Skills & Experience
Your degree in Sociology or in Politics & Sociology is generating lots of different skills and experiences that will be highly desirable to prospective employers. Key skills you are developing through your degree include time-management, critical thinking, analytical and writing skills, the ability to process large amounts of information, communication in presentations and seminars, data collection and analysis, group work, independence and work ethic.
In this section we look more closely at those skills and experiences gained on our degree programmes, in the words of our participants themselves. We hope this will help you build a language to identify and talk about those important abilities.
As you know, Sociology is a challenging academic degree but sometimes it has a negative reputation as ‘easy’. Our participants spoke with great passion about how to respond to these misinformed attitudes, and have developed sophisticated counter-narratives that challenge them.
- Sociology is a highly challenging academic subject that will prepare you for a wide range of careers.
- You learn both a wide range of transferable skills as well as sociological content in your studies.
- As a discipline, it is fundamentally grounded in developing critical thought about ‘taken-for-granted’ aspects of social life.
- These skills are both life-changing for many but also relevant to many employers.
- Some of the things we ask you do to as students such as presentations and group work are building important skills for the work place.
The breadth of the subject and not being limited
Most participants spoke about the breadth of Sociology as a strongly positive characteristic. It enabled them to gain a wide range of knowledge about different aspects of society:
“I find Sociology interesting because it is so wide spread and it is not just concentrated on one thing; even though it is one subject…there is a range of different things involved in it.”
The openness of Sociology allowed freedom to pursue specific interests and become independent learners. As we discuss [here] the breadth of Sociology is also valued for the wide range of career options it can take you into.
Many also spoke about the transformative experience of studying Sociology. It has changed the way they see the world as well as making them feel more well-rounded:
“I think as a person like, I know it sounds really clichéd, but I have like grown quite a lot through doing it. And like looking into things that I never would have thought of and caring for things I never thought I would have cared about. And yeah…so I just think as a person it has improved my knowledge, improved my confidence, changed my outlook.”
Some of our alumni expressed how this Sociology shaped way of looking at the world had made them employable:
“My advice for getting a job? Be interested. Sociology students are the perfect ones for this. You should be interested in everything, the world around you. You should be able to sit in a car park and be able use your sociological imagination about what kind of car park you are in. Just by judging the standard of the cars or anything else.”
What skills have you learned?
I. Independent working and time management
“I think you have to really be prepared, manage your time, that is so important. Because it is so independent. Sociology it is not like other degrees, where you would do like right or wrong answers… (or spend your) time in a lab and stuff like that. It is not like that, it is very independent, you have got to take it on yourself. And I think when you are in a job, like a graduate job for example, you might get some guidance at first but then you have got to prioritise your time and stuff like that. And I think it has taught me how to do that”
II. Presentations and group work skills
“I would say seminars and stuff were so good, because you learned to communicate with people. And organisation and stuff like that, so they were really useful skills to learn”
“Even though I absolutely hated doing them, the presentations and stuff, that actually was really useful... the project in Research in Social Life, working in a group on that assignment, I thought that was quite good to help you work with others.”
III. Critical thinking
“With writing essays and stuff, to be able to look at a good like 20 plus sources, be able to quickly break them down and then apply them in an essay I think is quite a useful skill. Like even if in the future of my job I don’t end up needing to write like an academic essay, but it is more kind of the ability to kind of look at a big chunk of text as information and then be able to break that down and apply it in a different way, is still a really useful skill to have.”
“But definitely skills like analysing, evaluating and things like that, they are things you get in Sociology, and they are things which I use every single day now in my job.”
This is not a mickey mouse degree
The reputation of Sociology as an ‘easy’, ‘mickey mouse’ subject was something mentioned by almost all of the participants we interviewed. This was coming from a number of different quarters (parents’ friends, work place and fellow students on other courses):
“Everyone was kind of like ‘why are you doing Sociology? That is not going to be useful.”
But our participants also had robust responses to speak back to this ill-informed view of Sociology. They were very clear that through their degrees that they were gaining a significant range of important skills and that Sociology is a highly demanding degree. They knew that they were studying challenging topics and ideas which entailed having to take a position and think for oneself in contrast to more vocational degree programmes.
“People will joke about Sociology and think it is not a proper degree…It really annoys me! Because there is so much about it and it so current and it is harder than people think. I know when people are doing work for their assignments and stuff, we have to do so much in Sociology. And it is really academic.”