Welcome to the Department of Sociology & Criminology in University College Cork. We are one of the top ranked Sociology Departments in Ireland, scoring 5 out of 5 for research in our most recent Research Quality Review. We compare favourably with the top 15 sociology departments in the UK and the US, indeed UCC is ranked in the top 2% of universities in the world. Our Staff research and publish on major societal and global issues including social and criminal justice; religion and civilization; globalization; climate change and sustainability; gender, sexuality and identity; borders and migration; social pathologies; health, illness, science, medicine and technology; social networks; drugs, violence and organized crime; ethics; work and employment; deviance, transgression and social harms; and terrorism and counter-terrorism; amongst many other topics. The department is home to both criminology and sociology and we contribute significantly to anthropology programmes. We have particularly strong expertise in social theory and research methodologies. Our staff members are also all highly regarded teachers and we offer innovative research-led courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels that will provide you with key skills and information that you need for your research, teaching and professional careers. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
What is Sociology?
Sociology first emerged to study the complexities of the modern world, a world which is now experiencing very fundamental social, political and cultural crises, which incorporate substantial environmental dimensions as well.
Sociology tries to grasp and understand the full range of what is going on in relation to these topics by studying the realms of economy, technology, work & commerce [including, for instance, the digital and bio-engineering ‘revolutions’; robotics; gig work and precarity; and the impacts of new social media on public and private life]; health and illness [chronic illness, depression, self-harm and suicide]; our historical situatedness locally and globally [‘post-traditional’ societies, and ‘new communities’]; climate change, sustainability, global warming, and global wars; our membership of peoples and distinct communities including mobility and migration [migrations, asylum and refuge, multicultures, and ethno-nationalisms]; our sharp divisions of gender, race & ethnicity [the elaboration of ‘rights’, the ‘Alt Right’ and the raging ‘culture wars’ around gender and identity and discourses around conflict, post conflict and terrorism] sex, gender and sexualities; our concrete co-dependencies and conflicts grounded in political, economic structures & relationships [extremes of economic inequality; the end of social welfare; tax avoidance and corporate social responsibility]; our intimate social-psychological and emotional lives; and our individual and collective understandings of our shared experiences. Sociology helps us to understand and make sense of contemporary society, and, hopefully, change it for the better.
Sociology is a scientific subject that studies individuals and societies using cutting-edge concepts and methods. In this way it is a very realistic subject. It seeks to understand the world as it actually is. It is also a subject that seeks to improve and transform people’s lives. By evaluating our society in the contexts of other contemporary and historical civilizations and alternative forms of life, Sociology seeks to broaden & deepen our understanding of the world so that we may analyse and appraise our beliefs and behaviours in the light of different ideals and values, thereby enabling us to imaginatively re-invent ourselves and our society as a whole.
If you study Sociology with us in UCC you will work on interesting and important problems and issues through advanced courses that will challenge you and develop you. You will also have the opportunity to focus on your own areas of interest early on, and use the ideas you come across in the course for your own work. We promise you a friendly and welcoming but academically rigorous environment. Many of our graduates are now distinguished professionals and researchers, teaching at universities & colleges in Ireland (including UCD, UL, NUIM, NUIG, Waterford, Tralee and Limerick ITs) and throughout the world (including Sussex, Lancaster, Newcastle, and Sheffield in the UK; Ottawa, Toronto, Guelph, in Canada; Princeton NJ, Canterbury NZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Saudi Arabia). Our Masters programme graduates have entered fields such as teaching, journalism, broadcasting, social research, human resources, the civil service, social services, community work, NGOs and development organisations.
Studying Sociology in UCC
You can study sociology at the Joint Honours or Single Honours level through a Bachelor of Arts. Sociology is also taught through the Bachelor of Social Science in conjunction with the Department of Applied Social Studies. Information about Entry Requirements and fees are located here:
Both undergraduate programmes attract a large and diverse group of students with a keen interest in contemporary social and political issues and a desire to contribute positively to the local, regional and international communities of which they are a part. The three-year programme begins with a broad introduction to the discipline of sociology and contemporary social issues. Generally you study six major areas of Sociology in your first year, for example one of which is Medical Sociology, which is the use of Sociology to understand health systems and behaviours. You progress then to a deeper immersion in theory, research training, and substantive areas of knowledge in second and third years. We offer a wide variety of interesting and in-depth modules in 2nd and 3rd year on topics like Sociology of the Body, Health and Illness; Sociology of Gender, Sexuality and Identity; Sociology of Law; Sociology of Crime and Deviance; and Sociology of the Environment, Climate Change and Climate Breakdown. A full list of the modules that we teach can be found in the UCC Book of Modules (search for Sociology).
In third year, Sociology students also complete a substantial, supervised research project. The project enables students to apply and refine their research skills, explore an area or issue of personal interest, and contribute to existing knowledge within the field. Students have wide latitude to research and write about whatever topics that they find most interesting. In the past several years students have researched drug use; terrorism; sexual violence; precarious work; mental health amongst young people; social media and social networking; chronic illness; music scenes, subcultures, comic books and popular culture; gender roles and stereotypes; and a wide variety of other projects. We supervise projects in all of the broad areas of Sociology that we teach and research on.
The Sociology Department also hosts the new BA in Criminology. All the core courses of that degree are taught by sociologists and the Programme Director is a member of the Sociology Department.
As the Department of Sociology & Criminology also contributes to a wide range of other degree programs including business, nursing studies, public health, adult & continuing education, and anthropology. Sociology students can choose from a variety of module and course combinations to best suit their individual career goals.
The Department places a very high value on teaching excellence.
We receive consistently high feedback (rated steadily above 90%) from students who take our modules on review items such as content originality, comprehensiveness of material, and clarity of structure and presentation of our lectures.
Examples of our student feedback include:
“I looked forward to going to every class”.
“The whole module was fantastic, I loved it”
“I really enjoyed how the material was relevant to what’s going in in today’s world”.
“Captivating, interesting and funny”.
“Outstanding teaching and content”.
Employment for Sociology Students
By studying Sociology you will have an opportunity to develop and demonstrate key skills which are useful for the modern economy, as well as develop your subject knowledge of Sociology. These skills include: time management in pressurised situations; evaluating, analysing and synthesising information; problem solving and decision-making; project design; resilience; and the ability to work autonomously and in groups.