A-Level Sociology

Examining Human Society From Prehistoric To Contemporary

Exam Board and Specification Codes: AQA 7191; AQA 7192

Why Study Sociology?

Sociology is a diverse subject concerned with analysing human social behaviour, institutions and social processes. Pupils examine the development of human society from prehistoric hunter-gatherer groups to contemporary post-industrial societies, and gain an appreciation of broad trends underlying social change and the formation of the modern world.

Sociology involves the study of wealth, power, status, poverty and social class, as well as politics, race, nationalism and cultural identity. The course covers the role of family, education, religion, the media, leisure and the arts. Pupils also study government, social control systems and crime, international politics, globalisation, development and aid.

Although the focus of the course is on contemporary society, pupils have the opportunity to study non-Western and historical cultures radically different from their own.

What is Covered by the Course?

AS-Level:

Education

Is the function of education to socialise, enlighten and educate children or to mould personalities and teach skills in preparation for the world of work? What factors lie behind the persistent social class and ethnic differences in levels of educational attainment? What effect can teachers’ interactions with students have on their motivation and success? Why are girls far outperforming boys at all levels of education?

The Family

What are the functions of the family and how has family form changed throughout history and from culture to culture? How has the rejection of traditional beliefs concerning marriage impacted on the role and status of men, women and children in families? How have state intervention and political movements such as feminism shaped family life? How have our notions of childhood changed over the past century? What is the likely future of the family?

In the AS-Level pupils also study how sociologists conduct research, and are introduced to a variety of theoretical perspectives on the nature of society.

A-Level:

Pupils study all AS material. Further A-Level material includes:

Beliefs in Society

Pupils examine religion as a source of group identity, morality, and as an explanation of the world. They look at the relationship between religion, magic, healing, sacrifice and the supernatural. The course covers religion’s role in subjugating women and the working class, as well as fundamentalism as a conservative force and as a force for revolutionary change. What is the attraction of apparently bizarre religious cults and sects? Is religion a declining force or is religion undergoing a revival?

Crime and Deviance

Can criminality lead to positive social change? What are the differences in levels of criminality and type of crime committed between the wealthy and the poor? Can official crime statistics be trusted? The course looks at how businesses and governments act criminally as well as the social class differences in court sentencing. Are women committing more crime? Does government policy toward the poor create a criminal subculture?

How is it Examined?

AS pupils sit 2 exams at the end of their first year (2 x 1hr 30mins).

Questions are a mix of short and longer written answers and essays.

A-Level pupils sit 3 exams at the end of their second year (3 x 2hrs).

Questions are a mix of short and longer written answers and essays.

Related University Courses and Careers?

Sociology intersects with academic disciplines such as History, Government and Politics, Anthropology, Religious Studies, Psychology, Economics, Philosophy and Classics.

Sociology is suitable for pupils planning to enter a wide range of careers such as journalism, law, business, advertising, the civil service, government, social services and finance.

Suggested Reading:

AS-Level:

Success at AS Level – Rob Webb and Keith Trobe

AQA Unit 1 Workbook: Families and Households – Blundell

Sociology in Pictures: Research Methods – Michael Haralambos

Life at the Bottom – William Dalrymple

Kes – Ken Loach

A-Level:

Success at A2 – Rob Webb and Keith Trobe

A2 Unit 4 Workbook: Crime and Deviance – Dave Bown

Collins Key Concepts in Sociology – Painter and Zariff

Hard Times: Inside America’s Toughest Jail – Shaun Attwood

The Welfare State We’re In – James Bartholomew