Sociology MSc

Sociology entry in dictionary

This programme will provide you with an advanced introduction to sociology and you will develop a critical understanding of the discipline.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • It will develop your knowledge of the different theoretical and analytical approaches in sociology, together with knowledge of empirical studies in social research, while enabling you to focus in depth upon particular areas of sociology.
  • You will also be given some research methods training.

Programme structure

The programme has a flexible structure, with over half the taught courses as options. Following from this, you will produce a sustained account of research in a chosen area, and conduct empirical research in that area, through a dissertation project.

Core courses

  • Current issues in social theory
  • Methods of social research.

Optional courses

You will choose three optional courses from the list below. You may choose to take one option from other postgraduate taught courses in the School of Social & Political Sciences.  

  • The disabling society
  • Religion in society
  • Sexualities and society 
  • Gender and society
  • Racism and modernity 
  • Introduction to social theory
  • Class and stratification.

Background and aims

The teaching of sociology and other social sciences in the University of Glasgow dates back to the 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment. The modern Department (now subject- area) of Sociology dates from the early 1970s when this discipline emerged fully-fledged from its original home in the Department of Politics. It was a pioneer of developments now taken for granted, leading to the autonomy of the social sciences as separate disciplines, with distinctive methodologies and epistemology. At the same time, it has also had productive links with other departments with which Sociology has affinities eg History and English Literature.  Its members also played an important part in the formation of the Glasgow University College of Social Sciences and – nationally – in the British Sociological Association. John Eldridge (the founding professor of the Department) was for several years President of the BSA.

Over the years, Glasgow sociology has been strengthened by the addition of anthropology and the removal of the unnecessary barrier between the two disciplines. It has also gained other new areas such as the sociology of sexualities and disability. It has always been a department which has been known for its theoretical interest in modernity and for the strength of its social theory teaching, with expertise in Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel, amongst other thinkers. Indeed, one distinguishing mark of Glasgow sociology has been its concern within each area to link contemporary sociological research to the classical sociological canon and to illustrate how this illuminates current social changes, from bureaucratic organisation to religion and its current revival. 

Glasgow has a strong resemblance to another great industrial city: Chicago, the early 20th Century pioneer of urban and industrial research, the site of an often forgotten group of feminist sociologists and the home of the then new American Journal of Sociology.  Glasgow – through the 20th Century and now into the 21st Century - is a similarly important site for studies of industrial (or de-industrialised) metropolitan life, where a large population throws up an extraordinarily wide spectrum of the division of labour.  It is in this crucible that – amongst other subjects – sociologists can easily study “race” and class, asylum-seekers’ claims for refugee status, and the wider social patterns producing health and disease. Glasgow has always had a celebrated Media group, situated in the Department and which is an ongoing base for critical analysis of media content and imagery. But throughout all the work of the Department’s members a distinctive sociological perspective has been uppermost, characterised by theoretical imagination and empirical rigour. It is these that we aim to pass on to our students.

What our students say

Wanlong ChenWanlong Chen, 2010-11

'I was interested in sociology from my undergraduate years – I like the way that sociologists investigate and analyse society. The MSc in Sociology provides an opportunity to receive a comprehensive academic training in this subject. I chose to study here because Glasgow is a big city with good transportation, whilst the University of Glasgow has a long history and high reputation.

The course itself turned out to have various attractions: you are free to arrange your time yourself, choose the way that you like to study and you are offered a lot of options. There was wonderful support from the supervisor and faculty staff. The seminar of the Current Issues in Social Theory course is great: you feel that you are talking with the grand masters of Sociology!

There were several aspects of the School of Social and Political Sciences that I enjoyed: having access to great resources in the Library, making new friends with different backgrounds and participating in study groups. In the City I enjoyed visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I liked having dinner in nice Chinese restaurants and shopping in the farmers’ markets.

The course as a whole gave me more possibilities in planning my career. Eventually it was this that helped me to find my present job as an editor in a publishing firm, which I am pleased with. The programme would suit anyone with an interest in sociology or trying to pursue a career in an area for which it is relevant. And you will enjoy your time studying here!'

Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject.

International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Part time 20 credits£772
Full time fee£15250

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

A postgraduate education in sociology provides a variety of skills useful in the contemporary labour market.  These include critical thinking, appreciation of the impact of institutions, including how people mediate them, and the ability to conduct research and utilise data.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now