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What is Social Science?

What is Social Science?

Social Science, broadly speaking, provides an understanding of how the world works using social and behavioural explanations. In contrast to the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) which focus primarily on natural phenomena (stem cells, molecules, light waves), the subject of social science is society itself. Social scientists use empirical research methods to investigate all sorts of interpersonal and intrapersonal behaviour, from why people fall in love to why people commit crimes. It is an exciting field of study that enables governments and organizations to gain insight into how people behave.  

At the School of Social Sciences, we offer our students the choice of three core disciplines (Psychology/Political Science/Sociology) as first major options.


Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. Behaviour encompasses everything that people do that can be observed, while mental processes refer to thoughts, feelings, motives, and other unobservable phenomena. Psychological theories and research have a number of applications in the business industry, educational settings, public policy, and more. The major sub-disciplines of psychology include social, developmental, cognitive, biological, health, industrial/organizational, abnormal, and personality psychology.

Political Science addresses important relevant questions, from the protection of rights and the organization of power within countries to international relations and terrorism. The courses provide the analytical tools to understand and interpret contemporary and historical events, while simultaneously sharing important insights on how power is structured, contested and exercised. The courses draw from all major subfields in political science – comparative politics, international relations, political theory and political economy.

Sociology studies social structure, relations, institutions and culture, and seeks to understand how these social forces shape individual lives and behaviors. The sociology courses at SOSS are oriented toward developing students’ critical thinking pertaining to causes and conditions of changes in societies around the globe, with a particular focus on Asia. Sociology courses also provide training in a diverse set of research methods. The major topical areas covered in the sociology curriculum include transnational and global processes (such as migration and globalization), economic development, family and gender, and social integration and societal well-being.


Alternatively, we also offer a path that enables students to major in Politics, Law and Economics (PLE). 

Politics, Law and Economics major is designed to prepare future leaders and thinkers with a deep understanding of global political and economic transformations and the legal frameworks and contexts within which such changes take place. Comprising courses in the fields of politics, law and economics that will hone strategic and analytical thinking skills, students will be empowered to seek innovative solutions to real world problems.

Last updated on 26 Oct 2018 .