Introducing Sociology (and the now SO-PSYCHED! Newsletter)

To start with, the Sociology Team thanks Psychology for such a warm welcome to the new Psychology and Sociology Subject Group.
In the past, Sociology and Psychology were the two original founding subjects that formed the Social Sciences part of the School of Education and Social Sciences from the late 1970s. The Social Sciences in the intervening years, up to and around 2015, saw it expanding to include new disciplines/programmes (e.g. Criminology, and Politics), attract more students, and closely align with the UON’s Strategic Plans of Raising the Bar, and then/now Transforming Lives + Inspiring Change.
From 2015, the Social Sciences organisation and provision was broken up, with Sociology and Psychology (along with all UON programmes) conducting review and revision of all programmes before moving to the new Waterside campus, which saw the creation of new faculties, where Sociology and Psychology found its new home in the Faculty of Health, Education and Society (FHES) – whilst the other subjects moved to different faculties. Sociology and Psychology however were not initially grouped together, instead Sociology was moved between three other subject groupings within FHES before rejoining with Psychology again in September 2021.
Sociology rejoins a strong, already well-established, diverse portfolio of integrated foundation year (IFY), undergraduate (UG), and postgraduate (PG) Psychology programmes, as well as doctoral (PhD) supervision, (under the auspices of the University’s Graduate School). Although much smaller than Psychology – with only an IFY and UG programme currently – Sociology punches above its weight when it comes to student satisfaction and is already making a welcome and substantial contribution.
First of all, the UG sociology programme needs celebrating: The UON UG BA SH Sociology has a focus on individual and socio-cultural change/futures/death as one of its subject strands – along with self/identity, socioeconomic/social class in/equality and in/justice, gender/feminism and sex/love/body (within/as well as other sociological substantive areas such as education, media, crime, social geography and the environment, intersectionality, race, health and wellbeing), – with a public sociological ethos that aligns with the UON as a Changemaker campus. We receive consistently excellent External Examiner feedback, who this year was: ‘impressed by the range of assessments and the quality of marking and feedback’. This year we also secured our highest ever National Student Survey (NSS) results, performing the best out of the entire UON portfolio.
Secondly, the Sociology Team needs celebrating: Dr. Federico Farini was made full Professor as well as Leader for the Centre for Psychological and Sociological Sciences in 2022 for his success in terms of income generation, academic research and publications – including the completion of The Horizon 2020 Project Child-UP, which investigated the level of integration of migrant children in Europe and their social condition – where he now leads the subject group as its research lead and represents sociology in terms of research and external media appearances – recently appearing on a podcast titled: Tom Meets Interesting People: E08: Spaces, History and Love Island. Dr. Siobhan Dytham continues to successfully produce high quality research publications, focused on education and research methodology – last year securing a Learning Enhancement and Innovation Bid, focusing on BAME attainment, particularly looking at the barriers and challenges for staff in adopting and actioning best practice, which she incorporates into her teaching; Dr. Onur Acaroglu’s focus is on Marxist Social Theory, Social change and Utopianism, recently appearing on the Post-Capitalist Podcast titled Utopianism, Self-care, and Escaping “Groundhog Day”, which he incorporates into our social change and futures modules; Jo Downton has successfully completed her training to become a Death Doula, which she incorporates into our sociology of death module; James White has started a PhD at UON, focused on Astrosociology and the Sociology of the Future, looking into a sociological examination of the NewSpace Race; we also welcome two new staff members with us
this academic year, Grant Coates and Carl Mallett, who will be adding value to the sociology programme going forward.
Together, UON Sociology were included in the Research Excellent Framework (REF) for the first time this year, where 29% of outputs were rated ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) – which was a remarkable achievement. Thirdly, the Sociology students need celebrating: all of our students deserve recognition, and from this academic year onwards we will start to formally do just that, with specific awards for certain student achievements similar to Psychology. I would like to make special note to Emma Cowley, who just graduated in 2022 having never secured a grade below an A-, with most as As, and 4 A+s. Emma is officially our highest achieving student of all time and we have no doubt that she will go on to do great things – please read Emma’s s story, along with other sociology student stories on our website.
In terms of the future, UON Sociology has lots of prospects to grow and become even stronger. Our student numbers are increasing, and sociology as a subject generally seems to again to be gaining in popularity and interested students. Please follow us via our new Instagram account (sociology_uon) to keep track of what we do and our successes and to connect with our UON sociology community virtually – including our past, present and future staff and students and social impact they have on the community around them.

Glenn Hitchman

Glenn Hitchmann Subject Leader Psychology & Sociology

James White

James White Deputy Subject Leader Sociology

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