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Introduction to Sociology

Exploring the basis of sociological theory and challenging understandings of society

Introduction to Sociology looks at what sociology can do.  Sociologists find out about how people live in and think about the world, generate or apply theories about social life, analyse how groups portray themselves and others, and how they critique inequality and injustice.

You will consider how contemporary sociologists work with key concepts and thinkers in engaging with the social world in these ways and will gain an understanding of the key purposes, concepts, methods and areas of inquiry in contemporary sociology.

The course will introduce you to the principles - as well as some in-class experience - of core methods of social scientific research: survey research, qualitative interviews, ethnography and textual analysis. We will look at examples of research from a range of countries across a range of areas, including the body, young adults, gender, inequality, violence and the environment.

Course Format

This course will be taught using a combination of lectures and discursive seminars. International case studies will be used to illustrate key theories and developments in sociological study. 


Informal assessment will take place through group discussion, classroom activities, questions and answers sessions as guided by tutor.

Course Organiser

Dr Sharani Osborn is a tutor in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. Her most recent research was funded by the ESRC and focussed on how men understand the place of fatherhood in the life course and the factors shaping decisions around having children for men.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand certain key sociological concepts, particularly those which link 'individuals' to 'society’
  • Develop an introductory understanding of the relationship between sociological argument and evidence.
  • Understand the purpose and value of sociological research in relation to both academic knowledge and public issues and policies
  • Understand key debates in sociological research about design, method and ethics
  • Know the range of research approaches and methods that can be applied to an issue or problem, and their strengths and weaknesses

The fee for this course is £1,335. 

This fee includes:

  • Tuition fees for the two-week course
  • Course materials and equipment
  • Academic trips and excursions
  • Social programme 

Additional fees may apply for visa applications. These are not included in your course fee.

The course fee does not include accommodation. To find out more about available accommodation options on our Accommodation page.

As part of your application process, you will be required to pay a £250 deposit. The deposit payment will be redeemable against your course fee. After a 14 day cooling off period, the deposit is non-refundable. You will receive information on how to pay your deposit during your application process.