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How do I revise/tackle a sociology degree?

I’m starting sociology in September and would appreciate some advice and tips on essays staying on top of reading and choosing which texts are best etc.
Hi!

I recently graduated with a Politics & Sociology degree. I hadn't studied either of these subjects at A-Level when I started, so I had to do my own research on what was best to read before I began the course.

Firstly, I would recommend looking at a few of the key thinkers (Marx, Weber, Durkheim) and some contemporary thinkers (particularly C.Wright Mills) before you start. You do not have to be an expert in them by any means, but just having a basic understanding of them will help you a lot going into first year.

Secondly, a lot of the books by/about sociologists can be quite daunting, especially if you aren't familiar with the style of language used in sociology. Don't be discouraged by this. A lot of people who want to read Marx will try and read Capital straight away and wonder why they're struggling. I would recommend listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and reading some smaller works/essays/journals to give you a basic understanding!

When it comes to essays, just make sure you engage with your tutor. It can be hard at first, but read every bit of feedback you receive, and if there is anything you are unsure of then feel free to ask them questions. I'm sure they will be happy to help.

Feel free to ask any questions, and good luck!
Michael
Reply 2
Never skip lectures and seminars. Tutors will drip feed info about how to approach subjects & essays. Always do the required weelky reading. Take detailed lecture notes and write them up neatly at the end of the week. Regular habits like this will keep you on track.
(edited 10 months ago)
Original post by anoraeb
I’m starting sociology in September and would appreciate some advice and tips on essays staying on top of reading and choosing which texts are best etc.


Hi @anoraeb! I study Sociology at Exeter and love it - good choice in course!!

From my experience, your first year will be a learning curve in which you will test out lots of different approaches to studying before finding what suits you. I personally, as well as a lot of my friends, found the jump from A level to university quite challenging, and therefore had moments when work felt overwhelming and difficult to keep on top of. My advice on this would be to acknowledge that this is a very normal response to starting a degree, and not to expect yourself to be studying 'perfectly' straight away. Figuring it all out takes time and first year is the perfect time to do this, especially as it usually doesn't count towards your final grade!

That being said, I have a few tips that I've picked up along the way that I try to stick by now:

1. At the start of the term, look at all your module overviews and plan out when your assessments and exams are due. It can be tempting to put off thinking about your assessments until a week or two before they are due, but once you're in the thick of term-time things can feel overwhelming. If essay questions have already been released at the start of term, make a note of those that look interesting and read ahead. This way, when it comes around to the deadline, you've already given it lots of thought.
2. Don't worry about reading everything word for word. If you do want to stay on top of all your compulsory readings, from my experience it is unrealistic to expect to know every one of them inside out. The best way to prioritise when you're short on time, in my opinion, is to gain a general overview of the weekly readings by skimming, but to really focus your time and energy on the readings that you will use in assessments. In an ideal world, you could read them all in depth, but the key is to prioritise the ones that matter most!
3. Choose the texts that look interesting to you. If you're preparing for an essay and are faced with a long reading list and don't know where to start (once you have completed the readings that your lecturers have marked as compulsory or fundamental to the essay/exam question), my advice would be to read the ones that spark interest in you. One of my favourite things about Sociology has been having the freedom to write about things that I love. My lecturers have always said that students who show passion and enthusiasm for topics outside of the core lecture material tend to write the most original and interesting essays. Therefore, start with what sparks your interest, and from there onwards look for more readings on the topic that haven't been included on the reading list, that are interesting to you. Sociology is a very flexible subject and almost anything can be studied within it, so don't feel limited!

I hope this is helpful for you and you enjoy your time studying Sociology! Let me know if there's anything else I can help with :smile:

Nina
University of Exeter Student Ambassador

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