What is the difference between general, major, minor and honours degrees?

A general degree is one that ensures a student has completed 60 hours of university-level courses and met the other associated criteria to get a degree. General degrees do not have a specific area of focus. A major degree (say in Sociology) ensures that the student has completed a broad and intensive analysis of the discipline. Each major degree requires that students complete a number of required (often called “core”) courses (i.e., in SOCI you need to complete 10 required courses to complete a major degree). A minor degree (must be completed with a major degree in another department/discipline) is where a student has completed enough courses in another area to qualify and be granted a minor (e.g., you could get a major degree in GEOG but want to get a minor in SOCI that requires you to complete SOCI 100A, 100B, 210, 211 plus 9.0 units in SOCI in courses number 300 and above). See:

An honours degree requires completion of all the courses in the major but also requires students to apply for the program (usually close to the end of their 3rd year) and complete a year-long seminar course (for 3.0 credits) culminating in an undergraduate honours thesis. The honours degree is seen as the gold standard of an undergraduate program and is excellent training for those considering going on to a Master’s or Doctoral program (note, the term “Doctoral” does not mean becoming a medical doctor but rather someone completing a Ph.D. which stands for “Doctor of Philosophy” where “philosophy” does not refer only to philosophers but economists, sociologists, etc.). See:

What are electives vs. core courses?

Electives are those courses that you take for interest in any given area (e.g., you take some courses in Anthropology and Gender Studies) which will count towards your degree in sociology. For example, in sociology, of the 60 units required for our degree, over 60% are for electives and around 40% for core (i.e., required) courses.

Further, elective courses really help you expand your understanding of sociology. One sociology student wrote “I'm addition to sociology courses I highly recommend taking gender studies courses! They zoom in on minority issues and relevant events and look at social problems in an individual and global way that compliments sociology. I have definitely used readings from a sociology to further my understanding of concepts and help me write papers for a gender studies class and vice versa! Lots of students like to pair social justice classes with sociology as well.”


How do the expectations of students change from 1st to 4th year?

Your first year is really about settling in to university and figuring out “the system” – i.e., what the profs are looking for in your exams/assignments. Generally, first and second year classes are large so the amount of writing (and therefore professor’s/TA’s grading) varies and influences what you are required to do. First year classes often have multiple-choice exams but as you progress through each year, you will generally see fewer of these types of exams and more short-answer/essay exams as well as more term-papers/presentations, etc., in more senior classes (i.e., those numbered 300+). Again, as a rule, as classes get smaller (and course numbers, higher) the more your professors are going to expect. 

Is taking SOCI 100A/B important?

We think so :)

One student recently wrote “Sociology 100A and 100B are so important because you learn so many foundational theories, terms, and concepts that get built on for your entire degree! If you don’t succeed in these intro courses it will be extremely challenging to excel in upper level courses! Working hard at these foundational courses is also important in case you decide you to do an honours degree, for which you need a high GPA. You may not think you're interested in writing a thesis and doing an honours degree, and I felt that way too, but then I found a topic that I'm really passionate about in sociology that I want to work with further, and an honours degree is a great way to test that sort of topic out before taking it to graduate school!”

SOCI 100A/B are required courses for all sociology degrees.

What is a co-op degree?

A co-op degree is where you can work for an employer for two semesters (with pay) while getting your degree. The two semesters are on top of the usual time it takes to get a degree (i.e., 4 years) but gives students first-hand employment experience in their area of interest.


Why should a student consider joining BOSS (Bureau of Sociology Students)?

BOSS is the department’s undergraduate students association and brings together students who are interested in sociology and contemporary social issues. The group is a wonderful resource in that they have office space in Cornett, they have regular meetings, share information about classes/professors as well as undertake various initiatives to help local communities.

Joining BOSS offers an amazing opportunity to connect with other students who are either currently taking the same courses you are, or they have already completed them. Even if you aren't sure what you want to major in joining the course union of a program helps you find out what the degree for that major looks like by getting to know older students who are closer to graduating and what their experiences have been.

One current BOSS member writes, “I wish I had known about the Sociology course union sooner! I knew when I applied to UVic that I wanted to go into sociology but I didn't know anyone else who was majoring in it. When I joined BOSS at the beginning of my second semester in first year I made friends in the sociology department quickly and gained a lot of older student mentors who had lots of guidance and information regarding the degree, resources for writing papers and getting help, and many of them offered to study with me or to proofread my papers. Joining a course union gives a group of people to center yourself around and gives you a sense of community that is really hard to find in first year university.”

See: and visit their Facebook group page at: 

What jobs can you get with a sociology degree?

Great question. Take a look at:

To be honest, you may not see a lot of jobs requiring a degree in sociology, but, you will see jobs requiring a university degree in the social sciences (which includes sociology). A degree in sociology confirms to possible employers that you understand contemporary society, social issues and have training in research methods, statistics, theory, etc.

Why do students need to declare their major after 1st year?

Declaring your program is important for tracking your progress through your degree (e.g., once you have declared your program you can run your CAPP report (through your MyPage at UVic) that shows you what courses you need to graduate. While declaring your major sound onerous, it isn’t, you can do it online and you can change it when/if your interests change. But, safe to say that declaring early and monitoring your progress through the CAPP reports helps ensure your 4 year degree, takes 4 years and not 6. 


What type of students take sociology?

Generally, if you are interested in contemporary social issues (e.g., social inequality, gender, racism, environmentalism, better understanding the social forces that have influenced the person you have become) you are probably going to be interested in taking sociology. You will find that a lot of the courses in sociology seem to always point out what is wrong with society but as you progress you will understand that this is intentional, generally, sociologists believe that we need to understand what is wrong with contemporary society if we have any chance of changing it for the better. 

What is plagiarism and why is it such a "big deal" at university?

Plagiarism is taking the ideas and works of someone else and presenting them as your own. Universities take plagiarism very, very seriously. Universities are built upon the ideals of honesty and the free investigation of the world around us. Using the work of others without recognition cannot be tolerated. 


What things make some students more successful at university than others?

There are many things that help/hinder your success at university. You will learn pretty quickly that success at university is often less about how smart you are than whether or not you know how to work “smart”.  Working smart means that you do everything you can to stay organized and complete your assignments on time, study for your exams, and generally, take university seriously. This does not mean that you can’t go out, hit the pub after/during/instead of the odd class, but it does mean that there are few “do-overs” at university. If you fail an exam because you were not prepared, you wrote a term paper the night before it was due, etc., are with you forever. Profs have very little patience for students who do not take their studies seriously. 

How much studying is "really" required at university?

Depends. Some people “get” different topics/courses easier than others do. As a rule, think that you should spend, on average, 10-15 hours per week (not counting going to class) studying/preparing assignments. Realize that this is an average – there will be times (like the first 3 weeks of classes) when you won’t need to spend that much time studying, but, what new students need to realize is that once exams start and assignments need to be written, online exercises completed, everything starts to speed up. By the end of the semester, many students can’t find the time to adequately prepare for midterms or complete their assignments to the best of their abilities. 

Should you meet your Professors?

Why not? Your profs are people too and the more effort you put in to meeting them (during office hours) the more likely they are to get to know you and the better you will feel about asking them questions. While some profs may seem intimidating in a large first or second year class, you should force yourself to stop by their office at least once during the semester.

Should you meet your Teaching Assistant?

Yes. Largely is the same argument as the value of meeting the prof. The added bonus when meeting your TA is that they are generally younger than the prof and you more likely have things in comment. You have to remember that TAs are students too – they have “been there and done that” and can be a great source of information about the class, the course content and what is required to do well. Why not go and meet them?