The study of social sciences is vast, even when compared with the fields of mathematics or natural sciences. It has many sub disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, history, and cognitive science. Each subfield attempts to understand human behaviour and interaction in a particular context, and to study this behaviour in varying environments. The social sciences also deal with questions concerning human nature and the foundations of communal and polarity behaviour. At the higher levels of education, these courses are often interdisciplinary, as most universities require a postgraduate degree in one of the social sciences.
One of the most important branches of social science, sociology, focuses on analyzing and interpreting social phenomena. One of the most important areas of research in sociology is socio-cultural theory. This theory postulates that humans have been social through the course of history and that the basic characteristics of sociability – such as friendliness, trust, honesty, and so on – are present in all cultures throughout the world today. By studying these universal characteristics, social science researchers attempt to explain social phenomena. For example, social science has identified the role that ethnicity, gender, age, and class play in the construction of social spaces and relationships in the modern age. Societies are made up of complex webs of human relationships, and understanding how these interactions vary across cultures could be an effective tool towards understanding human behaviour.
Another branch of social science is that of anthropology. In fact, it might be argued that anthropology is itself a sub-field of psychology! anthropology deals with the history of human life and its development across the generations, and seeks to understand why behaviour is shaped by evolutionary principles rather than by psychological instincts. This branch of social sciences also seeks to shed light on the origins of humanity, the nature of culture, and why human societies are grouped into ethnic groups. At the university level, anthropology departments include ethnic studies, history, and anthropology.
Comparative studies of social sciences tend to focus on issues local to a particular country, region, or area of the world. An example of a comparative study is the study of socioeconomic systems around the world. One such study, done at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, compared living standards in 14 countries (including India) under different economic conditions. The study found that when comparing the countries, income levels were highly correlated with the level of government corruption, the level of economic freedom, the level of social protection, and the quality of education available to citizens. Students who earn a doctorate in Comparative Studies of Social Sciences typically specialize in one of four fields: political science, social work, international business, or law and governance.
Another type of comparative study is the study of cultural systems. Comparative study of cultural systems can take many forms, including anthropology, archeology, art, ethology, literature, or sociology. For students with both an undergraduate degree in psychology and a postgraduate degree in social sciences, a joint doctorate program in this field may be the perfect solution. The two fields will have equal opportunity in teaching and research, with opportunities for research assistants as well.
The study of human behavior is often called psychology. It includes many components, including behavior research, experimental procedures, neuropsychological assessment, and sociological theory. Students in postgraduate level psychology programs must acquire elective courses in the areas of social science, psychology, and brain sciences. Elective courses in this field may include psychology of language, development, technology, law and justice, and social cognition. Students seeking electives in this area should note that all courses taken at the university level are taken in the order given, with the first one being the most important.
Comparative studies of social systems require a large amount of research and expertise on the part of the student. Students who do not hold an undergraduate degree in psychology will need to complete a course in developmental psychology before entering into a postgraduate program. At the end of the year, students will be required to write a thesis based on their dissertation research, which will be presented in front of a committee. Those who choose to continue on to graduate work in psychology will need to take additional courses and fulfill other requirements before being able to apply for graduate programs at the university level.