Sociology has been described as both an academic field (the study of human society) and a practical accomplishment (recognizing the social rules, policies, and structures that shape our lives). Looking at the world through the lens of sociology, we can better understand how our past and even our present moments fit within the larger social structure and even the course of history. Using what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination” to examine our own lives, we might begin to question how social forces and relationships have given us certain privileges, like access to wealth or the ability to attend university. It might also lead us to question how social forces like racism and economic inequality might make us disadvantaged compared to others.
Sociology is unique in its recognition that while our society shapes each one of us, each of us also contributes to shaping our society. One of the main strengths of sociology is that it touches upon every aspect of human social life and activity. It examines the foundations of society – including culture, socialization, interaction, social groups, and social inequality. It also looks at human actions such as sexuality, deviance, politics, work, and social movements. This diversity is reflected in the subfields represented in our department, which include: criminology, culture & social relations, and population health & wellness.
Our mission is to develop in our students an appreciation of this sociological perspective, and to guide them in understanding how its application can benefit them both in their own lives as individuals, and by developing the skills they need to make valuable contributions to our society in their personal and professional endeavours in the future. Our students learn that our society and everything that takes place within it are created and shaped by people. Recognizing this fact leads to the essential realization that everything about our society – its rules, institutions, priorities, and even its most serious problems – are changeable through human action.
If you are unsure about whether you want to major in Sociology or Criminology, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when deciding. All of the courses offered by the Department of Sociology and Criminology have the SOC prefix, and all those courses count toward fulfilling the requirements of a Sociology Major or Honours degree. However, only a specific subset of SOC courses (those that have the “Criminology attribute”) count toward a Criminology Major or Honours degree. What this means is that Sociology Majors are able to choose from a broader list of course offerings than Criminology Majors. As a Sociology Major, you are free to take any Criminology-themed courses in which you are interested, and they will count toward your degree requirements, but you are not required to do so.
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Advisors in the Department of Sociology and Criminology ONLY provide guidance on discipline specific courses. They CANNOT offer advice on degree requirements outside of Sociology and Criminology courses. Please contact the Academic Advisors in the Faculty of Arts if you require assistance with degree requirements (e.g., math, writing, science, and humanities credits as well as 6-credit hours in 5 different subject fields) ancillary options (i.e., credits outside of your major/minor), and GPA requirements. Click here if you wish to contact an advisor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology.