Social Science

Study a Social Science degree from Abertay analyse the key issues affecting society.

Course detail

Start Date



1, 2 or 3 years (depending on whether students join the programme in Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4)

Award Title

BA (Hons)



Why study Abertay's BA (Hons) in Social Science?

Dive deep into the social sciences to understand and analyse the key issues affecting society. Explore business management, criminology, psychology, sociology and sport, and learn how to apply the latest theories to a wide range of real world situations.

Please note: Entry to this course is available to years 2, 3 or 4 only.

Abertay’s fascinating Social Science degree provides you with the opportunity to study human behaviour and actions, offering you a broader scope than many conventional social science programmes.

This cross-disciplinary degree aims to develop your ability to think in different ways and acquire valuable intellectual skills, preparing you for working in an ever-changing, knowledge-based economy.

The Social Science BA (Hons) curriculum is built around a core module set, with a wide variety of options and modules available for you to build a programme that reflects your interests and preferences.

You can also organise your degree studies around a subject pathway preference from any of those on offer. This way, you can specialise in a particular subject stream, and will have this as a named component of your final degree award.

Abertay is widely regarded as THE place to come for high quality teaching. But don't take our word for it:

  • Sunday Times UK University of the Year 2020 for Teaching Quality.
  • Guardian University Guide 2020 Top 10 in the UK for Student Satisfaction with TeachingCourse and Feedback.
  • National Student Survey 2020 Top 10 UK Universities for Student Satisfaction.

Your Journey Starts Here

Social science allows you to study human behaviour and society from a variety of angles. This variety provides you with a broad perspective on the world and a diverse range of skills - ideal for today's constantly-evolving job market. Ready to jump in?

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About Your Modules

All modules shown are indicative and reflect course content for the current academic year. Modules are reviewed annually and may be subject to change. If you receive an offer to study with us we will send you a Programme document  that sets out exactly which modules you can expect to take as part of your Abertay University degree programme. Please see Terms and Conditions for more information.


Year 2 Core Modules

You must study and pass two core modules

Brief description

Introduction to the work of three key social theorists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. Their work is used to critically illustrate the nature of capitalist modernity and the foundations of contemporary sociological theory and practice.

Module content:

  • Karl Marx: Capitalism, Workers` Movement and The Communist Manifesto (1848); Dialectics, Fetishism and the Purpose of Critique; Value, Labour, Money; Capital, Surplus Value and Exploitation; Primitive Accumulation, the Logic of Separation and the Question of Crisis; Class Struggle, Revolution and Communism.
  • Max Weber: Introduction: contextual overview and biography; The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism; Conception of sociology and methodology; Bureaucratisation and rationalisation; Class, status and party; Political sociology: power, legitimacy and the state.
  • Emile Durkheim: Introduction: contextual overview and biography; The Rules of Sociological Method; Suicide; The Division of Labour in Society; Morality and Religion; Crime, Deviance and the Law.

Brief description

Media discourses of criminal activity and the state. 

Module content:

  • Crimes of the Powerful: The state as criminal actor.
  • Media, Crime and Power: Investigative Journalism, Corruption and the Political Process.
  • State Corporate Corruption.
  • The Nation State and Violence.
  • Terrorism and Counter Terrorism in the Global War on Terror.
  • Crimes Against Humanity.
  • Transnational Organised Crime.
  • The Geopolitical War on Drugs.
  •  Urban Legends, Conspiracy theories and other Stigmatised Knowledge.

Year 2 Option Modules

You must study and pass three option modules. Choose two subjects from Psychology, SportBusiness, Criminology. Complete one module from one subject and two from the other.   

Cognitive and Social Perspectives in Psychology

Brief description

Introduction to the cognitive and social aspects of the British Psychological Society (BPS) core curriculum. Cognitive psychology encompasses much of what are considered ‘mental processes’. These processes range from relatively low-level processes of perception to higher level things like memory and decision making. Social psychology is the study of how we process information about others, and the biases that influence this processing.

Module content:

  • Conceptual and historical perspectives in cognition: Origins of research in cognition, and cognitive neuropsychology. Understanding how cognitive processes operate in different brain areas.
  • Neural architectures: Neurones, receptive fields and vision. How does the brain connect the world outside with our thoughts and experiences?
  • Perception and recognition: The recognition of objects and faces.
  • Attention: Is cognition a limited resource to be allocated carefully or do we attend to everything?
  • Learning and memory: What circumstances determine how we learn new information? How is this information stored in our brains and how do we access this information while reasoning?
  • Decision making and problem solving: How do we choose responses; how do we solve problems?
  • Conceptual and historical issues in social psychology: Defining social cognition and social behaviour. Understanding classic and contemporary approaches, and the social processing biases they reveal.
  • Pro- and anti-social behaviour: Exploring the influence of social learning on aggression and the social factors that influence helping behaviour.
  • Attitudes and social influences: Understanding attitudes and the attitude-behaviour link, routes to attitude change. Conformity and obedience.
  • Social identity, stereotypes and prejudice: Exploring the impact of social identity on perception and behaviour. Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.

Essential Research Methods and Analysis for Psychology

Brief description

Develop further the knowledge and skills required to design, conduct, analyse and report quantitative and qualitative psychological research in American Psychological Association (APA) format.

Module content:

  • Methods of research: Main quantitative and qualitative research methods available to psychologists; Use in applied settings; advantages and disadvantages.
  • The experimental method: Variables and levels; hypotheses; design - basic and advanced; control techniques; validity and reliability in experimentation; ethics in experimentation.
  • Data analysis - descriptive statistics: Data types; measures of central tendency; measures of dispersion; normal distribution; graphing data; confidence intervals.
  • Data analysis - inferential statistics: Test selection; parametric and nonparametric 2-sample test of difference; Within and Between one-way ANOVA and Non-parametric ANOVA, effect size; power; correlation; Tests of both internal and external reliability; inter rater reliability.
  • Qualitative methods: Types of qualitative research techniques; questionnaire design, interviewing - types, advantages, disadvantages; analysing interview material.
  • Quantitative methods: Experimental method, two variable tests of difference (parametric and non-parametric), tests of relationships (parametric and non-parametric); multilevel testing (parametric and non-parametric), follow up testing (parametric and non-parametric). Reliability analysis using Cronbach’s alpha, quantitative content analysis, item analysis.
  • Ethics: Creating and conducting ethical research based on BPS Ethical Guidelines.
  • Reporting research: Sections and content of an APA formatted psychology lab report; APA referencing.
  • Information searching: Structured and unstructured search; Search using the Internet and locating electronic journals using the university library system and appropriate  databases.
  • IT skills: Designing a lab report template using Word for Windows; using SPSS for data analysis.

Social Science of Physical Activity and Health

Brief description

Key social issues in physical activity and health contexts.

Module content:

  • Interdisciplinary nature of social sciences: Students will explore the ways in which various disciplines within social science help us to understand and explain issues relating to physical activity and health.
  • Critically engage with the notion of ‘healthy’ lifestyles: Students will question the social construction of what bodies are defined as ‘healthy’ and which activities are seen to create a ‘healthy’ body.
  • Social Inequalities: Students will explore how social inequalities affect our physical activity and health opportunities/choices, and how our physical activity and health opportunities/choices re-create social inequalities.
  • Research topics within the social sciences: Students will explore how social inequalities affect our physical activity and health opportunities/ choices, and how our physical activity and health opportunities/choices re-create social inequalities.
  • Qualitative methodologies: Students will be introduced to qualitative research and how it has developed our understanding of physical activity and health.

Placement and Skill Development when working with Children in a Physical Activity Context

Brief description

An opportunity to lead, develop and/or support the delivery of physical activity sessions to school pupils in Dundee. Engage with a range of employers from the Sport and Fitness industry to gain insight into the requirements of particular roles. These experiences will enable you to develop a career plan for future employment. 

Module content: 

  • Planning and delivering activity sessions: Session planning; managing time/resources/people; working within a team; Active Schools/Positive Coaching Scotland training; managing challenging behaviour; developing diversity competence; Growth Mindset; contemporary issues in the sport and fitness industry. 
  • Personal Development Planning (PDP): Completing SWOT analyses; personal objective/goal setting; action planning; electronic PDPs. 
  • Reflective practice: Application of models of reflective practice; guided reflection to highlight learning; making theory− practice links; career planning. 
  • Articulating skill development: Using electronic platforms and oral media to promote knowledge and skills to external audiences in the context of employability; careers/external speaker workshops. 

Digital and Social Media Marketing

Brief description

The role and importance of digital and social media marketing in today’s businesses and marketing strategies.

Module content:

  • The nature of digital marketing: Traditional marketing, internet marketing, e-marketing, e-commerce, digital marketing: definitions and differences, the concept of conversion marketing, legal and ethical issues in digital marketing.
  • Understanding organisations and their websites: The concept of Business Models, application of these concepts to websites, digital marketing and social media, designing the customer interface and their use in the specification and evaluation of digital and social media.
  • Integrating a digital footprint into marketing strategy: Understanding and measuring the impact of ‘digital’ on marketing strategy, researching and profiling the online and digitally aware and active customer, information-processing, online buying, socially engaged customers.
  • Building customer traffic in the digital world: Comparing the effectiveness of online and offline campaigns and understanding digital methods of building traffic: interactive advertising, sponsorship and tenancies, search marketing, analytics, link-building, blogs and social networks, viral marketing.

Project Management

Brief description

The tools and techniques associated with managing projects.  Carry out an investigation into a project failure and recommend alternative actions which could have been taken.

Module content:

  • Project management and project teams: Interpreting project specifications and objectives, and the requirements of project stakeholders; Key project challenges for individuals and groups: reviewing the key priorities of time and project management; Understanding the role of a project leader; Understanding team work and how effective teams function; Creating and contributing to effective project teams; Managing teams through project delivery; maintaining goal focus, and managing problems.
  • Project analysis and planning: Analysing project requirements and sub-tasks; Estimating timelines; deadlines and milestones and activity durations; Constructing a project schedule; Resourcing projects; Allocating and smoothing resources; Using Gantt charts to allocate and monitor resource allocation; Project management tools; Using project management software.
  • Managing projects: Dealing with project risk; Evaluating the probability and potential impact of risk; contingency planning for risk management; project tracking and revision to completion; Evaluating project delivery and management: Analysing the effectiveness of project management processes and the impact of project delivery and non-delivery.
  • Project management methodologies: The use of project management methodologies such as Prince2 and SCRUM.

Criminological Theories I - The Positive Criminal

Brief description

Introduction to a range of theoretical approaches that explain crime, deviance and criminal behaviour. The particular focus is on the construction of the positive criminal. 

Module content: 

  • Classical criminology: Crime as free will. Social Contact, Beccaria and Bentham.
  • Biological positivism: Explores the work of Lombroso and the Italian School of Criminology and  the continued attraction of biological explanations of Criminality. 
  • Anomie and crime: Durkheim, Merton and Anomie. 
  • Social disorganisation theory: Chicago School, particularly the work of Clifford Shaw. 
  • Differential association and differential organisation: Sutherlands critique of Social Disorganisation.
  • Juvenile delinquency and subcultural explanations of criminality: Examine both the American and British research on Subcultures and Crime. 
  • Matza and the critique of positivism.

Criminological Theories II - Crime, Power and Social Change

Brief description

The emergence and development of key criminological perspectives of continuing relevance for the understanding of crime and processes of criminalisation. 

Module content: 

  • Challenging criminological positivism: Labelling perspectives, Marxism and crisis, The New Criminology / Radical Criminology. 
  • Theorising and managing crime and criminality: Left realism, Right realism, Control theories, Situational crime prevention. 
  • Innovation in criminological theory: Feminist criminology, Critical criminology / Green Criminology, Cultural criminology.

Years 1 and 2 Elective Modules

You must study and pass one elective module of your choosing

Introduction of the concept of smart cities - hard infrastructure, social capital including local skills and community institutions, and digital technologies to fuel sustainable economic development and provide an attractive environment for all.

Module content:

  • Social impacts

There is an overall need for theoretical and methodological plurality in how we assess the impact and value of future cities in terms for individual and societal well−being. Gaps in our understanding relate to the complex ways individuals and groups engage with built and natural settings, the cultural goods and consequent benefits that may arise and the inequalities associated with these cultural benefits.

  • Security

Different types of cyber-attacks that could be launched against a Smart City. Impact of cyber-attacks. Approaches to securing the smart grid and critical infrastructure, i.e. improving cyber resilience.

  • Sustainable urban food production

Includes the long established allotments movement to large-scale projects based on sustainability throughout the food chain. Urban food production includes the long established allotments movement. The demand for urban growing also responds to the densification and intensification of living areas, due to population rise, migration and demographic aging with lower housing and ‘garden’ space standards placing greater importance on collective production.

  • Energy, waste and water

At present, water and wastewater facilities are often the largest and most energy intensive responsibilities owned and operated by local governments, representing up to 35% of municipal energy use. Future cities will need to utilise more sustainable methods of water and wastewater management and renewable energy production.

  • Digital technologies

​Digital technologies will play a major role in creating sustainable and resilient cities offering a vehicle for more inclusive decision−making process and promoting dialog amongst architects, urban planners, the public and technologists.

Develop a range of skills, knowledge and techniques within the natural, technological and social sciences relevant to the study of environmental sustainability and life in the twenty-first century. Understand the critical issues that confront humanity and begin to discern appropriate responses.

Module content:
The challenge of sustainable development
Problems associated with life in the 21st Century and the relationship to scientific provisionalism and uncertainty.

The genesis of sustainable development concept
Developments associated with the Club of Rome are outlined while Limits to Growth and the Tragedy of the Commons.

Evolution of sustainable development
The Reo Summit and Suitability, and Policy Developments thereof.

Scientific inquiry and sustainable development
Controversial issues like climate change, oil peak, and food production and the role of science in helping delimit them as problematic.

Mainstreaming sustainability
Sustainability and Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience, as individual and social concerns, and their role in transformation.

Communicating sustainability
Human well-being, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy and the practicalities of Sustainability in Scotland.

Sustainable development in practice
Community Empowerment associated with Land Reform. Energy Production and Food Production in Tayside.

Ethics and sustainability policy
Active citizenship and globalisation.

Innovating locally, transforming globally
Transformations required to embrace Sustainability.

Active relationship for sustainable futures
Thinking globally, acting locally.

How lifestyle can effect physical and mental well-being. This module enables you to reflect on your own lifestyle choices and how to incorporate good health behaviours into your life.

Module content:

  • Sleep and stress
    The impact of sleep and stress on health and performance. Completion of sleep diaries and questionnaires related to sleep patterns and stress.
  • Physical activity
    Current physical activity recommendations, components of physical fitness.
  • Physical inactivity
    Understanding why people are inactive. The link between physical inactivity, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Physical activity and mental well-being
    The effects of physical activity on mental well-being.
  • The effect of carbohydrate consumption and exercise on blood glucose
    Measurement and recording of blood glucose in response to the carbohydrate ingestion and exercise.
  • Simple health and fitness testing
    Measurement and recording of data. Tests will include blood pressure, strength, endurance and flexibility. Data will be compared with normative values for these tests.

Develop critical thinking skills that form the basis for progression across the academic disciplines of the university. Learn how to recognise, construct, evaluate, criticise and defend different forms of argument.

Module content:
•    Potential 'timeless' debates 
Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: e.g. existence of God; privacy and civil society; private property; money as source of 'evil'; nature/nurture; free speech; pornography; capital punishment; prostitution; animal experimentation; meaning of justice; abortion; affirmative action; just war; trade union power; good life/good political community; human nature; monarchy; value of democracy; meaning of equality; citizenship rights.

•    Potential 'timely' debates
Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: eg, Scottish independence, academic freedom; drug legalisation; drug use in sport; immigration; free health care; war on terror; EU membership; euthanasia; progressive taxation; race and gender discrimination; gay marriage; human rights; politics/sport; global warming; internet censorship; nuclear power; education league tables; nuclear weapons; GM agriculture; religion; cloning; fair trade; value of contemporary culture.

•    Critical thinking seminars
Follow-up discursive discipline specific seminar sessions led by teaching staff on topics covered in formal debates. Learn to identify types of argument presented, evaluate perspectives and to reflect upon their own reasoning processes and value assumptions. The debates and seminars facilitate a foundation for the acquisition of graduate attributes.

•    WEB CT Wiki discussion forum
Work in small groups to write a short 800 word indicative "Thinking Summary" online Wiki of the arguments presented in each debate. These summaries will be constructed by each designated Thinking Group of three students using the Wiki facility on Blackboard which will facilitate further discussion on the moderated WEB CT discussion forum.

The social, managerial, economic, political, and technical challenges and opportunities associated with emerging renewable energy innovation, production, supply and consumption.

Module content:
•    Renewable energy non-technical challenges and opportunities
Social and political challenges and opportunities of renewable energy production supply and consumption. Economic and environmental challenges of renewable energy production supply and consumption. Strategic and managerial challenges of renewable energy production supply and consumption.

•    Renewable energy technological challenges and opportunities
Geotechnical, Geophysical and Hydrographic information; Knowledge of sources of hydrographic information and interpretation of published charts. Forces on structures; Appreciation of the various forces acting on marine structures. Technical limitations and challenges of energy distribution systems and energy storage. Current technological development trend, collaborative innovation in renewable energy.

An understanding of the concepts of tolerance, and the importance of making sound ethical decisions. Develop the qualities, characteristics and skills to meet the aspiration for Abertay graduates to become global and active citizens. 

Module content:
•    Introduction to equality and ethics legislation 

•    Diversity competence and moral/ethical reasoning 
Inclusiveness, equal opportunities, positive action, reasonable adjustment.

•    Attributes for the workplace and for global citizenship.

•    Reflective practice 
Application of models of reflective practice.

•    Contemporary issues

Learn how to adjust language to suit context. Analyse a range of linguistic issues, including “proper English”, how language can be used to create moral panics, and the ethics of communication.

Module content:

•    “Good English”
The role of standardisation, dialect and idiolect − how we choose language to reflect our identities and our role in a speech or discourse community.

Language and influence
How the media constructs narratives to persuade or inform the audience (and how to tell the difference).

Creating a narrative across genres
The conventions, freedoms and limitations of different forms; using these forms in new ways.

Narrative changes over time
How authors reinvent old stories to reflect current concerns.

Technical writing
The use and manipulation of data; hearing the author's voice; critiquing "bad science".

The ethics of communication
 (Electronic) media and ownership, attribution and theft.

“Personal” digital safety to make computer security fun, practical and eye-opening.  Learn the base knowledge that will continue to be relevant to future generations of devices.

Module content:
•    Current state of computer security
An overview including legal aspects.

•    Cyber-attacks, vulnerabilities and threats
Malware, Network attacks (denial of service, packet sniffing etc.), bots and rootkits. How the bad guys can obtain your password.

•    Information leakage
Recovery and forensics recovering deleted or corrupted files. What your browser knows about you. Web browser forensics.

•    Securing networks, accounts and devices
Defence against malware, honeypots, Secure protocols, intrusion detection, Password security, Mobile device security.

•    Human aspects of cyber security 
The Psychology of Hackers, Social Engineering, identity theft, Usability vs security.

•    Breaking the code
An introduction to cryptography, Encryption and Decryption, public and private keys, the key exchange problem.

•    History of cryptography 
The Caesar cipher, polyalphabetic ciphers, the Playfair cipher, the role of Enigma and the Bletchley Park cryptographers in WWII.

•    Computers and Crypto Diffie-Hellman and RSA encryption
Phil Zimmerman and “Pretty Good Protection". Quantum Cryptography – Provably unbreakable information hiding. Mathematical Underpinnings – Large prime numbers and why they matter.

•    Steganography
 A picture's worth a thousand words when you're hiding the wood in the trees.

•    The law, society and cryptography 
Why you can be imprisoned for forgetting your password. The Civil Liberties Arguments for and against strong-crypto. International perspectives on information hiding, information freedom, the right to privacy and the conflicts between these. Are unbreakable cyphers an unqualified “good thing”?

Develop perspectives on the key challenges faced by humankind such as environmental change, pollution, food security, energy provision, conflicts, terrorism, emerging diseases, and changing demographics. Understand the overwhelming complexity of the problems and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to create solutions.

Module content:

  • Interdisciplinary research
    Introductory lectures will discuss the definitions, methods, benefits, challenges, and drawbacks of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches and the role of public policy influencing research
  • Global challenges
    Challenges from different disciplines. Examples include: Climate Change: causes and impact; Serious Games: science and application of visualization and games; Global Security: valuing ecosystems: balancing policy, economics and environment; Contemporary Challenges to Healthy Living; Food Security: global threats and local needs; Energy Poverty: space travel.

Design an activity to communicate and present scientific principles to primary school children. Learn about working as a group and how to communicate complex ideas.

Module content:
Developing a science communication activity
Target audience, sources of information to identify suitable activities (CfE documentation etc.), health and safety, issues around working with specific groups, accessibility, ethics, costing and sustainability.

The landscape of engagement and current practice
Types of public engagement activities, target audiences, funding, role of learned societies, universities and other bodies. Public engagement in Dundee and Tayside.

Work in a team to develop game design concepts for serious applications. Gain the knowledge, processes and techniques of game design and study examples of serious games developed to benefit society.

Module content:
•    Overview of Games
A brief history of games, game art and gamification.

•    Games for change
Understanding how games can benefit society.

•    Game mechanics
Deconstructing core components of popular game genres.

•    Gameplay constructs
What is gameplay and how is this broken down and communicated within the game design.

•    The game design process
Conceptualisation, iteration, phases of workflow.

•    Game design theory and practice
Identifying the elements within effective design and how they are implemented.

•    Documenting the design interactive
Oriented design, technical design, capturing requirements.

•    Business models
Exploring methods that can be used to generate revenue within the game design.

Develop the knowledge and awareness required to make good career decisions and the skills and confidence to successfully navigate each stage of the recruitment process for graduate jobs.

Module content:

  • Developing self-awareness
    Profiling of personal strengths, values and priorities in relation to career choice.
  • Developing opportunity awareness
    Generating career ideas based on your personal profile; Exploring the range of graduate opportunities within job sectors of interest; Reviewing occupations that are directly related to your own subject discipline.
  • Developing a career action plan
    Matching your personal profile with best fit opportunities in the job market; Creating a timeline of actions to improve your prospects of meeting your aim.
  • Developing job seeking skills
    Sourcing suitable job opportunities - both advertised and unadvertised; Creating a professional image online; Identifying the skills and qualities employers look for in graduates; Learning how to produce targeted applications for specific job roles; Practising the presentation of your strengths and motivations in face to face selection activities.

Learn about natural disaster such as landslides and flooding, structural disasters such as the Tay Rail Bridge and the system of critical infrastructure (such as road, rail, air and shipping transport networks, power grid, gas and water networks, health system) that constitute the backbone of modern societies.

Module content:
•    Overview of the scope and the content of concept of critical infrastructure failure during natural disasters and resilience against such failures
The consequences of geophysical, hydrological and meteorological disasters on critical infrastructure and critical infrastructure protection capabilities against natural disasters. Interdependencies of critical infrastructures during large disasters, presents a brief review of current research being done in this field, and presents a methodology to address interdependencies.

•    The identification of the vulnerabilities of the critical systems
The critical systems upon which modern society, economy, and polity depend. The identification of the vulnerabilities of these systems threats that might exploit these vulnerabilities. The effort to develop techniques to mitigate these vulnerabilities through improved design.

•     Flooding in Scotland
General overview of fluvial, pluvial and coastal flooding, the structural, economic and societal impact and responses to flooding. Resources will include historical examples, current policies and information (including SEPA flood maps). Case study (with virtual/actual field visit?) the Perth Floods of 1990 and 1993 and the Perth flood defence scheme*

•    Landslide origins, types and mitigations
General overview what landslides are, why they happen and what can be done to prevent them.

•    Structural failure
An example such as why the Tay Bridge failed and what it meant for the Forth Rail Bridge.

•    Reports and investigations
The role of reports in accident and disaster investigations in creating informative reports; case studies of accidents, disasters, learning from history, learning from case studies, learning from common law

Introduction to the skills and knowledge needed to launch a small business successfully. This module will define and help you acquire the personal and professional skills needed to develop a professional career and/or to succeed as entrepreneurs in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Module content:

  • Understanding entrepreneurship.
  • Generating successful business ideas.
  • Environmental scanning.
  • Developing a credible business plan that includes evaluating business ideas.
  • Presenting the business idea.

An understanding of some of the processes involved in food production. Discuss common misconceptions and ideas which present the food and nutritional industries in a bad light.

Module content:
•    Student led investigations
Student led investigations of the different sectors within the food and drink industry including: prebiotics – and the controversy surrounding the term; if barbequing is a healthy cooking method; and exposing the celebrity chef - common Myths about cooking.

•    Consumerism
Does the food industry listen to us? Understanding consumer and sensory science to better understand why you buy the products you buy.  How food/public health is reported by the media? The French paradox / Mediterranean diet.

•    Future of food
Ethical food production and the future of foods, and what’s waste got to do with it?

•    Debunking myths
Debunking food myths, more science than science fiction in our food today, like the science behind getting sauce out of a bottle and what to drink – Whisky or Beer?

•    Facts from fiction
Finding facts from fiction, investigating the three-second rule – should I eat things that have fallen on the floor? What’s so super about super-foods? Fat or sugar: Which is worse?

Learn how we approach and understand mental health, from historic, social, therapeutic, and individual perspectives. Explore questions such as ‘what is madness?’, ‘how does society position people with mental illness?’, and ‘how do we best respond to challenges to our mental health?’

Module content:

  • Historical and cultural perspective on mental illness
    How do we ‘think’ about mental health, and mental ill health?
  • Diagnosis and the anti-psychiatry movement
    Who holds the power to decide what is normal in terms of psychological well-being and behaviour?
  • Gender, culture and mental health
    How gendered cultural expectations and representations influence how we respond to mental health issues.
  • Media representations
    The impact of film and literature on attitudes and understandings of mental health.
  • Resilience, treatment and recovery
    Common mental health problems in the UK, treatment and management, and frameworks for enhancing well-being and resilience.

An introduction to the wide range of disciplines in forensic investigation. Learn how crimes are investigated from the moment of reporting through to the presentation of the evidence in court. A hypothetical case study provides an over-arching framework in which to explore the critical aspects of forensic investigations. It involves not only physical and electronic evidence, but also statements from witnesses, suspects and victims which requires cross discipline collaboration of professionals.

Module content:
Crime scene investigation
How a crime scene is examined in the context of incomplete contextual information and to avoid loss or contamination of evidence and the maximising of the value of evidential material.

Media involvement
Positive and negative effects of the media/public interest in the crime.

Forensic biology
Examination and evidential value of body fluids, DNA, hairs and fibres.

Forensic chemistry
Analysis for drugs, toxicological analysis, firearms, explosives, and trace evidence.

Digital sources
Evidence from CCT, mobile phones, computer hardware, on−line behaviour.

Forensic reasoning and practice
An introduction to forensic problem solving, thinking styles, case assessment and interpretation.

Psychology of witnesses and suspects
False confessions, offender profiling, effects and avoidance of cognitive bias in forensic science through process design.

Year 3 Core Modules

You must study and pass two core modules

Brief description

The arguments of leading schools of social theory. Develop your analytical capacities by discussing and further elaborating some of the main developments in social thought over the past half century.

Module content:

  • Norbert Elias and the Civilising Process: The Civilising Process in Context; The State and the De-Civilising Process.
  • The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory: Traditional and Critical Theory; Walter Benjamin: `Theses on the Philosophy of History’.
  • Relational Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu: `The Real is Relational’: Habitus, Doxa, Field and Capital; Bourdieu and the Field of Culture.
  • Foucault: History, Power, Knowledge; Discipline and Punish.
  • Postmodernism: Postmodernism & Postmodernity; Habermas: Rejecting Postmodernism and Reconstructing Modernity.

Brief description

The importance of empirical research to the social sciences. Learn to identify and use appropriate data collection tools, apply analysis techniques to data generated and reflect upon their meaning, relevance and ethical implications.

Module content:

  • Principles of quantitative research: The elements of statistical data, how quantitative data is collected, structured and presented, how inferences and conclusions can be drawn through the application of basic statistical tests and how SPSS software can facilitate the organisation and analysis of quantitative data.
  • Qualitative data collection skills: An overview of qualitative data-collection methods, how such techniques are applicable in an array of different ways to different research contexts and how you should reflect upon yourself as an active participant in these kinds of research endeavours.
  • Approaches to qualitative data analysis: Engage in the analysis of data produced using qualitative data collection techniques. The main emphasis here will be on thematic coding and how qualitative researchers use sociological knowledge to inductive derive systematic meaning from the data they generate. The use of NVivo computer software in qualitative data analysis.
  • Research ethics and ethical issues: Research ethics and ethical issues in terms of research subject matter, the application of data collection methods, how research can impact in different ways upon research participants and wider society, as well as the formal ethical guidelines and requirements that govern sociological research.

Year 3 Option Modules

You must study and pass four option modules. Select modules from your two chosen subjects in Yr 2. Or, if you’re joining Abertay for the first time and going directly into Yr 3, choose two subjects from Psychology, Sport, Business or Criminology.  

Psychology in the Real World

Brief description

Psychological research related to 'real life' situations showing how psychology can be practiced in environments such as industry, law, education, health and social work.

Module content:

  • Psychology and technology: How has psychology research influenced technology development such as artificial intelligence and security systems?
  • Psychological therapies in the real world: Understanding the applications and impact of psychology therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, and speech and language therapy. 
  • Psychology in the public sector: Understanding the ways in which local and national governments use psychology research. 
  • Psychology in the workplace: Exploring the impact of psychology on human resource management in the workplace, focusing on issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. 
  • Environmental psychology: To what extent are the environments we live and work in influenced by psychology? 
  • Sports psychology in the real world: What is sports psychology and how is it applied to issues like duty of care? 
  • Applied forensic psychology: Applying psychology theory to crime to help answer questions like ‘why do offenders offend?’ 
  • Applied educational psychology: How can psychology theories be applied in teaching, such as supporting children with learning difficulties? 

Human Development across the Lifespan

Brief description

Theories, methods and empirical data relevant to psychological development throughout the lifespan.

Module content:

  • Biological basis of development; theories and milestones: Pre-and postnatal brain development, brain maturation, biological basis of ageing.
  • How to study development?: Designs and approaches.
  • Infancy: Methods for studying infant development, physical development in infancy, cognitive development in infancy: Memory and pre- cursors to language, social and emotional development in infancy.
  • Early childhood: Methods for studying early childhood, physical and cognitive development in early childhood, language development in early childhood, social and emotional development in early childhood, moral development in early childhood.
  • Middle childhood: Physical and cognitive development in middle childhood, social development and peer relations in middle childhood. Emotional and Moral Development in middle childhood.
  • Adolescence: Physical and cognitive development in adolescence, social and emotional development in adolescence.
  • Adulthood: Biological, cognitive and social changes in middle adulthood. Theories and data on midlife crisis.
  • Ageing: Biological, cognitive and social changes in late adulthood; models of cognitive decline; emotional and personality changes, dementia, death, longevity.

Social Science Issues in Sports and Exercise

Brief description

Contemporary issues in sport and exercise, particularly those you are likely to encounter and have to navigate in future employment.

Module content:

  • Social theory: Key aspects of social theory that can be/ have been used to explain phenomena in sport and exercise.
  • Inequality and discrimination: The main sources of inequality and discrimination in sport and exercise (e.g., gender, social class, ethnicity, LGBTI).
  • Sport and politics: How various political systems/ ideologies and governing bodies use sport/athletes as a vehicle for social control.
  • Ethics and sport: Moral and ethical issues in sport and exercise (e.g., child protection). Sport and exercise cultures provide a unique environment for moral and ethical issues.

Physical Activity and Health Promotion

Brief description

The complexities of health promotion and the potential for participation in physical activity to both alleviate and exacerbate contemporary health issues.

Module content:

  • Defining health: Students will understand the different ways in which health can and will be defined.
  • Complexity of health promotion in contemporary society: Students will explore the ways in which health promotion has the potential to both reduce and exacerbate existing social inequalities.
  • Physical activity, its determinants and importance for health promotion: The factors that influence physical activity and its fundamental role in health promotion.
  • Critical engagement with the obesity ‘epidemic’: Why obesity is prioritised on the health policy agenda.
  • Health promotion, physical activity and the environment: The environmental factors that influence the promotion of health and physical activity participation.

Operations and Supply Chain Management

Brief description

Operations and supply chains in many different settings and markets.

Module content:

  • Operations management in its organisational context: The operations function within the organisation and its relationship with other functional areas; The role of the operations manager.
  • Introduction to supply chain management: The supply network; designing the supply chain (make or buy); supply chain stages; uncertainly and risk factors, value chain.
  • Organisations and processes: Analysing operations and processes; organisation type and its effect on operations; process operations and types; characteristics of process types, process and layout strategies.
  • Capacity management: Demand v. production, models of capacity planning, measuring capacity (utilisation and efficiency calculations).
  • Inventory management: Why hold stock? Costs of inventory, ABC analysis, economic order quantity, inventory management strategies.
  • Technology in operations processes: E-supply chain, IT application in supply chain system, enterprise resource planning, technology strategies.
  • The end-to-end supply chain: Purchasing and supply, materials and distribution management, logistics, balancing flow within a supply chain, managing bottlenecks and restrictions.
  • Outsourcing: Make or buy decisions in sourcing strategy; supplier selection; outsourcing supply chain management; co- ordinating supply and managing supplier relationships & partnerships, supply chain risks management.
  • The customer interface: Meeting customer requirements, forecasting demand, lean operations and JIT, lean principles, reducing waste.
  • Contemporary supply chain dynamics: Supply chain measures, six sigma, strategic alliances and collaborative partnerships, characteristics of supply chains in the contemporary global economy.

The Future of Work

Brief description

How the complexities, dynamics and uncertainties of the contemporary business environment impact on the organisation of work and the contemporary employment relationship.

Module content:

  • The post-bureaucratic organisation: Globalisation and cross-cultural management. The rise of the information/knowledge society; network organisations and communities of practice. Post- bureaucratic organisation structures.
  • The new employment relationship and new forms of control: The changing nature of work; flexibility and A- typical work arrangements, changing nature of psychological contracts in knowledge intensive contexts; diversity management; work as performance - the implications of aesthetic and emotional work; high skill, low skill work and the hour glass organisation; hard and soft control systems.
  • Conflict in the workplace: The changing nature of power and politics in organisational decision-making and management practice. The changing nature of contemporary employee relations; organisational misbehaviour and counter-productive work behaviours.
  • Human capital development: The learning organisation and organisational learning, technology mediated work processes, talent sourcing and human capability and knowledge management; career planning and development, rewards and recognition.
  • Outcomes: Learning from high performance organisations; Engaging employees, employee engagement and discretionary effort; building organisational resilience.

Gender and Crime

Brief description

Learn about the relationship between gender and crime.

Module content: 

  • The feminist critique of criminology: The emergence of the feminist critique and the challenge to the feminine 'other'.
  • Women and crime: The pattern of women's crime. Deviance, femininity and the response to female transgression.
  • Men and crime: Masculinity and crime, crime as structured action, crime as a resource for doing gender. The situational context and crime.

Penal Institutions

Brief description

The prison system, the experience of imprisonment and penal policy and practice in the UK.

Module content:

  • Contemporary developments in penal theory, policy and practice: Penal institutions in contemporary society. The crises of legitimacy in penal institutions. Reorganisation and reform. Privatisation of the prison system.
  • Prison life - the reality: ‘Doing time’ the actuality of prison life, the ‘total institution’? Strategies for survival, regime activities, ‘banged up’ prisoners, prison staff and civilian staff. Dealing with social exclusion. The diversity of the prison population. Stratification and power within prisons.
  • Alternatives to imprisonment - the way forward?: Reducing risk or protecting the public? Reducing fear of crime? Human or humane containment and warehousing. Therapeutic prisons. Electronic tagging, community service orders, mediation/reparation.
  • Attitudes to imprisonment: Why do we have prisons? Why are they at the centre of penal policy? Are they culturally ‘acceptable’? Abolitionism.
  • Foreign nationals: Detention centres; foreign national prisoners and race relations in prisons; are immigration detention centres new types of penal establishments; critical issues surrounding foreign national prisoners in the UK.

Year 4 Core Modules

Choose one of two core modules

Brief description

Conduct and present a simple research investigation into a sociological topic of your choice. Write a 10,000 word dissertation and publicly present your research findings.

Module content:

  • Research design: Selecting the appropriate method for a specified topic and conducting actual research - with guidance from project supervisor.
  • Reviewing literature: Collecting evidence within relevant field of research and its application to the field of study.
  • Analysing and interpreting data: Collecting, dealing with and understanding data; turning data into words and/or numbers - with guidance from project supervisor.
  • Presenting findings: Making research findings ‘public’; writing-up your project - with guidance from project supervisor.

Brief description

A volunteer/work placement with an external organisation over two terms. Learn to apply academic learning to ‘real world’ situations.

Module content:

  • Student defined content: The learning will be shaped by the organisation in which you are placed and the role you are assigned.
  • Work experience: Gain valuable employability skills.
  • Job-seeking skills: Guidance on job applications and CVs are built into the organisation of the module.
  • Research and synthesis: Combine knowledge gained from your placement organisation with academic knowledge from your degree to produce a report.

Year 4 Option Modules

You must study and pass four option modules, two each from your chosen subject pathways, or from the Sociology options. For your two chosen subject pathways, choose one module from Group A and one from Group B. If you wish to graduate with a BA Social Science (with subject) then at least 60 credits must come from the same named subject pathway.


Brief description

The criminal justice system involves a variety of organisations and professionals, e.g. the police, the courts and offender services. How psychological theories and investigation can inform procedures followed in these organisations.

Module content:

  • Introduction and context: An introduction to investigative psychology and the importance of recognising how other people can influence our behaviour and cognitive processes, including an overview of both theory and application of social influence research in this exciting and developing area of applied psychology.
  • Investigative processes: An overview of the key stages and issues in relation to police and wider criminal justice system investigative processes including some of the key legal powers associated with these.
  • Offender profiling: What is offender profiling and how is it undertaken? Evaluate difference approaches to offender profiling and consider the future for this topical approach to investigation. What is serial homicide and how can offender profiling be applied to this major crime?
  • Investigating missing persons: What do missing people do and where do they go? What role is there for psychological theories in explaining missing person behaviour and helping the police investigate cases?
  • Eyewitness testimony: The effects of social influence on memory: stress, suggestibility, alcohol, conformity. Applications of this research to real life (e.g., accuracy of memory in a forensic investigation).
  • Identification: The role of human memory, face processing, and communicative styles on the construction of facial composites and identification of suspects. Discussion of the appropriateness of the use of CCTV footage as evidence in courts of law.
  • False and recovered memories: How and why do people recall events which did not occur or recall events at a later date which they were previously unable to recall? What can the study of human memory tell us about this interesting debate? What implications does this have for the criminal justice system?
  • Interviewing: How should we best interview witnesses to ensure reliable and complete statements are made? What differences might there be in interviewing suspects rather than witnesses? Critical evaluation of the tools and techniques psychologists developed to aid interviewing (e.g. the Cognitive Interview).
  • Child witnesses: What can the study of child development tell us about the appropriateness of having children as witnesses in court? Critical evaluation of appropriate questioning techniques.
  • Expert witnesses: What is/should be the role of the psychologist as an expert witness?


Brief description

Pursue a topic of interest, different from any other work either submitted or proposed, relevant to your work or voluntary experience. Reflect on it, identify an issue that can be informed with reference to published psychological literature, negotiate and agree a chosen area for review. Complete the review and report on it.

Module content:

  • General: Content will be individually agreed dependent on the work or volunteer placement, topic and study plan.


Brief description

Child development in the first eight years covering language development, number and counting knowledge and reading from a cognitive and educational perspective. In addition, look at the influence of play and the media during these early years. 

Module content:

  • Child cognition and brain growth: The development of the brain in early childhood and its links to language and numerical skills.
  • Conceptual issues in learning: Domains (modules), critical periods, learning mechanisms (e.g. statistical learning, bootstrapping, innate constraints), nature-nurture.
  • Speech and sounds: Auditory perception, acquisition of phonemes, and the effects of prosody on acquisition of other parts of the language system.
  • Acquisition of words: Words, concepts and categories. Child-directed speech, literacy acquisition, language impairments.
  • Rules of language: Acquisition of morphology and syntax.
  • Learning to read: Theories of normal reading; dyslexia and hyperlexia.
  • Early numerical skills: Theories of mathematical development; early number and counting skills.
  • The role of play: Play inside and outside the classroom. How play influences cognitive and social development.
  • Media: The role of television viewing and computer games on children’s development.


Brief description

The role of physical activity for special populations. and how participation has the potential to enhance physical, social and mental health and well-being.

Module content:

  • Guidelines: Population physical activity guidelines.
  • Benefits: Physical, social and mental health benefits associated with physical activity.
  • Needs and challenges: Identification of Physical activity needs and challenges associated with engaging different groups in physical activity.
  • Participation: Examine participation trends associated with different populations.
  • Exploration of attitudes, beliefs and values: Exploration of attitudes, beliefs and values of different populations regarding physical activity.


Brief description

Gain knowledge and understanding related to duty of care in sport.

Module content:

  • Safeguarding: What more could be done to strengthen sport’s position in relation to the protection of young people and adults at all levels of sport.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion: Specific aspects of duty of care with relevance to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Injuries: How the likelihood of injury can be lessened and whether improvements can be made to how sporting injuries are treated in the short and long term.
  • Career transitions: The support people receive as they transition through the sport system, including entering and leaving top-level sport.
  • Mental health: Issues relating to the prevention, identification and management of mental health issues in sportspeople.
  • Education: How sportspeople can be supported to help them balance education with their sporting activities.
  • Representation of the participant’s voice: How the views of sportspeople are considered in decisions affecting them in sport.


Brief description

The way sport can be used to address social issues, some of the problems with this approach, and how these issues can be overcome. Gain a theoretical and practical toolkit for sport development work.

Module content:

  • Community development: Introduce a community development approach to sport delivery.
  • Ideologies of sport for development: Explore the political ideologies associated with sport development work.
  • Community practice: Understand the community practice approach to sporting provision.
  • Sport and urban regeneration: Explore the use of sport as a tool of urban development.
  • Sport for development and peace: Explore the use of sport as a tool of international development.
  • Sport, globalisation and development: Explore recent changes in societies and their implications for sport and development.
  • Sport, capitalism and inequality: Explore the links between sport, capitalism and inequality.
  • Liberating education and critical consciousness: Understand the notion of liberating education and how it can be applied to sport development work.
  • The politics of development: Explore the political nature of development work and the utility of social movements for development.


Brief description

Enhance communication skills to support behaviour change intervention strategies to elicit lifestyle change and promote positive health and wellbeing.

Module content:

  • Effective communication, Self-awareness, Listening skills.
  • Management skills: Practicalities of management, administration and organisation of client.
  • Behaviour change: Identify Influences on behaviour. Understanding and assessing behaviour, Individual behaviour and motivation, Determinants and factors that impact on behaviour and motivation.
  • Time management: Aspects of time management. Changing time management. Effective planning.
  • Goal setting: Identifying Goals. Developing Practical Realistic goals. Short long term goals. Achieving goals.
  • Behaviour change models: Models of behaviour change. Social cognitive theory, relapse prevention model, ecological theories of behaviour, stages of readiness. Moderators mediators of change. Behaviour change process.
  • Promoting adherence: Self-efficacy. Social Support. Behaviour change skills, Impact of habitual behaviour, Factors that affect adherence. Overcoming barriers.


Brief description

Undertake some practical research in response to a current business need of a real company and produce a suitable management report with recommendations.

Module content:

  • Analysing a problem: Using different analysis techniques such as data flow diagrams, entity relationship modelling and process mapping, examine problems to better understand the current position of the business.
  • Innovation and innovation techniques: Using different creativity and innovation tools to help find solutions to business problems.
  • Innovation for global growth (IGG): During this event, students will work with multiple organisations - public, private and third sector, on a challenge they currently face. This will provide a scoping opportunity for the problem and a chance to test possible solutions. Prior to this event discussions on professional behaviour and communication will take place.
  • Developing and presenting the solution: Students will take the solutions identified during IGG and further investigate their suitability. They will work to develop one or more solution to provide an implementation plan for the organisation.


Brief description

The challenges of managing in complex international business environments.

Module content:

  • Introduction: The theoretical background: Globalization and international business; Analysis of international external business environment; political factors; economical factors; social factors; technological factors and implications for international managers; International trade theories and practices.
  • International business strategies: Strategy and international business; Country evaluation and selection; Export and Import strategies; Direct investments and collaborative strategies.
  • International and cross-cultural management: International Dimensions of Culture: Understanding various dimensions of culture; Hofstede’s (1980) National Culture Approach and Trompenaars (1993) Cultural Dimensions. Implications for International Managers.
  • Managing in international contexts: Culture and Communications: Understanding of cultural characteristics and how they influence patterns of communications; communication process and important considerations; issues arising from cross-cultural and intercultural communication. Culture and Negotiations: Understanding the relationship between culture and negotiations; how to reconcile possible conflicts regarding differences in culture and negotiations.
  • Contemporary issues in managing international business: Managing international human resources; Managing diversity in international business; Environmental issues and international business; the use of IT in international business and management.


Brief description

The resources and capabilities needed to gain and sustain advantage in competitive markets. Learn to identify tools of strategic analysis, strategic choice available to a firm, and elements and complexities involved in strategy formulation and implementation.

Module content:

  • Introduction to strategic management: What is strategy; strategic analysis; classical and emergent schools; strategic thinking; levels of strategy.
  • Strategy context. Competitive advantage of a firm: Defining the business environment. Industry analysis: turbulences and dynamics. Porter’s five forces; new dynamics in the 21st century.
  • Business level strategy: Sources of competitive advantage: Competitive stance, business level strategy, corporate level strategy; generic strategies; hybrid strategy; value chains.
  • Beyond competition: The nature of competition; co-operation; co-opetition; strategic alliances and joint ventures; mergers and acquisitions.
  • Managing change through effective leadership: Leadership - values and ethics. Managing stakeholders, change and uncertainty. Change management approaches.
  • Individual as a leader: Overview of trait, behavioural and situational theories. Moral aspects of leadership.
  • Leading as a team: Leader’s role, coaching, conflict.
  • Organisational leadership: Charismatic and transformational leadership, crisis leadership.
  • Global and cross-cultural leadership: Leadership in multinational business environment and in the cross-cultural context.
  • Leadership and value creation: The role of leadership in creating value for a competitive advantage, strategy formulation and implementation.


Brief description

How transformational change can be delivered for the purposes of long-term organisational improvements in complex operating contexts.

Module content:

  • Analysing change contexts and drivers: The change context: globalisation, technology, and changing market dynamics; change management and sustainability.
  • Theories of change and approaches to change management: Models of change and change management; trans-formational change and organisations; Critical discourse in change management.
  • Human resources issues in transformative change: Participative change; managing psychological contracts, social identity, stakeholder positioning and dynamics in times of radical change ; voice, dialogue and rethinking resistances in radical change; Culture, habits and unlearning.
  • Transformative change in context: (this will change each year and will form the basis of the guest lectures): Transforming public sector services in times of resources uncertainty (as an example).
  • Leading and managing transformational change: Transactional and transformational leadership; a competency framework for transformational leadership; values and value-based systems in transformational change.


Brief description

Contemporary theoretical approaches in criminology and their application to key issues that characterise contemporary criminal justice policy and practice.

Module content:

  • Contemporary issues in criminal justice policy and practice: Victimology and the ‘victim’; hate crime; semiology; restorative justice – 1.
  • Contemporary issues in criminal justice policy and practice: Community safety; anti-social behaviour; restorative justice – 2.
  • Insecure state: The insecure nature of `policing’ and law making.
  • Antisocial behaviour: Key issues, debates and challenges regarding the regulation of antisocial behaviour.


Brief description

Analysis of the socio-ideological discourses contained in popular cultural narratives that deal with crime, justice, punishment and morality.

Module content:

  • Morbid fascination: The social world, crime and culture.
  • Popular culture and ideologies of crime: The criminal body to the social body in accounts of crime.
  • The emergence of the detective: Modernity and the rise of the detective, from the science of deduction to the hard-boiled tradition and beyond.
  • Crime and the city: The construction of the city as criminogenic; surveillance and danger.
  • Punishment, order and justice: Law versus order, retribution and justice.
  • Moral orders: The criminal as an ambivalent figure, serial killers and modernity.


Brief description

Key issues and debates in policing and criminal justice matters for the 21st century.

Module content:

  • Gang research: What is the issues regarding contemporary research into gangs and violence both in US and UK?
  • Policing gangs: What are the key and emerging tactics that have been developed to deal with gangs and violence over time?
  • Eco crime: Provide an overview of emerging trends in criminology, including eco-crime or environmental crime.
  • Policing borders: How do we deal with cross border issues in policing in a modern and cultural world?
  • Policing immigration: How do we deal with immigration? Is it a crime or a humanitarian problem?
  • State crime: How do we tackle state and corporate crime?


Brief description

Changing attitudes to death, dying and killing. The connections between power and the right to take or preserve life, how death and killing are represented and legitimated in various contexts.

Module content:

  • The death-denial thesis: Changing ideas of death and dying from pre-modernity to postmodernity Death denial and ambivalence the sequestration of death The ‘revival’ of death.
  • Social, political and legal constructions of death: State crime and deviance, militarism.
  • Death and representation: Conflict, commemoration and public memorialising; Death and popular culture, representations of war and death in news.
  • Death and power: The social mechanisms of oppression, consent and legitimation that determine when, how and why people kill and die; Terror Genocide.
  • Bioethics and politics: The sanctity of life versus the quality of life; The politics of ‘ethical’ decisions about life and death; Capital punishment.


Brief description

The principles, practices, applications and critiques of conversation and discourse analysis with respect to the language of crime. Consider philosophical issues, contemporary studies, debates and critiques in relation to crime and other issues.

Module content:

  • Conversation analysis: This aspect of the module considers the roots of conversation analysis in ethnomethodology and the study of social order at the local level. The nature of the conversation analytic approach is examined alongside in terms of classic and contemporary studies. Studies examined include topics such as police interrogations, counsel and witness courtroom interaction, sexual consent and refusals.
  • Discourse analysis: This aspect of the module considers the different approaches to discourse analysis: from conversation analytic to critical approaches. The nature of these are explored through contemporary studies including topics such as: criminal speech acts such as conspiracy, threats, solicitation, swearing and offensive language; police talk about trauma; youth crime in the media; constructing the legitimacy of whistleblowers; phishing emails; the reporting of intimate partner violence.
  • Wittgenstein and Ordinary Language Philosophy: This aspect of the module considers the resurgence of interest in Wittgenstein's approach to language use. The focus here is on the reference to language games and includes consideration of topics such as the law and vagueness; the problem of abusive language, the conceptual instability of consent.


Brief description

Key economic and social processes from a critical sociological perspective.

Module content:

  • Work: Work in classical and contemporary social theory, work or labour, the ontology of labour, abstract and concrete labour, intellectual and manual labour, the accumulation of labour and the degradation of women, unemployment and the refusal of work.
  • Class: The sociological approaches to class from Adam Smith to Max Weber; class and the stratification of British society; class as a critical concept; class, social constitution and the logic of separation.
  • Global economy: Globalisation and critical political economy, Fordism and Post-Fordism, the rise and fall of Keynesianism, Neo-liberalism, the politics of money and the expansion of credit, global capital and crisis.


Brief description

The significance of human rights in the world today. Gain a grounding from a social theoretical perspective, including current debates and trends in human rights. 

Module content:

  • History and theory of human rights: Classical Origins in Greece and Rome, Classical Liberal Thought, The French and American Revolutions, Marx, Critical Social Theory, Postcolonialism.
  • Human rights in transition: Human Rights in Armed Conflict, Responsibility to Protect, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Genocide and Torture, The International Criminal Court.


Brief description

Culture has become the watchword of our age. Build on earlier level study of the sociology of culture to inform a critique of the relationship between culture, crisis and civilisation.

Module content:

  • Civilisation and crisis: The relationship between the concepts of crisis and civilisation.
  • Civilisation, civil society and the Enlightenment: The role of the concepts of civilisation and civil society in political change and the emergence of the public sphere in Europe and America.
  • Culture and the critique of civilisation: The role of the aesthetic as a special lens for the critique of modernity and morality.
  • Sociology of culture: The role of classical sociology in the crisis of and disenchantment with European civilisation and nationalism.
  • Relational sociology and culture: A sociology of cultural relations turns attention to issues of power, process, symbolic and physical violence, and the roles of nationalism, economy and the state.

How the Course Works

Learning and Assessment 

The diversity of our social science programme is its strength.   

Reflecting its range of subject areas, this degree also offers a wide variety of teaching and assessment styles. 

This includes formal lectures and tutorials, industry placements, sports science laboratories, essays, business portfolios, and psychological testing.

A wide variety of assessments will be used to assess you throughout your degree, including essays, reports, critical reviews, case studies, examinations, presentations and the opportunity to do a final year dissertation or a community work placement.

Around a third of the course is assessed through examination, although the precise proportion will be dependent on your module choices.

Entry Requirements

Please note: September entry to this course is available to years 2, 3 or 4 only with the appropriate qualifications.

Please visit our Entry from College pages for suitable College courses.

Republic of Ireland applicants, click on the UK tabs and scroll down to find your Entry Requirements.

See information about studying and applying to Abertay for International students.

Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
Advanced Higher ABB To include Sociology, Politics, Modern Studies, History or Psychology
A-Level ABB To include Sociology, Politics, History or Psychology
HNC/HND Our Entry from College pages list approved HNC/HND courses
Qualification Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
HND Our Entry from College pages list approved HND courses
Qualification Grade Requirement Essential Subjects
Ordinary Degree in Learning Disabilities/Difficulties from Fife College Learning Disabilities/Difficulties at Fife College

Not sure if you're eligible for entry?

If you have the potential and motivation to study at university, regardless of your background or personal circumstances, we welcome your application.

We understand some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which your academic grades have been achieved when making an offer.

If you expect to receive passes in three Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have either ...

  • been in care
  • participated in a targeted aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North
  • no family background of going to university
  • attended a school or lived in an area where not many people go to university

... we encourage you to submit an application.

Fees and funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you depends on factors such as your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. 

More information

Find out about grants, bursaries, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs in our undergraduate fees and funding section.



We offer a range of scholarships to help support your studies with us.

As well as Abertay scholarships for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and international students, there are a range of corporate and philanthropic scholarships available. Some are course specific, many are not. There are some listed below or you can visit the Undergraduate scholarship pages.

Abertay International Scholarship

This is an award of up to £12,000 for prospective international undergraduate students.

Abertay rUK Scholarship

This is a £4000 award for prospective undergraduate students applying from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The Robert Reid Bursary

Two £1,000 awards for students who have overcome challenges to attend university.

Career Opportunities

This degree prepares you for people-oriented jobs that require an understanding of how people think and act, and have high levels of interaction with others.

Our graduates have successfully gone into diverse fields such as social work, community education, teaching, care services, the police service and public relations work.

We’re proud of our social science graduates who leave us with the ability to ask more questions than when they arrive. Our aim is not simply to produce graduates who ‘know’ the world, but who can interrogate ideas and generate creative and novel ways of dealing with issues and problems.

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Industry Links

A significant feature of the BA Social Science programme is its emphasis on skills required for the workplace.

This culminates with the opportunity to complete a final year placement module that enables you to put your acquired knowledge and abilities to use in a workplace suited to your individual skills and interests.

You’ll be placed with a third sector, NGO employer in your final year, giving you experience of the world of work first hand, in preparation for your graduation and entry into employment.

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Get inspired

Meet some of our Social Sciences graduates and find out what they've gone on to do.

A photo of Evie Dalrymple smiling

Evie Dalrymple

Evie works as a Prison Psychologist at the Scottish Prison Service.

Find out more

Vikki in FIFA Assistant Referee uniform holding a whistle and cards

Vikki Allan

Vikki is a Service Delivery Manager and FIFA Assistant Referee.

Find out more

A photo of David Proctor in a shirt

David Proctor

David realised journalism was the right pathway for him during his time at university.

Find out more

Always-On Online Open Day

We aim to immerse you in student life here at Abertay and give you a true feel for our courses and our amazing academic community.

Experience our Always-On Open Day anytime for a mix of:

  • Subject and course presentations and videos.

  • Campus tours, info on applying, funding, student support and accommodation.

  • What the city of Dundee is like to live in.

Take time to soak it all in.



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Unistats collates comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Unistats dataset (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)).