and approached in qualitative and quantitative research. In the module students will engage actively with these issues and critically reflect upon their own views and how they apply them in their own research projects. We particularly discuss the difficulties of causal inference and generalisation, coming to conclusions from research reviews, and philosophical issues around 'truth' and values. Secondly, it looks at the link between research and action. In doing this, it goes from the very practical (how to ensure that your research is used by policymakers and/or practitioners, and to deal with the political pressures on researchers) to the conceptual (in what ways does evidence get used by wider society?) to the normative (should researchers be ‘critical’, and if so, what are their ethical obligations in doing this?).
This course introduces students to the logic and methods of social research. The course aims to familiarize students to central topics in research design, the methodological choices necessary to address in designing social research and the ethics of social research. The module introduces students to both positivist and critical/interpretive approaches and the debates behind their selection for conducting research. Students will be versed in the scientific approaches to social research, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The module aims to provide students a robust understanding of social research methods and the decisions needed to write up a research proposal.
This module examines the way work shapes society and in turn how society shapes work. Drawing on the fields of sociology, cultural sociology, social policy as well as other disciplines this module explores work in a variety of competing and complementing ways and in doing so offers students a chance to appreciate different themes, issues, methodologies and approaches. These include work identity and meaning; age, generation and class; visual methods and approaches; the cultures of work; work/life balance and the end of work.
The module will explore the following indicative topics:
• Sociological analysis of the term 'parenting'
• The social history of debates about 'the family' and the sociology of privacy
• The changing meaning of childhood, motherhood and fatherhood
• The meaning of the term ‘intensive parenthood’ and its relation to expertise and risk culture
• The sociology of identity, as applied in studies of the experience of parenting
• The relationship of policies linking family life to broader social policy
• Critiques of state intervention in family life and of particular contemporary parenting policies
The aims of this module are two-fold:
First, to provide students with the opportunity to independently carry out an in-depth inquiry to investigate a research question(s) of their choice, producing a coherent review of the relevant literature, a logical discussion and a clearly communicated set of conclusions in the form of a dissertation. Second, to provide students with an assessed opportunity to apply their skills as 'research-minded' practitioners with a view to being able to undertake future research in practice settings and/or take a lead role in supervising others in such work.
During the spring term, the students will finalise their dissertation proposal with their chosen supervisor (having received prior guidance on the aims, the structure and the process of the dissertation). If the dissertation requires ethical research approval, an application will be submitted to the School research ethics committee by the beginning of the summer term. During the summer term and vacation, students will meet their supervisor regularly to discuss the progress of their dissertation. The supervisors will provide feedback on written work and will set work plans and targets for the students. The dissertation topic will relate to a key question, issue and problem within social science.
Assessment is by coursework and the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You will gain the following transferable skills:
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
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Academic staff at Kent share a number of interests, grouped here for your guidance. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups and your research project does not have to fall neatly within any one of them. The School also has several research centres that bring together experts in the field, co-ordinate research, organise talks and offer opportunities for postgraduate students to get involved in discussions and research projects.
Social and political changes have stimulated new forms of political participation and mobilisation, including waves of protest, new social movement organisations focused on old as well as new issues, new political parties and global social movements. Staff interests include environmental movements, humanitarian NGOs, elite networks, and the ‘postmodern’ politics of anti-communist movements in Eastern Europe.
Staff in this research cluster seek to: understand the social forces and cultural interests that move people to take moral responsibility for responding to/caring for the needs of others; document and explain the institutional organisation of charitable behaviour and its social impacts; the socio-cultural dynamics of philanthropic behaviour and its effects on society. They also perform research into contemporary humanitarianism and its powers of influence over social policy and political process; and the character of the social ties and cultural values that structure the interrelationships between humanitarian action, charitable endeavour and philanthropic intervention; as well as the bearing of government policies and governmental processes upon the charitable sector and philanthropic activity.
The School has a long-established tradition of conducting criminological research. The group covers a diverse range of topics, employs both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and draws upon different theoretical traditions. We have particular expertise in the following areas: cultural criminology; crime, punishment and social change; drug use; gender, crime and criminal justice; penology and imprisonment (especially of female offenders); policing; quasi-compulsory treatment for drug-using offenders; race, crime and criminal justice; restorative justice and young offenders; crime and the ‘night-time economy’, terrorism and political crime; violence; youth crime and youth justice.
Present and current research has been funded by the ESRC, the Home Office and the Youth Justice Board.
Using the framework of studying different welfare regimes, academic staff research a wide range of topics, while postgraduate students conduct research projects in every part of the world. Many of these projects involve overseas students making comparative studies involving their own country and European or UK services. The work of academic staff has resulted in a wide range of policy research related to Europe. Recent cross-national work has included projects examining home care services for older people, formal and informal social care systems, institutional change and the future of welfare reform, industrial relations, housing and community activism. Other interests include globalisation and welfare, and subsidiarity and convergence. Current or recent thesis topics include: democratisation and social policy in Korea; youth homelessness in Greece and the UK.
Research at Kent addresses how gender is constructed and how it operates in a variety of social realms. Some of our recent projects have focused on gender in prisons, on women working as door staff in nightclubs and on how women are addressed in advice on pregnancy. Our research on social policy also includes a focus on gender, examining how men, women and families are affected by legislation and service provision.
At Kent, research in this area includes the role of global civil society, critical analysis of terrorism and responses to it, globalisation and everyday life, migration, the role of communication technologies, and the global expansion of capitalism and responses to it in social movements.
Within this area, staff have worked on the ‘culture of anxiety’ and the ‘therapy culture’, the impact on individual lives and experiences of masculinity, gender, race and ethnicity, parenthood and nationality. Other interests include the social context in which attributions of mental illness are made and managed, the meaning and construction of pain in late modernity, and the sociology of crime and deviance.
Staff share a research interest in the social role of the media, how media are used and how they are changing. Research at Kent has included work on the role of the media in constructing social problems and moral panics, media and crime, new media, media and subcultures, and the role of media in representing space and identity.
Though socially and discursively constructed, ‘race’ continues to be a key basis of social division and identification in British society, across Europe, and globally. Not only do many disparate ethnic minority groups continue to identify along ethnic, racial and religious lines, but ethnicity and race continue to shape a variety of outcomes, such as employment, educational attainment and senses of ‘belonging’. In this sense, ‘race’ and the recognition of difference continues to matter and is a key element in the School’s research interests.
The critical analysis of risk and perceptions of risk have become central issues in the sociology of the ‘risk society’ and this is an important focus of activity in the School. Staff research includes work on health risks and their management, the implications of attitudes and behaviour concerning risk for the welfare state, the development of a culture of risk and anxiety, moral panics, risk and crime, risk and the life course, suffering, and the perceptions of new communications technology.
Staff working in this cluster study issues such as classical social theory, the impact on social theory of the fall of communism, and the theoretical implications of the changing boundaries of social life. This has further entailed work on the integrity of auto/biography as a form of social information and its impact on diverse disciplines of feminist perspectives.
In this research cluster, staff seek to understand the complex relationships between embodied subjects, and the social and cultural forms, relationships, institutions and structures that shape and are shaped by these actors. This includes research on clothing and fashion, the embodiment of age, and the body in health and social care. Thesis topics within this cluster have included female binge drinking, female body builders, tattooing and piercing, and the embodied sociology of private spaces.
Staff share an interest in the visual dimension of social life. How is life seen; how are images created, stored and used? In various research projects, we also explore the use of images in innovative forms of research design and in sharing our findings.
Interest in the issues surrounding work stretches across SSPSSR and current projects focus on work identity and meaning; work/life balance; age, generation and employment; visual representation of work; deindustrialisation; organisational sociology; gender, ethnicity and class at work; historiography of work sociology; moral economy; workplace ethnography and oral histories.
The School also has several research centres that bring together experts in the field, co-ordinate research, organise talks and offer opportunities for postgraduate students to get involved in discussions and research projects.
The Centre for Child Protection is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and is the first centre of its kind in Europe. Combining research with distance learning programmes and a range of innovative serious training games, the Centre for Child Protection is leading the way in building knowledge and training opportunities for professionals working in this area.
We aim to:
The Centre is led and informed by a team of experts in the field of child protection. With many years of experience in both research and practice, we are committed to improving the provision of continued professional development to enhance the skills of those involved in child protection.
The Centre for Health Services Studies has a strong record in attracting research grants from the National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework Programme, ESRC, Department of Health, as well as local health authorities and trusts. It is a designated NIHR Research Design Support Service. Particular areas of expertise include pragmatic trials, risk assessment and management, care of vulnerable adults including older people, and public health.
Based in SSPSSR, the Centre is inter-disciplinary, with associates in other Schools at the University, including Law and Psychology, and at other universities in the UK and internationally.
While CPCS associates have diverse research interests, the common view is that child-rearing as a social activity needs to be distinguished from ‘parenting’ and the culture that surrounds it. The work seeks to show how the role and meaning of parenthood has changed in recent years. The expansion of the child-rearing role has also encouraged the belief that ‘parenting’ is a problematic sphere of social life. Indeed, ‘parenting’ is almost always discussed as a social problem. Many social factors have sought to turn child-rearing into an object of policy making, encouraging the emergence of the activity ‘parenting’. The causes and effects of this policy turn is another central area of the Centre’s research.
Dedicated to an understanding of the social processes and cultural experiences by which people acquire moral dispositions to care for others, the Centre for Philanthropy offers a focal point for much of this work. Research is conducted into the ways in which our capacity for feelings are socially cultivated, corporately structured, politically mediated and economically expressed. The School is also linked to the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC), collaborating with the University of Birmingham on third sector theory and policy analysis.
The Centre was established in 1992, and since then has helped the University of Kent gain wider recognition as a leading institution in the study of social and political movements in the UK. The Centre has attracted research council, European Union, and charitable foundation funding, and collaborated with international partners on major funding projects. Today, the Centre continues to attract graduate students and international visitors, and facilitate the development of collaborative research. Recent and ongoing research undertaken by members includes studies of Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, veganism and animal rights.
The Centre conducts research into the concept of risk and uncertainty: how and why risk is manifested and how it is experienced in today’s society. Staff take an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing upon sociology, law, social psychology, and history. The Centre’s research seeks to understand causal issues from the perspectives of both individuals and organisations while considering the wider political and social context.
The PSSRU is the largest social services research unit in the UK, and operates at three sites: the University of Kent, the London School of Economics and the University of Manchester. Facilities include the Griffiths Library of Community Care, a reference library of more than 10,000 books, journals and other literature linked to the Unit’s field of study. Research focuses on needs, resources and outcomes in health and social care: major concerns are resourcing, equity and efficiency from the perspective of users, agencies and others. The Unit has developed a distinctive analytical framework called the ‘production of welfare approach’ to illuminate this research.
The University of Kent is one of 15 universities in the UK to have a Q-Step Centre, significantly funded by HEFCE, the Nuffield Foundation and ESRC, to provide students with advanced training in quantitative methods in social sciences.
The Centre is based in SSPSSR and incorporates teaching from Politics and International Relations, Law, Business and Liberal Arts. At its heart is the delivery of quantitative skills training in a subject context, a community-based project and professional placements. Quantitative Methods (QM) training, which greatly enhances employability and provides a deeper and more secure grasp of the quantitative skills needed to evaluate evidence and analyse data within a discipline, is delivered in a practical and engaging manner.
The Tizard Centre is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and has excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments. The Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual disability and community care, and in 2013 received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas.
Our primary aims, through research, teaching and consultancy, are:
The Tizard Centre is recognised as leading the field in deinstitutionalisation and community living, challenging behaviour, quality of staff support, sexuality and autism, and has had a significant impact on national policies in these areas. We are committed to addressing issues arising from social inequality.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we place considerable emphasis on you gaining specialist knowledge in your chosen subject alongside core transferable skills. We ensure that you develop the skills and competences that employers are looking for including: research and analysis; policy development and interpretation; independent thought; writing and presentation as well as time management and leadership skills. You also become fully involved in the professional research culture of the School. A postgraduate degree in the area of sociology is a particularly flexible and valuable qualification that can lead to many exciting opportunities and professions.
Our graduates go on to work for a range of organisations across the public, private and third sectors, and typically pursue careers which involve specialist research and data analysis skills. Recent graduates have worked for Government, NGOs, charities and think tanks as well as global media organisations.
Our postgraduate students have access to dedicated office space within the department and are able to take advantage of excellent library and computing facilities. Where appropriate, research students are encouraged to expand their experience by teaching part-time in the School.
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Theory and Society; Sociology; European Journal of Social Theory; The Sociological Review; and International Sociology.
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.