Sociology gives students an insight into the relationships between broad social structures and individual behaviour, and helps them to develop a deeper understanding of the inner workings of our society. Sociology explores the way in which society influences our behaviour, looking at social issues relating to Social Class, Gender and Ethnicity. Through these factors, it seeks to understand the interrelated nature of various social phenomena.
Key Stage 4
Students begin the course in Year 9 with an introduction to some of the key concepts and theories which underpin Sociological enquiry. As this is a new subject for our students, we aim to equip them with the critical thinking skills that are vital for success in Sociology. As part of this, students are introduced to the core principles of Sociological research, in order to develop their understanding of the practical application of the subject. The first core topic that students cover is entitled ‘Families & Households’, which explores a broad range of issues including patterns of marriage & divorce, changing family structures, and the role of the family in society. Through this topic, students develop their ability to explore sensitive issues in a sensible and objective way, a key skill in Sociology.
In Year 10, students move onto the topic entitled ‘Education’, in which we explore the reasons for differential levels of achievement between social groups. For example, students will investigate the reasons why students from working-class backgrounds are far less likely to go to university than their middle-class peers. In so doing, we touch upon issues relating to discrimination, education policies, and cultural capital. Throughout Year 10, there remains a strong emphasis on Sociological research methods, and students are asked to apply their knowledge of these methods to the context of education.
In Year 11, students begin by completing the remaining topics within the ‘Education’ topic, before moving on to their final core topic, ‘Crime & Deviance’. This topic tends to be the one which students are most excited to engage with, as it takes in many complex, and at times controversial, issues whilst also allowing students to make links to issues that they have engaged with via the media. This topic asks students to explore issues such as the reasons for differential levels of criminality and victimisation between social groups, and the extent to which the concept of crime is socially constructed. Naturally, Year 11 brings with it a heavier focus on exam preparation. As such, students receive a great deal of support in order to prepare for the exams.
The delivery of the core course content is complete by April of Year 11. As such, the rest of the year is dedicated to specific exam preparation. Students will be supported to practice exam questions, as well as recapping the content from the previous two years.
Whilst the Sociology GCSE course is not delivered as a foundation for A-Level Sociology, students who take GCSE Sociology will be well-prepared to take their study of Sociology further, as the course provides a strong foundation in the subject.
Key Stage 5
The Sociology A-Level is delivered in a way that assumes no prior specialist knowledge, so students who did not study Sociology at GCSE are not disadvantaged.
All students begin the course with an introduction to the various theoretical perspectives which underpin Sociology. This provides students with a solid foundation from which to move through the rest of the course, as every topic within A-Level Sociology refers back to these key concepts and thinkers. In addition, students are encouraged to develop their ‘Sociological Imagination’, whereby they seek to understand the ways in which individuals’ experiences relate to broad social structures. Following on from this, students study the topics in Paper 1, Education with Theory & Methods. The ‘Education’ topic explores theories relating to the role of education in society, as well as investigating the reasons for differential educational achievement between social groups. The ‘Theory & Methods’ topic introduces students to the practical applications of Sociological theory, through the methods that are used to conduct Sociological research. Finally, students are asked to apply their knowledge of research methods to what they have learnt about education, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate the high-level analytical skills that they have developed so far. Towards the end of Year 12, students begin the ‘Families & Households’ topic (part of Paper 2, Topics in Sociology), in which we investigate a variety of issues relating to families and relationships, including: patterns of marriage and divorce, the domestic division of labour, and theories about the role of the family in society.
Year 13 starts with the second Paper 2 topic, entitled ‘Beliefs in Society’. This topic focusses on religious and non-religious belief systems. Students explore the extent to which these belief systems are tied to large social structures such as capitalism and the patriarchy, and the extent to which religion supports them. Within this topic, we touch upon sensitive (but engaging) issues such as the oppression of women, and religious extremism. We then move on to the topics in Paper 3, Crime & Deviance with Theory & Methods. The ‘Crime & Deviance’ topic is the one which students most look forward to, as it takes in some controversial topics, but allows students to make strong links to issues that they have already engaged with through the media. Through this topic, we look at issues relating to differential rates of criminality and victimisation between social groups, as well as current issues relating to state crime and environmental crimes. We finish by revisiting some of the core issues relating to Sociological research, in order to prepare students for the exams, and shift our focus to specific preparation for the exams.
Throughout the Sociology A-Level course, students will develop excellent written and verbal communication skills, as well as develop their ability to think critically about the world around them.
Exams & Assessment
Outlined below is the departmental structure for formal monitoring of our students’ progress. In addition to this, students are asked to complete regular essays, as well as homework aimed at consolidating their knowledge.
- Year 9: Benchmark test
- Year 10: Year 9 content test
- Year 11: Core concepts, Research methods, Families & households
- Year 12: Benchmark test, Core concepts
- Year 13: Families & households, Beliefs in society
- Year 9: Core concepts
- Year 10: Core concepts, Research methods, Theories of the family
- Year 11: Core concepts, Research methods, Families & households, Crime & deviance
- Year 12: Education (achievement)
- Year 13: Families & households, Beliefs in society
- Year 9: Core concepts, Power in Sociology
- Year 10: Core concepts, Research methods, Theories of the family, Conjugal roles
- Year 11: Mock exam (Years 9-11 content)
- Year 12: Education (achievement), Education (with methods in context)
- Year 13: Mock exams (all Year 12 & 13 content)
- Year 9: Core concepts, Power in Sociology, Research methods
- Year 10: Core concepts, Research methods, Families & households
- Year 12: Education (achievement), Education (with methods in context), Families & households
- Year 13: Families & households, Beliefs in society, Crime & deviance
Half-Term 5 & 6
- Year 9: End of year exam (Year 9 content)
- Year 10: End of year exam (Years 9 & 10 content)
- Year 11: Public exams
- Year 12: UCAS exams (all Year 12 content, including research methods)
- Year 13: Public exams
- Examination board: AQA
- Examination board: AQA