What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions. Sociology’s subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from the divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from social stability to radical change in whole societies. Unifying the study of these diverse subjects of study is Sociology’s purpose of understanding how human action and consciousness both shape and are shaped by surrounding cultural and social structures.

Sociology is an exciting and illuminating field of study that analyses and explains important matters in our personal lives, our communities, and the world. At the personal level, Sociology investigates the social causes and consequences of such things as romantic love, racial and gender identity, family conflict, deviant behaviour, aging, and religious faith. At the societal level, Sociology examines and explains matters like crime and law, poverty and wealth, prejudice and discrimination, schools and education, business firms, urban community, and social movements. At the global level, sociology studies such phenomena as population growth and migration, war and peace, and economic development.

A-level Sociology offers students the opportunity to develop the essential knowledge and understanding of central aspects of sociological thought and methods. It is designed to encourage students to demonstrate the application of a range of skills and consider the integration of sociological themes -

  • Socialisation, culture and identity
  • Social differentiation, power and stratification

What is the content of the A-level?

The A-level requires students to complete four units which consist of three written exams.  The first year of the linear course covers the content needed for Paper 1 and Section A of Paper 2.

Paper 1 – Education with Theory and Methods

How is it assessed?

  • 2 hour written exam
  • 80 marks
  • 33.3% of A-level

Paper 2 – Topics in Sociology

What’s assessed?

Section A: Families and Households

Section B: The Media

How is it assessed?

  • 2 hour written exam
  • 80 marks
  • 33.3% of A-level

Paper 3 – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods

How is it assessed?

  • 2 hour written exam
  • 80 marks
  • 33.3% of A-level

The second year of this linear course covers the content needed for Section B of Paper 2 and Paper 3.

All exams are taken at the end of the second year.

How will I be taught?

Some group work is carried out, but students are also given the opportunity to extend their independent learning skills. Some lessons involve practical tasks, videos, discussion and ICT activities and students are encouraged to take an active part in class activities.

What skills will I need?

  • A grade B or above in English Language
  • The ability to voice your opinion and also to listen to the opinions of others
  • An interest in human interaction and the workings of society

Are there extra-curricular activities?

During the first year there is a trip to the Houses of Parliament to examine social policy and the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood to develop students' understanding of the evolution of childhood. During the second year there is likely to be a visit to examine the role of the media at Disneyland Paris and a visit to the Crown Courts in either London or Nottingham to look at the criminal justice system. We are also fortunate to have links with Sheffield University and our girls are able to participate in workshops and attend lectures within their Social Sciences Department.

Clinic is available twice a week.

How will Sociology be useful in my career?

The traditional occupation for Sociology graduates has been social work or some other form of public sector welfare work such as the probation service. However, in practice, Sociology graduates go into a much wider range of jobs. In industry, for instance, human resource management (or personnel as it used to be called) is one application close to welfare, but additionally aspects of marketing draw upon sociological skills.

Virtually all Sociology courses include methods of social research and these can have an enlightening effect upon market research. Fields such as Civil Service, Police, Local Government Services and teaching would all benefit from studying Sociology at this level or further.