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Major in Sociology

Sociology is a social science dealing with the study of social life, social rules and processes, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. The field of interest ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. Sociology offers a rich source of conceptual frameworks into which the most pressing issues of our times can be placed, and a powerful set of methodological tools with which to study them. A focus on sociology as an “applied” discipline emphasizes the “real-world” applicability across society.

About The Program

The primary purpose of the sociology program at Virginia Wesleyan University is to provide con­ crete occasions and intellectual resources that can help students understand the social and cultural dimensions of human behavior. The community- oriented program provides students with the “toolkit” they need and the ability to apply their acquired skills at the next level. The applied, action-oriented nature of the program gives students hands-on experience and exposure to community involvement as well as valuable skills that employers seek. In addition, the program seeks to equip students with the necessary skills that are the foundation for graduate studies not only in sociology, but in a variety of fields such as social work, public health, law, and business.

Major: Sociology (BA)
Minor: Sociology

Program Chair: Thomas S. Liverman J.D., M.A.
College: Birdsong School of Social Science

The sociology major is a strong supporter of the liberal arts and complements the liberal arts curriculum. The department can also model the major around the individual needs and interests of the student. A student majoring in sociology at Virginia Wesleyan is required to complete 40 hours in specified coursework, and 50 hours if choosing to pursue an internship as part of their program.

Students may elect to complement the classroom experience with an internship opportunity supervised by the department. An internship is a practiced, super ­ vised experience in direct student learning in applied social settings in which students learn how sociological knowledge and skill sets can be applied to the work ­ place. Practical and applied learning through student performance in the applied setting gives the student a “competitive edge” for future

The variety of skills that students gain through the sociology program enables students to plug into many roles, such as clinicians (with further study) and researchers who implement the theory in day-to-day life. Students enter a variety of career fields including public administration, education, social work, business, politics, protocol and personnel work. A degree in so­ ciology also enables students to also work in health and human services-related fields or in the criminal justice system. In addition, some graduates seek postgraduate degrees such as law, M.S.W. and M.B.A. degrees.


Course Number And Title

Sem. Hrs.

SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology
SOC 270 Social Problems*
SOC 345 Foundations of Sociology 4
SOC 350 Introduction to Social Research 4
SOC 353 Applied Sociology*
SOC 480 Senior Research Project
SOC 489 Senior Integrated Assessment
SOC 430 Women’s/Gender Studies Seminar
Two additional SOC courses at the 300/400 level 8
Three additional courses at any level, including one or two from the allied course list 12

SOC electives:
SOC 110, 219, 251, 303*, 308*, 311, 336, 351, 430, 460

*Students seeking an applied emphasis should consider taking these courses.

Internship (optional)
SOC 483 Internship Preparation (2 sem. hrs.)
SOC 484 Internship in Sociology (8 sem. hrs.)

Suggested Allied Courses (see advisor):
ENVS 106 Humans, the Environment & Sustainability
GEOG 112 Cultural Geography
GEOG 113 Human Geograph
SW 361 Human Sexuality  
SW 402 Women on the Brink  
HIST 451 History of the Holocaust  

MATH 210 Introductory Statistics
MATH 310 Statistical Models

PHIL 272/372 Beyond the Western Tradition
PHIL 292/392 Alternative Futures

POLS 103 Global Realities
POLS 353 Globalization & its Discontents
PSY 227 Social Psychology  
RELST 116 World Religions  
RELST 140 Religion in American Culture
RELST 250 Religion & Popular Culture
SPAN 210 Hispanic Myths/Rituals
SPAN 265 U.S. Latino Culture
TH 375 Images of Women in Theatre & Film  
Students should consult their advisors and choose allied courses suited to their academic and career interests  
Total without Internship 40
Total with Internship 50


Course Number And Title

Sem. Hrs.

One of the following:
SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology
SOC 270 Social Problems
Two Sociology courses at the 200 level or above 8
Two Sociology courses at the 300/400 level 8
Total 20

Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown

Batten Associate Professor of Criminal Justice/Sociology
Chair of the Social Science Major


Thomas Liverman

Thomas Liverman

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Chair of the Sociology/Criminal
Justice Department


Kathy Stolley

Kathy Stolley

Professor of Sociology


Jeffrey Toussaint

Jeff Toussaint

Assistant Professor of Sociology/Criminal Justice



Dwight Bolling

Adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology

Sandra Ewell

Sandra Ewell

Coordinator of Accreditation, Data Collection, and Reporting



Thomas Lopez

Professor Emeritus, Criminal Justice

Classes at VWU are small and interactive. Some of the courses within the sociology program include: Applied Sociology; Cultural Anthropology; Family; Foundations of Sociology; Medical Sociology; Social Research; Sociology of Religion; Social Problems and Social Solutions; Visual Sociology; and special topics courses such as Animals and Society.

SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology (4) (S)

An introduction to sociology as a behavioral science and way of viewing the world. Students learn basic concepts of sociological investigation and interpretation and critical thinking. They see how individual behavior is shaped by group life and how group life is affected by individuals. They learn to apply a "sociological imagination" to examining social issues. Common sense notions are replaced by a critical analysis of social issues. Offered each semester.

SOC 110 Cultural Anthropology (4) (S)

Study of the nature of culture; comparative analysis of social, religious, economic, and political institutions in specific preliterate and modern cultures; the cultural dimensions of behavior. Offered each fall.

SOC 219 Women in Culture and Society (4) (S)

Students examine conflicting definitions of gender in the contemporary U.S., analyzing general patterns and the impact of gender definitions on their own lives. Differences in the definitions of womanhood and manhood are discussed, along with the variety of women's experiences and perspectives. Ideas about gender are contrasted with the real-life situations of women and men in our society. Emphasizes the opportunities and difficulties that women of differing races and classes encounter in today's society. Identical to WGS 219. Offered each fall.

SOC 227 Social Psychology (4)

Explores our development as socialized human beings is shaped through our interactions with groups of other people and how the structure and function of both the formal and informal groups that exist in a society are shaped by the personalities of the individuals who comprise their membership. Students discover both academically and experientially the nature of such group-related psychological dynamics as attitude formation, interpersonal attraction, social conflict, and bureaucratic organization. Prerequisite: PSY 102, 201, or SOC 100. Identical to PSY 227. Offered each fall.

SOC 251 Issues in Sociology (4) (S)

Examines various topics and issues through the lens and methodology of the sociological perspective. Topics may include animals and society, the sociology of food, aging, gender and sexuality, and adoption and foster care. May be repeated for credit as designated issues change. Offered intermittenly.

SOC 270 Social Problems and Social Solutions (4) (S)

A critical investigation of selected current social problems--their issues, causes, development, and alternative solutions. Offered each spring.

SOC 303 Small Groups (4)

An experiential course in which sociological theories and methods are used to analyze the structure and processes of small social groups. Prerequisite: junior/senior status. Offered each fall.

SOC 308 Visual Sociology (4) (W)

A survey of basic concepts in sociology as they are portrayed in selected motion pictures and music videos. Serves as a systematic application of sociological theory and practice. Prerequisite: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher; any sociology course would be helpful but not required. Offered each semester.

SOC 311 Family (4) (S,W)

Examines the contemporary American family and the history, forms, and functions of families in other times and other cultures is also examined. Special attention is given to the family as a social institution, its relationship with other institutions, forces of social and cultural change, and the future of the family. Prerequisite: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher. Offered each fall.

SOC 319 Feminist and Gender Theory (4) (W)

Examines contemporary arguments about the nature of women and men and the biological, social, and aesthetic categories of male, female, intersex, masculine, feminine, heterosexual, homosexual, and transgendered. Gender issues are studied in relation to historical and cross-cultural contexts, in relation to Western women's movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, and in relation to local and global issues affected by the politics of gender. Prerequisites: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher; WGS/SOC 219, WGS 220, or ENG 311 (formerly ENG/TH 311); or consent. Identical to ENG 319 and WGS 319. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

SOC 336 Sociology of Religion (4) (V)

Examines the origin and development of religion as a social institution: theories concerning its nature and function; sociocultural dimensions of religious beliefs, values, and conduct; contemporary denominations, sects, and cults in the United States; the relationship between religion and other social institutions. Identical to RELST 336. Offered intermittently.

SOC 345 Foundations of Sociology (4)

An examination of major theorists, and perspectives contributing to the sociological tradition; historic and current issues regarding sociology and its relationship to other academic disciplines. A foundation course required of all majors. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or 188. Offered each spring.

SOC 350 Introduction to Social Research (4)

An examination of the logic, the strategies and the methods of sociological inquiry; an analysis of classical and contemporary models of research. A foundation course required for sociology majors. Identical to CJ 350. Prerequisite: junior/senior status. Offered each semester.

SOC 351 Medical Sociology (4) (S)

Designed to provide students an introduction to sociological perspectives on the study of health, illness, and health care. Topics include epidemiology, the structures and organization of health care systems and medical encounters, bioethical issues, and current issues shaping the future of health, illness, and health care. Offered intermittently.

SOC 353 Applied Sociology (4)

Focus is on engaging the sociological imagination and the sociological toolkit to address real-life questions and problems. These tools are used to identify, examine, and seek solutions for various social issues. Attention is given to careers in applied sociology. Includes a service-learning component. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered each spring.

SOC 400 Topics in Criminal Justice and Sociology (4)

An advanced seminar addressing announced topics in criminal justice and sociology. Topics may include victimology, administration of justice, criminalistics, sociology of terrorism, community systems, war, peace and conflict, sociology of environment, consumerism, child welfare, and more. May be repeated for credit as designated topics change. Prerequisite: consent. Identical to CJ 400. Offered as topics become available.

SOC 430 Women's/Gender Studies Seminar (4) (I)

An examination of current issues pertinent to women and gender. Students will be exposed to a variety of feminist, gender, and cultural theories. Topics vary from semester to semester. Recent topics include "Violence, Non-Violence, and the Body," "Gender Trouble," and the "The Female Athlete." Prerequisites: WGS 219 or WGS 319 and junior or senior status or consent. Identical to WGS 430. May be repeated for credit as topics change. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

SOC 460 Readings in Sociology (2-4)

Students select a topic concerning sociological theory or research, survey the relevant literature, and discuss their findings with their major professor. (Two or four semester hours depending on the scope of the project.) May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: prior consent of the project advisor. Offered each semester.

SOC 480 Senior Research Project (4) (W)

Students conduct a sociological research project of their own design, present the results in appropriate written form, and defend the effort in an oral examination. Research problems may focus on theoretical or empirical topics. Relevant methods may range from bibliographic search to field observation. Prerequisites: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher, SOC 350, junior/senior status, and prior approval of a written proposal. Committee defense optional. Offered each spring.

SOC 483 Internship Preparation (2)

Designed for students intending to participate in an internship for sociology or criminal justice credit. The process of selecting an internship site, completing applications and forms, and understanding the requirements set forth by the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice can be overwhelming. Lectures and scenario training provide students with practical information that should be beneficial to students who desire an internship in sociology or criminal justice. Prerequisite: consent of internship director. Offered each fall.

SOC 484 Internship in Criminal Justice and Sociology (8)

Practiced, supervised experience in direct student learning in applied social settings. Students learn how acquired knowledge and research writing skills can be applied to the workplace. Practical and applied learning through student performance in the applied setting gives the student a "competitive edge" for future community/workplace contribution. Prerequisites: 18 hours of sociology or criminal justice, and CJ 483 or SOC 483. Students must contact the department faculty to review full eligibility for this course. Identical to CJ 484. Offered each spring.

SOC 485 Seminar (1-3)

Advanced seminars on various announced topics and issues such as: social conflict, sport and leisure, popular culture, etc. The credit hour value of the course (1 or 3) will be pre-determined by the department and professor of record depending upon the topic being offered, and all students enrolled in each section of the course will earn the same credit hour(s). May be repeated for credit as designated topics change. Prerequisite: any 200-level sociology or criminal justice course or consent. Offered intermittenly.

SOC 489 Senior Integrated Assessment (4) (I)

Students assess and analyze the connectedness of their academic learning in light of their future goals. Contemporary topics take a holistic and systematic perspective focusing on a variety of issues such as justice, ethics, and community needs. Prerequisite: junior/senior status. Juniors need consent from the instructor. Identical to CJ 489. Offered each fall.