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Are you interested in why people commit crimes, why girls do better than boys in school, or to what extent religion is still important in the world? Would you like to know more about the issues and challenges in society and what different people use to justify their opinions? Would you like to know more about the how mass movements are created and what unites and divides communities and cultures? Would you like to know more about critical issues in the workplace and what our rights and responsibilities are? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes,’ then Sociology is the subject for you!
Sociology teaches you the skill of debate; how to structure and argument and how to evaluate ideas against each other. During the course you will discuss a wide range of topics including race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. You will look at social movements over the past 100 years to establish the route of society and to give you a sense of where society is placed today. The subject teaches tolerance, diversity and equality and discusses issues where these are less commonplace in society with the aim of understanding the issues to create change in society towards a more equal, tolerant place. It can become quite political and an interest in current affairs is necessary. It will suit anyone interested in pursuing a career in law, journalism, police, teaching, and wider social roles.
Sociology is taught on the AQA specification. It is fully examination based. The exams are a mix of short answers and longer form essay questions. You will sit the AS exam at the end of the first year and three further examinations in the second year.
A minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4 and above, including Maths.
A grade 5 or above in GCSE English Language.
You will study three units in the first year and three units in the second year.
1. ‘Education’: This unit investigates the role and functions of the education system, differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society, relationships, and processes within schools. You will also explore the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning. Alongside this, you will explore the significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact, and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy.
2. ‘Research Methods’: You will examine quantitative and qualitative methods of research; research design, sources of data, including questionnaires, interviews, participant and non-participant observation, experiments, documents, and official statistics.
3. ‘Families’: This unit explores the relationship of the family to the social structure and social change, changing patterns of marriage and cohabitation, gender roles and domestic life and the nature of childhood. You will investigate how family life is changing in a postmodern world and look at family diversity, the impact of government policy on the family as well as the influence of immigration and culture from living in a global world. We also study the contentious issues of gender roles in the home looking at how the family is viewed at patriarchal by feminists and how extremes of this result in domestic violence. This topic is wide ranging and discusses many issues surrounding family life in a contemporary, global world.
4. ‘Sociology of Belief’: You will ask the question ‘is religion a force for social change or does it reflect tradition and keep society the same.’ You will look at the theories of Functionalism, Feminism, Marxism, Weber, and postmodernism to establish the view of religion in society taking the idea that powerful groups have used religion to support their viewpoint and keep society operating to their advantage. You will compare this to the view that religion is a force for change looking at Eastern and Western fundamentalism, Liberation Theology and Black Civil Rights movements among other theories to establish the effect of religion on society. You will examine secularisation; is religion declining and why and look at the rise of cults and sects and new religious movements, including spirituality, and whether this replaces the decline of traditional religion. We look at the effect of religion on social groups e.g., age, gender, race.
5. ‘Crime and Deviance’: If you were not born criminal, what makes someone turn towards crime? Looking at the main theories ideas regarding the structuring of society; Marxism, feminism, New Right etc you will seek to understand the true cause of crime and therefore prevent it. You will ask the question whether prison works and if not, then what works better? looking at a global perspective comparing other countries’ systems of punishment. You will look at the effect of crime on social groups in terms of perpetrator and victim including race, gender, and age. You will look at crime prevention and track crime rates across time and place.
6. ‘Sociological Theory’: You will study the principal theories including Functionalism, Feminism, Marxism, Postmodernism, New Right. Looking at the debate between structure and action; does society control action, or do individuals have free will. You will also ask the question is science a new religion and not actually as impartial as we think it is.
There are a range of different career opportunities open to you if you study Sociology. For example, this could include careers in law and policing, education, politics and the civil service as a policy analyst or researcher, social work and marketing or business. You could progress onto a university degree to study Sociology further, however the skills gained in the subject are also applicable to a range of different degrees, including many humanities-based courses. Sociology can be combined with a variety of different subjects. Some suggested good subject combinations include Law, Psychology and Criminology to further develop skills and understanding in shared themes, Politics, History or Geography.
If you study Sociology, you may like to join our Sociology Academy which further delves into the topics and discussions that take place in the classroom and explores other topics. You may also like to join our Legal Academy if you find the Crime and Deviance aspect of the subject interesting, or the Psychology Academy which also explores some of the themes covered in the subject. There are also opportunities for different trips in Sociology including a trip to the Bristol Law Courts. We have also previously held a ‘behind closed bars’ day for Sociology learners with speakers coming in to talk about their real-life experiences of the Criminal Justice system and legal reforms.