Curriculum Leader: Miss S Taylor
Exam Board: AQA
Specification Number: 8192
What is Sociology?
Sociology is the study of society. At STAGS, Sociology is a popular subject choice, offered at both GCSE and A-Level. Sociology helps students develop a wide range of knowledge and understanding about society, including understanding of society's structures, processes and issues. Sociology is exciting, interesting and relevant to students' lives. It allows them to think critically about the world they live in and makes them analyse why things are the way they are.
Why study Sociology at St Albans Girls' school?
Every member of the Sociology department is a subject specialist. Staff have excellent knowledge of the subject and specification; Mrs Khanum is a regular contributor to the Sociology Review Journal, having had 5 articles published on issues that students can explore and discuss in the classroom; Miss Taylor and Mrs Khanum are examiners for AQA with excellent knowledge on what the examiner wants to see in scripts; Miss Lamb has completed several recent, additional subject-specific training courses, including courses specifically aimed at exam skills in Sociology. The Sociology department uses many different teaching and learning styles to aid student learning and encourage curiosity and enthusiasm for Sociology in our students. Internal tests and mock exams will be carried out in order to monitor students’ progress and regular feedback is given to students on their attainment and exam technique.
Sociology is studied through a variety of methods, including: group work, presentations, debates and discussions, written assignments and documentaries. The Sociology department has a wide range of resources to make the subject interesting and exciting, and stays up to date with contemporary Sociology. Sociology lessons regularly provide opportunities for students to apply Sociology to real life examples, and therefore allows students to really think about the society they live in. The department also runs a series of clubs and activities to enliven the subject; support is provided in these sessions to ensure students feel confident in their final examinations.
Sociology Career Paths
Sociology develops social awareness and critical thinking. It combines well with many other A-Level courses. A-Level Sociology is universally accepted as an entry qualification for higher education courses and is an asset in a large number of employment areas where social understanding and analytical skills are important. Some career choices in Sociology include marketing, teaching, social work, journalism and working as part of the criminal justice system.
For more information about careers in Sociology, please see the Prospects website.
What will be studied?
Year 10: The Sociology of Families and the Sociology of Education
Students start the course by learning the main sociological theories of functionalism, Marxism and feminism. This, alongside other knowledge learned, is then applied to the Sociology of Families and the Sociology of Education units. These units focus on what society is and how it is shaped and defined within the institutions of the family and education. Sociological research methods are also studied as a unit in the first year of the course; giving understanding of what sociological research is, and how it is carried out and used by researchers.
Year 11: The Sociology of Crime and Deviance and Social Stratification
These units help the students to develop their analytical, assimilation and communication skills by comparing and contrasting sociological perspectives. In the Crime and Deviance unit, students study the criminal justice system and explore the factors behind criminal and deviant behaviour. The Social Stratification unit completes the course, and revolves around themes of hierarchy, power and inequality in society.
How is the GCSE course assessed?
There are 2 examinations which will take place in the May/June of Year 11. Each exam lasts for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Paper 1: The Sociology of Families and the Sociology of Education
Paper 2: Crime and Deviance and Social Stratification.
Sociological theory and research methods questions appear throughout both papers.
Recommended textbooks (but not essential):
AQA GCSE 9-1 Sociology Student Book: Collins
AQA GCSE 9-1 Sociology Complete Revision and Practice: Collins
Students will be provided with a wide range of support materials available on their Google Classroom
What equipment is needed at GCSE?
A writing pen, highlighter, glue stick, pencil, purple biro and pink biro are essential at all times.
What will be studied?
In Year 12, the following topics are studied:
Education with Theory and Methods: In this unit we study the institution of education and how it shapes the lives of young people in the UK. We explore the role of education through sociological studies and methods. The education unit is explored in significantly more depth than at GCSE level.
Culture and Identity: In this unit we study different cultures and the influence identity has on our everyday lives. We study the socialisation process and examine the different agents of socialisation in depth (media, religion, family and peer groups).
In Year 13 the following topics are studied:
Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods: this unit explores how crimes are defined, why they are committed and who commits them. Deviance and cultural notions of what makes people deviant will also be explored. The theory and methods unit explores sociological theory and research methods, and encourages students to think analytically; for instance, an example of a debate from the theory section is is Sociology a Science?
The Media: students will study this topic in great detail. Who owns the media and how much influence does this have on our day to day lives? We study media representation of characteristics such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class. Students will also study theoretical aspects of the media and will be expected to make links to other areas of the specification.
There are three 2 hour exams at the end of the two year course. All exams consist of a mixture of short mark and long mark questions.
Paper 1: Education with Methods in Context
Paper 2: Culture and Identity and Media
Paper 3: Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Expectations of students:
An awareness of current social issues and wider reading are necessary for optimum learning. It is essential to conduct independent reading and research to develop sociological knowledge. Lessons include formal teaching and note-taking as well as group work and Independent activities. Students will be expected to work with their peers to produce assignments and presentations, and to take part in sociological debates. As an essay-based subject, regular essay writing and exam practice is essential and non-negotiable.
Students should have good reasoning skills, a willingness to consider a range of views objectively, and the ability to think clearly about different kinds of information and how to interpret this information. Students need to have a genuine interest in controversial social issues and be willing to read widely.
Recommended support materials for A-Level students:
- Ken Browne AQA Volume 1 and 2 course textbooks
- Tutor2u Sociology
- The Teacher Sociology YouTube videos
- Sociology Review Magazine (available as a tile on students' RM unify)
- News apps websites such as the BBC, the Guardian, and Sky News
Students will also be provided with a wide range of support materials available on their Google Classroom.
What equipment is needed at A-Level?
A large lever arch folder with sectional dividers, writing pens, highlighters, a glue stick, a purple biro, a pink biro, and pencils are needed at all times.