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A-Level Sociology

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Why study Sociology?

Exam board and specification codes: AQA, 7191 and 7192

Sociology is the study of how society is organised and how life is experienced
through various human or media interactions. Whilst British society is primarily
studied, the various interconnections with other societies in our increasingly
globalised work also feature strongly.

Sociology is taught in all British universities either as a separate course or an integral
part of other courses. Many ground-breaking areas of research have been
undertaken concerning major issues such as poverty, crime, and the effects of
media. Many of these issues are contested and hotly debated. Sociology thus
enables students to develop awareness of such debates and to evaluate critically the
various positions taken in such debates.

Sociology is thus related to many careers primarily those that involve working with
people. These range from teaching, social research, police work, social work, public
relations and working in the media.

Students taking A-Level Sociology consider questions such as:

  • How does the social class system of modern Britain affect our lives?
  • How do gender, religion, and ethnic background open up or close down
  • opportunities in life?
  • How should society deal with crime?
  • What is the purpose of the education system?
  • How has family life changed and what are the effects on society?
  • Is social media of benefit for society or otherwise?

What is covered by the course?

A-Level Year 1

Theme 1 - Education with Theory and Research Methods

Here students consider the way that societies organise education systems, the
various polices undertaken, the changing patterns of achievement in schools, and
investigate if gender, class and ethnicity have a significant outcome on educational
achievement. Students then examine the finding of research in these areas. .
Students are introduced to various sociological theories. The final part of this unit looks at methods of conducting research into sociological issues, allowing students
to conduct small investigations of their own.

Theme 2 - Families and Households

This unit looks at the changing patterns of families over the previous century. It
attempts to see if things really have got better for women, how differently children
are now treated, and how different relationship patterns affect society. It also looks
at population patterns, why people are living longer, the effects of an ageing
population and patterns of migration.

A-Level Year 2

Theme 3 - Mass Media

In this unit students look at the various media models and perspectives. They study
traditional and new media, the ownership and control of media empires and how
certain groups such as women or ethnic minorities are represented in the media
Also covered is the impact and influence of the media in today’s world, changing
media habits and the extent to which the media affect behaviour.

Theme 4 - Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods

This - unit looks at crime statistics and assesses their validity The unit attempts to
explain them in terms of which groups appear most often and what motivates
criminal behaviour. Links between the crime and media are also considered as well
as how different societies define criminal behaviour as new types of crime emerge in
global society. Finally ways of controlling crime are considered from harsh
retributive measures to rehabilitation of offenders. Research methods in this unit
follow on from those studied in Unit 1and further equip students to conduct
sociological research of their own choosing.
Finally various sociological theories which try to explain and understand how society
works are examined further and evaluated.

How is it examined?

There are three 2 hour papers taken at the end of the course;

Paper 1- Education with theory and methods

Paper 2 - Families and households and media

Paper 3 - Crime and deviance with Theory and Methods

Suggested reading

It will be of great help for students to keep up to date with what is happening in the
ever changing world so newspapers and news websites will be of great help as well
as documentaries on social issues. The following books will be the main focus of the
'A-Level Sociology: Year One: The Complete Course for the AQA Specification'
(Napier Press) by Rob Webb, Hal Westergaard, Keith Trobe, Liz Steel

'A2 Sociology: Year 2 The Complete Course for the AQA Specification' (Napier
Press) by Rob Webb, Hal Westergaard, Keith Trobe, Liz Steel

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