Postgraduate studies

Honours Degree

If you have enjoyed sociology on an undergraduate level, you might be interested in a postgraduate degree in sociology. The honours programme is a one-year course in which students deepen their sociological knowledge and analysis, while developing their capacity to do research. Advanced study in sociology helps you make sense of society and your own role within it, enabling you to better grapple with complex social challenges no matter what your life trajectory is. Students of sociology go on to work in varied fields, including branches of government and NGOs, educational institutions, social movements, trade unions, and as researchers in public or private institutions.

Sociology Honours is a rigorous and engaging programme where you will develop research skills and gain an in-depth understanding of sociology's major issues and debates. You will have the opportunity to conduct your own research and contribute to ongoing sociological discussions and debates. Our programme is taught by experts in the field who are committed to providing students with a supportive and stimulating learning environment. If you want to pursue a postgraduate degree in Sociology, we encourage you to apply to our programme. Join us in exploring the complex social world we live in and making a positive impact on society.

The honours degree can be completed over one year (full-time) or two years (part-time) and entails compulsory scheduled contact sessions where critical discussions take place, the completion of written assignments, presentations and practical work.

Degree structure: The degree consists of two compulsory modules: 1) Sociological Theory and 2) Research Methodology; and a student's selection of two out of three electives: 3) The Sociology of Population and the Environment, 4) Sociology of  Collective Behaviour and Social Movements, and 5) Capita Selecta.

Selection criteria: Applicants should hold a Bachelor's Degree at Exit Level 7, majoring in Sociology; have achieved a minimum average of 60% for Sociology at the undergraduate level; have consistently good overall performance at the undergraduate level. Admission to the Sociology Honours Programme is contingent upon a Departmental selection process. Please be advised that meeting the minimum admission requirements for the honours programme does not guarantee selection.

Application procedure: Prospective students should download the application form at the bottom of this page and follow its instructions. Also included at the bottom of the page, is a step-by-step guide to the application process, please follow these steps.  

Modules offered

SOCT6808: Sociological Theory

Why do we do social theory? Why can it be considered the cornerstone of understanding academic and worldly endeavours? Most social theorists wanted (and still want) to develop social theory as they were interested to find explanations for social processes not simply from a detached interest but from a deep involvement in the fate of humankind. There is therefore an expressed need for some of these theorists to improve humanity’s capacity to shape the course of social processes or at least to avert their worst outcomes. Despite the promises of progress, civilisation, development, and technology, our contemporary contexts continue to be fraught with contradictions, tensions, and recurrences of past errors that have led to unutterable atrocities. As sociologists, we should strive to reflect on the issues of our time, by using the “sociological imagination” in order to develop a better awareness that relates to our societies. This enhanced “comprehension” is aptly described by Hannah Arendt:

Comprehension does not mean denying the outrageous, deducing the unprecedented from precedents, or explaining phenomena by such analogies and generalities that the impact of reality and the shock of experience are no longer felt. It means, rather, examining and bearing consciously the burden which our century has placed on us – neither denying its existence nor submitting meekly to its weight. Comprehension, in short, means the unpremeditated, attentive facing up to, and resisting, of reality – whatever it may be (Arendt, 1951: viii).

SOCR6808: Research Report: Sociology

Our understanding of the world around us broadens and deepens if we become aware of it as a continuously changing reality with different facets. The research process enables us to acquire this knowledge and to develop a better understanding of the surrounding reality. In this module, you are going to be taught in logical interdependent steps how to scientifically approach, investigate and give account of your conclusions of a problem or issue. In this way, the research process becomes a school in which you can learn to become acquainted with social realities in all their interesting facets and full diversity. Whatever the motivation for our research might be, in one way or the other it satisfies our craving for more knowledge and deeper understanding, answers the diverse questions that we continue to ask about the world around us and justifies our role and function as scientists in this world. In this sense Chadwick, Bahr and Albrecht (1984:20-21) remark: “It is sometimes claimed that scientists do research for the satisfaction of getting knowledge; one does research to learn. The personal appreciation of understanding apparently was a major motivation for the sociologist Robert Park, who described the justification for his embarking on a career as a journalist, and later as a sociologist, in these words: ‘I conceived a scheme of life that should be devoted to merely seeing and knowing the world without any practical aims whatever…. I made up my mind to go in for experience for its own sake, to gather into my soul as Faust somewhere says ‘all joys and sorrows of the world’ (Rauschenbusch, 1979:15).

Another reason for doing research is the hope that the results will help to solve some problem or improve conditions in some way. This justification for research may lead to disillusionment, for many times research findings obtained at great cost are ignored. Nevertheless, the wish that one’s research will make the world better continues to provide the psychic and organizational fuel for many studies. The scientific approach to a problem or question requires much more than the knowledge that you will gain from this course alone. It will be advisable to regard and approach the total honours course as a unity. You will need the knowledge that you will acquire from the theoretical course and in your specialty courses.

SOCS6808: The Sociology of Collective Behaviour and Social Movements

South Africa is a country in constant flux, with our history and contemporary reality being shaped by collective behaviour and social movements. This module will approach the subject matter – social movements collective behaviour - from a sociological perspective. The course will explore varying kinds of social movements, including but not limited to; African Traditional Religious churches, student movements and labour and trade union action. We will journey across the world, exploring various geo-political contexts and how people respond to social change, oppression, states and other social institutions.This module provides an academic space in which students and academic peers as members of society are able to contextualise and critically reflect on collective behaviour and social movements in society.

SOCP6808: The Sociology of Population and the Environment

This course focuses on the relationship between the social and the natural environment, and specifically on the intersection between population, environmental and developmental (PED) issues. Besides aspects which have a bearing on the quality of the ecosystem in which we live, such as demographic changes and development needs, attention is also devoted to development issues which again impact on the environment. The aim of this course is not only to gain insight into the nature of population dynamics and an understanding of population/ environment and development linkages, but also to equip the student in such a way that he/she will be able to play a part in an interdisciplinary context, thereby contributing towards the pursuit of a more sustainable society.

As far as this course is concerned, this means not only exposure to (and sensitising in respect of) global demographic and environmental issues, but above all the developing of an ability to draw parallels between global issues and those in one’s own society, and also learning to judge and evaluate possible solutions to such problems.

SOCI6808: Capita Selecta

In this module, students are exposed to various area of specialization in sociology. The area of specialisation changes regularly as experts are available in the Department. In 2025, this will be a ‘deep reading’ module. Each academic member of staff will offer a sociological text that students will read critically with guidance over the course of the semester. Students select two texts for in- depth reading (one first semester, one second semester), according to their interests.

Honours application form

A step-by-step guide to the Honours application process

NOTE: Applicants submitting AI-generated or plagiarised motivation letters will be rejected.

All Sociology Honours degree applications must be sent to:

Dr Josh Platzky-Miller

T: +27 51 401 2590



T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Phyllis Masilo: +27 51 401 9683

Humanities photo next to contact block

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