What can I do with a degree in Sociology?

Gang and motorcycle club patches

Societies seem to be firmly established but change rapidly. We seem to be under the control of organisations but organisations are constantly restructured. As sociologists attend to these kinds of puzzles, sociology is the rigorous study of society. They investigate the structure of societies, organisations and groups. Their subject matter ranges from the intimacy of the family, the criminal gang, activities at the rugby game and rock festival, through to divisions of ethnicity, gender and class. All of these and many more areas, including globalisation, postcolonialism, cities, technologies, environment, health and the social organisation of death are included in the Sociology programme taught at UC.

Through their Sociology degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Thinking critically and creatively, and challenging ideas
  • Understanding the influences of human behaviour
  • Logical and quantitative thinking
  • Practical application of sociological theory
  • Problem solving skills
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Oral and written communication
  • Research and computing.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available, for example undertaking an internship can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Recent UC graduates have been employed in:

  • Government eg, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Development, Inland Revenue, Ashburton District Council, Christchurch City Council, Parliamentary Service, Office for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
  • Social work and counselling services eg, Child & Family Specialty Service, Lifeline Christchurch, Odyssey House Youth Programme
  • Corrections eg, NZ Police, Community Probation Service
  • Banking and financial services eg, ANZ, Deloitte
  • Research companies eg, Clarity Research
  • Education eg, University of Canterbury, Ara Institute of Technology, UC Community Education
  • Iwi eg, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
  • Private companies in retail, healthcare, legal, energy, software, media, human resources, debt collection, training, insurance, manufacturing, and other sectors.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Social researcher

  • Designs and develops research projects
  • Uses a range of quantitative and qualitative methods to gain insight
  • Analyses data and findings to write reports

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Marketing officer / coordinator

  • Collects and analyses market insight
  • Prepares and implements marketing plans
  • Works with others to promote goods or services

Research analyst / advisor

  • Organises and conducts research
  • Develops and tests theories, interprets results
  • Writes reports, makes recommendations and publishes research

Social worker

  • Supports and guides individuals and whānau
  • Builds relationships and links people to resources, services, groups and events
  • Writes reports and coordinates budgets

Analyst

  • Collects, analyses and interprets data
  • Identifies and forecasts trends and needs
  • Presents information to assist decision-making

Market researcher

  • Develops research strategies
  • Analyses and evaluates results and information
  • Provides advice and recommendations

Advocate

  • Advises and represents individuals, groups or a cause
  • Examines and drafts contracts
  • Provides relevant information to clients

Teacher aide, teaching assistant

  • Adapts teachers’ learning programmes to the needs of specific students
  • Often works one-to-one or in small groups
  • Helps children with personal care eg, medication

Human resources advisor

  • Advertises vacancies and recruits staff
  • Advises on workplace policies and procedures
  • May oversee staff development, health and safety, pay and reward etc.

Counsellor

  • Supports a client to talk about their feelings and experiences
  • Listens to and reflects upon the client’s issues
  • Raises self-awareness and understanding
  • Discusses options and assists the client to make choices

Probation officer

  • Manages, supervises and monitors the behaviour of offenders
  • Provides assessments of an offender’s likelihood of recidivism and suitability for parole
  • Enables and monitors access to services and programmes

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in a community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Sociology subject page