In the eyes of many people, social science has always been associated with terms like "humanities," "rote memorization," or even distorted images like "bluffing" and "superficial knowledge." In fact, besides studying theories, social science can also be approached through qualitative research methods such as questionnaire surveys and participant observations, or through quantitative research methods that involve data collection, integration, analysis, and the presentation of phenomena. These methods provide scientific evidence to support the study of human beings and social development.
To trace the origins, the study of how humans develop from individuals to small groups, large communities, and eventually complex modern societies should start with sociology. Then, based on different research areas and topics, it further deepens into specialised disciplines.
From individuals to society, an interdisciplinary study of social sustainability
Like most social science subjects, sociology emphasises a systematic analysis of various issues in society, starting with small-scale analyses and gradually expanding to macro-level studies of social structures. This discipline places great importance on "humans" as the creators of "society." It begins with micro-level studies of their behaviours and values and then extends to multi-level macro-level studies of society and its structures.
Specifically, the scope of sociological research includes the ethics of "small groups," family structures, gender construction, and can also extend to social issues at the level of "large communities," such as wealth disparity, consumer patterns, immigration and social structures, and the development of popular culture. Moreover, such research expands into different fields as human society progresses, including areas like the internet and social development, the analysis of criminal social status and criminal psychology, gender discrimination, and racism.
It is evident that sociology encompasses a wide range of areas, most of which are capable of standing as independent disciplines, making the field of social science more detailed and systematic in terms of academic research classification. As a result, many universities offer sociology courses in both single-degree programmes, where students solely study sociology, and joint-degree programmes following the "A+B" model, allowing students to choose their own paths. Among the popular "A+B" choices, the other half of the programme often includes subjects related to sociology, such as
- politics and international relations,
- media and communication
- social policy
In the first year of sociology courses, there are essential units such as introductory theories, modern theories, and quantitative and qualitative research. These units aim to lay the foundation for "scientific" research in subsequent courses. Students pursuing dual degrees will simultaneously study the required subjects for sociology and their second discipline. Throughout the three-year programme, some sociology units may appear as elective subjects in the dual-degree courses, allowing students to choose freely based on their interests and research directions.
"Bachelor of Arts" vs. "Bachelor of Science": Which has higher admission requirements?
When discussing the "scientific" nature of sociology, astute students may notice that different universities define sociology as either a "Bachelor of Arts" or a "Bachelor of Science." However, there are not significant differences in terms of overall academic, English, and essential subject requirements between the two.
Traditionally, sociology is often associated with the "humanities" and classified as a "Bachelor of Arts" degree. For students who have studied "written subjects" such as history, geography, English literature, or even Chinese history and literature, these subjects are generally considered favourable additions to their applications. While some universities advocate for the scientific research spirit of data analysis and integration, they position sociology as a "Bachelor of Science" degree. In reality, there is not much difference in the content and elective units between the two approaches. Overall, although there are no specific subject requirements for sociology, as a discipline that requires the application of a large amount of English academic materials and written expression, students who have studied written subjects have an advantage.
According to the Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021, the ranking of sociology subjects at the University of Surrey is second only to the top-ranked University of Cambridge. This indicates that the university has outstanding research capabilities in this field, comparable to Russell Group universities like Bristol, Leeds, and LSE, known for their excellence in teaching sociology.
The sociology programme at the university offers both single-degree and dual-degree courses that cover criminology, media and communications, and politics—three combinations closely related to sociology. This allows students to study multiple social science issues from different perspectives simultaneously.
The University of Surrey is located in Guildford, just a 35-minute train ride from central London. It is primarily a residential area for the middle class, with shopping malls and various distinctive restaurants. The environment is peaceful and pleasant, taking care of students' living needs while being outside the hustle and bustle of London.