Undergraduate Study

Undergraduate studies in Sociology and Social Policy focus on human behavior, beliefs and identity in the context of social interaction, social relationships, institutions and change, as well as how social policy and legal systems effect the individual and society.

The classroom

Our teaching combines lectures, tutorials, seminars, and practical assignments, engaging students in debates about contemporary issues as well as enduring concerns in the social sciences. Case studies are readily used to illustrate the real-world impact of social policy, legal practices, criminal justice, and social and institutional change.

Students enrolling in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy can choose from two majors and two minors within a number of different degree programs:


A major focus of sociological research is understanding how society shapes us and we shape society. Sociology is also concerned with how the ‘modern’ world came about, how it is changing today, and how it might develop in the future.

When you study sociology you will be introduced through our junior units to key ideas and concepts to help you understand social life and social change. Your ability to ‘think like a sociologist’ will be consolidated by the study of specific areas within sociology, such as religion, mass media, sport, environmental issues, social movements, and many other topics.

The sociology taught at the University of Sydney emphasizes both an historical and a comparative approach to the discipline and its subject matter. Major requirements

Career opportunities
Our graduates pursue diverse careers in government and non-government sectors, and not-or-profit organisations.

Socio-legal Studies

Socio-Legal Studies is the study of legal ideas, practices and institutions in their social and historical contexts. You will examine the institutions that make and enforce laws; parliament, the courts and the police, and you will learn about a broad range of legal practices and their impact.

Socio-Legal units of study will introduce you to methods and techniques that will enable you to undertake your own research in topic areas such as; the logic of crime and punishment, medico-legal and forensic practices, the philosophy of law, and the changing international regime of human rights. Major requirements

Career opportunities
Our graduates pursue diverse careers in government, business administration and management, non-government organisations, criminology and public advocacy.

Social Policy

Social Policy is the study of a range of policies that affect the social and economic welfare of individuals, families and communities.

Studying social policy enables students to understand the principles underpinning the provision of social policies. It explores why and how some policies emerge and also why they disappear. The type of policy areas covered include: work, unemployment and employment services; youth and children’s services; health policies; housing and urban/regional policies; policies for women, policies for Indigenous people; multicultural policies and policies relating to the environment. Minor requirements

Career opportunities
Our graduates pursue diverse careers in government, private and not-for-profit sectors, as well as domestic and international organisations, leading to careers in human resources and management, social research, or policy analysis and design.


Criminology is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of crime, deviance, social control and the legal system. It aims to understand who commits crimes and why, the societal responses, and how laws impact the prevention of crime.

Students will examine the central criminological topics in contemporary society, such as policing, youth justice, criminal justice, sentencing, prisons and punishment, crime and media, indigenous justice, forensics, and human rights. Minor requirements

Career opportunities
Our graduates pursue diverse careers in private industry, government and non-government sectors, and not-or-profit organisations.

Credit for previous study
Related study can be credited to your degree as a form of recognition of prior learning (RPL). This means you won’t have to repeat similar units and could graduate sooner. Find out here about types of credit and how to apply.

Further information on studying towards a major in Political Economy, as well as subjects offered, is available in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook.