Working as a sociologist in applied settings will require practitioners to have a range of skills, some of which are transferable directly from the academic setting of undergraduate studies, while others will be more specific to working independently to seek to address, understand and resolve a wide range of situations and problems in work or community settings.
The skill-set for an applied sociologist may be sub-divided as follows:
Transferable, generic or employability skills.
These are skills such as verbal and written communication skills; critical thinking; problem-solving, working collaboratively and independently; project management and personal time management, plus soft skills such as listening, summarizing, creativity, and emotion management. Some of these skills will have been developed during the earlier years of undergraduate study; this applied sociology module will provide an opportunity to further refine and practice this skillset.
Professional and subject-specific skills.
These include applying sociological theories in practical settings; appraising evidence gathered formally or informally; and the range of research skills that enable applied sociologists to develop and refine a research question, collect and analyse data, and report it back to clients verbally or in writing.
Skills specific to applied sociology.
These include: pitching a proposal to a client verbally and in writing; negotiation and arbitration; enterprise skills; financial and business management; use of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to network and promote their work; interacting with media. Activist skills may also be relevant.
Skills are by their nature not capacities learnt from a book or in a classroom, but through practice. Many skills will only be fully acquired after working as an applied sociologist. It is thus acknowledged that a short undergraduate module will not provide opportunities for all the above skills to be acquired or adequately demonstrated.
In some cases, awareness of the need to gain a partial skill will be all that reasonably can be achieved during the module. For this reason, the following learning outcomes focus principally on awareness of skills and in some cases demonstration of a level of skill appropriate to an entry-level post as an applied sociologist. A final learning outcomes consequently addresses the need for continuing professional development and awareness of skills not yet, or not fully acquired.
A full list of indicative skills for an applied sociology practitioner is provided in Annex B.
These LOs should be read in conjunction with those for the ‘practice’ component.
By the end of the module, students will be able to:
|Give examples of the generic transferable skills required for work as an applied sociologist, and how and why these are important for effective working.
|Demonstrate practically the application of some generic skills (for example, communication, problem-solving, project and time management).
|Give examples of the professional and subject-specific skills required for work as an applied sociologist, and how and why these are important for effective working.
|Demonstrate practically the application of some professional and subject-specific skills (for example, appraising evidence, research skills).
|Give examples of the skills specific to working as an applied sociologist, and how and why these are important for effective working.
|Demonstrate practically the application of some skills specific to working as an applied sociologist (for example, pitching to a client, budgeting a project proposal, negotiation between parties).
|Reflect on skills not yet, or not fully acquired, and generate a training needs analysis identifying skills deficits and a plan to acquire an appropriate skill-set.