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UJ SOCIOLOGY: #1 in South Africa, #150-200 Globally

UJ Sociology is the top Sociology Department in South Africa, and the only South African Sociology Department ranked; #196 (2022 Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS))

UJ Department of Sociology niche area:

The department of sociology research examines social change and decolonisation of society. It does this through a sociological analyses of global and local shifts in capitalism, technology, and climate change; and how these shifts intersect and impact on social,  gender, cultural, political, economic and environmental justice

The Department of Sociology has a team of 20 Sociologists who, together,
  • Host the long-standing and most regular public seminar in the Johannesburg region,
  • Produce regular accredited publications on research in their various areas of expertise,
  • Teach over 2000 undergraduate students per semester using contact education complemented by e-learning,
  • Critically train students at postgraduate  level in social research methodology and in classical and contemporary sociological theory, with an applied and clinical base, 
  • Play leading roles in the South African Sociological Association and the International Sociological Association,
  • Practice public sociology by actively engaging with constituencies beyond the academy
  • Prof Michael Burawoy, one of the most influential sociologists of the present era, was awarded an honorary doctorate by UJ in May 2022

What is Sociology?

What does it mean to understand the world in which you live? What will your contribution be to this changing world? How do your own experiences and life chances compare to those of others?

Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behaviour. Sociologists investigate how groups, organisations and societies function. Sociology encourages critical thinking and urges one to challenge preconceived ideas – traits that are highly valued by prospective employers. Sociologists study race, social class and gender division; issues in the family, the workplace, and the state; politics and sport; the meanings of decolonisation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution; causes and consequences of xenophobia, crime, gender violence, poverty, unemployment, religious cults, and social movements; the meanings of shared cultural beliefs and practices; and social divisions and stratification including gender and sexuality. Successful sociology students impress employers with their broader understanding of these issues and with their range of practical skills. Few fields have such broad scope and relevance for research, theory, and application of knowledge

Please click for a short video on UJ Sociology and what it is all about

The specialist research and publication areas of these academic staff members are:

  • Social identity, including Class, Race, Gender, Sexual orientation, Age, Religion, and Intersectionality among these,
  • Sociology of work, Labour studies, Organisations,
  • Political sociology, Citizenship, Biopolitics, and Social Protection,
  • Gender, Family, Sexuality, Masculinity, and Health,
  • Urban Studies, Development, and Migration Studies,
  • Clinical Sociology, Group dynamics, Whistleblowing,
  • South African Sociology and Higher education,
  • Bourdieu’s capitals,
  • Research methodology,
  • and various of these in combination.


Students of the UJ Department of Sociology hail from all parts of the continent and the world. Since the coherent UJ Sociology coursework programme responds to the range of research and supervision areas listed above, a synergy exists between the teaching and research interests of staff members of the Department of Sociology. The department’s programme encourages critical thinking and an analytical approach to social and organizational problems – skills that are highly sought after in the labour market.

Sociology prepares you for a career in a variety of sectors including:

  • Social Policy planning and analyses
  • Industrial relations officer
  • Human resources
  • Social research
  • Academic Teaching
  • Journalism and media related jobs
  • NGO and public service

Weekly Seminars

The weekly seminar run by the department for over twenty years is now hosted in conjunction with the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies. The seminar has hosted numerous acclaimed international and local social scientists. The details of the most recent seminar, as well as an archive of previous programmes, can be found on the seminar pages. More details on academic staff members may be accessed by clicking on their names on the staff page.


International Accreditation

UJ Sociology Honours programme is accredited according to the Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS).

UJ BA Honours Programme in Sociology, Industrial and Urban Studies

1. The mission
The UJ BA Honours Programme in Sociology, Industrial and Urban Studies focuses on sociological practice by applying sociological knowledge to develop analytical and innovative approaches to social and organisational problems facing South African society. Experiential learning is incorporated into the curriculum and in student’s use of sociological concepts, theories, principles, methods and techniques in practice settings. In particular, the Department strives to promote the acquisition of skills sought after by the state and civil society in the labour market.

2. Programme goals
The goals of the Honours programme are aligned with the mission of the Sociology Department and are as follows –
1. To provide students with substantive and fundamental knowledge and skills regarding sociology and its ethical practice.
2. To provide students with the ability to discuss the role of theory in sociological practice, and the interaction between theory and practice.
3. To facilitate students’ abilities to contribute to current debates in sociology on intermediate and advanced levels.
4. To enable students to plan, design, and execute research and social interventions using appropriate methodology and frameworks.
5. To enable students to understand, interpret, analyse and present research data to advance practical solutions to societal problems.

3. Learning goals and outcomes (measurable)
The following section will outline the learning outcomes of the Honours Program in measurable terms. These Program Outcomes are aligned with course-specific goals and CAPACS standards. Upon completing the Honours degree in Sociology/Industrial Sociology/Urban Studies, graduates should be able to –

1. Critically and creatively examine different theoretical models and constructs in Sociology/Industrial Sociology/Urban Studies.
2. Apply these theoretical models and constructs to specific social problems in authentic South African contexts at a micro, meso and macro level.
3. Design, plan, and execute a quantitative or qualitative research task based on a theoretical framework within an authentic context, be able to reflect on their research and report on research findings.
4. Demonstrate competency in communication skills and appropriate use of computer technology.
5. Work in a group and reflect on their participation in groups.
6. Engage with and critique in a constructive manner the ideas of his/her peers and others.
7. Develop an understanding of the social and political issues involved in sociological practice.
8. Apply professional ethics to their work as sociologists.
9. Project cultural and aesthetic sensitivity towards people from different cultures based on theoretical knowledge.