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Sociology is the study of society in all its complexity, from both an empirical and a theoretical perspective. The Department of Sociology at Wits has outstanding staff with an extremely wide range of teaching and research interests 

It has a series of offerings both for students majoring in the subject and for those who wish to gain some idea of its scope or to explore a particular area. 

For more information, download the Sociology Booklet.

1st Years

SOCL1014A/SOCL1009A - Identity and Society I

This course is an introduction to the theoretical and conceptual foundations of sociology. It locates the discipline’s key concerns with the relationship between individuals and the social context, and examines sociological debates around modernity, social change and identity. This is achieved by an indepth exploration of the ideas of central classical theorists. The course also develops students’ content knowledge, and reading and writing skills.

SOCL1013A/SOCL1008A - Southern Africa in the Era of Globalisation I

This course examines the process of globalisation especially in the Southern African context. Using both historical and contemporary material, it explores globalisation with related sociological questions of social change, development, culture and social inequality. The course develops students’ research and critical thinking skills, to make sense of the changing social world.


The Department offers two majors in the undergraduate degree:  a major in Sociology and a major in Labour and Economic Sociology.  

The programme for each major includes core modules and elective modules. 

2nd Years

SOCL2012A - Sociological Theory II

This course examines the classical and contemporary theoretical approaches to key sociological issues, such as social change and social inequality, in the varied contexts of coloniality and post-coloniality, nationalism and globalisation, and modernity and post-modernity. The course develops students’ theoretical and conceptual skills, as well as the ability to engage with empirical material and realities.

SOCL2001A - Contemporary Social Issues in Southern Africa II

This course focuses particularly on patterns of social disintegration, including the spread of famine, rising rates of poverty, unemployment and family breakdown. Various responses to these issues are explored, including new grassroots social movements, cultural and religious responses and debates about social reconstruction. Finally, policy implications and policy-making processes are explored.

SOCL2009A - Population Studies II

This is an introductory course to both formal and substantive demography. At the end of the course, the student should have developed: the ability to integrate the demographic dimension into sociological thinking and analysis, knowledge of the types, sources, quality, and uses of demographic data, and an understanding of the major academic and policy debates in the field of population.

3rd Years

SOCL3029A  - Class, Power and Economic Relations

This course explores the relationship between the ‘structural logic’ of capitalism and working class subjectivity through an interrogation of different theoretical approaches to, and experiences of, work and working class struggles from the beginning of capitalist development to its current phase. Time is also dedicated towards understanding the concepts of race, class and gender in relation to the organisation of the labour process, divisions of labour, and working class.

SOCL3008A - Researching Social Life

This course introduces students to the various research methods used in the social sciences and teaches students to do social research using practical methods. In addition to a programme of lectures and small group discussions, students operationalise their research skills in their own independent research projects. 

SOCL3002A - Culture, Identity and Power III

This course is an analysis of the various theories of social power offered by contemporary theorists. The course investigates the manner in which power is articulated in several important dimensions of society, including culture, racial and ethnic identity, religion and gender. Historical and contemporary case studies are used to analyse the interaction between these dimensions of social life.

SOCL3003A - Demography and Development III

This course equips students with a good sociological understanding of the place of demography in the process of socio-economic development. Students are exposed to ways in which demographic techniques may be applied to planning in a variety of substantive areas in the public and private sectors.

SOCL3016A - Sociology of Africa III

This course examines colonial and postcolonial southern Africa from a sociological perspective, using country case studies and thematic analyses to explore imperialism, capitalism, economic policy and development, class structure, rural social relations, political reform, and labour movements and industrial relations in the region. It provides a basis for students interested in development issues, regional political economy and labour and industrial issues. 

SOCL3026A - Contemporary Social Issues III

This course addresses selected topics in sociology, including amongst others gender, race, ethnicity, class, urban and rural sociology, the environment, education, state formation and civil society. It provides a sociological understanding of these issues by means of engagement with both classical and dynamic contemporary social theory produced internationally and in the region.

Sociology Service Courses for Faculty of Health Science Students

SOCL1016 - Sociological Foundations of Health

This course explores health, illness and disease from a sociological perspective; it locates these concepts within the social, economic, cultural and political context thereby offering students a unique perspective that complements the traditional bio-medical training offered in their other courses.  It will assist students to appreciate the social reality within which their patients are located and the social context within which they will ultimately practice as future health care professionals.

Course Coordinator

Dr Kezia Lewins and Prof Lorena Nunez

SOCL1012 - Human Behavioural Sciences

This course focuses on the social aspects of health and disease in South Africa.  The course aims to develop knowledge and awareness of the social implications of the health professional role.  It is structured around a range of different, interrelated themes which aim to develop an understanding of the relationship between health, disease, health professionals and society.  In so doing, it introduces a different perspective on health and the role of the health team, while emphasising a multidisciplinary approach to such matters.

Course Coordinator

Dr Nellie Myburgh