Postgraduate Taught

MSc Public Sociology

This programme is being reviewed and recruitment has been suspended for 2020. This means that no new students will be able to join the course in 2020. Please check back here for updates regarding future provision.

Learn how sociology can contribute to social change on the only degree of its kind in Scotland. Your studies will be driven by regular engagement with publics and by the close sharing of insights with your peers on the course. You’ll learn from public sociologists who have diverse community experience, and who are engaged with activism and innovative research.

This course will be particularly suitable if you are a sociology graduate looking to specialise in public sociology or someone engaged in community work, social welfare, public engagement or campaigns who wants to learn how sociological theory and research can meaningfully contribute to your work.

Why QMU?

  • This course is the only master’s degree in public sociology in Scotland and builds on QMU’s successful BSc/BSc (Hons) Public Sociology.
  • Dialogue is at the heart of public sociology – a dialogue between sociology and the people and communities that are trying to make the world a better place.
  • Learn from staff with a wide range of experience in community settings outside the university, including with young people, mental health, environmental campaigns, community education, gender justice and queer activism.

Course overview

Essentially, public sociology is about understanding society and how to bring about change. It actively brings sociology into dialogue with audiences beyond the classroom. By creating this active, open dialogue it aims to deepen both sides’ understanding of public issues.

Sociological knowledge theory, analysis and social practice are directly connected to the experiences of particular ‘publics’, normally understood as community groups, interest groups, campaigns or other civil society organisations. Public sociology is a discipline that speaks to, and for, audiences and communities beyond the parameters of the academic discipline and makes meaningful contributions to ongoing debates around public issues and concerns.

This course offers you the opportunity to engage with diverse public groups and to reflect critically on how sociology can contribute to work for social justice and change. You will study what is distinctive about public sociology and the methods of engagement and research of the discipline.

Public sociology is a contextual discipline responding to globalisation. The course draws on the experiences of public sociologists throughout the world and involves teaching by academics from a range of disciplines in which public sociology is relevant. Lecturers are engaged in research, education and activism with various public groups.

Exit awards

MSc (180 credits)/ PgDip (120 credits)/ PgCert (60 credits)


To obtain a specific postgraduate award at QMU you must complete a number of credit-bearing modules. You can opt to study for the full MSc, a PgDip or a PgCert. You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award.

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will attend lectures and seminars, work in groups, as well as carry out independent learning. You will be expected to participate in discussions, collaboratively develop ideas and engage with experiential learning. It is particularly expected that you will be engaged with a ‘public’, either through personal experience, employment or voluntary commitment, in order to reflect on the sociological contribution to that work.

We offer a range of stimulating assessment methods, including blogs, reflections on practice, live debates, group work with presentations as well as essays and field reports. A project or dissertation in collaboration with a community group will be a significant component of the work for this MSc.

Teaching hours and attendance

Each module will require you to attend classes and carry out independent work. Most modules consist of two to three hours of class time each week of the semester and will involve input, critical reading, debate and reflection on experience. Where possible, all teaching takes place over two days per week. Your specific timetable will depend on whether you study full-time or part-time.

Class sizes

We expect around 10-15 students to enrol for this course each year.

Industry links

Teaching staff have a range of links with community, voluntary sector and campaign groups in civil society. This has included Friends of the Earth, Glasgow Association for Mental Health, the Workers’ Educational Association, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, and various faith-based, trade union and European social policy organisations.


  • Principles of Public Sociology (20 credits)
  • Public Sociology Practice (20 credits)
  • Research Methods and Methodologies for Public Sociology (20 credits)
  • Reflection on Action (20 credits)
  • Project Proposal (20 credits)
  • At least 20 credits as an elective from a range of options or by self-study and a project
  • dissertation (60 credits)

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (September 2019) but are subject to change. In the event that modules are changed, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.

Single modules for CPD

Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest. Contact Eurig Scandrett for more information.


There are no formal placements on this course but students are expected to engage with a community group, campaign or representative organisation throughout their studies. It is not a placement as such, but students should take responsibility for this as their own engagement with public sociology.  Ideally, students will already be involved, or have been involved, with such a group, although we appreciate that this is not always possible. Advice and assistance will be provided for students who start the course without suitable public engagement. 


Graduates of public sociology will be suitably qualified for a range of careers involving public engagement in the public or third sector or in non-governmental organisations.

Entry requirements

Degree and/or relevant experience of engagement with communities or public groups. We will consider applications from people without a degree but with significant experience of community work or similar, and who can show that they are able to study at postgraduate level.

International: Where your degree or equivalent has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score below 6.0.

Application deadline


More information and contacts

Contact Admissions or contact Eurig Scandretton tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2020/21 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Start Your Application

Course Overview

Full-time: 1 year, part-time: 2-7 years
Start Date
September 2020
Study Abroad
Subject Area
Fees & Funding

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