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    © Markus Richter / Faculty of Sociology

M.A. Sociology

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Contact persons

The Responsible Person at the Examinations Office for the M.A. Sociology is

Responsible Study Advisory Service Persons

Course Coordinator

International Track

Since the winter semester 2010/11, the Faculty of Sociology has offered the International Track in the Master's programme in Sociology. The International Track is the English-language branch of the German-language Master's programme. Accordingly, M.A. Sociology students can combine English- and German-language courses or complete the entire Master's programme in English.

Information from the Student Advisory Service

Frequently asked Questions from Students about the M.A. Sociology

Legally binding information on the degree programme is provided by the FsB dated 17.12.2012 as well as the module handbook and MPO.

Which subject areas are offered in Bielefeld?

The fields of study are

  • Sociological theory
  • Sociological methods
  • Organisational sociology
  • Political sociology
  • Social structure and social inequality
  • Sociology of the Global World
  • Sociology of the Media
  • Sociology of gender
  • Sociology of labour and economics
  • Sociology of law and regulation

There is a choice of several courses per semester in each of these subject areas. In addition, in the elective module "Other Special Sociologies" you can combine separate courses on special sociologies that are not regularly offered, such as the sociology of the family, sociology of law, sociology of religion, sociology of education, sociology of health, sociology of social work or sociology of social networks. These offerings vary depending on the teaching staff and are limited per semester for capacity reasons."

What do I primarily orient myself towards in order to organise my Master's programme?

The goal of our Master's programme is to make orientation as easy as possible for students and teachers. Think modularly: As part of your studies, you take individual modules, each comprising two courses, and complete each of these modules with a term paper. In any case, you start the Master's programme with the introductory module. In addition to meeting standards in sociological theory and in qualitative and quantitative methods, this provides the opportunity to clarify students' orientation questions at the beginning of their studies. Counselling services are offered by the General Student Advisory Service as well as its student counterpart. The exact contact details can be found on the current website of the degree programme.

I would like to study sociology in the Master's programme as broadly as possible and take advantage of the extensive range of courses offered in Bielefeld. Is that possible at all?

The Master's programme in Sociology offers the possibility to individually combine different modules from the faculty's range of courses, i.e. not to specialise in a particular subject. However, the prerequisite for this general variant of the programme (general profile) is that you choose at least one theory and one methods module in your degree programme (apart from the introductory module). You are then free to choose anything else. Even and especially with this broad orientation, you should seek contact with teachers to reflect on questions of the goals of the study programme, the orientation of the curriculum and any difficulties.

Are there other special features of the General Profile that I need to be aware of?

Yes. A maximum of 28 LP may be acquired in a subject area.

Do I also have to do a teaching research module if I choose the general profile rather than the profile studies?

A teaching research module must always be completed, either in the form of a "small teaching research" (LF1/14LP) or in the form of a "large" teaching research. (LF2/28LP) (see below for the teaching research).

If I favour the general profile of the Master's degree, can I take an interdisciplinary module and an internship module?

Yes, of course, just as you can also add an interdisciplinary module and an internship module to a profile programme.

What distinguishes a profile in the Master of Sociology?

A profile study programme consists of three modules, each of which belongs to a subdisciplinary subject area. The modules of the profile each consist of two seminars. Individual modules of the profile can also be replaced by a teaching research (for teaching research see below).

What do I gain from concentrating on a profile in the Master's programme?

A profile study programme allows you to concentrate on one field and thus, in part, prepare you more strongly for a professional field. It enables very close contact with a research focus and can thus - if desired - already lead to a doctorate.

Which profiles can I choose?

Seven profiles are currently offered:

  • Sociological theory
  • Sociological Methods
  • Sociology of work and economics
  • Political sociology
  • Organisational Sociology
  • Sociology of social inequality
  • Sociology of the Global World

For capacity reasons, you can only specialise in the fields of Media Sociology, Sociology of Science and Technology and Sociology of Gender.

What exactly does specialisation mean?

You deepen a subject area by studying two modules of a study area.

Back to profiling: What is the maximum number of modules I can complete in my profile area?

A profile comprises three modules; no more, no less.

Can I change my profile?

Nothing could be simpler. If you find in the first or second semester that the profile does not suit you, change to another profile. The course achievements in the previously attended profile then correspond to an elective module. This flexibility in changing (and supplementing) the profiles is one of the central advantages over thematically restricted Master's programmes, where you first have to laboriously change the programme if you want to reorient yourself in terms of content.

Can I be sure that my profile will be offered throughout my studies?

Of course you can. If you study a designated profile at the beginning of your degree programme, you are guaranteed that this profile will be provided with the necessary number of courses for at least three years.

I want to choose a profile, but I don't know which one yet. Is that a problem?

You do not need to commit to a profile at the beginning of a degree programme. For example, you can take seminars from two different profiles parallel to the introductory module and then decide at the end of the first semester. If you take a second seminar in the other profile area that you are not pursuing further, i.e. complete a module, you can have this module credited as an elective module alongside your profile.

What is a student research project?

In a student research project, students work on a research-related topic for one or two semesters. This means that questions are developed alone or in groups, literature is researched, students conduct their own empirical surveys, results are evaluated and then a final report is written. Work within the scope of a teaching research project is therefore your own small research project, which is developed in close cooperation with other students and lecturers.

What is the difference between a small and a large teaching research project?

Quite simply. A "small" student research project (the size of a module) consists of four semester hours per week and is carried out in one semester; the corresponding teaching research report consists of 20-30 pages. A "large" student research (scope of two modules) consists of eight semester hours and takes two semesters; the teaching research report is 40-50 pages long.

Can I also study a large student research project and then - if I am no longer interested - have it credited as a small teaching research project after one semester?

This is not possible because the student research is always planned by the lecturers as "large" or "small" teaching research and is also announced as such.

Does a teaching research have to be located in my profile?

We strongly recommend that you take the student research as part of the profile. However, you can also take a profile programme with three modules and take the teaching research in another profile or subject elective.

Can I take more than one teaching research?

The faculty provides sufficient teaching research for all Master's students, but only guarantees students the opportunity to participate in one teaching research. If there are still sufficient places available in individual teaching research, students - especially those who have only completed a "small teaching research" so far - can also participate in a second teaching research.

Can I do an internship as part of the Master's programme?

Yes, you can complete one of the modules as an internship. This internship should enable you to apply sociological competences acquired during your studies in practice.

Is the internship assigned to a profile or specialisation area?

No, you can choose your internship independently of your profile or specialisation area.

What kind of performance record do I complete my internship with?

The examination performance consists of a term paper, which should be 20-30 pages long. This term paper is not an internship report, which merely presents your own activities during the internship, but a typical academic term paper. This paper can, for example, undertake a sociological analysis of the organisation in which the internship was completed, a sociological analysis of an aspect of the environment relevant to the internship position, or a sociological treatment of an issue that is relevant to the internship position in some other way. In particular, the sociological examination of questions concerning the application and use of sociological knowledge offers a relevant topic area for the term paper, which can be explained using the empirical case of the internship.

Who supervises, assesses and grades a term paper written during an internship?

You look for a supervisor before the start of the internship (this can be any lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology). The supervisor will support you in developing the research question for the term paper and will assess and grade it at the end. Every lecturer is encouraged to supervise a term paper within the framework of the internship, but you should preferably approach a lecturer who is thematically close to your term paper topic or with whom you have already taken a course.

How long does the internship last?

The internship is at least 240 hours long and can either be completed in one go or in 'chunks'. In many cases, it will make sense for the internship to go beyond the minimum duration.

Can I also complete an internship before my studies and in a semester off?

Gainful employment or voluntary work carried out up to a maximum of one year before the Master's degree or during this time can be recognised on application to the Internship Office, provided that these activities comply with the regulations of the internship and a scientific paper is written in relation to these activities.

How do I have an internship credited?

The following documents must be submitted to the internship office of the faculty as proof of the internship: A certificate from the employing institution stating the time of the internship, the duration and the type of activities carried out; a form to be completed by the supervisor (copies are available from the internship office, digital templates are available on the internet) and a copy of the term paper, which is archived in the internship office for inspection if consent has been given.

Compared to the courses offered at other universities, it is noticeable that the compulsory introductory module in sociological theory and quantitative and qualitative methods is very small. What do I do if I would like to acquire more knowledge in these three fields during the Master's programme?

Nothing could be simpler. Simply choose further modules in sociological theory or sociological methods in addition to the introductory module. You can do this as part of the Profile Studies as well as the General Profile.

Three lectures are offered in the introductory module - theory, quantitative and qualitative methods - Which one do I have to choose?

All three lectures are compulsory courses.

I would like to study in another subject area in addition to sociology. What options do I have?

Already within the module offer of the Faculty of Sociology, seminars are offered by lecturers from the fields of Political Science and Social Anthropology. In addition, the programme offers the possibility of studying a module from another faculty (to the extent of one module).

How do I know which modules from other faculties are accepted as part of the sociology degree programme?

A list of studyable modules from other faculties is published on the homepage of the faculty. You can choose a module from this list.

How do I obtain a credit in a module at another faculty?

The regulations of the faculty offering the module are decisive for the performance record in the interdisciplinary module.

How many modules from other faculties can I study?

Officially, you can have a module from another faculty credited to you. But ultimately, no one prevents you from taking further courses at other faculties, as long as there are no restrictions on participation.

What certificates of achievement do I have to provide as part of the Master's degree programme?

In addition to the Master's thesis, the certificates of achievement relevant to the final grade are six term papers (including a teaching research report) that must be written as part of the Master's programme. Writing essays, reviews, statements or articles and giving papers or presenting arguments etc. are integrated into the seminars. For example, at the beginning of a seminar, all students may be required to write an essay, then each student may be given the opportunity to present their own small project in an oral presentation, and then, for example, a term paper may be written at the end.

Aren't six term papers too many in the context of a degree programme?

The writing of written papers with a subject-relevant question developed by oneself in a seminar, independent literature research and the development of one's own theses are among the central qualifications to be acquired in a Master's programme in the social sciences. Practising this form of writing not only serves as an advanced academic qualification, but is also an indispensable competence in all relevant professional fields.

The requirements for the quality of term papers at the Faculty of Sociology in Bielefeld are high. We expect students to concentrate fully on writing two papers in each of the first three semesters. Teachers can thus encourage students to submit first drafts of a term paper, for example, but then to revise it again before the final submission or to make a completely new attempt.

I would like to study abroad for one or two semesters as part of my Master's degree. What special opportunities does Bielefeld offer me for this?

Of course you can have your courses abroad recognised in Bielefeld. The profile programme in particular makes it possible for you to be placed abroad through the contacts of a lecturer and to obtain credits there that are appropriate for your profile. In some profiles, one-semester study abroad can even be recommended.

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