Spotlight on…Politics and Sociology

Welcome back to our Spotlight on… series. In this series of blog posts we’ll be exploring different degree subjects in depth; what it’s like to study that subject, the types of modules available, the extra opportunities available to students of that subject and what graduate careers it can lead to. The blog posts will be written by current students, or recent graduates from across all 12 Shaping Futures partner institutions. In this post Amber will be discussing Politics and Sociology. Is there a specific subject you’d like the spotlight on? Tweet us at @ShapingFutures_ or Contact Us and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Blog post by Amber Coleman, BA Econ Politics & Sociology Graduate, University of Manchester. Amber is the Shaping Futures Project Officer for Halton.

During my time at school I was never quite sure what I wanted to do in the future. By the time I was moving into Sixth Form and starting my A Levels, I had tried and tested lots of different subjects. I knew I was interested in politics, but as my Sixth Form didn’t offer this as a course I decided to try Sociology, which is the study of society, and can involve exploring a range of things from class, race and culture to relationships, gender and sexuality.

My Sociology A Level was the most enjoyable subject I had studied at school. I found that I was paying more attention in class and getting more involved with discussions during lessons – although I still struggled with homework deadlines. I realised at this point that if I was going to go to university, the best thing to study would be something which I enjoyed, and so applied for a joint honours course in Politics & Sociology. A joint honours course is where you study two subjects at the same time – it can help give you more breadth in your degree.

politics and sociology

I was thrilled to gain a place at the University of Manchester on their BA Econ Politics and Sociology course. The course appealed to me as it was very flexible in terms of what I could study – I was able to choose my own modules from a range of subjects including economics, politics, philosophy and sociology. This meant I had lots of opportunities to try new things whilst also building on what I had learned already in my A Level Sociology course, and could also pick and choose the modules which I was most interested in and almost build my own degree programme. This is one major way in which university can be very different to school.

My assignments were mainly a mix of written essays and examinations. Luckily, essay deadlines were often staggered across the term so I was able to manage my time and make sure I never had too much work to do at once! I studied a really wide variety of different things, which also helped when it came to revising for exams, as changing from one subject to the next felt like a welcome break – one minute I could be learning about how news media was used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the next exploring the effectiveness of prisons for rehabilitating offenders and reducing crime.

Rehabilitation class at prison - sociology study

This photo shows a business focused session a UK prison ran as part of a rehabilitation programme for prisoners. This is the type of programme Amber would have studied in one of her modules.

Aside from just the books, essays and exams I learned a lot on my course that has helped me as an individual. I learned to challenge information rather than just take what is written or said by others at face value. I become better at formulating my own ideas and opinions, and learned how best to communicate these to other people. Most of all, I learned more about the world around me and how it is important to imagine how people in situations different to my own may be affected by things, and to consider what challenges they may be facing when developing my own opinions and planning my own actions.

My favourite thing about my degree course was that I was genuinely interested in the topics I was learning about. If I could give one tip to anybody thinking about what they would like to study at university and isn’t sure what they might want to do in the future, it would be to pick a course or subject that you like and enjoy. It really helps with those late nights in the library!

You can read more about the course Amber studied here. You can also study Politics and Sociology at Liverpool Hope University, the University of Chester and the University of Liverpool, while Edge Hill University offer Sociology with Politics. Liverpool John Moores University don’t offer a joint honours course but they do offer a Sociology course.