Student experience: Studying sociology at Kent

'It really helps to broaden the mind, and to develop the “Sociological imagination” that every student aims to achieve.'

Final-year student Ethan Cleverly reflects on his experience of studying a BA Sociology degree at Kent

Can you tell us why you chose to study sociology for your undergraduate degree?

Sociology has always been an interest of mine. I have always wondered how society works, the different processes involved in its makeup and how they all interlink. Learning about different topics such as crime, feminism, marxism and Sociological Theory was fascinating when growing up in education, and is why I decided to pursue this topic at degree level. It really helps to broaden the mind, and to develop the “Sociological imagination” that every student aims to achieve.

What attracted you to study Sociology at Kent?

The course and the location. The course included many modules that I was particularly interested in, and the way it was set up appealed to my needs. I for example, prefer coursework to examination, and was particularly relieved when most modules had coursework as its final assessment. Not to mention, the University of Kent is a top 5 University for this subject, which ultimately attracted me to study here.

As well as the course, the City of Canterbury was also another reason why I wanted to study at Kent. The City itself is very beautiful, full of history and before the COVID pandemic, was incredibly atmospheric. The student life was great, with pubs and clubs being at the heart of the city.

Did you live on campus in your first year?

Yes, in my first year I lived in Darwin College.  Living on Campus was a good experience, as everything was easily accessible and in short distance from each other.

How is the course going?

The course is going very well. I am in the latter stages of finishing the course, which requires a lot of effort. Essays, Dissertation, exam preparation take a lot of time to complete, but I am enjoying this process. This is helped by the fact that I also enjoy the modules on the course, which gives me that motivation to study and work hard.

Do you have a favourite module?

Not particularly. I like learning about different aspects of sociology, and each module is unique in its own way. Throughout my course, I’ve learnt about classical sociology, contemporary sociology, crime, gender, sociological theory, violence, the list goes on. Each module was thoroughly enjoyable, and complimented each other in its own ways. Therefore, if you want to learn about Sociology, the University of Kent is the place to be. The course covers practically everything that you need, as well as allowing you to be creative in your own ways.

What have been the highlights of your course so far?

I have had many highlights throughout my three years of doing this course. When I achieved my first ‘1st’ grade, staying up at late hours in the library to do an essay or the satisfaction of knowing that you have completed everything that has been asked from you. The course will be tough, but fun at the same time. If you know how to organise yourself properly and balance your work as well as your social life, everything will be fine. This is probably the biggest lesson I have taken from the course; the ability to organise myself, while completing a vast array of modules.

Tell us about your lecturers?

My lecturers were very helpful throughout my course. Although I had a greater rapport with my seminar leaders and academic advisors, lecturers were always there if I needed help with my work. They were easily accessible, and were always able to give constructive advice when needed.

The ways the modules were delivered by the lecturers was special too. Each lecture was taught in a different way, and was often engaging among the students. These new creative ways in teaching meant that all lectures were enjoyable; you didn’t really know what to expect. I have to thank the lecturers for this.

How have you found the experience of learning online?

I am not a huge fan of online learning, I preferred face-to-face learning. I get distracted much more easily in the comfort of my own home than if I was learning in a University building.  Moreover, online seminars are also sometimes an issue. You never really know what’s happening behind a camera, especially when its turned off. Therefore, seminars can sometimes be disrupted in this instance, which would not be possible in face-to-face learning. Despite this, in these unfortunate circumstances, online learning is the best alternative; it is key that everyone fully adapts to these changes.

Tell us about the Social Research Methods module and about your experience of undertaking the Research Dissertation module

The Social Research Methods was very enjoyable. It was the first time ever that I undertook actual social research with participants. I learnt many new skills, for example, how to choose my sample, how to organise data or even how to develop the use of my method. I thoroughly enjoyed the module, as it gave me these skills which I think are beneficial to the career I want to take.

This experience I gained from the Social Research Module, greatly helped me for the Research Dissertation module. The basis is the same, collect data on a topic you are interested in, and try to prove/disprove your hypothesis. However, the dissertation is very tough. You must be prepared to organise yourself, to read around your topic and to make sure you stay on your targets. This would pretty easy if you choose a topic that you are interested in, which is the most important aspect of undertaking this module.

Tell us about the opportunities you’ve taken advantage of during your time at Kent 

Ever since I joined the University, I wanted to maximise any opportunities I got. In the first year, I joined the lacrosse social club, and would take part in any extra-curricular activities I could. We would host social events, meet new people, and organise activities together. Furthermore, I was also interested in studying history during my course, and this is where I undertook ‘wild modules’ in history within the first year. This is another aspect that I enjoy about this University; the fact that you can undertake modules from other courses during your degree. This really helped me in widening my scope of interest, and in broadening my knowledge on different topics

What’s next for you? What are your career plans?

This coming September, I will be undertaking a PGCE at Manchester Metropolitan University. My aim is to teach Sociology at secondary level, combining my passion with a subject that I love.

Finally, what advice do you have for students coming to Kent to study your subject?

Being from Gibraltar, even though we are British, I have never lived in mainland UK. Going to university was a completely new experience for me. I was nervous because I did not know what to expect, I did not know who I’d meet, or which friends I’d make. My advice to students is not to worry. Everyone is in the same boat, and are feeling exactly the same as you are. The University does great in organising events where you can meet new people, socialise on campus or even attend ‘meet and greets’.

When it comes to studying the subject, the lecturers are very welcoming. You are never thrown into the course, rather you are eased in. The content is very well explained, is clear-cut and simple to follow. This ensures that the needs are met for all international students; including those with language barriers. The University is all about inclusivity, and this is greatly reflected within its courses.

Explore the choice of Sociology degrees at Kent (including single honours and joint honours programmes)

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