Sociology and Global Sustainable Development (BASc)
On our Sociology and Global Sustainable Development (BASc) you will apply your passion for Sociology to answering the Big Questions of our time by studying it in combination with Global Sustainable Development (GSD).
Sociology – the study of humans in society – is at the heart of the roadmap towards a sustainable future. Each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals has a sociological aspect, and understanding the social implications of world trade, economic growth, and climate change has never been more critical. Since the birth of the neoliberal era, major global transformations have redefined societies across the world. Sociologists are now focusing on why the current organisation of society might itself be unsustainable, researching innovative solutions to develop social-environmental relationships that are less environmentally harmful. On this course, you’ll combine sociological concepts, including race, identity, ethnicity, and gender, and apply these to global issues such as wealth inequality, elite power, and food security. Our transdisciplinary approach also gives freedom to research the topics that most interest you.
You’ll need to be ready to think creatively and embrace new opinions, and you’ll develop your skill set by completing professional skills certificates. There is also the opportunity to spend part of your second year studying abroad at our partner institution in Melbourne Australia – home to the world-leading Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Alternatively, you may choose to apply for an intercalated year abroad or a work placement.
Students are automatically enrolled on the three-year course, however you have the option to change to a four-year course with an intercalated year in the third year. During the intercalated year, you may pursue a study abroad programme or a work placement (subject to you meeting departmental academic requirements).
Year 1: 50% GSD modules and 50% Sociology modules. With Sociology, you will take four introductory required core modules covering the 'History of Sociological Thought', 'Class and Capitalism in the Neo-Liberal World' and modules that introduce you to the nature of sociological research and the main statistical methods employed.
For the GSD half of your work load, you will take four required core GSD modules, three of which focus on providing you with a critical understanding of the ‘three pillars of sustainability’: economy, environment, and society. Your fourth required core GSD module will be a GSD Project. Optional certificates in Digital Literacy, Sustainability and Professional Communication (with a work placement) will be available.
Year 2: 50% GSD modules and 50% Sociology modules. As you begin to apply the perspectives you were introduced to in Year 1, you will have the opportunity to engage with a major issue in sustainability, studying either ‘Health and Sustainable Development', 'Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All', or ‘Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System’ (25% of workload). You will take a further 25% of your course load from a range of modules available across the University, including from within the Global Sustainable Development Division of the School for Cross-faculty Studies, which have a global sustainable development focus.
On the Sociology half of your course, you will take one core module that introduces the core methodological concepts and strategies used in qualitative social science research. You then choose between a module that enables you to critically engage with published quantitative sociological research and undertake elementary quantitative data analysis or one that provides an overview of key thinkers and movements in the tradition of critical social theory. The remainder of your Sociology modules in this year are made up of second year optional modules offered by the Sociology Department.
Year 2 (with Terms 2 and 3 abroad): If you opt to travel abroad, you will take 50% of the course load outlined above at Warwick during Term 1, and the other 50% at Monash University where you will continue to study modules with an approved sustainability and sociology focus.
During Term 1 at Warwick you will take one of three optional GSD core modules ('Health and Sustainable Development', 'Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System' or 'Inequality, Wealth, Behaviour and Society'), together with further relevant second year modules from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies, with a global sustainable development focus.
For the Sociology half of the workload during Term 1 at Warwick, you will take the core module 'Designing and Conducting Social Research', plus a further module from a range of optional modules offered by the Sociology Department.
Final year: 50% GSD modules (including Dissertation) and 50% Sociology modules. Hone your research focus and break new ground as you undertake a compulsory dissertation with GSD and study intensive Honours level optional modules with a global sustainable development focus (from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies). With Sociology, you will have a series of optional final year modules offered by the Sociology Department to choose from to complete your study.
You will attend lectures and take part in seminars, workshops and tutorials and work with your fellow students in teams on controversial, topical problems that pose significant sustainable development questions. You will undertake fieldwork, archival research, interviews with members of the local area and engage in peer discussion to propose alternative solutions. You will review the work of your fellow students.
You will be taught by a range of academics, from different disciplines, who will communicate their expertise on a specific issue and describe their methodology for addressing it. Your role is to bring together these various approaches and to develop your own informed stance on each issue.
Core first year GSD modules have 23 hours of contact time each made up of lectures, workshops and, for the 'GSD Project' module, group supervision sessions and a field trip. In the second year, optional core GSD modules have around 45 contact hours each for the 30 CATS versions and half this for the shorter 15 CATS versions.
Teaching is via workshops. Optional GSD modules are available with between 20 and 50 hours for scheduled contact time depending upon how the module is taught. For example, some modules have lectures, seminars, film screenings and research supervision whereas others have lectures and workshops. Some modules include field trips.
Seminar groups comprise between 10 and 15 students.
In the first year, two of the GSD core modules have an exam worth 40%. The remaining 60% of these modules and the other core GSD modules are assessed by methods other than formal examination. In the second year GSD optional cores and options do not have traditional examinations. The final year core GSD module is a Dissertation/Long Project and so is assessed via coursework. Most Sociology modules are assessed wholly by coursework (essays, reports, presentations). The overall percentage of the course that is assessed by coursework depends upon the options taken.
The final degree classification is determined by your second and final year marks and each contributes 50%.
There is an option to spend Terms 2 and 3 second year abroad studying at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. You may be based at either the University’s Melbourne campus or at its campus in Malaysia.
You will spend the first term of your second year studying at Warwick and will travel to Australia in February to join Monash for the start of its second semester (which spans Warwick’s second and third terms). This arrangement is the integrated terms abroad variant of the course.
During your time abroad you will study approved modules/units and will undertake assessments. The credit gained from this study is used to contribute towards your final degree classification awarded by Warwick.
You may also choose to spend a year studying or working abroad (e.g. as part of the ERASMUS scheme). Marks gained from the year-long intercalated study abroad or work placement do not count towards the overall Warwick degree but recognition of the time spent abroad or on work placement is recorded on the HEAR.
A level: AAB as well as Grade B/Grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
IB: 36 to include English and Mathematics (at Higher Level or Standard Level 5)
Additional requirements: You will also need to meet our English Language requirements.
Contextual data and differential offers
Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in the Realising Opportunities programme, or who meet two of the contextual data criteria. Differential offers will be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer (to a minimum of BBB).
- Warwick International Foundation Programme (IFP)
All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only). For full details of standard offers and conditions visit the IFP website.
- We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications. For more information please visit the international entry requirements page.
Taking a gap year
Applications for deferred entry welcomed.
We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.
Second personal statement
We ask applicants who meet, or are predicted to meet, the minimum entry requirements to submit a second personal statement to Warwick which addresses their reasons for applying to the course.
Economic Principles of Global Sustainable Development (GSD)
What is economic development, what does it look like and how can it be measured? These are questions that are explored in this module. You’ll learn about the relationship between economic activity and social and environmental development, the economic theories that underpin sustainable development policy interventions, and how those theories impact upon policy design. After studying this module, you’ll be able to apply the economic principles that you’ve learned to the analysis of GSD problems. You’ll also understand how economic policies intended to address those problems are developed and be able to offer informed critiques of such policies.
Social Principles of GSD
This introductory module examines in-depth the most crucial concepts that allow you to analyse and interpret the social and political issues related to GSD. You’ll be considering complex, topical issues that allow you to understand and evaluate the most pressing social and political contexts of sustainable development at national and international levels. Upon completing this module you’ll have acquired specific knowledge and understanding that allows you to offer a well-informed evidence-based explanation of the key challenges that face our world, focusing on the social and political contexts.
You’ll also be able to explain the global social threats that are caused by economic development, consider and reflect critically on the reasons why some countries developed while others stayed poor, engage critically with various strategies that have been suggested to end extreme poverty, understand and write critically about the continuing challenges of providing “Education for all” and “Health for all”, and write critically about the notion of goal-based development.
Environmental Principles of GSD
This module is structured around an emerging global consensus that humans are compromising the global biosphere by transgressing nine Planetary Boundaries: the result of which will be fundamental and unrecoverable change that significantly compromises the operating space of human development. We focus on the natural science of these environmental issues – covering well known topics like climate change and biodiversity loss, but also lesser realised problems, such as biochemical flows. We evaluate existing governance and management efforts, and try to develop responses of our own. You’ll be taught how to write a Policy Briefing and will prepare one on your chosen subject, aimed at a specific key decision maker. Then, you’ll convert your Brief to a Policy Pitch: a two minute ‘sell’ of your research. By the end of this module, you’ll possess key knowledge of environmental principles and also skills valuable for creating meaningful change in the real world of work, governance and/or activism.
During this module, you'll collaborate with your peers on a task of investigating the issue of sustainable transport. You'll be immersed in a wealth of qualitative and quantitative data that you'll gather, examine, analyse and critique. As well as deepening your understanding of the economic case for sustainable transport, you'll be strengthening your academic research skills to deconstruct a major problem, formulate and test hypotheses, evaluate the evidence, and undertake field research, including interviews and focus groups.
Introduction to Social Analytics 1
In the age of ever-increasing data availability which is paired with a growing sophistication of statistical techniques, the opportunities for social science research are vast. This module will give you an understanding of the basic elements of core descriptive and inferential statistics which will allow you not only to critically engage with quantitative findings in existing social science research, but also conduct quantitative analysis yourself. The module covers the topics of conceptualisation, operationalisation and measurement, as well as the principles of sampling and the basics of statistical inference. You will be introduced to the statistical methods and process of social science research in one hour lectures, and then explore these in extended seminars (2h) both through readings, and the statistical software STATA. We will be working on real data sets, such as the World Development Indicators, but you will also conduct your own little survey amongst other students and analyse the data in class afterwards.
Researching Society and Culture
What is society and how do you study it? Is human behaviour governed by rules similar to the natural world that you can study objectively? Or do human beings consciously act upon their environment and change the world through creativity and intelligence, driven by their own understanding and motivations.
You'll be introduced to the core ideas behind sociological research and the practical tools to undertake research yourself. As well as looking at some of the key qualitative methods (e.g. interviews, ethnography, discourse analysis), you’ll also examine the political, ethical and practical issues that social research inevitably entails.
History of Sociological Thought
What holds societies together? How do societies change? And how is politics in the conventional sense affected by factors such as class, status, ethnicity or religion, or the state of the economy? These are some of the questions that you'll engage with when you consider the history of sociological thought. You'll gain skills of research, analysis and debate by considering to what extent sociology may be considered a science and how the evolution of sociological thought has been shaped by events and the cultural, economic and political problems of the day.
Class and Capitalism in the Neoliberal World
Protest and anger characterise the contemporary era – young people taking part in militant politics, protest parties gaining more votes, and even NHS doctors taking to the streets.
In this module, we’ll explore the social consequences of the economic and political transformations associated with neoliberalism that have taken place in recent decades. We will ask why these changes might be responsible for the global rise in urban unrest and dissatisfaction.
Topics will include growing inequality and elite power, militant policing, consumerism, anxiety, debt, the destruction of industrial communities, class identity, the marketisation of education, and the diminishing spaces of public life.
Health and Sustainable Development
Your starting point on this module is the sustainable development goals for health and well-being, gender equality and reducing inequalities, with an overarching theme of how our bodies relate to various forms of development. You can expect to articulate your knowledge of major global inequalities and apply your understanding across different cultural and social norms. You'll ask provocative questions and critically engage with the way the environment is affecting health outcomes, and critique the efficacy of policy measures that aim to address health-related global crises. You’ll also improve your research skills by generating original, well-researched arguments for policies that address health and inequalities outcomes.
Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System
At least 800 million people are chronically undernourished globally, and the global population is projected to increase to a staggering 10 billion by 2050. From this challenging starting point, you’ll be working with active researchers from across various disciplines at the University of Warwick. You'll become acquainted with contrasting disciplinary approaches to the investigation of food systems, and be able to analyse scholarly concerns surrounding food security, sovereignty and sustainability. You’ll evaluate competing solutions and research, evaluate and synthesise academic and other credible research and analysis in order to respond critically to the essential topics and questions in this exciting field.
Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All
This new module focuses on issues of inequalities shaping our societies, economies, environments and politics. Starting with the question does inequality matter, you will critically reflect on the UN’s decision to integrate inequalities into the Sustainable Development Agenda. You will then explore six different dimensions of inequalities (work, politics, environmental justice, societal discrimination, automation and globalisation, opportunities and empowerment) and gain an understanding of the complexities of these problems. Finally, you will appreciate the challenges faced by today’s policy makers who aim to reduce inequalities.
Modern Social Theory
This module will introduce you to the main thinkers and movements in critical social theory. Topics include Marxism, post-structuralism, class and culture. The changing conceptualisation of power and class is a focus throughout the module. This helps you to see how the different theoretical approaches relate to each other, and to historical and political events.
Practice and Interpretation of Quantitative Research
Quantitative methods can help you answer questions such as:
• Is income inequality in the UK growing?
• Does marriage improve health?
• Does growing up in a poor neighbourhood affect your life chances?
Analysing representative, large-scale social surveys is crucial for sociologists to understand social processes. This module will introduce you to quantitative methods and how to analyse large data sets using SPSS Statistics software. It will help you engage with published quantitative sociological research and to undertake your own basic quantitative data analysis.
Designing and Conducting Social Research
This module will teach you the core concepts and practical skills to undertake qualitative social research in academic and professional settings. These include research design, ethnography, in-depth interviewing, documents and discourse. As well as practical skills, you’ll investigate how social research has changed in recent decades, considering:
• ethical questions when researching life online
• how (and whether you should) study Twitter
• effects of social media on social interactions
• how to engage diverse audiences
You'll also gain analytical skills to critically evaluate previous research, and develop your ability to collect and analyse data using a range of qualitative methods.
Examples of optional modules/options for current students
Becoming Yourself: The Construction of the Self in Contemporary Western Societies; Punishment, Justice and Control; Racism and Xenophobia; Commercial Cultures in Global Capitalism; Cultures of Diaspora; Social Movements and Political Action; Achieving Sustainability: Potentials and Barriers; Surviving the Apocalypse; Challenges of Climate Change; Human Rights and Social Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Our degree programmes have been developed to provide you with a set of skills that will enable you to compete for existing and emerging roles across a variety of professions. Your options are varied across a range of industries, from working in the United Nations to advising small businesses on issues that will affect the local community.
You will also learn valuable transferable skills that will help you with your employment prospects including:
- Analysing and problem solving: Through your study of economic principles and models, you’ll learn how to extract the essential features of complex systems, providing useable frameworks for evaluation.
- Critical thinking: Assess arguments, make judgements, formulate reasoned debates and generate feasible solutions.
- Communicating: Develop advanced communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings.
- Researching: An integrated programme of research skills training, teaching you how to source, evaluate and use different forms of information and data.
- Organising: Through a rigorous assessment schedule and a compulsory dissertation module in your final year, you’ll learn the essentials of time management, prioritisation and how to be well organised.
- Collaborating: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude.
- Project work / lobbying for international organisations, NGOs and charities
- Advisory / consultancy roles in public services, education or the environmental or energy sectors
- Roles in communications, public relations and the media
- Sustainable finance
The GSD Division has a dedicated Placements' Officer who is able to offer careers guidance, provide information about suitable placement opportunities and support you to secure appropriate work experience. The Placements' Officer gives specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, and provides on-going support for you whilst on placement. In addition, the Officer delivers the associated Certificate of Professional Communication.
A level: AAB as well as Grade B/Grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
IB: 36 to include English and Mathematics (at Higher Level or Standard Level 5)
Additional requirements: You will also need to meet our English Language requirements.
Degree of Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc)
3 years full-time
4 years full-time with intercalated year
28 September 2020
Location of study
University of Warwick, Coventry
Find out more about fees and funding
Additional course costs
There may be costs associated with other items or services such as academic texts, course notes, and trips associated with your course. Students who transfer to the intercalated course and do a year-long work placement will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.
This information is applicable for 2020 entry.
Given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. It is important to check our website before you apply. Please read our terms and conditions to find out more.
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