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Sociology A-Level at The North Durham Academy

Course description

Why study Sociology?

Sociology is the study of society, its institutions (families, media, education, criminal, religious and political). It investigates how people create society through their relationships, and the ways in which society shapes people’s behaviour and ideas.

Sociology is a critical subject because it avoids obvious or common sense explanations of human activity, such as changes in divorce, crime, education, searching instead for explanations at a deeper level.

Students will examine topics such as social inequality, education, crime and deviance, race and ethnicity and mass media and ideas such as power, socialisation and social control. They will also look at methods used by Sociologists to explain human attitudes and actions such as surveys and observational techniques.


Course outline:

The course places an emphasis on analysing social issues related to Families & Households, Education, Religion and Crime & Deviance.

At AS, you will learn to analyse topics such as Families & Households and Education using research evidence and sociological theories.

At A2, you will develop your theoretical analysis more fully and apply these theories to topics such as Religion and Crime & Deviance.



Year 12

AS Unit 1: Families & Households, 1 hour, 40% of total AS marks.

This unit will be assessed by an examination consisting of small mark questions and essays. The unit will examine changes in the structure of the family over time eg. why has there been an increase in single parent families, divorce and cohabitation? Does this mean that marriage is a dying institution and is there no such thing as a typical family? What consequences do these changes have for wider society? How far is it true to say that men and women's roles are now equal in the family?

This topic will be linked to a range of research methods used by sociologists. Students will also be expected to make synoptic links between education and research methods.

AS Unit 2 - Sociology of Education and Research Methods, 2 hours, 60% of total AS marks.

This unit will be assessed by an examination consisting of small mark questions and essays related to the Sociology of education and research methods. The unit will examine sociological explanations of why some groups underachieve in the education system, historical changes in the education system and contemporary policies, what has been the effect of the National Curriculum? Have recent changes in policy led to more equality of opportunity? This topic will be linked to a range of research methods used by Sociologists and some questions will have synoptic links.

Year 13

A2 Unit 3 - Beliefs in Society, 1 hour 30 minutes, 20% of total A Level mark.

An exam consisting of short answer questions and an essay. This will examine issues such as: How far religion may be in decline?

What are the functions of Religion in contemporary society?

Why do people join New Religious Movements?

A2 Unit 4 - Crime & Deviance and Theory & Methods, 2 hours, 30% of total A Level mark This is a synoptic unit and links will be made to previous topics such as research methods and theories. The exam will consist of short answer questions and essays on theory and methods and crime and deviance. This unit will examine different explanations of crime, deviance, social order and social control; the relationship between deviance, power and social control; different explanations of the social distribution of crime and deviance, by age, social class, ethnicity, gender and locality; the social construction of, and societal reactions to, crime and deviance including the role of the mass media.


Into the future:

Sociology is a very thought-provoking subject whose usefulness covers a wide variety of situations - academic, social, business and welfare. It is a valuable asset in many careers: personnel, business, marketing, market researcher, management, politics, advertising, probation officer, teaching, police force, nursing, social and welfare services and journalism.

How to apply:

To apply for a place at NDA16+ students should complete the application form available on our website.

Applications should be submitted as soon as possible. All applicants will be invited to discuss the course/courses applied for with a senior member of staff to ensure students are selecting the right course/courses. To help with the process we will also look at recent student reports and the attainment information provided by subject staff. Any offer of a place at North Durham Academy may well be dependant on students achieving specified GCSE grades.

Entry requirements

General Entry Criteria

The general criteria for entry to Year 12 of North Durham Academy’s 16+ courses are as follows:

  1. Most A Level and BTEC Level 3 courses: 5 separate GCSE subject passes at grades A* to C, including Maths and English.
  2. Meet the additional subject-specific requirements which are needed for some courses.
  3. For Maths, Science and Psychology courses, students will be required to complete a ‘Maths for Sixth Form’ course.
  4. Level 1/2 VRQ Courses: 4 GCSE grades at D or above preferably including Maths or English.
  5. Attend the Induction course in July and complete the Summer Bridging study packs relevant to the courses you want to study prior to enrolment.
  6. Agree to the conditions of the Sixth form Learning Agreement.

Any personal issues regarding entry criteria and extenuating circumstances can be raised and discussed at interview.



How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The North Durham Academy directly.

Last updated date: 16 March 2015

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1-2 years