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Sociology AS/A2 (See Option Blocks on our website) at Notre Dame High School

Course description

Sociology is the study of society. It is about all kinds of social relationships that people share with each other; in their families, in their schools and in work. It involves the systematic study and explanation of human social life, groups and societies. Sociologists aim to investigate and understand the social world and human behaviour within it. They are particularly interested in understanding the ways in which society influences us and shapes our lives.

In studying sociology, you will be actively involved in exploring and asking questions about the society in which you live. Studying sociology offers you opportunities to gain a greater understanding of society and to make sense of your own experiences within it. Sociology can be both thought provoking and challenging because it forces people to rethink some of their common-sense views and assumptions.

Social theory is important in Sociology. It teaches us that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to studying the way that people live together. What is important for a sociologist is the ability to evaluate evidence and choose between possible explanations.

Course content

Students study material which is examined in three papers:

Paper 1: Education with Theory and Methods

For this paper you will cover the following:

Education 

  • 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. 
  • The significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy.

Theory and Methods 

  • 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.

Paper 2: Topics in Sociology

For this paper you will cover the following:

Family & Households 

  • 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: birth rates, death rates, family size, life expectancy, ageing population, and migration and globalisation.

Beliefs in Society 

  • 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.

Paper 3: Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods

For this paper you will cover the following:

Crime and Deviance 

  • 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 and Methods 

  • 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

Entry requirements

What do I need?

Good grades in English language and literature are helpful when considering studying sociology, but the most important qualification is a sense of commitment and a willingness to work hard at a subject, which can sometimes be difficult to grasp at first.

If you’re the type of person who can handle working at a demanding pace, who’s not afraid to see the world in a different light and who wants to look deeper into the things we take for granted every day, then sociology is the subject for you!

You need at least the following at GCSE : 

  • Standard entry requirements.

You should be able to work independently. You should be a confident reader able to read textbooks for information and write detailed but concise answers in exams. You will need to develop the ability to present ideas, supported by evidence, in structured, effective essays and you will need good time management skills.

(See Option Blocks on our website)

Assessment

How will I be assessed?

All three examination papers are 2 hours in duration and equally contribute to 33.3% of your final A Level Sociology mark. The examinations contain both short and extended writing questions.

Future opportunities

Sociology is a great if you enjoy literacy, writing essays and debating ideas and considering different viewpoints. It really is a contemporary subject which we are involved in! It can help equip you for further studying and careers in Law, Politics, Health and Social Care and social research for government agencies.

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 25 January 2017
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