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feelinginfinite
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I'm an AS student (I take biology, English literature and law) and I've always loved every subject that I've been taught so I've never had much of a focus on one subject. Even still, I've always had a keen interest in why people act the way they do.

Initially, my tutor suggested last year that I should take sociology at university as some people take it if they're not entirely sure about what to do, since it provides them with the skills that employers look for, but also doesn't set the person in one direction (which is what I want). On the other hand, I was advised by my cousins (a few years older) not to take sociology at A-level, since they did and didn't get accepted into university (however, I don't think they had any "traditional" subjects). I also have my biology teachers constantly making jokes about how sociology isn't a real science (not that I agree with them- they're just those types of teachers )

Anyway, as of last year, and researching courses etc., I found that anthropology would really interest me (e.g learning about cultures, identity, people, evolution) and I've been focussed on doing this since last Septemeber. Only, when I've came to look at the entry requirements for 2013, the universities I was hoping to go to are boosting their grades up to AAA, opposed to AAB (which I was hoping I could achieve with constant revision, resit of a module, and getting a tutor- otherwise I'm more of an ABB). As well, there aren't many universities that I want to go to that do anthropology (mainly since I live in the North and don't want to be travelling more than ~2 hours away). That's why I decided to look into sociology more. I went to Newcastle universities open day a few days ago and really liked the sociology course since it had anthropology elements in too.

To sum up, my questions are pretty much :
1. If you have have a sociology degree- how easy was it for you to find work? Or do you know any friends that have had trouble getting a job with sociology?
2. If you're a sociology student- did you take sociology at A-level? do you find it more interesting to study at degree level? Especially if you go to Newcastle (or know someone doing sociology), how are you/they finding it?
3. Is it true that an employer looks at the skills of a student and not their degree? Or would I be seen as a worst applicant immediately if there was, say, an applicant with a history/physics degree for the same job

(Ps- could you state what degree you're doing if you are/don't mind? Just so I can note if there may be bias from a super intelligent and focused physics student and what not ). Thankyou in advance! I'm hoping to make a start on my personal statement pronto so any help is appreciated
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SpicyStrawberry
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It's not easy for many graduates to find work at the moment, but some employers find Sociology a 'soft' subject lacking in direct career opportunities. If you wish to go into a graduate scheme afterwards a 2.1 degree class is a basic requirement and can usually come from any subject so you should be okay to apply for those, but again the competition is fierce.

There are opportunities open for you to go on to do postgraduate study, perhaps furthering in Sociology or something more specialised e.g. Social Work. Have a look at the Prospects section for sociology graduates for more info on career areas open to you. It also has statistics on which fields graduates are employed within 6 months of leaving university.

I do not take Sociology at university nor did I do it at A-level but as far as I know you do not need the A-level to get onto the degree course, any combination of subjects is acceptable (sometimes excluding General Studies) but essay-based subjects would probably be beneficial to you.

Employers look at their applicants holistically, i.e. the degree is a basic requirement for certain jobs but you need to have experience (paid or voluntary) in the sector that demonstrates you have the skillset required for that particular job. That's why your CV needs to be strong and concise, tailored to that particular job vacancy. I wouldn't go as far as to say a History or Physics graduate is automatically more suitable for the job, we do not know their experience or degree class, how they conduct themselves at interview etc.

I'm currently studying Psychology at university
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feelinginfinite
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(Original post by SpicyStrawberry)
It's not easy for many graduates to find work at the moment, but some employers find Sociology a 'soft' subject lacking in direct career opportunities. If you wish to go into a graduate scheme afterwards a 2.1 degree class is a basic requirement and can usually come from any subject so you should be okay to apply for those, but again the competition is fierce.

There are opportunities open for you to go on to do postgraduate study, perhaps furthering in Sociology or something more specialised e.g. Social Work. Have a look at the Prospects section for sociology graduates for more info on career areas open to you. It also has statistics on which fields graduates are employed within 6 months of leaving university.

I do not take Sociology at university nor did I do it at A-level but as far as I know you do not need the A-level to get onto the degree course, any combination of subjects is acceptable (sometimes excluding General Studies) but essay-based subjects would probably be beneficial to you.

Employers look at their applicants holistically, i.e. the degree is a basic requirement for certain jobs but you need to have experience (paid or voluntary) in the sector that demonstrates you have the skillset required for that particular job. That's why your CV needs to be strong and concise, tailored to that particular job vacancy. I wouldn't go as far as to say a History or Physics graduate is automatically more suitable for the job, we do not know their experience or degree class, how they conduct themselves at interview etc.

I'm currently studying Psychology at university
If I do take sociology, it's more than likely that I'd decide to stay for postgraduate study (I'm one of those people who feels comfortable in education ) but I also think I'd have a much better focus on a career by then. Yeah, the competition worries me too, since I get the feeling that sociology is seen as a soft subject by most people and they won't give me a second look or any opportunity to prove I'm just as good

I was hoping that plenty of work experience, like you say, and joining societies etc. at university would give me enough to talk about. And yeah, I'm planning to work hard at university to get a 2:1 I'm usually nervous with interviews so I'm going to have to start practicing to control nerves too, but that's okay! Thanks for the website link too
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feelinginfinite
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Could anyone else share their opinions on taking sociology as a degree please?
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Craghyrax
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(Original post by feelinginfinite)
Could anyone else share their opinions on taking sociology as a degree please?
I'll drop you a PM soon. I've been a bit busy but meaning to do it
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smd4std
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dude sociology is ****.
/thread
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bownessie
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I think sociology is a great subject but I am not going to lie, from what we were told at my uni I am sceptical how strong it is at gaining employment. When there was a sociology careers talk this year a majority of graduates from my uni went into social work, community work and teaching. Not that I am saying any of those professions are inherently bad (i want to be a teacher) but there was a distinct lack of mention of graduates going onto graduate schemes in big companies which I've generally come to expect as standard from my uni. There just didn't seem to be as much breadth and variety in the employment that I got from my other career talks

I hope no one is offended by this post, I am just speaking from what I got from studying sociology for a year and the career talks that went with it.
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feelinginfinite
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(Original post by Craghyrax)
I'll drop you a PM soon. I've been a bit busy but meaning to do it
Thankyou!

(Original post by bownessie)
I think sociology is a great subject but I am not going to lie, from what we were told at my uni I am sceptical how strong it is at gaining employment. When there was a sociology careers talk this year a majority of graduates from my uni went into social work, community work and teaching. Not that I am saying any of those professions are inherently bad (i want to be a teacher) but there was a distinct lack of mention of graduates going onto graduate schemes in big companies which I've generally come to expect as standard from my uni. There just didn't seem to be as much breadth and variety in the employment that I got from my other career talks

I hope no one is offended by this post, I am just speaking from what I got from studying sociology for a year and the career talks that went with it.
You said you only took sociology for a year- does that mean you transferred to a different course or? Thankyou for the information though- some websites show where graduates end up, and some of the careers mentioned are in HR or business, and not very sociology related at all so I was wondering
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scritty
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The issue seems to be the ratio between number of positions that specificially require a sociology degree and the number of students that are seeking to do the degree. It is a long way out of kilter.
Even if you factor in careers that require "any" degree as a primer (teaching being the prime example) there is still a huge imbalance.

22,000 students currently doing sociology or related subjects at degree level in the UK

6,500 positions (including "generic") that specifically require or would be "soft suited" to require this degree.

Compare that with some science based degrees where industry is crying out for the skills and the ratio is reversed.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do the degree that interests you.
No point doing a subject that you have no interest in. However, for the public purse to pay for undergraduates to do subjects that are in fact little more than "hobby" degrees or "self interest" subjects is something that this (and the last) adminstration are discussing.

The law of supply and demand alone makes a degree in sociology a poor investment both for the student and for the nation.

Sociology
22,000 students
6,500 jobs

Engineering and Science
13,000 students
26,500 jobs

(Source: The Daily Telegraph Milk Round Up 2012)

It can't be expressed any simpler than that.
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risteard
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Are you doing business studies then?
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risteard
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btw, there is no 'law' of supply and demand, what you are referring to is an analytical construct designed to measure variances, it does not have an objective reality.....
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blondie :)
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I'll hopefully be going to do Sociology and Social Policy in September! Whilst I don't really have any experience personally on employment after university, I would say if you think you'll enjoy the course then go for it! It is hard for many graduates to find work at the moment and many graduate jobs don't require a specific subject. I feel as though Sociology can lead you to a variety of different jobs after - especially if you do a Masters (e.g I've looked into Town Planning, which I think Sociology gives you a kind of background on urban areas etc.)

By the way, I haven't done Sociology at A-level (I did Politics, Geography and Economics) and I just found Sociology really interesting
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bownessie
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(Original post by feelinginfinite)
Thankyou!



You said you only took sociology for a year- does that mean you transferred to a different course or? Thankyou for the information though- some websites show where graduates end up, and some of the careers mentioned are in HR or business, and not very sociology related at all so I was wondering
At my university you do three subjects in your first year, sociology was one of mine! I am sure there are plenty of people with sociology degrees who do get good jobs and stuff so I wouldn't worry too much if it is the subject you really want to study!
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Hal59
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At the end of the day the most important thing is to pursue a course that you have a great deal of interest in studying. There's nothing worse than taking a different path simply because it'll make you more 'employable'. After all, you're less likely to get a decent degree at the end of it which is of far greater importance than the subject itself; as long as you can show competence with regards to the skills required for a job you'll be fine. As you are interested in why people act the way they do I strongly recommend that you study sociology through to degree level. You'll get to look at things in much greater depth and will most certainly enjoy it

I myself am a sociology student, though I'm studying it alongside criminology as I have always intended to work with the police force in some way (something which is looking less possible in this day and age). Are there any joint honours degree schemes that take your fancy? One key thing to remember is that, whatever you choose, you'll be given a fair leeway in terms of what to study throughout your course with the final year having a tighter focus on the subject. In other words, as long as you choose a social science degree there's nothing stopping you opting for anthropology modules alongside the core modules. Friends of mine studying on my course (Criminology & Sociology) have studied tribal behaviour over the last year. Check the prospectus of each university to see how many optional modules you'll be allowed.

There's no need to worry about the employability side of things. By studying for a degree in sociology you'll develop a wide range of skills, the most important being the ability to conduct in-depth research and data analysis, which will be more than adequate in helping you find a job. Of course, you stand a better chance of finding work with research facilities such as the ONS, something that my lecturers are always keen to encourage us to do. That said, these skills are still applicable to a much wider range of professions and you'll be no worse off than anyone else.
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scritty
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(Original post by risteard)
btw, there is no 'law' of supply and demand, what you are referring to is an analytical construct designed to measure variances, it does not have an objective reality.....
Sadly it does.
While it may be a simple statistic here, in the real world, employers (myself incuded - with a workforce of just under 100) require specific skills for certain roles.

Despite searching high and low for enough post graduates with these skills, I come up short each year and my business does not grow as I would like - or indeed as it could.

There is little point in me taking on PG's without the requisite skills, it would take 2-3 years to train them at a great cost and with no ongoing benefit to my business until this was complete.

I have on my desk in front of me now 11 applications for the position of Software Engineer - Automotive Applications
It is a graduate opportunity paying £37,000 plus benefits.

Not one application form (all from PG's) is suitable, even for a first interview.

They do not have the skills required, and it is not possible to train "on the job" to the depth required without an excessive investment in terms of both time and money, with no guarantee of the retention required to make it even partially worthwhile.

A two year clause is the longest "retention after study" an employer can reasonably attach to position of this type.

It wouldn't be a "day release" situation but involve the employee studying for at least 50% of the working week for 2-3 years at a cost of between £9000 and £13,000 per year on top of annual salary to my company and offering very little value in terms of the work that the position actually involves for as much as the first 66% of the course.
This is not a viable option for me - or I should imagine many other business'.
While I believe in investment in education, the initial onus should be on the University system to provide a better fit to societies requirements in terms of undergraduate course numbers. It is my perception that they are not even attempting to satisfy the real and commercial needs of industry.
Choice is great, but there comes a time when everything grinds to a halt, and we realise that, as a nation, we have few of the skills required for sustained wealth creation, and armies of recently qualified Sociologists and Art historians wondering why there are no jobs for them.

The skills I require in an applicant are those gained by doing the requisite degree for three of four years, no more - no less.

Put simply - my business has a demand for science and maths post graduates.
The education system is not supplying them.

That is explicitly AND objectively a supply and demand issue from my perspective.
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feelinginfinite
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(Original post by risteard)
Are you doing business studies then?
I'm not doing business studies, no, but I've always been interested in it. I took it at GCSE and loved it, but wanted to try out a new subject at A level (law) that I didn't have the opportunity to at GCSE.

(Original post by bownessie)
At my university you do three subjects in your first year, sociology was one of mine! I am sure there are plenty of people with sociology degrees who do get good jobs and stuff so I wouldn't worry too much if it is the subject you really want to study!
Is your university in Scotland, by any chance? I might have to do my research as there may well be plenty of English uni's offering 3 subjects in the first year, but I recall someone saying they went to Aberdeen and did 3 subjects. My only worry with that is since I'm indecisive, and tend to love every subject I do, I'll hate choosing between them. Out of curiosity, what were your other two in the first year? Did you carry sociology on or decide you didn't like it after the first year? Had you already taken an A level in sociology? (lots of questions- sorry!)

(Original post by Halrick)
At the end of the day the most important thing is to pursue a course that you have a great deal of interest in studying. There's nothing worse than taking a different path simply because it'll make you more 'employable'. After all, you're less likely to get a decent degree at the end of it which is of far greater importance than the subject itself; as long as you can show competence with regards to the skills required for a job you'll be fine. As you are interested in why people act the way they do I strongly recommend that you study sociology through to degree level. You'll get to look at things in much greater depth and will most certainly enjoy it

I myself am a sociology student, though I'm studying it alongside criminology as I have always intended to work with the police force in some way (something which is looking less possible in this day and age). Are there any joint honours degree schemes that take your fancy? One key thing to remember is that, whatever you choose, you'll be given a fair leeway in terms of what to study throughout your course with the final year having a tighter focus on the subject. In other words, as long as you choose a social science degree there's nothing stopping you opting for anthropology modules alongside the core modules. Friends of mine studying on my course (Criminology & Sociology) have studied tribal behaviour over the last year. Check the prospectus of each university to see how many optional modules you'll be allowed.

There's no need to worry about the employability side of things. By studying for a degree in sociology you'll develop a wide range of skills, the most important being the ability to conduct in-depth research and data analysis, which will be more than adequate in helping you find a job. Of course, you stand a better chance of finding work with research facilities such as the ONS, something that my lecturers are always keen to encourage us to do. That said, these skills are still applicable to a much wider range of professions and you'll be no worse off than anyone else.
I used to be interested in doing criminology alongside sociology, but I've always wanted to study anthropology too. Due to the different uni courses, and how some places I want to attend don't offer joint honours for similar combinations, I've decided to rule out criminology since it will make my personal statement easier to write, and I think it's the one that I'd least like to study (I'm one of those people that read about crimes in my spare time and then make myself feel sick when I read the facts of cases- somehow think I wouldn't be good at it as a constant job!). But thankyou for sharing, I was hoping somebody would say that the skills are all that's necessary (give or take).

(Original post by scritty)
Sadly it does...
Choice is great, but there comes a time when everything grinds to a halt, and we realise that, as a nation, we have few of the skills required for sustained wealth creation, and armies of recently qualified Sociologists and Art historians wondering why there are no jobs for them.
The skills I require in an applicant are those gained by doing the requisite degree for three of four years, no more - no less.
Put simply - my business has a demand for science and maths post graduates.
The education system is not supplying them.
Apologies for cutting out large chunks of your answer in the quotation but I began to feel my comment will be super long. Thanks for sharing your view as a person taking people on. I understand that it's necessary to have skills for particular job posts, but I'm assuming this is just because your business has a demand for science and maths? On the plus side, I wouldn't be applying for jobs that are involved in software engineering so hopefully I won't need the skills you're talking about... Nevertheless, I understand that some companies may want specific requirements and it's probably best to check first- thanks though!
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bownessie
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(Original post by feelinginfinite)

Is your university in Scotland, by any chance? I might have to do my research as there may well be plenty of English uni's offering 3 subjects in the first year, but I recall someone saying they went to Aberdeen and did 3 subjects. My only worry with that is since I'm indecisive, and tend to love every subject I do, I'll hate choosing between them. Out of curiosity, what were your other two in the first year? Did you carry sociology on or decide you didn't like it after the first year? Had you already taken an A level in sociology? (lots of questions- sorry!)


I go to Lancaster university, which is in England. My other two were history and human geography and I'm doing human geography as a major next year. I didn't carry on with sociology, I liked in a lot of senses, but it wasn't really right for me. I had originally applied to do a science degree and with the careers/types of careers I had in mind, sociology in particular, was never really in contention for being a subject I was going to continue with. No, I didn't do A-level sociology.

In terms of being indecisive... I think it is a big benefit being able to try out stuff in your first year if you get that opportunity. At Lancaster something like 45% of people don't graduate with the degree they were admitted for, which kind of proves that a lot of people don't know what they want to do when they get to uni (even if the think they do!). I don't think deciding will be as hard as you think it is... all my friends have been able to decide fairly painlessly because most people found a subject or subject combination that felt 'right'. Some people stuck with the same thing they were admitted for, some people changed to joint honours and some people switched.
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cryptic-clues
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I think there are a couple of things I want to say, generally about this question and answers to it.

First, I think the idea that your graduate education will lead to employment or secure employment for you is slightly limited and somewhat misplaced. If getting a job is your sole objective, then think business studies or any of the professional degrees like law/medicine/engineering/architecture etc. If it is generic employment like administrative jobs, any degree will be as good or as bad. It is really the skills you pick up, the way your personality gets rounded and so on.

I like that you have enjoyed anthropology. I am sure you would know that anthropology has two clear streams: physical and cultural. In the first, you learn of evolutionary changes like cranium sizes, physical differences among ethnic groups and tribes etc. From what you say, cultural anthropology will be a very good stream for you.

If you are academically oriented, cultural anthropology is one of the flourishing areas: with students finding and using it to study things like law, cultural studies, medicine, comparative studies, political cultures etc. If you are not: cultural anthropologists are very commonly found working in development sector, in management, in journalism etc. Many of them use their work experiences to identify a problem and then proceed with higher education.

I would urge you not to frame your education as the means of securing your job. I did, and repent it. I am now trying to break free from it in so many ways, and struggling to do it in some many ways. Because I came from a certain middle class family in India, the pressure to learn, earn and marry and have children was immense. But this is how we get constructed, as minor cogs in the larger wheels of modernity and capitalism, don't you what at least become aware of it!
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green.tea
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The stupidest tutor ive ever met had a 1st in sociology. Unless your the offspring of an ex coal miner its not for you.
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feelinginfinite
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(Original post by cryptic-clues)
I think there are a couple of things I want to say, generally about this question and answers to it.

First, I think the idea that your graduate education will lead to employment or secure employment for you is slightly limited and somewhat misplaced. If getting a job is your sole objective, then think business studies or any of the professional degrees like law/medicine/engineering/architecture etc. If it is generic employment like administrative jobs, any degree will be as good or as bad. It is really the skills you pick up, the way your personality gets rounded and so on.

I like that you have enjoyed anthropology. I am sure you would know that anthropology has two clear streams: physical and cultural. In the first, you learn of evolutionary changes like cranium sizes, physical differences among ethnic groups and tribes etc. From what you say, cultural anthropology will be a very good stream for you.

If you are academically oriented, cultural anthropology is one of the flourishing areas: with students finding and using it to study things like law, cultural studies, medicine, comparative studies, political cultures etc. If you are not: cultural anthropologists are very commonly found working in development sector, in management, in journalism etc. Many of them use their work experiences to identify a problem and then proceed with higher education.

I would urge you not to frame your education as the means of securing your job. I did, and repent it. I am now trying to break free from it in so many ways, and struggling to do it in some many ways. Because I came from a certain middle class family in India, the pressure to learn, earn and marry and have children was immense. But this is how we get constructed, as minor cogs in the larger wheels of modernity and capitalism, don't you what at least become aware of it!
This was very helpful, thankyou! Just to briefly answer those questions (I've forgot if I've said already)- I was wanting to study social anthropology which combines different elements in the first year, then you can choose which modules of either cultural/biological you'd like to do in the second and third year (which suits me well). Believe me, anthropology is perfect for me, only the uni's grades are really out of my league, so I don't have much choice but to settle for something similar...

I don't have a particular job in mind, just generic employment, so it's only the skills that I'd want. I was under the impression many thought "BA Sociology" would look weak on a CV though... Thanks, again
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