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The Bachelor programme in Sociology at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi is a unique programme specifically designed to integrate the French tradition of sociology with courses in contemporary political science, public policy and a sound knowledge of the societies of the Middle East. The three-year curriculum introduces the students into the classics of social science and fosters their investigation and analytical skills by providing them with a series of hands-on trainings and practical case studies. They will gain valuable insights in all the social factors (such as race, ethnicity, tribal and family background, gender, age, education, social class) that affect an individual’s place in society and how organizations operate. Students will be taught how to collect, analyze and present social, economic and political data with the highest levels of accuracy and clarity. These skills are highly valued by the industry in all fields relating to public policy and planning, market research and media.

Paris-Sorbonne university was one of the first European universities to develop a complete programme in sociology, under the foundational figure of Emile Durkheim (1902), who had trained among others the Egyptian writer and intellectual Ṭāhā Ḥusayn, who defended his PhD on the social philosophy of Ibn Khaldūn (1918) and fostered the development of social sciences in the Arab world. Today, the Department has a strong legacy in theoretical sociology, economic sociology and rational choice theory. The programme on the Abu Dhabi campus has been designed to integrate new courses on political science, Arab societies and globalization studies.

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The curriculum is divided into three types of courses:

General courses (years 1-2): a basic set of courses restricted to the students of the Department which includes introductory courses in critical thinking, decision theory, theory of knowledge, scientific reasoning and the foundation of ethics.

Social and Political Science majors (years 1-2-3): students  will be be introduced in all the major aspects of social and political science : general courses on the foundations of sociology and political science, followed by specialist courses on specific aspects such as family, gender, education, labour, migration studies, public policy and planning, globalisation studies, etc. Each year, specific aspects of the Arab and Gulf societies will also be presented.

Methodology and Research Skills (years 1-2-3): as of the first year, students will receive practical trainings and tutorials in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. This includes classes on how to design and conduct surveys and fieldwork, statistical data analysis and modelization, presentation of results in graphs, etc. Students will be introduced in some of the IT programmes currently used in social research and analysis.

L1 L2 L3
Core curriculum

  • Logic and Critical Thinking
  • Theory of Knowledge
Core curriculum

  • Decision Theory
  • Scientific Reasoning

  • Social and Economic Norms I & II
  • Actors and Networks
  • Politics and Society
  • Rational Choice Theory
  • Seminar in Social Theory
  • Urban Sociology
  • Power and Society in the Gulf
  • Theories of Justice

  • Social Theory
  • Political Science
  • Applied Social Theory
  • Macro-Economics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Contemporary History

  • Public Policy
  • Geopolitics and International Relations
  • Social Stratification
  • Economy and Society
  • Ancient and Islamic Thought
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Art and Society

  • Qualitative Surveys and Fieldwork
Research Methods

  • Quantitative Research and Statistics
Research Methods

  • Social Research I
  • Social Research II
  • Statistics and IT for Social Science
  • Professional Internship

  • Communication and Media studies
  • Introduction to the Ancient World
  • Foreign Languages
  • Sport
  • Tutorial
  • Fieldwork

  • Communication and Media Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Foreign Languages
  • Sport
  • Fieldwork

  • Four electives in other Departments (Geography, History, Philosophy)
  • Languages

All the faculty teaching in the sociology programmme are either permanent resident faculty on the Abu Dhabi campus or visiting faculty from Paris. They are all affiliated with leading research centres in France, in particular with the GEMASS (Research Group on the Methods of Sociological Analysis, a mixed research unit from the Sorbonne and the CNRS), ensuring that all the courses taught in Abu Dhabi are aligned with cutting-edge contemporary research.

Renaud Debailly (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 2010), visiting associate professor in sociology. He specializes in sociology of science and technology (expertise, socio-technical debates, collective action, representations and perceptions of social and environmental impacts). His PhD was dedicated to the radical critique of science in French sociological discourse since 1968. He published several articles on the evaluation of academic policies, nanotechnology, the public perception of healthcare politics, etc.

Stéphane Chauvier (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1994), visiting Professor of Applied Ethics. After having started his career at the University of Caen, he became Professor of Applied Ethics and Head of the Department of Philosophy of the Sorbonne in 2010. His research is dedicated to contemporary philosophy of mind (Dire “je”. Essai sur la subjectivité, Vrin, 2001), philosophy of logic (Le sens du possible, Vrin, 2010) and to political and legal philosophy, in particular in the context of globalization (Du droit d’être étranger. Essai sur le concept kantien d’un droit cosmopolitique, L’Harmattan, 1996; Justice internationale et solidarité, Chambon, 1998 ; Justice et droits à l’échelle globale, EHESS, 2006 ; Éthique sans visage. Le problème des effets externes, Vrin, 2013). At Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, he teaches philosophy of mind and decision theory.

Pierre-Marie Chauvin (PhD Bordeaux, 2009), visiting associate professor in sociology. He was also an invited research at Columbia University (New York, 2010). He specializes in economic sociology, visual and media sociology and labor analysis. He is the author of Le marché des réputations. Une sociologie des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (Féret, 2010) and of several specialized articles on the social perception of the wine market.

Beate Collet (PhD EHESS Paris, 1996), visiting associate professor in sociology. She specializes in sociology of inter-ethnic relations, families and marital life. She did extensive research on mixed marriages and immigrant communities in France, and published several books on the subject (Couples d’ici, parents d’ailleurs. Parcours de descendants d’immigrés, PUF, 2012, with E. Santelli)

Pierre Demeulenaere (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1994) is visiting professor of sociol           ogy and Head of the Department of Sociology at Paris-Sorbonne. After having started his career as professor in Nancy, he succeeded his former master Raymond Boudon (1934-2010) at the Sorbonne, and has been invited professor at the university of Geneva. His research is mainly dedicated to theoretical sociology, in particular in the fields of rational choice theory, theory of norms and beliefs. He is the author of Homo oeconomicus. Enquête sur la constitution d’un paradigme (Paris, 1996) and Les normes sociales. Entre accords et désaccords (Paris, 2003). More recently, he is the editor of the English-language collective work Analytical Sociology and Social mechanisms (Cambridge UP, 2011).

Didier Lapeyronnie (PhD Bordeaux 1983) is visiting Professor of Sociology. He taught for many years at the University of Bordeaux – Europe’s oldest Department of Sociology – before joining the Sorbonne. His first research was dedicated to trade-unions and to the sociology of students, immigrants and the French suburbs. He is the author or co-author of numerous books in particular Campus blues. Les étudiants français face à leurs études (Seuil, 1992, with J.-L. Marie) ; L’individu et les minorités. La France et la Grande-Bretagne face à leurs immigrés (PUF, 1993) ; and more recently, Ghetto urbain. Ségrégation, violence, pauvreté en France aujourd’hui (R. Laffont, 2008).

Jean-Christophe Marcel (PhD Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne 1997), visiting associate professor in sociology. He specializes in the history of French sociology, and has published numerous studies on Maurice Halbwachs, Emile Durkheim, François Simiand and George Gurvitch. He his the author of Le durkheimisme dans l’entre-deux-guerres (PUF, 2001) and François Simiand. Critique sociologique de l’économie politique (PUF, 2006, with Ph. Steiner).

Sébastien Mosbah-Natanson (PhD Paris-Dauphine 2007), resident assistant professor in sociology at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. He specializes in the history of classical sociology (the French Durkheimian school) and sociology of science. Before relocating to Abu Dhabi, he was a postdoctoral research at the University of Québec in Montreal (UQAM). He co-directed, with S. Crépon, Les sciences sociales au prisme de l’extrême-droite (L’Harmattan, 2008), and has published extensively on the internationalization of social sciences (“The Globalization of Social Sciences? Evidence from a quantitative analysis of 30 years of production, collaboration and citations in the social sciences (1980-2009)”, Current Sociology (1/2013, with Y. Gingras). He currently prepares a book on French Sociology in 1900.

Jacob Schmutz (PhD EPHE Paris, 2003), associate professor of philosophy and Head of the Department of Philosophy and Sociology at Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi since 2010. He holds degrees in political science, philosophy and a PhD in religious studies. He has developed new courses for the Abu Dhabi campus, where teaches Gulf studies, postcolonial theory and contemporary Arab thought.

Philippe Steiner (PhD Paris-Nanterre, 1984), visiting Professor of Economic Sociology. After having taught at the universities of Paris-IX Dauphine and Lille, he became professor of economic sociology at the Sorbonne in 2007. His first research was dedicated to the ancestors of French sociology, such as the Physiocrats and Jean-Baptiste Say (whose works he republished), and to the founding figure of Emile Durkheim (La sociologie de Durkheim, La Découverte, 1994; Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology, transl. K. Tribe, Princeton UP, 2010). His more recent studies consecrated him as one of the foremost thinkers of contemporary economic sociology (Sociologie de la connaissance économique. Essai sur les rationalisations de la connaissance économique, 1750-1850, PUF, 1998; La sociologie économique, La Découverte, 1999). He has been investigating in particular the social perception of wealth and of organ transplantation (La transplantation d’organes. Un commerce entre les êtres humains, Gallimard, 2010 ; Les rémunérations obscènes. Le scandale des hauts revenus en France, Zones, 2011).

Elise Verley (PhD Lille, 2003), visiting associate professor of sociology. She is a specialist of education, and dedicated her research to the relationship between university education and job market in France. She edited the volume Les mondes étudiants. Enquête conditions de vie (La Documentation française, 2012, with O. Galland & R. Vourc’h).

In a globalised world, sociology and associated fields such as policy studies, anthropology and psychology have gained momentum against classical disciplines often restricted to a specific national context. Countries that have very different legal and political systems – such as France and the UAE – are actually facing very similar social problems in fields such as maintaining or enhancing labour productivity, managing healthcare with aging populations, controlling the negative impact of rapid growth on the environment, etc. Graduates from Social Science are therefore in high demand in the world of business, industry and organisations, who value their capacity to analyse problems and understand the working of organisations. Their technical skills of data collection and analysis place them above many other graduates in liberal arts, and they are therefore highly valued in fields such as marketing, public relations, advertisement, polling and consulting agencies.

Studying towards a Master

A Bachelor in Sociology will allow its holders to be admitted in an exceptionally wide array of MA programmes, ranging from pure research to various applied disciplines and professional fields.

  • Social Analysis and Public Policy
  • Political Science
  • Criminology
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing
  • International Business
  • Environmental Studies
  • Human Resources
  • Mass Media and Communication Studies
  • Social Research

Career Opportunities

  • Government and NGO
  • National statistics and planning agencies, Demographics
  • Community Service
  • Market research
  • Polling Agencies
  • Strategic consulting and planning
  • Human Resources
  • Press, TV, and all other forms of media
  • Secondary and Higher Education

We strongly believe that students must learn also outside of the classroom. The Department is organising many activities meant to foster communication and relational skills among the students, and we actively mentor our students to participate in numerous social networking activities in and outside of the campus.


Over the past years, students enrolled in sociology have made numerous fieldtrips across the UAE in order to exchange their experiences and debate with students from other universities, attend workshops or conduct sociological research in real life situations. Students have regularly visited UAEU Al Ain, seminars at NYUAD or AUS, the Sharjah Biennale, the Abu Dhabi book fair and made a research trip to Ras Al Khaimah (Autumn 2013). A yearly study trip has been organised in Spring 2013 to the University of Hyderabad (India), with all the students enrolled in the Department of Philosophy and Sociology, exposing the students to radically different cultural and social experiences.

The Department of Philosophy and Sociology is strongly encouraging the exchange between students from the Paris and Abu Dhabi campuses. PSUAD third-year students have the possibility to equally spend a semester in Paris, and each year, Paris-Sorbonne students are selected on criteria of academic excellence to spend a semester on the Abu Dhabi campus, thereby creating a strong like between our two academic communities.

Students from the Department have actively and successfully participated in various international student conferences, among which SILA international student conference hosted by New York University Abu Dhabi and SIM Nato 2013 in Belgrade (Serbia).


The Department is hosting every year a research seminar, with invited guest speakers on topics in philosophy and social science relevant to the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf States. Students are strongly invited to participate in order to discover the contemporary trends in research be exposed to high-level academic life. Topics include themes from intellectual history, public policy, and social issues such as demographic evolution, education, labour, and gender.