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Meet Dr Sol Gamsu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and programme leader of MSc Sociology.

Tell us about your role within your department: 

I am an assistant professor within the Higher Education and Social Inequality research group. I currently convene two modules in the sociology of education for second year undergraduates and separately another module for masters students. 

What first attracted you to your chosen field of expertise? 

I am motivated by how we overcome educational inequality and making education a tool that can be used for collective transformation of the unequal, crisis-driven world that we live in. 

What is your favourite subject to teach and why? 

My favourite subject to teach is critical pedagogy and studies of alternative ways of organising schools and universities. Education can be part of emancipatory struggles to build a better, more hopeful world and I like exploring how this can be done with students and helping them think critically about what education is and what it can be. 

What can students expect from their first few weeks on your course? 

In the first few weeks of the MSc Sociology, students will be challenged to think differently about how societies are run and organised. Who has power? How are inequalities reproduced and challenged? What tools does sociology give us for understanding inequalities and transforming them? From the beginning of our masters, students will think about these questions and explore cutting edge social theory, sociological methods and research that allow us to face the challenges of global societies in the 21st century. 

What do you think makes your course and department unique? 

The Department of Sociology at Durham is a special place to be. We are unique in having an approach to sociology which links practical and critical social change to sociological academic research. Whether it is on topics of Violence and Abuse, Education and Social Inequality, Communities and Social Justice or Health and Social Theory – as sociologists we are committed to making sociology part of the changing the world around us. That means engaging with policymakers and governments, building and being part of social movements, trades unions and faith groups, working with charities, social enterprises and private businesses: sociology is a tool for changing the world and this is something we are committed to here at Durham. You will also have the opportunity to take a placement module through the degree which will allow you to experience this yourself! 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying your course? 

Jump in! Come and join us! We’re a friendly department of leading sociologists who want to help you develop your knowledge and expertise of sociology. This is about understanding societies in order to change them! Whether you want to work in social or public policy, government, business, charities, prisons, education, health, housing and beyond – sociology will give you insights into how we can build hope and change into the social world around us. Our course is focussed on giving you the opportunity to develop your sociological imagination, knowledge and skills to be able to contribute to the changes you wish to see in society. 

What have your students gone on to do after graduating from Durham? 

Students on our course can use their master’s dissertation as a stepping stone to start exciting graduate careers. One student went to work in housing policy in the civil service, another is now an economic analyst in regional government here in the North-East. Both students used skills and expertise developed over the master’s and in their dissertations to take their next steps in their careers. One interviewed policy-makers, politicians and practitioners in homelessness policy and the other analysed data on employment for graduates from different regions of the UK. The skills and knowledge were really helpful for employment. 

Find out more

  • Dr Sol Gamsu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Associate Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study. Dr Gamsu is the programme director of MSc Sociology.  If you would like to find out more about Sol, visit his profile.
  • If you’d like to share your story or insights into your work, visit our Submit a blog or vlog page to learn more.