When I received my letter saying I had got my place at York, the realisation of moving away from home hit me like a truck and I suddenly became very nervous about this new stage of my life. However, the one part of the University which helped the transition was the Sociology department.
From the Open Days alone, I found that the department at York was a much more friendly and welcoming place with lecturers constantly around to help whenever you need it, which I didn’t find at other universities.
When I arrived, the Department put on welcome afternoons and welcome talks. I was introduced to my supervisor during Freshers’ Week, which allowed all my worries about coming to university and what to expect to be put at ease quickly. The lecturers are all very understanding if you are late to lectures for the first couple of weeks: it’s a big campus and we all got lost – they are used to this so don’t panic!
The best thing about the Department is the flexibility Sociology gives you: you really can shape your degree to your preferences. The Department has lots of different routes, for example, straight Sociology, Sociology with Social Psychology, or Sociology/Education. I think what makes York’s sociology department so unique is the versatility of the courses, and how flexible they can be around what you want to gain.
Lots of modules
The Department is forward-thinking and unique in its teaching and up-to-date with contemporary issues. The Department has loads of module choice as you progress through the years, and large range of research topics to pick from. You have free rein to shape your degree to your strengths and avoid your weaker areas, which is obviously a huge advantage. I found coming into second year I was very happy to avoid topics which I had gotten a taster of in first year that just were not for me. Instead, I picked topics I had discovered I was fascinated by.
One of the most memorable lectures I have had this year was in my pop culture module – it was a lecture on memes. This was a phenomenon which took social media by storm and although you would think ‘how could you possible make a meme sociologically conceptual’, it was! I was fascinated for the full hour and Dave Beer did a brilliant job showing us all how little things on social media are the new sociological issues.
The Department constantly informs us of opportunities around the University, like careers fairs with employers on campus and talks by famous lecturers. The Department also offers summer internships. It’s a real advantage to us students because they’re beneficial for our CVs and help us to gain employability skills – not to mention they are usually paid, which as all students are aware is a very big incentive when it comes to surviving at university!
The Department now also offer the opportunity of placement years as well. You can take a year out of your degree to work with a company, which is really good for those who would like to gain experience in the workplace. Along with the placement year, the Department also offers the opportunity to study abroad. This could be for a full year or just for a term and the Department has connections all over the world. The Department is really helpful in offering us opportunities which would not be possible at other universities.
It’s all about the people
One of the things I had wished I had known before coming to University is the sheer size of the Department of Sociology and all the people who are there to help you through it! I didn’t realise we would have our own liaison librarian (Tony) who deals with all library enquiries. So if you ever need to help library-wise, with books or referencing, Tony is the man to find! Also, there is a Sociology reception with people there if you ever get stuck or need to re-arrange your timetable. They’re all there to help make the University experience easier.
Before I arrived, I thought it would be very hierarchical – that the lecturers would not have time to discuss one off questions, being far too busy doing research and being really smart. However all of the lecturers have proven me very wrong – they are always there to help with questions and love to clear up any confusion, because, like they religiously tell me, ‘We are all here to help, we know how hard it can be sometimes, we have all been where you are now so don’t feel worried to come and see us’.
The Department is super-friendly and the lecturers are far from the scary intelligent aliens we picture them being before arriving at university. If you come to York to study Sociology you are in for an amazingly versatile course with a huge support network backing you to succeed for the next three years!