SOC 4980-Senior Seminar
Spring 2012

Time and Location:

MWF 9:10-10:05, Peck Hall 320


Dr. J. Brandon Wallace

Instructor's Office, Phone and Email:

TODD 330, 898-5976,

Office Hours:

MWF 8:00-9:00 and 10:15-11:30 AM and MW 12:30-2:30 PM. Other times by appointment.

It is the responsibility of each student to read and understand this syllabus. It acts as an agreement between the student and the instructor, specifying the rights and responsibilities of each. Be sure to clarify any questions you may have about the syllabus as soon as possible.


Students enrolling in SOC 4980 are expected to have completed SOC 1010 Introduction to Sociology, SOC 3040 Research Methods, SOC 3050 Data Analysis, and SOC 3060 Sociological Theories, plus 6 hours of sociology electives.  Students who have not completed the prerequisites must receive permission from the instructor and/or Undergraduate Program Director before enrolling.  Further, students lacking prerequisites may need to do additional reading beyond that which is required in the course to insure they have the background knowledge necessary to successfully complete the course.


This course is designed to provide students with a culminating experience as a sociology major.  Students are provided an opportunity to integrate the knowledge and skills gained in their sociology coursework into a more holistic understanding of the discipline and to reflect on what it means to be a sociology major.  Students are asked to demonstrate their "sociological imagination," an awareness of the relationships between the individual and the wider society, and to make linkages between the theory and methods of sociology and various substantive fields of interest.  The course also provides opportunity for evaluative feedback on the strengths and limitations of your training in sociology and provides the faculty an opportunity to assess the skills, knowledge, and awareness of the discipline of our majors.  Finally, the course seeks to assist you in focusing your future goals and exploring professional opportunities as a sociologist. 

The learning goals for this course are similar to those of the undergraduate sociology program as a whole.  It is expected that when students complete this course they should be able to:

The class format is a seminar in which students are expected to read, write, and prepare assignments for class discussion.  Both student and teacher will participate collaboratively in knowledge-construction, and students are expected to take an active role in leading class discussion.  While there will be  lectures, class time will also be spent discussing readings and assignments completed by students outside of class. It is important that students complete all readings and assignments in advance, so they can meaningfully participate in class discussions. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively with one another on assignments as appropriate.  Collaboration may include assisting one another on computer lab work, editing drafts of one another's papers, sharing ideas for class discussion, and explaining concepts or data analysis techniques.  However, all written work turned in for credit must be your own.


The required texts for the course are Classic Readings in Sociology, 5th Edition, by Eve Howard and Applied Sociology: Topics, Terms, Tools, and Tasks, 2nd Edition, by Stephen Steele and Jammie Price.  It is also recommended, but not required, that you purchase Elements of Social Scientific Thinking, 10 Edition, by Kenneth Hoover and Todd Donovan.  These books are available in the campus book store, but may be obtained elsewhere.  Students will also use the Research Methods Knowledge Base (RMKB) available online at

You might also find it useful to review an introductory sociology text, a research methods text, and a socological theory text.  The instructor has introductory texts available to lend. Other works you might find useful include The Sociology Student Writer's Manual (6th Ed.) by Johnson, Rettig, Scott, and Garrison; A Guide to Writing Sociology Papers by Sociology Writing Group; Writing in Sociology by Edwards; Careers in Sociology (3rd Ed.) by Stephens; and Great Jobs for Sociology Majors by Lambert. For those with a particular interest in theory or planning on graduate education in sociology, The Discovery of Society by Randall Collins and Michael Makowsky is highly recommended.


Students are expected to attend class, complete assigned readings, and participate in class activities and discussions.  One hundred points will be assigned based on attendance and participation. Additionally, students will complete 10 assignments and be prepared to discuss them in class. Specific due dates will be announced in class. 

  1. Write a 3-5 page paper explaining or analyzing an issue from the sociological perspective, showing how the issue can be understood in terms of the historical, cultural, structural, organizational, and contextual forces that shape it (20 points).
  2. Write a 3-5 page paper comparing and contrasting the major theoretical traditions in sociology (20 points).
  3. Write a 3-5 page paper discussing the similarities and differences between quantitative and qualitative methods (20 points).
  4. Write a 3-5 page paper in which you identify a sociological topic on which you would like to do research, review research related to the topic, and develop research questions and/or hypotheses to be researched (50 points).
  5. Write a 3-5 page paper describing the method of data collection you will use to address the research questions/hypotheses developed in Assignment 4 (50 points).
  6. Write a 1-3 page paper discussing the sampling and selection procedures you will use to address the research questions/hypotheses you have developed (20 points).
  7. Write a 1-3 page paper discussing a strategy for managing and analyzing the data you collect (50 points).
  8. Edit and combine assignments 4-7 into a research proposal describing in detail how you plan to address your research questions/hypotheses (50 points). 
  9. Carry out the proposed reseach and write a final research report (100 points). 
  10. Find at least 10 jobs for which undergraduate sociology majors qualify, write a 1-3 page commentary discussing the types of employers looking for sociology majors, the industries/sectors represented, types of jobs available, and the skills being sought, and write a letter of application and develop a resume for one of the 10 jobs you found (20 points).

A total of 500 points is possible.  Final grades will be determined by dividing each students point total by 5 and assigning grades according to the following scale: 90-100=A, 87-89=B+, 83-86=B, 80-82=B-, 77-79=C+, 73-76=C, 70-72=C-, 67-69=D+, 63-66=D, 60-62=D-, and less than 60=F.


Copying someone's work, having someone complete assignments for you, and plagiarism (claiming another's written work as your own, including materials obtained from the internet) are cheating.  Students engaging in such acts may not only be given a zero on the assignment in question, but may fail the course as well.  Further, if deemed necessary, the professor may report such actions to appropriate university officials (See the Student Handbook).


To retain Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility, you must earn a cumulative TELS GPA of 2.75 after 24 and 48 attempted hours and a cumulative TELS GPA of 3.0 thereafter. You may qualify with a 2.75 cumulative GPA after 72 attempted hours (and subsequent semesters), if you are enrolled full-time and maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.0. A grade of C, D, F, or I in this class may negatively impact TELS eligibility. Dropping a class after 14 days may also impact eligibility; if you withdraw from this class and it results in an enrollment status of less than full time, you may lose eligibility for your lottery scholarship. Lottery recipients are eligible to receive the scholarship for a maximum of five years from the date of initial enrollment, or until a bachelor degree is earned; students who first received the lottery scholarship in Fall 2009 or later will additionally be limited to 120 TELS attempted hours. For additional Lottery rules, please refer to your Lottery Statement of Understanding form via RaiderNet, review lottery requirements on the web at, or contact the Financial Aid Office at 898-2830.


If you have a disability that requires assistance or accommodation, or if you have any questions related to accommodations for testing, note taking, reading, etc., please speak with me as soon as possible.  You may also contact the Office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783) with questions about their services. Students registered with the Office of Disabled Student Services will be accommodated as best as possible.


In the event of an emergency requiring evacuation (fire, bomb threat, chemical spill), students should gather their belongings as quickly as possible and procede to the nearest exit quickly and calmly. Once outside, please move away from the building. In the event of a tornado, students should procede to the bottom floor of the building and move to an interior corridor or room away from exterior windows and doors. In the event of a violent intruder, the building will be "locked down" to protect its occupants. students will not be allowed to leave the room until the emergency is over, even if the class period ends. For more information on campus emergency procedures visit If you would like to sign up for text message alerts from MTSU, go to


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (sometimes called FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) disallows faculty from releasing student information to anyone other than the student him- or herself, without written permission from the student. I will not relase grades or graded assignments to family members, boyfriends, girlfriends, of best friends unless I have received a written request from a student to do so. Further, I will only email grades to students if asked to do so by the student in writting (an email will suffice) and then only to the student's MTSU email account.  If you have questions about FERPA, please contact the Records Office at 898-2600 or


Lisa Walker will be assisting me in this class.  She will be available to answer your questions and assist you on assignments.  She will also help in grading the assignments.  Feel free to email Lisa at or call her at 731-589-1521.

Each fall the Department of Sociology and Anthropology sponsors and Undergraduate Social Science Symposium in which undergraduate students from several colleges and universities in Tennessee present papers they have written in various social science classes.  It is an opportunity for them to share their work and meet social science students from other schools.  (It also gives them line for their resume.)  I encourage you to consider presenting the research report you write for this class at the symposium in the fall (if you have not graduated).  If you would like more information you may visit the symposium web site at or contact Dr. Brian Hinote at or Dr. Meredith Dye at

Additional information of interest to sociology students, majors, and minors is available on the Department of Sociology and Anthropology web page at