Facts & figures

  • #1 in Australia and #4 in the world for graduate employability*
  • #23 in the world for Arts and Humanities*
  • #30 in the world for Social Scienes*
  • 270+ international exchange partners
  • *2021 QS World University Rankings

The difference between Arts and Social Sciences majors

Making your study decisions a little easier
Wondered what the difference is between Commerce and Economics? Social Work and Sociology? Media and Communications and Digital Cultures? Find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about our majors here.

With over 45 subject areas to choose from, we offer one of the widest ranges of arts and social sciences subjects in Australia. With so much choice, it can get a little overwhelming, so here’s a quick explainer of a few of our subjects.

What's the difference between...?


....is all about the trade of goods and services. It includes the activities that are directly or indirectly involved in that exchange.

Understanding commerce means understanding how businesses operate and the factors that influence their decisions.

Career opportunities include: accountant, entrepreneur, investment banker, management consultant or a business analyst.


...is the study of how we allocate things like wealth, services, goods, natural resources, or even labour.

Understanding economics means understanding the behaviour of businesses and industries, governments and countries, and the globe as a whole. 

Economics is crucial to understanding and solving the major challenges the world faces today, such as global warming, poverty, development, and recession.

Career opportunities include: economist, financial manager, business consultant, researcher, or social policy adviser.


...means you'll learn how to read, speak, listen and write in a new language. You’ll also learn about the countries and cultures where that language is spoken.

We offer 14 languages to study including Chinese, German and Spanish. Click here to find out more.

Career opportunities include: languages subjects prepare you to work in a range of areas that use language skills, including as a translator or a teacher of languages in international organisations, government, foreign languages-based media or business outlets.


...is the scientific study of language and its structure. It analyses the meaning of language and the way it’s used and modified in different cultural and social contexts for different purposes.

Studying linguistics will help you understand what language is like and why so we can understand communication, culture, social life and the human mind.

Career opportunities include: computational fields related to language and speech technology, academic, journalist, language or policy researcher.


...is the study of human behaviour, beliefs and identity.

It examines things like love, crime, poverty, discrimination… the list goes on. Understanding sociology helps us understand how society shapes us, how we shape society, how the 'modern' world came about, and how it might develop in the future.

Career opportunities include: policy advisor, market researcher, public relations adviser.

Social Work

...is about changing lives for the better through a broad variety of work with individuals, families, groups and communities.

By understanding the challenges and needs of people, and providing support with things like physical, social and cultural environments, social workers help to promote social change, and empower people to enhance their wellbeing.

Career opportunities include: health services, aged care, women's services, disability services, child and family services, international development, migration and refugee services.


...is about examining and preserving the material remains of our human past.

Archaeologists look for patterns in the artefacts they study, giving them clues about the people who made and used them, and how they lived.

Career opportunities include: archaeologist, museum or gallery curator, archivist, academic or researcher, conservation officer, heritage or environmental consultant.

Ancient History

...is the study of past events from the beginning of recorded human history. 

It explores the history, myths, art, philosophy, literature and civilisations in the worlds of Ancient Greek and Rome.

Career opportunities include: historian, cultural project officer, gallery and museum curator, journalist, researcher, teacher.

Media and Communications

...is the study of mass media in the modern age. It explores issues such as the media’s role in culture and politics, and contemporary legal and ethical considerations.

It’s also about learning practical skills such as written news and journalism, film production and public relations.

Career opportunities include: creative lead, journalist, public relations, media adviser, multimedia producer, social media executive, web and content producer.

Digital Cultures

...is the study of the way that technology and the internet has shaped the way we interact, behave, think and communicate in contemporary society.

New media technologies have impacted our culture, business, politics, arts and everyday life. Digital Cultures critically investigates the way we generate and consume these new technologies, and the role this plays in cultural practices.

Career opportunities include: game developer, technology writer, business and government consultant, communication specialist, policy adviser.

Are you a HSC student?

Visit our events for prospective students page for HSC tips, webinars and Q&A sessions. Unsure of university terminology? Visit our online glossary.

*2020 QS World University Rankings

20 May 2020

More questions?


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If you are a prospective student, and would like to ask about courses or making an application, you can:

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