© Anu Korhonen

Sociology is a wide-ranging discipline of social science, which investigates the structure of society and the diversity of social activity in theory and practice. Sociology evolves alongside society, with its focus areas ranging from globalisation and societal structures to cultural practices and customs as well as intimate social relationships.

Sociology is one of the largest disciplines in the Faculty of Social Sciences, conducting diverse and topical research which is reflected in the teaching provided.

Graduates in sociology are experts capable of independently acquiring and analysing information on societal phenomena, as well as processing and utilising it in a range of duties. Sociology also trains students to apply critical thinking and challenge social truisms.


Demography is a fundamental social science that investigates change in the population, including births, deaths, immigration, emigration, marriages and common-law relationships as well as divorces. While these phenomena concern individuals and families, they also broadly affect societal structures on the population level. At the University of Helsinki, special emphasis is given to research topics in social demography, such as inequality associated with mortality and causes of death, education, social mobility, relationships between couples, and differences in wellbeing among population groups. At the University of Helsinki, demography is located at the Faculty of Social Sciences in the Master’s Programme in Social Research and the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences.

What is sociology?

Characteristic of sociology is the ambition to both understand society in general and examine it from the perspective of countless special fields and viewpoints. The topics of research in sociology include the structure of society and related changes, culture, globalisation, social movement and participation, immigration and migration, urban life, use of media and technology, gender and sexuality, science policy, inequality, dependencies, health and illness, work and unemployment, childhood, youth and ageing, institutions, organisations and communities, interaction, social networks and people’s values and modes of speech.

A sociological outlook makes it possible to challenge everyday assumptions and consciously distance yourself from notions that are considered self-evident. Sociology has solid critical potential due to the fact that the perspectives employed in the discipline and its research findings delve under the surface of conventional reasoning, expose underlying problems and make visible new alternatives. For the same reasons, sociological knowledge is essential for demanding societal decision-making and planning.

In the field of sociology, there are continuously ongoing research projects in various areas, many of which are conducted in collaboration with other fields and universities.

The current focus areas in research include the following:

  • Addictions and compulsive gambling
  • Urban areas and neighbourhoods
  • Culture and globalisation
  • Childhood, youth and ageing
  • Immigration and migration
  • Political activity and participation
  • Gender, class and inequality
  • Health differences
  • Science and technology
  • Work and unemployment
  • Interaction
  • Social theory

Discipline coordinator: Professor Eeva Luhtakallio



For more information about research and grant-funded researchers, see the University of Helsinki research portal.

More research projects involving the discipline are listed in the research portal

The discipline of sociology explores a wide range of social phenomena, which enables it to offer a broad-based study programme to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students. In addition to Finnish- and Swedish-language programmes, the discipline is also involved in the English-language Master’s Programme in Contemporary Societies. Students can also complete studies in the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning as well as in the Study Track in Demography.

Our programmes provide the knowledge and skills needed to work in planning, administration and statistics, as teachers in adult education, and as journalists and other communications specialists. Many sociologists also work as researchers or experts in support of decision-making.

Degree programmes that offer teaching in sociology

​​​​​​​Postal and street address for sociology

PO Box 18 (Unioninkatu 35)
00014 University of Helsinki

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