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Sociology A level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

A Level Sociology will introduce you to points of view on society, including those which largely approve of the way it works (Functionalism) to those which argue for change (Marxism and Feminism). In Sociology much of what we investigate is open to interpretation; it is therefore desirable if students enjoy discussions and debates. You must also like reading and writing as these are essential elements of the course. By studying Sociology you will learn to think critically and independently about society and your place in it, gain the tools to think for yourself, and develop a critical and informed understanding of the world around you. As such, it is essential that you are interested in current affairs and you will benefit from keeping up to date with the news.

You will study a range of sociological theories, perspectives and methods in order to understand the nature of social life. You will answer questions, such as:

  • Why do working class students achieve lower GCSE grades than upper class students?
  • Why has the definition of childhood changed over time?
  • Why are there many more men in prison than women?
  • Why are some countries richer than others?

You will study the following key subject areas: Families and Households, Education, Research Methods, Global Development, Crime and Deviance and the relationship between Theory and Methods. Sociology is 100% exam based assessment; there is no coursework.

Course content

Families and Households: This unit examines the role of the family in contemporary society and how changes in the family have occurred over time. In this unit the nature and extent of changes within the family are studied, with reference to gender roles, domestic labour and power relationships. The changes in the nature of childhood is considered and how the status of the child has changed over time along with the change in demographic trends; such as how birth rate and death rate have affected the family.

Education with Research Methods:  In a society dominated by debates around the effectiveness of education we develop an understanding of the factors influencing underachievement.  Particular focus is on the difference in performance between male and female pupils and on the experiences and achievements of ethnic groups within the education system.

We also look at how sociologists research issues in society. This unit explores the methods that are used in research and examines previous sociological research. The problems associated with conducting research are examined.  Students are also able to carry out their own research.

Global Development:  Events and relationships between societies have a profound effect around the globe.  This unit focuses on explanation of development and under-development, the imbalance in the distribution of wealth and power, the role of Aid and Trade and the process of globalisation.  Key contemporary issues such as measuring the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on the environment make this unit one of increasing significance and importance.

Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods:  This unit focuses on explanations for patterns of behaviour and issues relating to social order and control. It provides an in-depth look at the main sociological theories and how they can be applied to the study of crime and deviance.  We cover issues such as why certain groups in society appear to commit more crime than others, victims of crime and new developments such as global crime, people trafficking and cyber-crime. This unit continues the examination of research methods used by sociologists, with particular reference to researching crime and deviance.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C with a grade B Higher GCSE for English Language and English Literature (Higher Level). A B grade in a Humanities based subject such as History or Geography is essential. 


You will be formally examined on each unit that you study. The examinations are traditional and essay-based, and are sat at the end of the second year for A Level and at the end of the first year for AS. Due to the linear nature of Sociology, AS exams do not count for the A Level.

Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of formative assessment methods:

  • You will be assessed regularly on written essay work that is conducted either as homework or under timed conditions in class and given feedback on your progress. You also will be assessed regularly on sociological terminology and theory via tests.
  • Discussions and presentations are a vital part of our assessment process and you will be expected to contribute to those and reading exercises.
  • You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.
  • You will undertake mock examinations on each unit in advance of your final exams.

Future opportunities

A qualification in Sociology is highly valued by many universities and employers alike. Sociology is also an excellent subject to complement many courses, such as English, Psychology, Politics, Economics, History and Education.

Sociology is a popular degree course, either as a single subject or joined with other disciplines. Academic qualifications in Sociology provide students with valuable analytical and evaluative skills. The objective and rigorous nature of this subject ensures that a range of careers, such as management, human resources, social work, the civil service, the criminal justice system, national or local government and law.

Further information

We encourage all students to read widely and conduct their own research into society in particular in relation to the units you will study. Support is provided in class and on a one to one basis as required.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

Key information