Sociology A Level

About the Course

Sociology is ‘the academic study of society’. Just as History studies people and events of the past, Sociology’s focus is on the contemporary world. If you choose this subject expect to take a really detailed look at modern Britain, warts and all. It appeals to those with a genuine interest in current affairs, social issues and a desire to understand human behaviour. Sociology is not simply a debating chamber, however. Success on the course depends on detailed knowledge of theories and research findings, expressed using appropriate academic language. Sociological insight enables students to challenge social stereotypes and prejudices. It is guaranteed to change the way you see the world!

Exam Board

AQA - the A-level Sociology course is assessed through examination only (no coursework): three two-hour exams, all sat at the end of the two-year course.

Requirements

Studying Sociology will involve a strong emphasis on essay writing and independent reading. A GCSE grade 6 or above in English Language or Literature is therefore desirable. Beyond this formal requirement, the Sociology classroom would be enriched by those with a curiosity to develop their knowledge of modern life. An appetite for debate would be welcome too!

Course Content

Sociology students need to be inquisitive and brimming with thoughtful questions; the whole course is based around exploring and analysing human behaviour and the social institutions which shape our identity and life chances. The major topic areas include:
  • Families and Households: Why has divorce and single-parenthood become more common? What has happened to the traditional nuclear family?
Has sexism disappeared or is it still prominent in most families, and in wider society too? Why has modern childhood been described as ‘toxic’? What are the social consequences of an ageing population?
  • Education: How important are parents in a child’s intellectual and social development? Why have girls achieved higher grades than boys in recent decades? If females achieve better grades, why don’t they earn higher salaries? Is the academic underachievement of children from deprived backgrounds due to poor parenting, poor schooling, poverty, peer-group pressure? What is the pattern of academic achievement among ethnic minority groups in Britain? 
  • Religion and Belief Systems: Do all major world religions treat women as second-class subjects? Why is Christianity experiencing a long, slow death in British society?  Do religious beliefs lead to harmony or conflict within communities and across the world? Is religion a ‘drug’ used to control the masses? 
  • Crime and Deviance: Is there such as thing as a ‘typical criminal’ or do we all break the law? Why is Britain’s prison population over 90% male? Why are the vast majority of prisoners from deprived backgrounds? Is British policing institutionally racist? Is there ‘one law for the rich and another for the poor’?  Should we be ‘tough on crime’ or’ tough on the causes of crime’? 
The Mass Media: Is the mass media still guilty of negatively stereotyping ethnic minority groups, contributing to prejudice and discrimination? Feminists argue that the mass media presents women as sexual objects and pressurises females to emulate ‘false beauty’. Is this a valid argument? Does on-screen violence via video games trigger real-life violence? Do newspapers influence voting habits? Are we misinformed by a politically biased press?  

Beyond the Classroom

The best Sociology students take their learning well beyond the classroom, becoming more perceptive and opinionated about their own social environment. They take a keen interest in contemporary social issues and political affairs. Their knowledge is enhanced by reading quality newspapers, watching relevant documentaries and current affairs programmes. They develop a sociological imagination, connecting the behaviour of their parents, peers and wider society to theories learnt in the classroom. 

Your Future

Those who have studied the complexities of social life will clearly have an enhanced understanding of the world that surrounds them. It is therefore difficult to think of a future occupation that wouldn’t benefit from sociological insight. Former students of Sociology can be found in the fields of education, healthcare, the police force, the media, journalism, criminology, social work and politics. A qualification in Sociology should not, however, simply represent a stepping-stone to a career. The subject is about much more than that. It aims to foster a culture of enquiring minds and enlightened thoughts.

Contact Department

Staff Contact: Ms M McLister
Future First Artsmark
A paper copy of the information on our website is available on request to the School.
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