Department of Sociology

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The Department of Sociology Blog

  • I am currently in my third and final year at university, studying Criminology. It has definitely been challenging, but it has made me the person that I am today. Attending the University of Surrey has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have many highlights of my overall experience, however, a favourite one that stands out the most was the day I moved into my university accommodation in my first year – that feeling of excitement, as well as feeling nervous! Unpacking all my belongings and then running upstairs to meet all my new house mates and helping them to unpack too! My first night out at university was definitely one to remember! Spending the evening with my new friends, cooking dinner together and then getting ready for our very first night out to see ‘Scouting for Girls’! It was amazing and a night I will always remember. We strolled back to our accommodation at 3am and ordered a massive pizza to share! University has definitely changed me as a person as before I came here, I was a really quiet, shy girl who had no confidence at all. However, 3 years on, I am much more confident and have learned to stay positive in life. Being at university has also taught me various life skills as this was the first time I lived alone, independently.

    Being at university has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do. I have undertaken various presentations throughout my time at university, which is something I would never have even thought about when I first started. The continuous support from staff has been amazing, they always encourage you to do your best. I threw myself straight in the deep end and presented in front of my class. Since that day, I have been able to go out and apply for jobs. Despite being petrified of attending an interview – I thought if I can do a presentation, I can certainly do an interview! Before I came to university, I was scared of getting things wrong, however, throughout my time here, I have realised that it is ok to make mistakes since that is how we all learn. It is ok to email a member of staff if you are struggling and it is certainly ok to put your hand up during class if you don’t understand something. You need people around you to point out your mistakes, so you can make yourself a better person by correcting them. I have become very responsible whilst I have been at university, managing my own time better and ensuring that I get everything done I need to do.

    My friendship group has changed too. I still have my friends from back home, but here at university, I have made friends for life! We all face the same challenges each and every day, such as coursework deadlines, revision for exams etc. but we have created this bond to motivate one another, which encourages you to do your best. During my second year and especially my third year now, the nights out that you go on feel so much more rewarding! I go out much less now due to writing up my essays and revising for my exams, but there is nothing better than completing a huge part of your essay and then celebrating your hard work on a night out with friends!

    University has definitely been worthwhile. You learn something new each day and you will grow in confidence and meet people who will be your friends for life! My time at the University of Surrey has been amazing! All the staff here offer you so much support and help you to achieve great things! When I graduate, I am hoping to join the Police Force. I will definitely be coming back to talk about my new career and how my degree helped me learn so many new things. My dream job is to become a Probation Officer. When I found out I was going to be studying the module ‘Prisons and Prisoners’ during my final year I was so excited, as I realised the new information I was going to learn on this module would benefit my future knowledge when applying to be a Probation Officer! Within this module, I have been able to understand the experience prisoners go through and the variety of needs each individual has and contemplating different methods in order to make prisons work and for these institutions to become more beneficial to prisoners in order to prepare them for the outside world. This module has definitely been my favourite along with studying Forensic Science in my first year and having a mock crime scene set up for us. We put on our forensic suits and gathered evidence in order to establish the cause of what had happened! Within my degree, I have learnt many things that open a wide range of jobs that I could apply for. I have a variety of skills that I have adapted throughout university which has made my career path a lot more flexible!

    I am feeling quite anxious, but also excited, about graduation day. Being able to stand up in front of my parents with all my friends, holding my certificate and knowing that the overall mark that I gained, is something that I have worked so hard for. I will be sad to graduate from University, as I have met so many amazing people and it has been the greatest experience of my life and one I will never ever forget. I have some very important advice for students who are thinking about university….’AIM HIGH AND ACHIEVE BIG!’ Take each day at a time, work hard, party hard and remember, if you need any help/support don’t be afraid to ask!

  • When I first started studying Sociology, I promised myself that I will use my knowledge to help my community and improve the lives of Turkish speaking Cypriots. This year, as part of my professional training placement, I have had the chance to work with the longest running environmental NGO in the Turkish speaking Cypriot community, Cyprus Green Action Group (CGAG), which was established in 1988. Its aim is to increase environmental awareness and harmony. CGAG has participated in many projects, such as recycling and wildlife projects, as well as undertaking short film contests, cultural festivals, and producing reports on energy, environment and infrastructure.

    I am a part of a team that has designed the first ever questionnaire on environmental awareness and recycling in Cyprus. It has been a unique and exciting experience, which has helped me to put my knowledge about social research, developed during the first two years of my Sociology degree, to good use. Although it was a challenge at first, because of the lack of previous studies in this cultural context, I have contributed significantly to the project and have received very positive feedback. Because of this, I am more confident in researching social phenomena and I am happy that I chose the University of Surrey, a university which has given me the exceptional advantage of learning how to do research and also the wonderful opportunity of taking a professional training placement year. I wouldn’t feel that my education had been as fulfilling, if I had chosen another university.

    It is not just research that I am carrying out with CGAG. I also contribute to recycling projects, short film contests, festivals and other environmental and cultural activities that I have known about and followed before. I have been interviewed and interviewed others on national television and had meetings with mayors and government officials. As a result of my education at the University of Surrey, I feel more confident to go out and try to help people as much as I can.

    Through one of the CGAG projects that I have worked on, ‘Cans of Hope’, which is funded by the EU, I am in contact with EU officials on the island, as well as Greek speaking Cypriot Civil Society Organisations. It is one of my career goals to work on bi-communal projects to improve living standards and encourage sustainable development in areas previously in conflict. This year, whilst on my placement, I have started my career in this respect and I want to continue to improve my knowledge and contribute more to sustainable development and peace on my island.

    I am confident that my professional training placement year has given me very relevant practical experience which has, combined with the knowledge I have gained so far on my Sociology degree at Surrey, given me the right combination of skills to develop my career in sustainable development in the future. The fact that the University of Surrey allows and encourages their students to go out and practice what they have learned is an outstanding opportunity for any student who wishes to become successful and lead in their chosen field.

  • By Karen Bullock

    Together with my colleague, Paul Johnson from the University of York, I have recently been conducting research on the role that faith based organisations (FBOs) play in policing. We have been looking at how the British police seek to co-produce forms of crime control with FBOs. One facet of this research has looked at how faith groups may deliver policing relevant interventions on behalf of police services. At the present time there has been interest in this form of coproduction. This interest stems from wider debates about the role of civil society in the delivery of public services and from the long held belief that working with communities will promote police responsiveness, increase police legitimacy, and more effectively control crime. However, the extent to which officers identify, engage with, and motivate FBOs to deliver interventions aimed at controlling crime is far from clear.


    With this in mind, our research sought to unpick how officers understand work with FBOs, the mechanisms which exist to facilitate such interaction between FBOs and officers, the extent to which the wider police family engages with issues relating to faith and the perceived benefits and challenges of working with FBOs. To examine this we conducted interviews with officers and police staff in three English constabularies. We found that police officers support a degree involvement of FBOs in policing. FBOs were seen to share values which accord with public service, were thought to be well positioned to mobilise community resources and were thought able to deliver services in ways that reduce demands on constabularies. Participants gave examples of FBOs working with officers to implement projects and programmes that sought to improve community safety. However, we found problems as well. Much more critical attention needs to be placed on the assumption that FBOs are well placed to work with the police to increase the security of communities and citizens. Our research suggested that FBOs may be less willing and less well positioned to work with the police than is sometimes assumed. For instance, FBOs are different sizes, have different degrees of internal stability, have different outlooks on their role in the community and are more or less competent to deliver police relevant interventions. The consequence is that they may lack the technical expertise and capacity to work with the police and/or be more or less willing to do so. In addition, whilst FBOs may be thought to offer an important way of delivering services which reduce demands on constabularies, something viewed as especially important at a time of state retrenchment, it may well be that the reverse is actually true. We found that working with FBOs places demands on the time of officers. From identifying suitable FBOs, to motivating them to participate, to sharing information, to making joint decisions about the delivery of interventions, to managing or coordinating service delivery, FBOs need to be supported by police organisations if they are to deliver police relevant interventions. Incorporating FBOs into police work does not remove officer responsibility for the delivery of policing but merely alters the nature of officer responsibility. Lastly, orienting officers towards new ways of working will be challenging. There is now a long history of failed attempts to promote citizen participation in police work. Our research suggests that it will continue to be difficult, not least because of officer attachment to conventional modes of crime control, the organizational configuration of constabularies, and the considerable investment required to equip officers with the necessary skills. Taken together, this research indicated that the role of FBOs was seen to be valuable but that it should not be taken for granted.


    To read more see the article recently published by the British Journal of Criminology

    Karen Bullock and Paul Johnson, Faith in Policing: The Co-production of Crime Control in Britain British Journal of Criminology azw080 first published online October 21, 2016 doi:10.1093/bjc/azw080


    Please note: Blog entries reflect the personal views of contributors and are not moderated or edited before publication. However, we may make subsequent amendments to correct errors or inaccuracies.

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