Sociology and Study of Religions

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If you're interested in social issues and behaviour, then Sociology, which is the study of society, could be the degree for you.

In our fast changing world, Sociology is an exciting and increasingly relevant subject. Sociology at Bath Spa University is taught in an varied, interesting and supportive way by a small enthusiastic team. The Sociology programme will help you understand more about the world around you, give you insights into social problems and debates and also give you important skills that will prepare you for the workplace or postgraduate training.

Sociology is the study of societies, cultures, and groups. We live in complex societies with laws and informal rules that govern how we interact. Sociology helps you to understand more about yourself, others and the way society is organised.

Why study Sociology?

Do you want to know more about the world we live in, do you care about the world and do you want to make a difference? 

Sociologists understand social behaviour, social change and how social systems work. Sociology helps you become more informed and to think smarter. If you have an enquiring mind or find it easy to appreciate different points of view, then you will probably find that you have a flair for sociology.

Course structure

We work hard to provide supportive and flexible learning that can be tailored to your individual needs. We make a large part of our lecture materials available on-line. 

As well as learning Sociology you will enhance the skills that you will need when you begin work or start on your career.

In the first year you will be introduced to Sociology as well as to the techniques and philosophies of the social sciences. We focus on the concept of identity and you will learn more about yourself and others. We do not assume that you will have studied Sociology before, (but if you have, you will be able to access learning that is appropriate for you).

The second year builds on the first and allows you to begin to specialise in more specific areas of Sociology such as education, health, crime, work, age and gender. We also provide practical training in research skills – essential for your final year project work and these are the sorts of skills that employers value.

In the final year you can concentrate on an aspect of sociology that most interests you in a dissertation with the support of a member of staff as a supervisor. You can also focus on more detailed subjects such as globalisation, the state, families, the environment or ethnicity and racism.

Modules

Year 1

  • Discovering Sociology
  • Society, Space and Welfare
  • Exploring Childhood

Year 2

Compulsory modules:

  • Sociology: Perspectives and Debates
  • Social Science Research Methods

Optional modules:

  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Sociology of Education
  • Social Diversity and Social Divisions
  • Issues in Mental Health and Illness

Year 3

Compulsory modules:

  • Dissertation

Optional modules:

  • Globalisations: Crises and Opportunities
  • Global Work and Organisation
  • Ethnic Diversity and Racism in Britain
  • Community Engagement
  • Sociology of Health and Illness
  • Disability - A Life Course Approach
  • Religions and Spirituality in Society

Course assessment

Assessment methods vary and include essays, reports, book and article reviews, seen and unseen examinations, portfolios, learning journals, individual and group presentations. You'll never be assessed without our making it clear exactly what we expect and you always know at the start of the year how - and when - you'll be assessed. We work constantly with you to help you improve your performance. As well as learning more about sociology, you will find that the range of assessments are designed to enable you to reflect on your own strengths and abilities. This will be of value in helping you to develop the sort of skills that employers need, for example, professional-standard communication, analysis, evaluating evidence, problem-solving and decision-making.

Sociology at Bath Spa provides plenty of choice within a flexible structure with opportunities to gain a good general grounding in a broad range of social science subjects. This can be an advantage if you’re not quite sure exactly what you want to study.

Teaching methods

Sociology is taught by a small, enthusiastic team who will get to know you and be able to provide appropriate support. Students often comment on how much they enjoy studying sociology at Bath Spa, we work hard to foster a friendly atmosphere where everyone can feel welcomed and valued. We use a range of teaching and learning strategies: lectures, classes, workshops, group work and individual study.

The department has a range of resources available to sociology students. We make a large part of our lecture notes and supporting material available on-line and we also have a film club that provides an opportunity to explore issues raised in your learning in a more informal setting.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

To contact the department directly, please call Rosemary McKechnie on 0122 587 5599 or e-mail: r.mckechnie@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

A Sociology degree is useful for any career that involves working with people, either in the private, public or 'third' sectors, typically:

  • Management or administration in the public or private sector
  • Human resource management or marketing
  • Media or journalism
  • Social work
  • Health education or nursing
  • Law
  • The police
  • Penal institutions
  • Probation and working with offenders
  • Work in the voluntary sector
  • Social research

Since 2011, employers such as the National Osteoporosis Society, the Ministry of Defence, Wiltshire Council and Truro College have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Assistant Education Officer, Student Services Assistant and Relocation Advisor.

What students say...

Graduate profile: Anna Brent, graduated 2004

“I studied Sociology alongside Study of Religions. After a year in recruitment I decided to move into HR to focus on more of the ‘people’ aspect, and got a job as a HR Administrator at KPMG. I am now a HR Business Advisor and continue to work and enjoy my time there.

I look back at my three years at Bath Spa with a smile. There were some turbulent times, financially, meeting deadlines and dealing with the mix of different personalities, but overall the experience made me stronger and prepared me well for the world of work in building relationships, managing my income and helping to organise and prioritise my work. After 10 years I am very proud to say that all the girls I living with in hall of residence we are all still friends and have attended each other’s weddings and see each other at 2–3 times a year. You all hold a special bond with the people you go to university with.”

This course explores a wide range of religious traditions, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living traditions. The approach taken is open and exploratory, with an emphasis on direct first-hand experience of religious communities.

The religious traditions studied are diverse, including major traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, and the less well known such as newer religious movements. Included in the programme are contemporary developments such as Paganism and Goddess spirituality. We range from the local, such as religions in Bath and Glastonbury, to the global, such as Japanese Religions. Crucial to the study of religions is direct encounter and experiential learning, and the course includes visits and a one-week placement in a religious community. There are opportunities to follow up your own interests or career plans in a variety of special projects, employment related placements and a dissertation.

Study of Religions is offered as a Major, Joint or Minor component of a Combined degree. If you want to combine it with Philosophy and Ethics you should take the Religions, Philosophies and Ethics specialised award.

Why study Study of Religions?

‘My stay at the Buddhist monastery was challenging, yet very rewarding. I learnt a lot about Theravada Buddhism, but about myself too’

Diverse range of traditions

We try to explore as many different traditions as possible, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living religions followed by people you can meet today.

Open and exploratory

We stress that we are studying religions, trying to understand, rather than trying to convert, and we are equally welcoming of those who belong to a religious tradition and those who don’t.

First hand experience and community placement

‘There is no substitute for seeing the architecture, rituals and colours first hand as well as the account of the religion from a believer’

We think it is important to meet people from religious traditions, and the programme includes visit to religious communities, mosques, temples, gurdwaras and churches. You may visit the Goddess temple in Glastonbury, meet a Druid or have an opportunity to interview a Buddhist monk. In the third year all students have the opportunity to spend a week living with a religious or belief community: such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas, the British Humanist Association or the Salvation Army. For further details see www.livingreligion.co.uk

Excellent teaching 

Our external examiners praised us last year for the excellent quality of our feedback to students on their work. Tutors think it is important to make time for individual students.

Appropriate for teaching RE

A popular career destination for our students is teaching RE in primary or secondary schools, or sixth-form colleges. Every year the numbers of pupils taking GCSE and A level Religious Studies is going up.

Chance to study abroad

One semester can be spent abroad, for example, at the University of Helsinki in Finland or the University of Sibiu in Romania.

Course structure

In Year 1 we offer a core module which explores the meaning of religion and spirituality, examines a variety of methods of studying religions and spiritualities, and illustrates these from a variety of contemporary traditions, from Druidry to the Bahá’í faith. There is also a field visit to Glastonbury. An optional module in global religions and philosophies looks at major traditions and movements, and key thinkers. 

The core module in Year 2 focuses on philosophies and religious or non-religious world views in Indian and Chinese traditions. Optional modules include philosophy, religions and the environment; and in depth study of major religious traditions including Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

There is also a Special Project in which you can explore topics of your choice, engage in a placement or project relevant to employment, or take part in a summer school in another country such as Korea.

In the third year, as part of a core module on religion in the contemporary world, you will undertake a fieldwork placement with a religious community such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas or the Salvation Army. For further details see our website www.livingreligion.co.uk. Optional modules include religion, philosophy and gender; advanced study of pagan, new and alternative religions; and modules studying the Bhagavad Gita, Muslim migration and Islam in Europe, culture and counter-culture, religion and education internationally, Buddhism, and religion, culture and society in Japan. There is also a special Research Project (past students have helped to run a conference for year 12 students or to digitise an archive on contemporary religions), a Dissertation which allows for in-depth concentration on a topic of your choice, or an employment related project.

NOTE: You will need to study another subject to study with Study of Religions.

 

 

Modules

Year 1

  • Beyond Belief: Introduction to the Study of Religions and Spiritualities (core module);

  • Truth and Value: Introduction to Philosophical and Ethical Enquiry (core module);
  • Global Religions and Philosophies;
  • Spirituality, Culture and Civilisation: An Introduction to faith and Belief in Global Perspective
  • Philosophy and Thinking in Schools;
  • Medieval and Renaissance Worlds.

Year 2

  • Darshana, Dharma and Dao: Philosophy in the Indian and Chinese Traditions (core module);Exploring Global Christianity;

  • Exploring Global Christianity
  • Power, Duty and Desire: Life and Liberation in the Hindu Tradition;
  • Special Project;
  • Buddhism: Historical and Doctrinal Developments;
  • Saints and Soldiers: Mysticism, Militancy and Modernity in the Sikh Tradition;
  • Philosophy, Religions and the Environment.

Year 3

  • Studying Religions in the Contemporary World (core module);
  • Dissertation;
  • Employment related placement (alternative to Dissertation);
  • Buddhism in Practice;
  • Religion, Philosophy and Gender;
  • Life and Meaning;
  • Advanced Special Project;
  • The Song of the Lord: Hinduism, Religion, Scripture and the Bhagavad-Gita;
  • Spiritual Revolution: Pagan, New and Alternative Religions in the 21st Century;
  • Religion, Culture and Society in Japan;
  • Muslim Migration and Islam in Europe
  • Without Fear or Favour: National and International Perspectives on Religion, Culture and Education;
  • Culture and Counterculture: from Orientalism to the ‘Hippy Trail’.

Course assessment

Assessment is mainly by coursework such as essays, reports, projects, presentations, on-line discussion board participation, or even the production of a short film, and there are also some timed elements such as critical analyses or examinations.

Learning is encouraged through participation in a wide variety of activities including lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and fieldtrips.

We teach with attention to individuals. We welcome non-traditional entrants and mature students.

Resources include a well-stocked library, on-line materials in our virtual learning platform and our many contacts with faith communities (and ethical associations) locally and nationally.

BACRA (the Bath Archive of Contemporary Religious Affairs) is an archive of ephemera devoted mainly to New Religious Movements and concentrated on the 1980s and 1990s before most movements had their own websites.

 

Teaching methods

Our lectures set out the broad themes and issues, often include visual materials and enable you to participate and raise questions.

Seminars are in smaller groups where you have more opportunities to participate and interact with each other. These might involve you giving short presentations, working in groups, debates and discussions. They help you clarify issues that you find in your readings and raised in lectures; some seminars may include viewing of brief documentaries.

One-to-one tutorials are an important part of our teaching, especially in giving individual feedback on your work.

To give you an experiential understanding of the subjects that you study, we organise educational visits and fieldtrips to religious and pilgrimage centres in Bath, Glastonbury, Bristol, London, etc. We also enable you to take part in a one-week placement in a religious or ethical community to see how religions and philosophies impact on people's daily lives. For examples see www.livingreligion.co.uk.

We encourage you to take part in the study abroad programmes by, for example, participating in the existing Erasmus exchanges in Europe (e.g., University of Helsinki and University of Sibiu).

Application method

Full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

A popular career for our students is teaching Religious Education and/or Citizenship in secondary or primary schools, where there is a shortage of specialists. The combination of studying religions and philosophy is particularly good preparation for this, and one module is specially designed as preparation for a career in education. Others have gone on to further academic study and university teaching.

It is increasingly important for people in a wide range of careers to be able to mix with people from different religious and cultural backgrounds, for example past students have had careers in the police, hospital administration, social work, and journalism. Study of Religions comes in useful when working overseas whether in tourism or other businesses.

Since 2010, employers such as Global Xchange. Ethicall, Citizens' Advice Bureau and Birmingham University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Healthcare Assistant, Fundraiser,  Children's Home Activities Coordinator and Assistant to the Communications Director.

What students say...

Student Profile: Alex Hyde, Year 3 Study of Religions

I chose my course because I have always been interested in the world and in people.  I am fascinated by the thoughts, needs, beliefs and knowledge of others who have been brought up outside of Christianity.

I really like the structure of the course because the first year enables you to study in breadth and then in the second year focus more deeply on some of the religions studied in the first year. I was enthralled by the prospect of going on a placement for a week in a religious community as part of the course in second year.  I am soon to find out whether I will be going to live with The Community of the Many Names of God or the Hare Krishnas.

The Department has a friendly ethos, with lecturers who are genuinely willing their students to do well and continually supporting them along the way. It is with thanks to this course that my understanding of people in the world is ever expanding and even when the pressure is on with assignments due, I continue to brim with enthusiasm for the knowledge I gain.