Undergraduate Studies

As an undergraduate student (1st, 2nd or 3rd year), you can incorporate Sociology into your degree in the following ways:

  • BA, where Sociology is one of the two majors;
  • BSocSci programmes specialising in a focus area where Sociology is your second major.

In other words, Sociology, given the breadth and maturity of the discipline, articulates very well with other subject choices you may consider in the Faculty of Humanities.

The Department offers one specialised degree focusing on work, labour and industry.

  • BSocSci specialising in Industrial Sociology and Labour Studies is a study package offered by the Department that focuses on work, management, labour and the overall socio-political and socio-economic context of industry.

The undergraduate programme in Industrial Sociology and Labour Studies addresses the dynamic and changing context of the world of work. The process of globalisation poses new challenges to how work is organised and understood in contemporary societies. Sociologists drive debate on labour legislation, productivity and management within this context. They are interested in understanding the mobilisation of workers during labour disputes and strikes and the ways in which managers direct and organise production policy and distribution. Sociologists understand the world of work and industry to be part of the broader societal economy and the choices governments make about the nature of the former. This programme aims to sensitise you towards these key issues in preparation for more advanced studies at the postgraduate level.

 

First-year

SOC 110 (First Semester)

Invitation to Sociology

How do we understand ourselves as individuals in relation to society? How are our individual life courses and large-scale processes of social and historical change related to each other? How have our societies come to be what they are today? And how can we think of our private troubles as public issues? These questions are at the very heart of sociology as a distinctive way of thinking about and understanding the social worlds that we inhabit. This module invites students to become familiar with sociological ways of thinking about current issues and personal experiences (particularly in the southern African context), and to develop the analytical skills that are necessary in order to ask and answer critical questions about the communities, society, and world that they live in. The module will include a specific emphasis on academic reading skills.

 

SOC 120 (Second Semester)

Thinking sociologically

Drawing from the idea of Sociology as a discipline that focuses on critical thinking, the module will introduce students to ways of questioning the obvious and the taken-for-granted. In particular, power and inequality will be problematised, with a focus on how power operates to structure racial, class and gender inequalities across institutions, ideologies and identities. The module will introduce students to the operations of power as manifested in the production of institutions, the proliferation of identities and heightened contestations among ideologies. The module will include a specific emphasis on writing skills.

 

Second-year

Options:

SOC 210 (First semester)

Industrial sociology

This module addresses sociological approaches to the workplace. Its focus is on theories of work and the current themes and debates within the sociology of work with an emphasis on exploring these issues from a southern perspective. Some of the themes that will be covered include the theorisation and conceptualisation of work, work in industrialising societies, workplace restructuring and reorganisation, flexibility in the labour market, changing technologies and the implications for work and employment, and new forms of work (including atypical work, service work, emotional labour, professional work). 

 

OR

 

SOC 211(First semester)

Urban sociology and social movements

This module considers the relationship between the rural and urban, against the backdrop of the emergence and development of both capitalism in its various guises and globalisation within the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the global North and South. Questions on the nature of social interaction in communities, changing ways of relating, inequality and livelihoods, collective action, local cultures and modernities are considered. With migration to the city spurred by the communication revolution, the city has become a source of aspirations and illusions. A key issue in place-space configurations is the dialectic between citizenship and cosmopolitanism (aligned to individualism and multiple identities), on the one hand, and the experience of community (aligned to a collectivity) on the other hand. The debate on who belongs to the city highlights both symbolic and material issues and a politics around access to rights and resources, and therefore a possibility of mobilisation. Contemporary themes such as informality, different forms of local participation and consumption are considered.

 

Options: 

SOC 220(Second Semester)

Culture and religion in the construction of identities: Gender, sexuality and race

The global proliferation of identities is explored through the lens of social categories of difference. The convergence of ideologies and institutions in the construction of identities at the intersections of gender, sexuality and race is examined with a particular emphasis on modern African identities, drawing on the sub-disciplines of the sociology of religion and cultural sociology.

 

OR

 

SOC 221(Second semester)

Demography, health and society

This module will use intersectional and critical lenses to provide students with a broad understanding of how demographic and social factors affect population health and medical care across a range of contexts. The main theoretical underpinnings and debates, as well as basic measures of each construct will be covered to operationalise the constructs for the purposes of practical application in sociological research and understanding. The focus will be comparative, both across time and between developed and less developed societies in general and South African societies in particular.

 

Third-year

SOC 310 (First semester)

Structure, agency and power in social theory 

How do we theorise the interrelationships between structure, agency, and power in society? This is the central question in this module, which provides students with an intensive introduction to critical social theories. Engaging with current affairs and debates in society, the module will enable students to learn how to develop theoretical knowledge about the ways in which power is structured and exercised in society – both from above and below, as well as across fields (the economic, the political, the cultural) and scales (the body, private and public spheres, communities and nation-states, and the world-system).

 

SOC 321 (Second semester)

Thinking methodologically 

This module sets out to introduce students to ‘doing research’. In this respect, the assumptions and processes underpinning methodological choices in sociological research are considered in order to think about foundations of research, about how knowledge claims are made, how science is conceptualised, what role theory plays, as well as how values and ethics shape the politics of research. In addition to these foundational questions, a broad introduction to methods used in social research is provided by considering both the theoretical dimensions and practical application of various research tools. The purpose of the module is to equip students with the necessary competence to, describe ontological and epistemological debates and different approaches to research in the social sciences, delineate a research problem, identify units of analysis, make sampling decisions and formulate questions and hypothesis as well as understand the principles of quantitative (elementary statistical decision-making) and qualitative data analysis.

All undergraduate courses and modules pay close attention to South African society.

Last edited by Vangile Bingma

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