What is sociology A level about?
In Sociology, we study the way people are affected by society, and how society is affected by people. Some sociologists see the behaviour of individuals as determined by how they are raised and educated, what media they are exposed to, whether they are rich or poor, men or women, black or white. Others see individuals as powerful in shaping society, and look at the power of some people in labelling others as crucial. What is undeniable is that, as individuals, we spend almost all our time in groups, and in order to understand our behaviour we have to examine and assess the impact of those groups and institutions on us. Throughout it all, we use theoretical perspectives that originated with the industrial revolution (which gave birth to Sociology as a discipline), but are equally focused on explanations that take into account the rapid changes being wrought by globalisation, new technology and the mass media on contemporary society.
Embracing the whole of society, sociology is, by its nature, an incredibly wide subject, ranging from why Britain's religious cult movements are growing to why women in Tibet marry more than one man. This course offers a wide range of fascinating topics to explore society and its impact on us.
The course is made up of one compulsory unit at AS which is Education with research methods. At A level the compulsory unit is Crime and Deviance with research methods. There are two optional units each year which are Families and Households at AS and Beliefs in Society at A level.
There will be two exams at the end of Year 1, both in May, and are 90 minutes long. Year 2 has 3 exams, and much of this is synoptic, meaning you are learning new skills and applying them to what you already know from Year 1. You will also be examined on the new topics you learn this year.
Why take Sociology?
What Skills will I acquire?
What will studying Sociology lead on to?
Which subjects go well with Sociology?
What are the entry requirements?
Who will teach me?
Useful links and further reading
If you want to get an idea of what it is like researching crime and deviance, try 'Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Crosses the Line' (Venkatesh, published by Allen Lane); an excellent book on gang culture in Britain that is a riveting read is ‘Among the Hoods’ by Harriet Sergeant . Other recommended reading: ‘Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class’ by Owen Jones; ‘Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism’ by Natasha Walter.
As for websites, the most important are the quality newspapers and news websites such as the BBC, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and The Telegraph. Learn the political allegiances behind different newspapers and notice how the same story can be reported differently accordingly. Compare these newspapers to the more sensationalist papers such as The Sun or the Daily Mail. Why not learn about the reading age of different newspapers; what does that say about how the news is reported? Most importantly, stay up to date with what is happening both here in the UK, but also round the world.