Graduate Program in Sociology - Study design

Structure

After a standard period of study of 2 academic years (4 semesters) the graduate program in Sociology finishes with a Master of Arts degree (M.A.), with a total of 120 ECTS credit points. The study design is structured with regard to achieving the objectives mentioned in the academic profile.

The syllabus is structured into five parts in which different amounts of ECTS credit points have to be accomplished:

In-depth knowledge of social theory, analysis of social structures, and social change from a cross-national comparative perspective.

18 ECTS in total

Profound knowledge of the philosophy of science, research design, and advanced methods of social empirical research, especially quantitative methods.  

18 ECTS in total

Selection of one of the six major fields of study, further extension of specific sociological knowledge, and a more research-oriented perspective on a specific field of activity.  

36 ECTS in total

One-year research internship in a major field of study in order to apply scientific methods. The alternative is to select modules from another major field of study.  

18 ECTS in total

With the master thesis, including disputation and colloquium, students verify their ability to elaborate a certain topic independently by use of scientific methods.  

30 ECTS in total

Study design and qualification objectives

To establish and extend the sociological fundamentals is also important in the context of a consecutive graduate program. In the undergraduate studies, sociological fundamentals relate to a general understanding about the discipline and the current scientific state of knowledge. In the graduate program they are especially related to fundamentals relevant for research. The substantial discussion of theoretical and empirical findings and understandings of the discipline are elevated to a higher level within the modules of sociological theory and analysis of social structures. Thematic focuses within this study part are social theory, social change, cross-national comparison, integration and analysis of social structures.

Research fundamentals and fundamentals for professional practice are provided in the syllabus part named ‘methods of social empirical research’. Alongside fundamental courses in research design and philosophy of science, students can choose from a comprehensive range of courses on advanced methods in quantitative data analysis as well as courses on data collection and qualitative social research. Graduates of the M.A. in Sociology have the essential abilities to pursue a further academic qualification (doctorate) or to successfully enter the job market.

 

Besides the fundamentals, students need an appropriate sociological armamentarium. Correspondingly, modules within methods of social empirical research are obligatory for all students in order to guarantee that students profoundly understand the competencies necessary for scientific practice. Additionally, students may deepen their knowledge in quantitative data analysis and data collection.

Beyond the theoretical level, this kind of armamentarium will be trained and applied within the research module where students elaborate current sociological research questions with a thematic focus that is changing over the semesters. Hence, students have the possibility to pass through a complete research process before they start their master thesis.

Just as in the undergraduate program, the development of individual profiles of students is also of high relevance in the graduate program. Students are enabled to organize their studies with orientation towards a specific field of activity. This can be achieved by specializing in a certain major field of study, with a total of 36 ECTS.

The following major fields of study are offered in the graduate program:

  • Education, labor, family, life course
  • Population, migration, integration
  • Empirical social research
  • European and global studies
  • Communication and internet
  • Labor market, labor organization, occupational science

Within each major fields of study, 24 ECTS points have to be achieved with courses out of the sociological core curriculum. Students can choose between various field-specific modules.

Another 12 ECTS have to be attained in non-sociological elective modules of other disciplines. The content of the non-sociological elective modules has to be related to the major field of study. Hence an interdisciplinary perspective on the respective major field of study is guaranteed. Moreover, students may extend their knowledge according to their individual interests.

Instead of going for the research module, students may select modules from an additional major field of study in order to enrich their individual profile. Sociological modules totaling 18 ETCS can be chosen from a major field of study which has not been selected yet. This path is especially interesting for students who are striving for placement outside of the scientific profession. Hence students can choose modules with respect to their professional interests.

Students acquire essential key qualifications by actively participating in seminar-style courses and by designing their individual curriculum. The graduate program in Sociology is consecutive, meaning it builds on the competencies students have acquired in their undergraduate studies. Within the graduate program in Sociology, the development of the following competencies is fostered:

Methodological competence:

Within the Sociology graduate program, fundamentals in scientific work and in methodologies – especially quantitative methods of empirical social research – are addressed and further deepened and extended with a research-oriented perspective. Graduates are thus able to critically assess sociological methods and theories. They are not only able to understand the discipline of sociology, but also to question the sociological methods. Students learn to clearly understand their scientific actions on a meta-level, which is an essential part of the research process and the basis for each executive job position. The ability to critically self-observe strengthens the competence to independently develop and understand complex issues. In comparison to their undergraduate studies, students in their graduate studies participate in a higher share of seminar-style lectures. Hence they increasingly research, prepare, and develop challenging topics independently. This independent study strengthens graduate students’ individual methodological competence and their ability to form independent opinions. It further fosters their competence to express their opinion and to deduce solution approaches to various problems.

Social competence:

The promotion of students’ social competence is an essential part of the training in key qualifications and an important goal of the Sociology study program at the University of Bamberg. The acquirement of social competencies is guaranteed by the high share of seminar-style lectures and practical elements. The seminar-style lectures demand a high communicative commitment from students. Presentations and discussions strengthen the competence to communicate also about controversial issues. Thereby, students’ ability to deal with conflicts as well as their cooperativeness is reinforced. Students’ competence to debate constructively and to work in a team is developed in situations where students have to match the latter mentioned opposing practices (conflict resolution and cooperation) according to the respective situation. The training of social competencies is further intensified within the research module, where students work together in a team on a specific research question for the duration of one year. The interactions within the team are fostering a constructive communicative exchange between the students and prepare them for the project-oriented and objective-oriented organization in the working environment. In their graduate studies students work more autonomously than they did in their undergraduate studies, such that their abilities to cooperate, to manage conflict, and to effectively communicate are more pronounced. Students experience in real situations how to coordinate teamwork.

Individual competence:

Also within the graduate program, students create individual profiles. These individual profiles are not only shaped through specialized lectures, but also through the training of individual competencies.

Students’ self-reliance and self-observation in a science-specific sense are fostered within the area of methodological competencies in a way that students are able to independently develop new contents and complex topics while being able to critically question their own work. The flexible design of the curriculum, within the examination regulations, demands a high degree of self-organizing and self-reflecting capabilities. Students have to visualize their own professional goals in order to orientate their studies towards their future profession. This prepares students well for future executive and project management positions. The mentioned skills are also precondition for a successful doctorate.

Media competence:

Also due to the emphasis on seminar-style lectures, graduates have a high level of media competence. They are able to communicate actively as well as receive information competently and they also know technical and organizational requirements. The acquired skills range from oral and written presentations to the selection of appropriate channels to a conscious perception with an appropriate filtering of information. The presentation of knowledge and the ability to separate important from less important information during research is trained with seminar papers and oral talks. Frequent presentations and similar activities within the courses train students to present their ideas and knowledge in a structured and comprehensible manner. Furthermore, students learn how to use different media (blackboard, overhead projector, beamer etc.) in concordance with the information that has to be conveyed. Compared to the undergraduate program, the mentioned competencies are further deepened as students have to deal with more complex content. In most of the graduate modules presentations and media are standardly used.

 

All Master graduates of Sociology from the University of Bamberg are equipped with the essential sociological fundamentals and the necessary armamentarium; they have individual profiles as well as comprehensive key qualifications. Based on the competencies that students have acquired in der undergraduate studies, their qualifications are strengthened specifically within the graduate program. The preparation for a further academic qualification (doctorate) as well as the preparation for an autonomous professional activity are of primary importance. Besides the training in terms of content and methods, individual competencies are bound within the focus of the program. Individual competencies comprise methodological proficiencies, self-organization, self-reflection, ability to work in a team, and effective communication skills.

Their specialization in specific sociological fields of activity that are future-oriented and their individual profiles facilitate students’ employability on the job market. Students may furthermore strengthen their profiles with additional internships, stays abroad, and the occupation as a student assistant in one of the numerous research projects in Bamberg.

The acquired knowledge and skills allow for a successful positioning on the job market. Depending on the individual profile, various job opportunities are opened up: as consultant, researcher or abstractor in opinion and market research, or as abstractor, reader or editor in the media sector, in public relations or in publishing. Further main areas of employment are in human resources departments, in personnel procurement, in human resources development and in organizational development. Another main area of employment is the occupation as subject specialist for social policy, education etc. Concerning the latter profession, occupational prospects are in public administrations, in local administrations, federal and state ministries, in statistical offices as well as other national institutions and state institutions, in non-profit organizations like political parties, labor unions and employers’ associations, in national insurances and in the private industry sector. Many social scientists enter consulting activities - not only classical management consultancies, but also career counseling, political consulting, organizational consulting, communications consulting and comparable areas. Professional experience in the latter occupational areas furthermore facilitates the path to self-employment. Within this range of activities, the Master degree enables graduates to enter a higher professional position and facilitates the career advancement within a company, institution or organization.

Furthermore, the M.A. program in Sociology lays a sound foundation for a scientific career as it usually is the basis and precondition for a doctorate program. Many Sociology graduates from the University of Bamberg pursue an academic career in science, either directly at a university career or at a research institute.m eines individuellen Profils ermöglichen. Dieses Profil kann zusätzlich durch Praktika, Auslandaufenthalte und Hilfskrafttätigkeiten in den zahlreichen Bamberger Forschungsprojekten und –instituten geschärft werden.