What will I study?
The majority of Arts Majors require 100 points of study for attainment. This means out of the 300 point program, you have the opportunity to achieve two Majors in your course. Along with this, the Faculty of Arts offers a variety of Breadth Subjects designed to enhance your learning with options from a variety of fields.
Students completing a Major in Sociology must complete:
- One Level 1 Elective subject
- One Arts Foundation subject (MULT10018 Power recommended)
- One Level 2 Compulsory subject
- 25 points from Level 2 Electives subjects
- One Level 3 Capstone subject
- 25 points from Level 3 Electives subjects
Students completing a Minor in Sociology must complete:
- One Level 1 Elective Subject
- One Arts Foundation subject (MULT10018 Power recommended)
- 25 points from Level 2 Elective Minor subjects
- 25 points from Level 3 Electives Minor subjects
Explore this major
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this major.
Who we are and what we do is all tangled up in our identity. This subject considers how identities are constructed and maintained through mediated processes of self and other. The subject investigates the myriad demands and devices that figure in constructing our senses of self and other (including language, leisure, beliefs and embodied practices). By exploring identity in diverse contexts, across time and place, the subject maps varying conceptions of self and other and how these conceptions are constructed and maintained. A key focus is on how these mediated conceptions of self and other are translated into material practices of inclusion, exclusion, discrimination, violence and criminalisation.
Language plays a central role in the central disciplinary areas in the humanities and social sciences. This subject gives students tools for thinking about language in a range of disciplines, including linguistics, history, sociology, politics, literary studies, anthropology, language studies, psychology and psychoanalytic theory. It shows how language can be analysed as a system, but also how language features centrally in politcal and social contexts: for example, in the processing of the claims of asylum seekers, in developing views of ethnicity, race and nation, and in colonialism; and in the construction of gendered and sexual identity. The role of language in the psyche, and the process of acquisition of languages in children and in adults, are also important topics. Knowing how to think about language, and familiarity with the main thinkers who have discussed language in a range of humanities and social science disciplines, provide an indispensable basis for study in any area of the Arts degree.
The idea of power is a way to grasp the character of social relations. Investigating power can tell us about who is in control and who may benefit from such arrangements. Power can be a zero-sum game of domination. It can also be about people acting together to enact freedom. This subject examines the diverse and subtle ways power may be exercised. It considers how power operates in different domains such as markets, political systems and other social contexts. It also examines how power may be moderated by such things as regulation and human rights. A key aim is to explore how differing perspectives portray power relations and how issues of power distribution may be characterised and addressed.
Reason, many believe, is what makes us human. Until recently, most scientists and philosophers agreed that the ability to use the mind to analyse and interpret the world is something intrinsic to the nature of our species. Reason has a long and extraordinary history. We will explore a number of inter-related themes: the nature of reason from Ancient Greece to our contemporary world; the ever shifting relationship between reason and faith; reason's place in the development of scientific experimentation and thinking; shifting perspectives about the uses of Reason and, finally, how reason relates to theories of the mind, exploring the tensions between reason, the passions and the will.
Reason will take you on a journey from Plato's cave to the neuro-scientists' lab. We will visit revolutions in science, thinking and politics. We will explore the impact of some of the great philosophers of history, including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Bentham, Coleridge, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault and many more besides. By the end of this subject you will have a deep understanding of the importance of the idea of reason to human history and philosophy. You might, even, be able to answer the question: 'does reason exist?'
Reason is an Arts Foundation Subject and we will argue that understanding the history and philosophy of reason provides great insights into many aspects of the humanities from political philosophy to understanding history. We will, of course, be paying particular attention to the foundational skills that will help you successfully complete your Arts major: particularly critical thinking and argument development.
This subject will provide students with an introduction to the complexity, challenges and richness of Australian Indigenous life and cultures. Drawing on a wide range of diverse and dynamic guest lecturers, this subject gives students an opportunity to encounter Australian Indigenous knowledges, histories and experiences through interdisciplinary perspectives. Across three thematic blocks - Indigenous Knowledges, Social and Political Contexts and Representation/Self-Representation - this subject engages contemporary cultural and intellectual debate. Social and political contexts will be considered through engagement with specific issues and a focus on Indigenous cultural forms, which may include literature, music, fine arts, museum exhibitions and performance, will allow students to consider self-representation as a means by which to disrupt and expand perceptions of Aboriginality.
Humans grapple with representations of themselves and their contexts. They also like to imagine other possible worlds. We use words, language, images, sounds and movement to construct narratives and stories, large and small, about the trivial and the profound, the past and the future. These representations can help us to understand worlds but they can also create worlds for us. This subject explores how different genres such as speech, writing, translation, film, theatre and art generate representations of social life, imagination and the human condition. A key aim of the subject is to develop a critical appreciation of how language, images and embodied gestures are used to construct empowering and disempowering discourses.
- Understanding Society12.5
This subject explores our contemporary society through sociological perspectives. Students will be encouraged to develop what C Wright-Mills describes as a 'sociological imagination', which seeks to understand the ways in which our identities are formed by social structures and historical patterns. Society in the 21st century is shaped by global flows of people, culture and finance, potentially challenging national sovereignty. New technologies are redefining who we are, work patterns are continually changing, and new social problems are emerging. In this context selfhood is in a process of rapid and uncertain transformation and categories such as gender, class and the family are becoming unstable, leading to new and difficult-to-chart experiences and new forms of inequality. This subject critically examines these changes using a number of key concepts including social change, power and conflict, inequality, identity, risk, individualisation, and networks. Drawing on these key concepts, the subject closely examines the relationship between the individual, the collective and key social institutions in the context of seeking to understand the complex and dynamic nature of human society.
- Inequalities: Challenges for the Future12.5
Inequalities: Challenges for the Future
Ever wondered what is the connection between the #wearethe99percent and #metoo campaigns? These social movements tap into increased awareness of rising inequalities across the world. This subject will introduce students to core themes of inequality and social differences from a sociological perspective. Students will be introduced to key theoretical concepts and trends to explain social inequality. Course content with include, but not be limited to, inequality in race, class and gender.
- Critical Analytical Skills12.5
Critical Analytical Skills
This subject introduces students to the fundamental analytic skills that are used in social science research. It provides an introduction to the theoretical and epistemological foundations of social science research, familiarises students with the different methods of inquiry in the social sciences and provides an overview of key historical and contemporary debates and trends. Different theoretical approaches and their associated methods of inquiry will be introduced through practical examples in order to show their strengths and limitations.
- Ethnic Nationalism and the Modern World12.5
Ethnic Nationalism and the Modern World
Ethnicity and nationalism are of special concern to anthropologists, especially in instances where anthropology becomes part of nationalist discourse. This subject considers ethnicity and nationalism through the in-depth analysis of a case study from the developing world, but draws on comparative material from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Pacific. Students will examine different theoretical approaches to ethnicity, nationalism and ethnic nationalism, in particular the relationships between the formation of nation states and processes of 'development', 'transition' and 'underdevelopment'; the roles of actors, from political actors to ordinary people, in the construction of national projects; the relationships between historic and contemporary processes in the construction of national projects; how national projects are constructed, enforced and culturally maintained and the relationships between globalisation, migration, transnationalism and ethnic nationalism in the modern world.
- Order, Disorder, Crime, Deviance12.5
Order, Disorder, Crime, Deviance
This subject analyses the nature of social order and how need for order brings an inevitable consequence that deviance and non-conformity will result. Classical and contemporary sociological and criminological theories are explored that help explain the nature of social order and crime and deviance. Each theory is developed through grounded examples that can illustrate both its strengths and weaknesses. Topics covered in the course include suicide, industrial disasters, religious cults, sexual assault, racism, terrorism and the witchcraze of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe.
- Sex and Gender Present and Future12.5
Sex and Gender Present and Future
How do sex and gender operate in the world today, and what are their possible futures? Indeed, do these concepts have a future? Can they adequately capture the breadth, range and fluidity of contemporary and global sexed and gendered lives? Key themes explored in this subject include: current theories and experiences of sex and gender in the world today; the increasing instability of the concepts of sex and gender and their transformations; gender fluidity; the persistence of gender inequality; gender as a cultural category versus gender as lived bodily experience; and the uses and abuses of the gender concept. The subject culminates by considering imagined futures of everyday gender practices and of sexualities. These themes will be explored in a global and cross-cultural context.
- Australian Indigenous Politics12.5
Australian Indigenous Politics
The subject studies Australian indigenous politics in the comparative context of settler societies. First, it explores their historical dispossession and exclusion that left Indigenous people as citizens without rights, and economically and socially marginalized in their own country. Second, it evaluates the ongoing processes of recognition and inclusion, including anti-discrimination measures, land rights, state and federal policy measures, social policy and Indigenous initiatives that have marked the uneven path to reconciliation and recognition of the full rights and entitlements of Indigenous people, including special group rights and compensation.
- Terrorism: Shifting Paradigms12.5
Terrorism: Shifting Paradigms
This subject examines the various dimensions of terrorism and its manifestations. This includes the nation state's capacity to authorise and to create the conditions for the practices known as terrorism. In this subject we interrogate the role of the nation state and the rhetoric/s of anti-terrorism that both produce and contain acts known as terrorism. We look at the psychology of both the nation state and the terrorist through different anaytical approaches. To this end we examine the function of different terrorist acts - including suicide bombing in Iraq, Israel/Palestine, London and New York, assassinations and bombings in Northern Ireland and England, and practices of state terror in the context of acts of genocide, disappearance and torture. All of these examinations are used to assist in trying to think about a new way of conceptualizing violence performed by the state, the individual and the group.
- Sociology of Youth12.5
Sociology of Youth
Youth is a period in which adult identities are shaped and through this society’s institutions and cultural beliefs are either reproduced or remade. For this reason young people and their attitudes and actions fascinate and create anxiety for broader society. The sociological study of youth is also the study of broader continuity and change. This subject introduces central classical and contemporary sociological approaches as they apply to the study of youth. It locates young people's experience in a context of social change, investigating the ways in which employment, education, family, gender, social class, youth culture and geographic location shape the meaning of youth in different ways in the early 21st Century. It explores the new ways in which young people approach learning, work and relationships and examines the impact of the digital revolution, globalisation, and the ‘Asian Century’ on young lives. On completion of this subject students will have deepened their knowledge of the major sociological approaches to youth.
- Sociology of Culture12.5
Sociology of Culture
This course introduces students to the sociological study of culture. Exploring topics such as art, sport, food, religion, music, social media and cultural memory, we will examine how culture can reproduce, organise, and challenge particular social values and structures. To put this study into context, the course also traces the rise of cultural sociology in the late 20th century; a time when sociologists became increasingly interested in popular culture and everyday life, and cultural critics began to consider the sociological context of literature, art, and film. Using these innovative studies as a framework, each week we will analyse an aspect of contemporary culture and consider its sociological importance. On completion of the course, students will have an understanding of the cultural dimensions of social life and the key theories and methods that can be used to critically analyse cultural experience.
- Sexualising Society: Sociology of Sex12.5
Sexualising Society: Sociology of Sex
Sex and sexuality are core dimensions of social life. Sociologists have long investigated how sex captures and reflects social norms and practices. This subject will introduce students to core concepts in the theoretical, empirical and anatomical approaches to the sociology of sex. The subject will include but is not limited to, sexual identities, sexual practice and sex as a manifestation of power.
- Families, Relationships and Society12.5
Families, Relationships and Society
This subject introduces students to students to the sociology of family life. The subject will start with a broad focus covering key theoretical perspectives on the family and personal life and examining the political and cultural context of family life. A key theme of the subject will be to identify the ways in which family life is changing and exploring the implications of those changes for individuals, society and social policy. The subject will examine social and demographic trends in marriage, fertility, cohabitation, singlehood and the organisation of paid and unpaid work in families and households. Other issues and topics that will be addressed including: gender and family life, dating and relationship formation, the impact of reproductive technologies, same-sex relationships, 'boomerang' kids and fatherhood.
- Law, Justice and Social Change12.5
Law, Justice and Social Change
Law, Justice and Social Change examines the ways in which law can be seen and used as both an instrument of positive social change and yet also as a means of confirming existing social arrangements and resisting social change. Through a series of case studies, it critically reflects on the key goals of law reform (such as access to justice and equality) and different ways of understanding what constitutes a just outcome. It looks at a selection of issues such as gender politics, ethnicity, race, disability, indigenous politics, class and economic struggles and sexual orientation and social dissent. There is also a strong practical component to the subject - students learn about the law reform process and choose a current law reform issue to consider in light of the issues discussed in the subject and interview a staff member from a community legal centre or government body involved in writing a report or submission that advocates for legal change. These organisations have in the past included the Human Rights Law Centre, Youthlaw, Victorian Council of Social Services, YACVic, Liberty Victoria, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, JobWatch, Berry Street, the Federation of Community Legal Centres. the Mental Health Legal Centre, amongst others.
- Modernity: Foundations of Sociology12.5
Modernity: Foundations of Sociology
This subject is primarily concerned with the ideas about society that have anchored the disciplines of sociology and social theory in the 19th and 20th centuries. It critically assesses these ideas through an examination of the works of key social theorists. Students completing this subject should have developed an understanding of the central ideas of key thinkers in the social-theoretical tradition, among them, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel and Freud, and developed an understanding of some central issues and themes about society such as power, culture, structure and self through a critical engagement with the work of these thinkers.
- Applied Research Methods12.5
Applied Research Methods
This subject provides students with training in applied social science research methods. Students will learn how to connect a research question with appropriate research design and methodology and acquire practical skills in utilising different research methods and tools, including analysing data and presenting results. The subject will enable students to develop a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods and the practical skills to carry out social science research.
- Power, Ideology and Inequality12.5
Power, Ideology and Inequality
What sorts of inequalities are intensifying in the contemporary world? What dynamics are producing those intensifications? And how have anthropologists historically conceptualized the inequalities with which they gain firsthand experience through long-term fieldwork? Growing numbers of political and economic anthropologists are committed to exploring the ideological and material means by which systems of inequality are created, sustained, misrecognized, and challenged. Drawing principally on Marxist anthropology, post-structuralism and post-colonialism, this subject looks cross-culturally to explore the interrelationships between diverse forms and sources of power, the roles of colonialism and corporate globalization in configuring and sustaining local relations of inequality, and the rise of resistance movements that explicitly challenge exclusions based on class, gender, and ethnicity. Special attention will be paid to the effects of multinational corporations on local power relations and patterns of inequality throughout the world via brand marketing, legal reform, and corporate social responsibility. Case studies will be drawn from Latin America, North America, Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
- Crimes of the Powerful12.5
Crimes of the Powerful
This subject analyses the crimes and harms of the powerful. The subject examines the relationship between government, business and law both theoretically and through a series of case studies to explore the reasons behind business harms and crimes and why they are so difficult to tackle. The subject traces three different entry points into crimes of the powerful: corporate and white collar crime; business corruption and crimes of the powerful in a globalised economy. Students will explore a range of criminological theories that can help explain the harms perpetuated by the powerful as well as the techniques employed by the state in regulating white-collar and corporate misconduct. This includes the challenges of defining such harm as criminal and the strengths and weaknesses of trying to use the criminal law in curbing such activities. Case studies are used to deepen student's understanding of the breadth of such crime and harm as well as the the similarities and differences between them. Case studies include complex financial fraud, industrial disasters, professional misconduct, tax avoidance and environmental harm.
- Science and Society12.5
Science and Society
Science provides innumerable benefits in our lives but poses just as many urgent questions. The aim of this subject is to explore the role of science in our society by drawing on recent scholarly work in sociology and philosophy of science. The first part of the course will introduce several conceptions of scientific knowledge, and of the role of scientists and their knowledge in society. The second part of the course will apply these intellectual tools to some of the pressing questions about contemporary science. What is the relationship between science, technology and the market? To what extend should science be directed by values? What role do or should scientists play in policy decisions? What role should ‘the public’ play in setting research priorities? What is a scientific expert? Why do we disagree about climate change? Has science shown that race is a social construct?
- Australian Indigenous Public Policy12.5
Australian Indigenous Public Policy
The subject examines the governance arrangements that have shaped the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since settlement. Prior to, at the time of, and since Federation, Indigenous Australians have been uniquely affected by a range of public policy settings, approaches and frameworks. Part One of the subject introduces students to foundational concepts in public policy making and then critically examines different ‘epochs’ in Australian Indigenous Public Policy: elimination, assimilation, self-determination and intervention. Part Two will explore various policies across these periods that have shaped Indigenous Australians’ experiences of land, family, health, education, employment and justice in different ways. Across both parts, students will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge about historical and contemporary political controversies, including: the Don Dale controversy, the refusal of The Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Closing the Gap framework and others. Students will be expected to use knowledge of particular cases to examine the social, political and institutional challenges that shape the landscape of contemporary Australian Indigenous Public Policy.
- Contemporary Sociological Theory12.5
Contemporary Sociological Theory
The subject examines major approaches and debates within contemporary sociological theory, and the different research directions that emerge from these approaches. Beginning with an overview of the classical foundations of sociological theory, the subject explores contemporary sociological theories which engage with questions of power, social order, and conflict. The subject also examines contemporary sociological approaches to critical issues including globalization, individualization, and identity. As the subject proceeds, we will examine how researchers construct, evaluate and modify theory to respond to transformations in social relations and practices. In this way, it will become evident that sociological theory is in a constant process of interaction with everyday social structures, relations and experiences. Students will complete the subject with knowledge of key approaches and debates in contemporary sociological theory, and with the capacity to use sociological theory to construct social research questions.
- Living in a Risk Society12.5
Living in a Risk Society
For good practical and theoretical reasons, risk and uncertainty have emerged as central themes in social science. More flexible labour markets, greater freedom to divorce, cohabit and re-partner and greater diversity in lifestyles erode the certainty with which people can map out their futures. Step-changes in the complexity and scale of technological innovation enable rapid rise in living standards, and, at the same time, bring the possibility of major catastrophes closer. Unexpected disasters, from the Challenger Space Shuttle to Chernobyl, from the Herald of Free Enterprise to Exxon Valdez remind us of the limits to our capacity for control. This subject will give an overview to interdisciplinary and sociological approaches to risk and a better understanding why we are concerned about risks and how we can deal with risks and uncertainty as a society but also individually in everyday life. It will show the limits of objectivist understandings of risk and will explore the involvement of values, power, knowledge and emotions in the realm of risk.
- Law in Social Theory12.5
Law in Social Theory
Law in Social Theory builds upon issues introduced in Law in Society, and Law, Justice and Social Change. Through a seminar-style format, it examines the theories of the function and role of law propounded by a range of social and legal theorists and movements, including Jürgen Habermas, Niklas Luhmann, Patricia Williams, Pierre Bourdieu, Catharine McKinnon, and others. Students examine these different theories of how law works and law's role, using them as a lens on questions of justice and crime. Each week these theories are considered in light of and tested against contemporary criminological and socio-legal problems selected by the students and the lecturer. Case studies in the past have included Indigenous Constitutional Recognition, the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, and the Review of the Australian Defence Force's Treatment of Women. The purpose of the course is thus two-fold: to become familiar with different theories of the function of law in relation to society, and to consider the insight these theories bring to different criminological and socio-legal problems.
- Critical Theories12.5
The aim of this subject is to introduce students to and critically examine the major debates in contemporary critical theories from Western Marxism to postmodernism. These critical theories include the German Frankfurt School, French poststructuralism, the Budapest School, post-Marxism and feminism, all of which are set against the background of the Enlightenment and the Romantic and Heidegerrean responses to it. On completion of the subject, students should have developed an understanding of the central issues and ideas of the critical theorists covered in this course and be able to convey this understanding through a critical engagement with the issues and theories in the written assessment of the course.
- Sociology Internship25
In this subject a student, under academic supervision, undertakes a sociological research project or prepares a portfolio of work in an organisation outside the university, such as a trade union, social movement, women's organisation, social service provider, government or non-government organisation or business organisation. The project will be determined jointly by the student and the organisation concerned.
If primary research is carried out during the internship, ethics approval is the responsibility of the host organisation.
- Digital Technology and Social Change12.5
Digital Technology and Social Change
This subject explores how digital technology informs everyday life, but also how society informs the design, development, and use of digital technologies. Using key concepts and theories from the Sociology of Technology field, we can examine the role of new Information & Communication technologies (ICTs) on social change and on different societal dimensions. Particular attention is given to how digital technologies present both social possibilities (e.g., broader access to information and services, new types of self-expression, new forms of social connectedness, etc.) and social problems (e.g., privacy concerns, the digital divide, etc.). Students will study these tensions through the analysis of sociological studies, news, and hands-on digital engagement.
- Survey Design and Analysis12.5
Survey Design and Analysis
This subject will give practical tips and hands-on experience for designing and implementing social surveys, for both academic purposes and the public/business sector. The structure of the subject will parallel the steps taken when executing a survey: comparing the advantages and disadvantages of surveys versus other means of collecting social data; determining the specific purpose of the study and to whom the study applies; developing the content and testing questions; implementing the questionnaire; and undertaking data cleaning and preliminary analysis. This will be illustrated by drawing on experiences from real life surveys. Practical, hands-on exercises will form a key part of lectures and tutorials and computer lab exercises.
- Sociology of 'Race' and Ethnicities12.5
Sociology of 'Race' and Ethnicities
This subject provides a sociological examination of the racialized underpinnings of Australian society. Focusing on how social forces such as colonisation, dispossession and the White Australia Policy have shaped understandings of racial difference, the subject will be concerned with the specific social consequences for Australia of such racialisation processes, which includes contemporary Australian expressions of racial inequalities and racism. The subject also considers the impacts of the interplay between Australia and the global shifts that shape both the changing notions and experiences of ‘race’ and conceptualisations and experiences of ethnicity. A sociological investigation of what decolonising knowledge means will also be explored through introducing some First Nation’s Australian knowledge and critical engagement with social theory.
- Sociology of Work: The Future of Work12.5
Sociology of Work: The Future of Work
This subject will undertake a critical analysis of the changing structure and behaviour of work and occupations in modern society. It will engage with the theoretical debates and empirical research that focus on the organizational development and work and occupations in society more generally. The class will focus on how work and occupations are structured, evolve over time and replicate and reinforce existing inequalities. The course will provide a range of sociological perspectives on the subject. In addition, guest lectures by industry experts are arranged so that students get acquainted with recent developments, practical issues and challenges in work settings as a consequence of the changing nature of work. Students will be asked to draw upon theory and contemplate potential intervention strategies to mitigate some of these current problems. These strategies will be presented to the industry experts.
- Psychoanalysis and Social Theory12.5
Psychoanalysis and Social Theory
Psychoanalysis has informed and influenced contemporary social theory in manifold ways. Psychoanalysis has been central to theorising the decentred subject, it has radically affected conceptualisations of ideology, thrown reason under radical suspicion and has contributed to a better understanding of identities. including identities of nation, race, gender and ethnicity. This subject investigates these issues in the context of a consideration of texts by Freud, Klein, Lacan, Kristeva, Adorno, Fromm, Habermas, Zizek, Mitchell, Giddens and Althusser. Students who complete this subject should gain a sound knowledge of some major traditions in psychoanalytic theory, particularly Freudian, Kleinian and Lacanian, and should come to possess an awareness of why social theory has been drawn to psychoanalysis in order to analyse subjectivities, group processes, intergroup relations, ideological formations, and forms of reason.