To assist learning in this applied sociology module, it will be important for students to gain some practical experience of applying sociological skills and knowledge. Indeed, this may be the means by which many of the learning outcomes identified in the earlier sections (knowledge, skills, employment, careers and ethics) are achieved.
Thus practical activities can enable students to explore the application of theory and concepts in practice, for example demonstrating the ways that social and cultural factors link individual experience to the public domain of events, while grounding their activities in theory. They will give students an opportunity to try out skills developed earlier in their degree. Finally, a practical component will supply the means to reflect on the practice of applied sociological work, to deepen their understanding of work as sociological practitioners, and thus help students to gain insight into what it means to do applied sociology.
In addition, practical activities should allow the students – and the organisations and communities with which they engage – opportunities to develop their understanding of what sociology can offer; to demonstrate the insights and facility that a sociological practitioner and sociological knowledge can provide; and to enable insight into both the limits and opportunities of the sociological imagination in applied contexts.
Though students may gain practical or research experience elsewhere during their sociology degree, the focus here should be firmly upon doing ‘applied sociology’ in non-academic settings. Precisely how a practical element to this module may be achieved will depend upon the resources available, geographical and other environmental considerations, connections between a department and its community, and other circumstances specific to a particular department and university. Models range from classroom activities (for instance, small teams working on a problem together, role playing etc) to visits or extended placements/internships in local organisations or companies, where students will have an opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge in relation to problems or situations in ‘real world’ settings.
There are some spin-off advantages to use of placements. Students will be exposed to a non-academic workplace, gaining insight into an industry, company or organisation. This will assist students to experience an area of work; to help them to build a professional network; and to experience first-hand some of the issues in applied sociology work, in order to inform their future career planning.
We offer a number of suggestions for how a practical element might be achieved in the Learning and Teaching Activities section below, while the Assessment section suggests means to assess the practice component.
N.B. The learning outcomes for this element of the curriculum should be read in conjunction with those for previous sections, as they address the practical application of the knowledge and skills set out in these elements. In addition there are some process outcomes specific to this component.
By the end of the module, students will be able to:
|Apply a range of sociological concepts, theories and methods to an applied problem or situation, and use these to suggest resolutions. See Annex A for a list of sociological concepts, perspectives and theories.
|Demonstrate their application of a range of transferable and professional skills to address an applied problem or situation. See Annex B for a list of relevant skills.
|Give examples of the practical application of ethical issues in the practitioner/client relationship, and more generally concerning confidentiality, privacy and information governance in applied sociological work.
|Give examples of legal issues in applied sociological work, for example concerning human rights, employment rights, equality and diversity, citizenship.
|Gain knowledge, insight and understanding of a particular industry, service, organisation or social community.
|Explore and reflect upon their own role and identity as sociological practitioners, and upon the value of sociology as an applied discipline.
|Build a personal network relevant to work as an applied sociologist, and identify and perhaps join relevant communities of practice.