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Course overview

(Graduate Certificate) Graduate Certificate
University of Essex
University of Essex
Colchester Campus
Graduate Certificate

A degree with an overall 2:1, or international equivalent, in a social science, humanities, statistics or maths. Your degree must also include at least two quantitative or research methods modules (this can also include the research project/dissertation).

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent or a non-social sciences degree will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 SC201-6-FY Continuity and Controversy in Sociology: Sociological Analysis II Compulsory 30
02 SC203-6-FY Researching Social Life II Compulsory 30

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

To provide students with an understanding of the distinctive character of sociological thinking (B)

To provide students with a knowledge of the main theoretical traditions of sociology (B)

To provide students with an understanding of the main sociological methods (B)

To develop students capacity for critical enquiry, argument and analysis

To develop students capacity for independent learning

To provide students with the knowledge and skills to enable them to proceed to further study and research at MA level Reference to the QAA Benchmarks for Sociology are indicated by the letter B

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 A knowledge of the intellectual foundations of sociology
A2 A knowledge of key sociological concepts and theories (b)
A3 An understanding of the relationships between individuals, groups and social institutions (b)
A4 An understanding of social context, culture, social diversity and social change (b)
A5 A knowledge of the relationship between theory, concepts and empirical evidence
A6 A knowledge of the principles of research design and the main approaches to data collection (b)
A7 An understanding of the analysis and interpretation of empirical data (and the value of comparative analysis) (b)
A8 A knowledge of the epistemological, ethical and political dimensions of sociological research (b)
Learning Methods: The Department uses lectures to present material, ideas, data and arguments, in a clear and structured manner using examples, mapping the field and the contours of debates.

Lectures are also used to stimulate students interest in the area under discussion.

In each course the issues and arguments covered in lectures are explored further through weekly classes or workshops for which students have to prepare.

The curriculum is designed to allow students to cover foundational aspects of the discipline by taking SC203 and SC201 alongside each other.
SC203 has a particular focus on research design and methods, SC201 has a particular focus on theoretical issues.

Classes, and preparation for classes, provide the opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the content of the courses.

In addition student learning takes place through the work they do preparing essays and assignments.

Students do methodological assignments for SC203 and have the opportunity to develop methodological skills further in a methods option.

SC201 has a particular focus on reading key sociological texts.
Assessment Methods: Outcomes A1 to A8 are assessed through coursework and unseen written examinations.

Coursework can include assessed oral presentations, essays, a sociological journal, glossary, a statistics test and an observational study.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 An ability to understand, summarise and critically assess sociological work
B2 An ability to compare competing theories and explanations (b)
B3 An ability to develop a reasoned sociological argument
B4 An ability to formulate sociological questions
B5 An ability to assemble, evaluate and interpret empirical evidence
Learning Methods: Students enhance the above intellectual skills primarily through the work they do for their courses, although lectures and classes provide a means of teachers demonstrating these skills.

Preparation for classes and class presentations involve the reading, interpretation and evaluation of sociological texts and the collection and evaluation of empirical data.

Class tutors provide feedback on class presentations and contributions to classes through comment and discussion.

Similarly the preparation of essays and other assignments also develops the listed intellectual skills.

Students are provided with feedback on all assessed work and this is crucial to their intellectual development.

Students taking the Certificate are assigned to a named tutor responsible for overseeing their progress.
Assessment Methods: Outcomes B1 to B4 are judged and evaluated in every piece of assessed work that the student has to do as part of this scheme.

Not all assignments require the evaluation and interpretation of empirical evidence (B5) though many do, but these skills are particularly assessed in some of the assignments for SC203.

C: Practical skills

C1 An ability to retrieve relevant sociological evidence using bibliographic and web searches.
C2 An ability to summarise, report and evaluate sociological arguments, sociological texts and sociological findings
C3 An ability to apply introductory statistical techniques to sociological data
C4 An ability to demonstrate reflexive awareness in data collection
Learning Methods: Throughout the Certificate programme, practical skills are developed through preparation for classes, preparing essays and other assessed assignments, giving presentations and doing written examinations.

In SC203, students carry out an observational study, and the work for SC201 includes the detailed examination and interpretation of key sociological texts.

Students receive detailed feedback on all their coursework and presentations.
Assessment Methods: Skill C1 is specifically assessed through a SC203 assignment, but also forms part of the assessment of almost every piece of assessed coursework.

Skill C2 is assessed in the majority of pieces of assessed coursework and written examinations, and particularly in the assignments for SC201.

C3 is assessed in a specific assignment for SC203.

Skill C4 is assessed in SC203.

D: Key skills

D1 An ability to present ideas and evidence to others both orally and in writing in a clear and concise manner
D2 An ability to collect and present materials using information technology
D3 An ability to read, interpret and draw inferences from official statistics; an ability to carry out simple statistical calculations
D4 An ability to identify problems and propose solutions
D6 An ability to plan work and manage time and an ability to reflect on their own work and respond constructively to the comments of others
Learning Methods: Generic skills are taught and learned throughout the Certificate through a range of strategies, such as requiring students to give oral presentations, through giving them specific assignments such as carrying bibliographic and web searches, through specific assignments requiring numerical skills, and through class discussion and class and essay preparation.

Students have the opportunity to discuss essay plans with course tutors and with the tutor responsible for overseeing their progress.

They are given clear deadlines for their work which they have to meet.

They are given feedback on all their coursework and are encouraged to reflect on their own work and improve it.

Students also have the opportunity to develop skills in working in groups through their participation in the classes for every course.
Assessment Methods: Key skills are assessed throughout the Certificate through continuous assessed coursework and examinations.

Communication skills are assessed by coursework and examinations including an assessed oral presentation.

IT skills are a component in the evaluation of most assessed work which require bibliographic and web searches.

Numeracy skills are assessed in the assignments for SC203, which include a statistics tests.

Problem solving skills are assessed in almost all assignments.

Since the curriculum is structured in a progressive manner, students skills in improving learning and performance are also assessed through the related structured progression of formal assessed work.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: