I have a degree in English; want to go on to study Sociology/Social Policy/Economics

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Drangonfly203
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Hi! So I graduated in 2016 with a first class in English, and I won the prize for producing the best dissertation of my faculty. I really love studying and researching, and in my dissertation I chose to specialize in research-based creative writing. The basis of my research and creative writing was that of social inequalities, and it was through this that I found out how interested I am in sociology.

I read copious amounts of sociological and cultural texts due to my project, and it really made me feel like I had perhaps even chosen the wrong degree!

During my sociology reading, I branched out further into economics and social policy, becoming particularly interested in the quietly successful movement that is the Basic Income campaign (an initiative which suggests that we ought to provide every citizen with a monthly, non-means tested payment, as their basic right).

Now, I know many budding sociology/economics students who've stumbled into this post may be tearing their eyes out at reading the phrase "basic income" - and that's fine. I don't want to discuss whether the subject is viable or not here, as I am not sure myself, hence the reason for wanting to challenge and test it at postgrad level.

My question(s) are, do you think that going from an English degree to a sociology or economics degree is quite a tall order, or do you think that because I have done the best I possibly could in my undergraduate degree, this shows enough potential for me to be able to transition smoothly?

As it happens, I've emailed the visiting fellow at the London School of Economics about this, as he runs and founded the Citizens Income Network, and he is of the opinion that it shouldn't matter much, and reassured me that many others change their degree path entirely after undergrad.

But I'd like to know, from others who are currently or have studied sociology and or economics in the past, do you think I'd be at a distinct disadvantage going into those subjects at postgrad without, for instance, a basic undergrad's understanding of research methods?
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andyyy
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I did a social science degree after doing English lit at undergrad (then returned to English lit for my PhD) and know several people who have done either languages or humanities before doing social science. Yes, it's a big disadvantage not to have had much experience of social science research methods but a lot of MA courses are specifically designed to help people with that so it's not a very big problem if you pick your programme well. It won't be easy but the transition is not impossible - imo what you should really be thinking about, though, is what you want to achieve with it, what is your long term career plan / goal? Your MA is likely going to cost you a fair bit of money and a PhD will be a significant investment of time and effort (and maybe money too if you can't find funding), do you have enough interest in sociology / economics to sustain you through that?

For example, in what ways would you like to "test out basic income"? There have been many studies done on this in the last 20 years, including a number of large scale trials going on right now, how would yours be different / better? Are you interested in any other aspects of sociology / economy or is it just this one idea? What will happen when you finish your research project on basic income, will you move on to a different kind of research? Take into account the scale and limitations of MA / PhD research projects. You will not be able to get funding for anything large scale, at most you will be able to get data from another ongoing large scale project to use for your research and you will only have 1-2 years to do this research.
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Drangonfly203
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(Original post by andyyy)
I did a social science degree after doing English lit at undergrad (then returned to English lit for my PhD) and know several people who have done either languages or humanities before doing social science. Yes, it's a big disadvantage not to have had much experience of social science research methods but a lot of MA courses are specifically designed to help people with that so it's not a very big problem if you pick your programme well. It won't be easy but the transition is not impossible - imo what you should really be thinking about, though, is what you want to achieve with it, what is your long term career plan / goal? Your MA is likely going to cost you a fair bit of money and a PhD will be a significant investment of time and effort (and maybe money too if you can't find funding), do you have enough interest in sociology / economics to sustain you through that?

For example, in what ways would you like to "test out basic income"? There have been many studies done on this in the last 20 years, including a number of large scale trials going on right now, how would yours be different / better? Are you interested in any other aspects of sociology / economy or is it just this one idea? What will happen when you finish your research project on basic income, will you move on to a different kind of research? Take into account the scale and limitations of MA / PhD research projects. You will not be able to get funding for anything large scale, at most you will be able to get data from another ongoing large scale project to use for your research and you will only have 1-2 years to do this research.

Hi Andyyy, thanks for replying.

Well, to be absolutely honest, I don't have a long-term plan right now, but I have a couple of ideas in terms of what I hope to end up doing in the future.

I grew up in a very socially deprived area and I have always felt like I want to discuss and debate with other people about what is the best approach in terms of improving social deprivation (I have many opinions on this, and the idea of implementing a Basic Income is just one small facet).

However, due to growing up in a very hostile and violent environment, I have always been extremely introverted and I guess that's part of the reason that I developed such a strong love of books, leading me to study at university. Due to my quiet and nervous nature, I have always hated presenting to an audience, but studying at undergrad, and having to present my ideas to groups there, has really helped to reverse that fear, and for long periods of my degree I considered that I might want to become a lecturer in the end. I discussed this with a couple of professors, and they said that my nervousness doesn't show when I'm presenting, and that I seem to have a genuine talent and ability for speaking to groups, which I was very surprised by. So that's one job/outcome I can envisage.

The other is more practical and hands-on - being a social researcher for a charity. I have also had a look at the government fast-track schemes in social research and they are somewhat interesting to me but at the moment, when I'm still at the hurdle of 'am I pursuing the right line of study', it feels a bit too soon to tell whether that would be something I'd like to do.

You mentioned that it is quite difficult going from English to sociology - would you suggest making sure that the sociology course covers both quantitative and qualitative research methods? This is my main concern at the moment, that I am completely out of the loop, as it were, with quantitative research and analysis.


Thanks for all your help!

Also, which uni did you pick for sociology, and are you happy you chose it?
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Tcannon
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At my uni, it is challenging to transition straight from BA English to MSc Econ. Some promising candidates can do a 1 year diploma course in Econ and on condition of (65% plus) continue with the MSc Econ. The reason: Econ is a subject master's with maths modules: calculus, stats, econometrics, even some analytical tools such as stata, Mlab.

But there are other inter-disciplinary master's in social sciences. i know a guy who did BA English and then MSc in public policy. He works as a researcher in the private sector. He learned analytical skills and quantitative research methods.

Good luck.
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Drangonfly203
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(Original post by Tcannon)
At my uni, it is challenging to transition straight from BA English to MSc Econ. Some promising candidates can do a 1 year diploma course in Econ and on condition of (65% plus) continue with the MSc Econ. The reason: Econ is a subject master's with maths modules: calculus, stats, econometrics, even some analytical tools such as stata, Mlab.

But there are other inter-disciplinary master's in social sciences. i know a guy who did BA English and then MSc in public policy. He works as a researcher in the private sector. He learned analytical skills and quantitative research methods.

Good luck.
Thanks for that insight That's quite encouraging. What university do you study at?
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