Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc)
3 years full-time or 4 years full-time with intercalated year spent either studying abroad or on work placement
27 September 2021
Department of Study
Department of Global Sustainable Development
Location of Study
University of Warwick
On our Sociology and Global Sustainable Development (BASc) you'll 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 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, Monash University, home to the world-leading Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Alternatively, you may choose to apply for an intercalated year spent either studying abroad or on a work placement (subject to you meeting departmental academic requirements).
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.
Year One: 50% GSD modules and 50% Sociology modules. With Sociology, you'll 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'll 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 Two: 50% GSD modules and 50% Sociology modules. As you begin to apply the perspectives you were introduced to in Year One, you'll 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'll take a further 25% of your course load from a range of modules available across the University, including from within GSD, which have a GSD focus.
On the Sociology half of your course, you'll 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 Two (with Terms Two and Three abroad): If you opt to travel abroad, you'll take 50% of the course load outlined above at Warwick during Term One, and the other 50% at Monash University where you'll continue to study modules with an approved sustainability and sociology focus.
During the first term at Warwick you'll 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 GSD focus.
For the Sociology half of the workload during Term One at Warwick, you'll take the core module 'Designing and Conducting Social Research', plus a further module from a range of optional modules offered by the Sociology Department.
Year Three (intercalated year - study abroad or work placement): You could opt to spend a year studying abroad at one of Warwick's partner institutions, or completing a work placement. This year will not contribute towards the overall grade of your degree, however, it will be recorded on your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).
Final year: 50% GSD modules 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'll have a series of optional final year modules offered by the Sociology Department to choose from to complete your study.
How will I learn?
You'll 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'll undertake fieldwork, archival research, interviews with members of the local area and engage in peer discussion to propose alternative solutions. You'll review the work of your fellow students.
You'll 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 module is 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.
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.
How will I be assessed?
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%.
Integrated study abroad: There is an option to spend the second and third terms of second year abroad studying at Monash University. Students may be based in Melbourne, Australia or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Students spend the first term of their second year studying at Warwick and will travel to Monash University in February for the start of its second semester (which spans Warwick’s second and third terms).
During their time abroad students study approved modules/units and will undertake assessments. The credit gained from this study is used to contribute towards the final degree classification awarded by Warwick.
Intercalated study abroad: organised with the International Office, this is an opportunity to study for a year long unaccredited period at one of Warwick’s partner universities. This takes place between second and third year, with students studying a full course load but without any formal contribution towards their overall degree grade. This will however be recorded on your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).
As part of their degree programme, students have the option to take part in both short and long work placements which are formally recognised on the Higher Education Achievement Report. The work placements enable students to engage in the world of work and learn about the professional environment. Additionally, it is an opportunity for students to apply theory to practice, develop skills, learn from industry professionals as well as explore a future career path. This ultimately supports students in developing their employability skills and prepares them for future employment.
The two work placement options are:
Intercalated year-long work placement: You have the opportunity to complete a four year degree, in which the work placement takes place after you have completed your second year.
Certificate of Professional Communication: You can take this optional certificate in your first or second year. As part of this certificate, you’ll undertake a short four week work placement which takes place during the summer.
General entry requirements
- You will also need grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
- We make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances at ABB, plus grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
- 36 to include Mathematics and English
- We welcome applications from students taking BTECs alongside one or two A levels
- You will also need grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
Second personal statement: If you meet (or are predicted to meet) the minimum entry requirements, we will invite you to submit a second personal statement to Warwick, addressing your reasons for applying to the course. We will contact applicants directly to request the second personal statement and provide guidance at that time.
We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.
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).
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.
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 in Social Inequalities Research
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'll critically reflect on the UN’s decision to integrate inequalities into the Sustainable Development Agenda. You'll 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'll 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.
GSD Dissertation/Long Project
In this final-year module, you’ll bring together all of your learning and experiences on the course – the theoretical concepts and principles and your practical know-how - in order to address a specific sustainable development problem of your own choosing – one that concerns you most and which you’d like to tackle. You’ll be supported by an academic supervisor to devise a suitable project and to undertake research to explore the issue, taking a transdisciplinary approach to your investigation in order to produce an original intervention. This may be a concept paper, a practical project, a film production, a long essay, an advocacy campaign etc. – use your creativity! You’ll design a strategy for disseminating your findings (e.g. at a conference presentation, via online publication or an article in a journal or at a public meeting that you have arranged). This provides you with an opportunity to get your voice heard in a forum where it matters and could have lasting impact.
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
- Realising Sustainable Development
- Surviving the Apocalypse
- Challenges of Climate Change
- Human Rights and Social Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean
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 choose to complete a work placement or study abroad will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.
As a GSD graduate, you have a wide range of career pathways that are available to you. This is demonstrated by the variety of work placements that our students have completed with employers from different sectors.
Our students have been successful in securing work placements with employers from the private, public, and third sectors. This includes:
- Research Institutions
- Governmental Bodies
- Non-Governmental Organisations
- Intelligence Agencies
- Environmental Consultancies
Our students have undertaken diverse roles such as:
- Marketing Assistant
- Sustainability Officer
- Intelligence Analyst
You will 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
- Communication: Develop advanced communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings
- Research: An integrated programme of research skills training, teaching you how to source, evaluate and use different forms of information and data
- Organisation: 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
- Collaboration: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude
Helping you find the right career
We have a dedicated Employability and Placement Manager who can offer you careers guidance. They can provide information about suitable placement opportunities and support you to secure appropriate work experience. They give specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, and provide on-going support for you whilst on placement. They also deliver the associated Certificate of Professional Communication.
Be the change you want to be
Hear from our student Luke about how he's putting into practice what he's been learning on his degree. Luke has implemented a practical solution to a problem in the local area by setting up a social enterprise to help tackle food insecurity.
"To me there are three pathways which a student can take within their lives.
The first pathway is that they can ignore the world issues, which we’re currently facing. Secondly, you can choose to acknowledge these issues but not do anything about it. And thirdly, you can recognise these issues are happening, and you can be the change you want to be.
This is what a GSD student represents. They notice these world issues and they want to make a change within our society.
One of my greatest passions is tackling food insecurity throughout the world. Millions of people are still going hungry every day and this is one of the biggest problems which our society is facing at the moment.
GSD is all about studying these problems in great detail and working to develop solutions from this, and so I’ve received a lot of support from the GSD community in starting up a social enterprise called Food Intercept.
We’re collecting edible fruit and vegetable waste from Coventry Food Market. We’re taking this fruit and vegetable waste to Mum’s Kitchen, a kitchen in Coventry which employs single minority women and provides financial and social support to them. Mum’s Kitchen are turning this edible food waste into meals, which we are now selling within the GSD common room. Using the profits which we make from the sales, we’ve been able to provide financial and social support to these single minority women within Coventry.
Therefore we have been able to make a sustainable impact within our community and use the lessons which I have learned from GSD to help solve problems in the local area.
It’s making these small changes within our society that are going to incrementally build up and make the big changes which we need in order to achieve global sustainable development.
I’m Luke, I’m a GSD student at Warwick."
This information is applicable for 2021 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.