Sociology is the scientific study of the development, structure and functioning of human society. The study of Sociology at A Level gives students a deeper and more scientific understanding of the world and the way in which societies have developed. The course allows them to develop their own opinions about the factors shaping society and come to conclusions about how individuals interact with and shape the society they live in. Additionally, students are provided with the skills to develop deep, long-lasting knowledge that will enable them to form synoptic links and further develop correlations with other subjects. Furthermore, students are encouraged to deeply reflect on their and other people’s choices and the values that underpin them in order to improve themselves and their community.
The study and evaluation of sociological perspectives is a particularly rigorous element of the course which students find challenging and stimulating as they explore differing interpretations from sociologists analysing modern society. Students are provided with a unique opportunity to develop themselves into articulate confident readers, writers, and orators, so that they can critically and confidently engage with the world around them. Students can go on to further study of Sociology at university and are ideally placed for careers in a wide variety of areas including local and national government, the civil service and charities. Sociology provides the tools and skills students require to take a more active role in creating, participating in, managing, and advancing such groups which shape our society today.
The intent behind the Sociology curriculum is to help students to better understand the world they live in and the reasons why the structures in society have developed in the way that they have. Students studying Sociology A level are provided with the skills to feel empowered to challenge injustice in all its forms to affect change.
To do well at A Level, the students need to understand the trends in modern society, be able to explain why these trends have developed using sociological perspectives and evaluate the contribution of sociologists’ perspective, concurrently critiquing their research methods to come to an informed opinion. They should be able to make synoptic links across the topics that they study as well as applying their real-life knowledge and examples. The two core themes of the A Level are socialisation, culture and identity and social differentiation, power and stratification. They must understand the significance of key concepts such as conflict and consensus, social structure and social action as well as the role of values.
The course at A level is divided into a two-year course. Schools have a choice on the topic for Paper 2 and Families and Households has traditionally been chosen because it inspires greater interest from students and is universal in that all students can easily relate material to their own experiences and of those around them. Research methods are taught as a discrete but vital part of the course as they form a separate part of the exam in both paper one and paper three. Once content has been covered in Year 13, there is plenty of time allocated to revision for the exams. Students are provided with tailored skills and knowledge they need to understand how they learn, are supported to build success and develop passions that will last for life. In Year 12, Families and Households is taught alongside Education where opportunities for links are identified, especially with perspectives and first order concepts which transcend to specific subjects such as norms and values. Crime and Deviance is one of the more demanding units and is therefore taught in Year 13 when students already have knowledge of the key theories, therefore easing the cognitive load on students.
Sociology is delivered through lessons which include high intensity retrievals, teacher instruction, discussion, and debate (both in pairs and as a class), note making or answering questions, application tasks and practice of exam technique, using model answers and scaffolded plans. Homework and study work is based on classwork and recall and they have textbooks to consolidate their learning, working through questions in a workbook to guide their notes. Study work includes directed reading of relevant news articles to keep their knowledge up-to-date and unique. Additionally, students are encouraged to engage with the work of reputable sociologists as well as requiring their theoretical knowledge to known situations. Furthermore, students are provided with bespoke experiences which will enrich their learning within and beyond the classroom and equips them with the right tools to ensure that they are able to make informed choices about their future.