School of Social Sciences


Sociology is the field of study concerned with the way in which we live in the world, along with other people. It explores the many fascinating, hopeful, and sometimes tragic interactions in which we engage in our everyday lives. Sociology questions the common sense ideas we operate with on a day-to-day level, challenging for example our tendency to generalise about social phenomena based on our own limited experiences. Sociology, as it is taught in universities and colleges around the world, aims to produce more thoughtful, critical and understanding students not only in their role as academics studying for degrees, but also as participants interacting in society. Sociologists (including both lecturers and students teaching and studying sociology) have constantly to rethink their role as they acquire new forms of knowledge and as societies change. How do we respond to the rapidly changing social worlds we inhabit, and to the major issues and problems which dominate many contemporary societies, including South Africa, such as HIV/AIDS, unemployment, poverty, development, transport, the environment, gender, crime, drug addiction, violence, racism and ‘racial’ segregation? Sociologists address these and other important social issues through employing a variety of methods, some which work with statistical data about large scale social trends,  and others which engage with the everyday social lives and interactions of particular groups and individuals in societies. As suggested in this brief introduction, Sociology is at the forefront of disciplines working to understand society in various ways, and employing a variety of different research methods, to investigate social phenomena. On the basis of systematic research and thinking, sociologists are often able suggest appropriate interventions to address the sorts of social issues and problems mentioned above, and to test and evaluate social policies in the world around us. Offered as a major, Sociology attempts to teach students, firstly, to think critically drawing on a variety of theories and to analyse society in all its complexity; and, secondly, it introduces students to social research, from a basic introduction through to the rich world of research undertaken within present day societies.
Options: Any registered student may do individual modules as part of their own degree structure. Faculty progression rules may limit the choices available at any specific stage of your student career. Discuss specific requirements with the staff in Sociology. Major subject: Sociology as a major subject requires that both Sociology Programme and Faculty requirements are met. The internal requirements refer to prerequisite courses in order to major in Sociology. Students are required to complete, satisfactorily, at the first level in the Faculties of Humanities, Development and Social Sciences the following four semester courses (16 credit points each) (also see the First Level Handbook):
  • Introduction to Sociology (an introduction to aspects of the social sciences)
  • Research Methods in the Social Sciences (an introduction to social science research and numeracy)
  • Introduction to South African Society (understanding South African society)
  • A language proficiency module, preferably Academic Learning in English (ALE).
Faculty progression rules require that all students have completed, successfully, at least five first level courses (in other words, at least 80 credit points) before being allowed to do second level courses. The second year of study requires:
  • Classical sociological theory and social stratification (Sociology 2a) (in this course aspects of social inequality are approached through the ideas of classical theorists, for possible perspectives on contemporary social issues, local and global)
  • Sociology of development (Sociology 2b) (again the approach is to relate theories to critical analysis of contemporary South African society, focussing on aspects such as urban and rural development requirements).
The third level requires that students have passed at least 14 courses at levels one and two (at least 224 credit points), as well as both second level courses in Sociology, which gives them entry to:
  • Contemporary social theory and thinking the contemporary world (Sociology 3a) (a course that, through theories of globalisation, addresses both the global and the local dynamics in areas such as sexuality and the body; migrations; crime; culture and social identity.
  • Research Design and Information Technology (Sociology 3bi) (through research projects and lectures on both methodological approaches and methods, students are given greater insight into and experience of the research process; group work is required and presentation skills are taught).OR
  • Contemporary social issues (Sociology 3bii) (this module deals with social problems and areas of current social crisis. Issues dealt with, again requiring research projects, could include policing and crime; education; political violence; housing and health; social identity and conflict).

Joseph Rudigi Rukema
Kathryn Pillay
Kathryn Pillay
Mariam Seedat Khan
Moya Bydawell
Noel Chellan
Noel Chellan
Mzwandile Makhoba
Radhamany Sooryamoorthy
Rosalind Chetty
Rosalind Chetty
Sharmla Rama
Sihle Lamula
Sihle Pretty Lamula
Sultan Khan
Sinazo Nomsenge
Sinazo Nomsenge
Londiwe Sinenhlanhla Jali