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Course Learning Outcomes

This course has three main objectives to guide your study of sociology.

  1. Understand Social Forces: Enhance your understanding of how social forces influence your everyday life. The course is designed to help you have greater insights into why individuals, groups, and organizations behave as they do.
  2. Overview of Sociology: Expose you to an overview of several substantive areas in sociology such as the family, crime, religion, education, and social class.
  3. Critical Thinking and Writing: Further develop your critical thinking ability and your writing skills. The written assignments will foster analytic thinking and strengthen writing skills.

Course Materials

You will need to purchase this textbook: John J. Macionis, Sociology,15th edition, New Jersey: Pearson, 2013.

Macionis’s Sociology is one of the leading texts in the field. The text offers a good introduction to sociology. It covers most of the foundational ideas of the discipline and is clearly written with many illustrations and examples.

At the end of each chapter is a “Making the Grade” section. It includes a summary of the material in the chapter and defines key concepts. This section really will help you make sure you understand the material.

At the end of the book are sample test questions. These are very valuable in helping prepare you for the exams in the class.

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Course Structure

The first requirement of the class is to read and understand the syllabus. I am willing to answer questions that you may have about the class, but make sure you carefully refer to the information in the syllabus and online course material before you ask any questions. These tools will answer most of your questions concerning the course.

The next requirement is to read the text. Each lesson will tell you which part of the textbook you should read. You should read the required text before moving on in the lesson. Since you are not attending class and listening to lectures from a professor, it is absolutely necessary that you carefully read the text so that you understand the material. In addition, many of the multiple-choice questions contained in the examinations were prepared by Professor Macionis, the author of the text, and represent material presented in it.

Next, you are required to read the supplemental course material written by me. This material may overlap a little with the text on some important points, but it will also provide new information. The purpose of the supplemental material is to introduce you to important material that is missing or not fully discussed in the text, to reinforce important ideas, and, most importantly, to allow us to go a little more in-depth and to understand how the concepts in the text relate to your life. The material takes the place of the in-class instruction in a traditional course. Some chapters have much more supplemental material than others. It is important to note that just because a topic is not discussed in the course materials does not mean that is not important. It only means that I have nothing to add on the topic. You will be responsible to know the information in the textbook, whether or not it is also discussed in the manual.

This is a college-level course and will require a reasonable level of reading and effort. I encourage you to work on this course at a fairly steady pace. The work will go easier if you regularly submit assignments. It is best not to try to do a semester’s work in two or three weeks.


You will complete both computer-graded and written assignments during the course. You will submit all your written assignments electronically.

Short Writing Assignments

There will be six short writing assignments in the course. Each of these assignments will be one page, double spaced. They will give you a chance to apply the things you have learned to real world experiences. These assignments can be turned in anytime, but it is suggested that they be completed when they are presented in the course.

Note: See the individual instruction pages for the details of each assignment.

Individual Problem or a Social Issue 1

This assignment will require you to identify a problem in society today (crime, obesity, poverty, etc.) and look at explanations of the problem from an individual and societal viewpoint. This assignment will help you learn to apply the sociological perspective.

Newspaper Analysis 1

This assignment will require you to read a newspaper article, either in print or online. You will write a short paragraph summarizing the article and then analyze the article using one of the three main theories used in sociology. This paper will help you solidify your understanding of sociological theory and see how it applies to the real world.

Break a Norm

In this assignment, you will be asked to break some sort of societal norm, such as standing the wrong direction in a crowded elevator, and write a one page paper about your experience. This paper will help you learn about the power of norms in our society. 


For this assignment, you will be required, sometime during the semester, to volunteer in your community for at least 2 hours. You will then write about your experience and how it relates to this class. This paper will help you see that you can make a difference in society and will help you apply the concepts from the class to the real world.

Newspaper Analysis 2

This assignment will be similar to Newspaper Analysis 1, but you will be looking specifically at an article that deals with some type of deviance. You will then analyze the article using a theory of deviance. 

Individual Problem or a Social Issue 2

This assignment will be identical to Individual Problem or a Social Issue 1. You will choose a different issue and explain it using an individual and a societal explanation. Ideally, you should see an improvement in your ability to see the world through the sociological perspective.

Research Paper

Your critical thinking and writing will be strengthened by a 3–5 page research paper. You will select a topic that you are interested in, that relates to sociology, and will research that topic using academic journals as well as other sources. Please don’t write a superficial description of a broad topic. Rather, explore in more detail a narrow focus. Your paper should contain information or ideas of which your parents, roommates, and children are unaware.

An overview of the entire project, as well as in-depth instructions for the outline, is presented in the Research Paper Outline instructions. The research paper will be written and submitted in three parts:

  1. Topic and Outline: Submit a description of the topic that you have selected and a short outline of your paper (by the end of lesson 12). I will review your outline and give you advice about how to proceed to writing a rough draft.
  2. Rough Draft: Submit the rough draft of your paper (by the end of lesson 16). I will read it, edit it, and give you some suggestions for your final draft.
  3. Final Draft: Submit the finished draft of your research paper (by the end of lesson 19). Hopefully, you will utilize my suggestions to prepare your final draft of the research paper.

Be sure to do your best work on each part of the research paper assignment. All three parts will be graded.

Make sure that you do not procrastinate in turning in your outline and rough draft. Give yourself time to get them turned in, for me to provide feedback, and for you to apply that feedback for your final draft.

Note: You will not be able to submit the next part of the paper until you have my feedback on the previous part. You will also not be able to request your final exam until you have turned in the final draft of your research paper.

Review Quizzes

There will be four quizzes in the class. These quizzes follow lessons 6, 10, 15, and 21 and will help assess your retention and comprehension of the material covered in the class.

  1. Quiz 1 covers lessons 1–6.
  2. Quiz 2 covers lessons 7–10.
  3. Quiz 3 covers lessons 11–15.
  4. Quiz 4 covers lessons 16–21.

These quizzes will use questions very similar to the type of questions you will see on your exams, so use them to help prepare and make sure you have an appropriate understanding of the material. The questions on the quizzes will cover the material that you have read in the textbook and lessons.

Each quiz consists of 10 multiple-choice questions. The quizzes will be taken online. Upon completion of the quiz, the computer will immediately generate your score. I strongly encourage you to take the quizzes without looking in the textbook or lesson material for answers. That is the best way to prepare for the exams.

Statistics Quiz

There will be one quiz, after lesson 4, to make sure that you understand the information about statistics. This quiz will cover the information in the course materials, but not in the textbook. This quiz is worth 20 points.

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There will be two exams in the class.

Each exam includes 50 multiple-choice questions that have been prepared by Professor Macionis. I will select general, theoretical questions as opposed to those that ask you to recall some obscure detail.

Three essay questions will also be included, and you will select two to answer. It is important that you answer only two essay questions. If you answer all three, make clear which ones you would like me to grade. If you answer all three essay questions and do not indicate which you would like me to grade, I will grade the first two, regardless of which ones have the best answers. The three essay questions will be taken from the list of study questions in the Preparing for the Exam instructions.

The multiple-choice questions are each worth 1 point, and each essay counts as 25 points.

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Your grade in this course will be based on the short writing assignments, your research paper, the three quizzes, and the three examinations. Points are assigned as follows:




6 Short Writing Assignments

20 each


Statistics Quiz



4 Review Quizzes

10 each


Research Paper Outline



Research Paper Rough Draft



Research Paper Final Draft



2 Exams

100 each


Total Points Possible


Grading Scale

Grading will be according to conventional letter grades A through E. Here is how the letter grades are assigned:

A 93–100
A− 90–92
B+ 87–89
B 83–86
B− 80–82
C+ 77–79
C 73–76
C− 70–72
D+ 67–69
D 63–66
D− 60–62
E (fail) 59 or below

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Academic Honesty

In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, you are expected to be honest in all of your academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle will result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Please call the Honor Code Office at (801) 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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