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Sociology GCE AS/A Level at Richmond-upon-Thames College

Course description

Sociology is the study of the individual and society. It tries to explain human behaviour by studying how the different social groups which people belong to influence their actions and beliefs. Many current social issues are studied by sociologists such as the increase in violent crime amongst young people (such as in the riots of 2011), the underperformance of boys in education due to a lack of male role models and the impact of new media on consumer choice and politics. 

Course content

The aim of this course is to encourage a critical understanding of sociological ideas about society and social life. An exciting part of studying sociology is the way you can use it to help make sense of your own experiences in society. It can give you new ways of seeing the social world around you and lead to a questioning of things that are often taken for granted.


There are 2 units of study for each of the AS and A Level parts of the course:

The first year covers:

  • Education with research methods: In this unit you will study the sociology of education and research methods. You will look at key issues in the sociology of education such as the underachievement of boys in school and why some ethnic minorities do not succeed in school. You will also consider relationships between teachers and pupils, looking specifically at the concepts of labelling and the self-fulfilling prophecy. We will also focus on research methods in the context of education.
  • Families and households: This topic aims to introduce key sociological terms and concepts such as cereal packet family, life expectancy, instrumental/expressive role and globalisation. You will focus on the changes in family and the diversity of contemporary family and household structures such as same-sex families and reconstituted family. Did you know that divorce rates rose in 1993 to 180,00 from 27,000 in 1961? We will explore the reasons for increase such as changes in law and society and rising expectations of marriage. You will also study the role and relationships in families, the nature of childhood, for instance the disappearance of childhood because of globalised media and lastly demographic trends such as immigration, birth/death rates and ageing population. In 2015, 65 years over accounted for 17.8% of the UK population and projected to 24.6 in 2045.

The second year covers:

  • Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods: In this unit you will study criminology and its associated methodology. If you are thinking of studying criminology at degree level or getting a job in the criminal justice system this module will be perfect for you. You will study crime and its causes in relation to the role of globalisation, the effect of mass media and how social media caused the London riots in 2011. You will understand how governments are responsible for state crimes including assassination, genocide and torture. If you are interested in why and who commits crime this is the module for you.
  • The media: In this topic you will explore the numerous roles and relationships between the media and contemporary society. You will study the significance of new media, the relationship between ownership and control, who is the big six media corporations that control majority of the media? Why do sociologists refer to Rupert Murdoch as the ‘Phantom prime minister’? You will also look at the processes and selection of the news, representations of age, social class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and disability that views individuals in stereotypes such as working class individuals being seen as chavs and children perceived as innocent and angels. The hypodermic syringe model will appear in the relationship between the mass media and audiences. Is our behaviour shaped by the mass media? Is violence imitated from films, cartoons and TV shows just as the case of the killing of James Bugler.

Entry requirements

You will need an average GCSE points score of 5.5 including GCSE English at grade 6


AS level: Each topic is assessed by a written examination. There are two papers each 1 hour 30 minutes long, consisting of a range of short and extended writing questions. There is no coursework.

A level: Each topic is assessed by a written examination. There are three papers each 2 hours long, consisting of a range of short and extended writing questions. There is no coursework.

Financial information

The main expense would be for one course textbook each year costing approximately £25. There may also be the possibility of trips to the cinema, theatre or conferences. These may cost between £5 and £15 each time.

Future opportunities

AS/A Level Sociology is recognised for university entrance requirements and is a valuable subject to have studied for all types of work which involves an understanding of people and social relationships and the use of problem solving and analytical skills. The AS/A Level can lead on to a sociology degree and is also a good preparation for a wide range of other courses in higher education and professions or business in health and welfare, administration, education, journalism, public relations, police or research.

Further information

To find out more about this course please visit our website or contact us on or 020 8607 8302

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Richmond-upon-Thames College directly.

Last updated date: 18 October 2017
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