Sociology is the study of people in social groups. Human beings are social animals who need others in order to survive and Sociology deals with how societies are constructed. It investigates patterns of human behaviour: of interaction and cooperation, inequality and conflict. It examines where our beliefs, routines and aspirations come from and how these are influenced by social factors. A-level Sociology is an interesting and worthwhile course in terms of general education. It encourages a knowledge and critical understanding of contemporary society and the processes and changes we are all subject to. As one student notes, “Sociology offers a chance to discover how brilliant you can be if you think critically”. Furthermore it stimulates a lifelong interest in social issues.
A good grasp of English is useful to both the discursive nature of the subject and the demands of essay-writing. Students should be keen observers of human behaviour who love “people watching”. They should also be willing to challenge their own and other people’s preconceptions and should never be prepared to accept things at face value.
AS Year: Education / Families & Households / Research Methods
Students will be introduced to the research process and be able to examine the usefulness of conducting research, in various ways. They will be further introduced to sociological explanations of the following content: • The role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure • Differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society • Relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil Relationships, pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning
Families & Households
Students are expected to be familiar with sociological explanations of the following content: • The relationship of the family to the social structure and social change, with particular reference to the economy and to state policies • Changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation, separation, divorce, childbearing and the life course, including the sociology of personal life, and the diversity of contemporary family and household structures • Gender roles, domestic labour and power relationships within the family in contemporary society • The nature of childhood, and changes in the status of children in the family and society • Demographic trends in the United Kingdom since 1900
Students will examine the following areas: • Quantitative and qualitative methods of research; research design, sources of data, including: questionnaires, interviews, participant and non-participant observation, experiments, documents and official statistics • The distinction between primary and secondary data, and between quantitative and qualitative data • The relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods; the nature of ‘social facts’ • The theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of research
A2 Year: Beliefs in Society / Crime and Deviance / Theory & Methods
Beliefs in Society
Students are expected to be familiar with sociological explanations of the following content: • Ideology, science and religion, including both Christian and non-Christian religious traditions • The relationship between social change and social stability, and religious beliefs, practices and organisations • Religious organisations, including cults, sects, denominations, churches and New Age movements, and their relationship to religious and spiritual belief and practice • The relationship between different social groups and religious/ spiritual organisations and movements, beliefs and practices • The significance of religion and religiosity in the contemporary world, including the nature and extent of secularisation in a global context, and globalisation and the spread of religions.
Crime and Deviance
Students are expected to be familiar with sociological explanations of the following content: • Crime, deviance, social order and social control • The social distribution of crime and deviance by ethnicity, gender and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime • Globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes • Crime control, surveillance, prevention and punishment, victims, and the role of the criminal justice system and other agencies.
Theory & Methods
Students must examine the following areas: • Quantitative and qualitative methods of research; research design • Sources of data, including questionnaires, interviews, participant and non-participant observation, experiments, documents and official statistics • The distinction between primary and secondary data, and between quantitative and qualitative data • The relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods; the nature of ‘social facts’ • The theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of research • Consensus, conflict, structural and social action theories • The concepts of modernity and post-modernity in relation to sociological theory • The nature of science and the extent to which Sociology can be regarded as scientific • The relationship between theory and methods • Debates about subjectivity, objectivity and value freedom • The relationship between Sociology and social policy
|AS Level (1 year course):|
|Both papers are 90 minutes with a total of 60 marks. |
Each paper is worth 50%
|A-level (2 year course):|
|All three papers are 120 minutes with a total of 80 marks. |
Each paper is worth 33.3%
Where does it lead?
The study of Sociology is a good grounding for working with people whether in Business, Law, Medicine, Education or Social work. It increases awareness and sensitivity and deepens our understanding of the society we live in.
Brown, K. (2015) AQA Sociology level one: AS and 1st-Year A-level 5th edition Cambridge: Polity Press
Brown, K. (2016) Sociology for AQA Volume 2: 2nd-Year A-level 3rd edition Cambridge: Polity Press
Webb, R. Westergaard, H. Trobe, K. Townend, A. (2015) AQA A-level Sociology Book One including AS level: Book one Napier Press
Webb, R. Westergaard, H. Trobe, K. Townend, A. (2016) AQA A-level Sociology Book 2 Napier Press