What is sociology?
Click on the image on the left to see the different issues you can study.
 See David Mitchell explain Marxist view of religion by clicking on the image above
See David Mitchell explain Marxist view of religion by clicking on the image to the left.






Head of Department (A Level): Miss C Russell
Head of GCSE:  Mrs C Charman

Aims of the Department

All teachers in the Sociology Department strive to encourage and empower students to understand and develop:

  • Knowledge and a critical understanding of contemporary social processes and structures
  • Appreciation of the significance of theoretical and conceptual issues in sociological debate
  • Understanding of sociological methodology and a range of research methods
  • The ability to reflect on their own experience of the social world in which they live
  • Skills which enhance their ability to participate more effectively in adult life.

Brief Synopsis

Simply put, sociology is the study of society.  Sociology uses a lot of different methods in order to investigate the way society works and why humans do the things they do as a society.  We investigate issues about the role of social institutions like the family, the media, education and criminal justice systems and religious belief, along with the effects of class, ethnicity and gender on social behaviour patterns.

Why study it?

Sociology is interesting

Who makes the rules about which behaviour is considered ‘bad’ and which is ‘good’?  What effect does advertising and television have on our behaviour?  How has the structure of the family changed?  Why do some groups do better in education than others?  Why do some people commit more crime than others?  Do we live in a post-modern world where the people we watch on television are more important than our own friends and family?

Sociology is challenging

Can stereotyping be reduced or eliminated?  Can different religions be encouraged to work and live peacefully beside each other?  Can patterns of voting be predicted?  Can family roles become equal and shared?

Sociology is dynamic

Science is never static – Sociology is constantly adjusting to the changing world around us and new approaches to Sociology are being addressed such as the Sociology of the body, in response to the popularity of plastic surgery, or Post-modernism, as a way of studying reality television.

Sociology is useful

Imagine if we knew enough about the way humans interact to be able to intervene and reduce problems such as crime, family breakdown, poverty, disruptive behaviour, media violence and inequalities in education.

Sociology is insightful

Remember that you are learning about human interaction and you are a human too!  This means that you will begin to understand and think abstractly about your own behaviour and motivations and will begin to interpret the behaviour of people in your life in a more meaningful way.

Sociology is fun!

More than in any other subject Sociology offers the chance to experience the theories that you will be learning – you will see them every day all around you, in school, on TV, in your homes.  You will debate and gather evidence to support your opinions and study a wide variety of topics that you have never previously considered would be a subject of controversial debate.

Sociology is by no means an easy subject; students must have a sharp conceptual understanding of often complicated theories and must learn to present arguments backed up with evidence.  A common problem for students is that they often put forward their own ideas and opinions, when to gain higher grades; they must learn to put forward the ideas of sociologists and evaluate their findings.

Sociology students must be aware of current developments in education, crime, population and many other areas.  They will need to watch televised news reports and read newspapers to keep in touch with changes.

The key components in the course are:

  • Theories of sociologists and the methods of enquiries used to research society
  • The socialisation process which teaches us how to behave acceptably and become part of society
  • The purpose and nature of family life in different societies
  • The purpose, organisation and outcomes of the British education system
  • The causes, consequences and definitions of crime and deviance
  • Changes in population
  • The definitions of class and the implications of social inequality in societies.

Aims of the GCSE Sociology Course

Key Stage 4

Year 10

  • To encourage students to look objectively at what has been taken for granted and "what everybody knows"
  • To form opinions and make decisions based upon evidence and a rational approach to the topic in question
  • To develop a critical awareness of the student’s social environment

Topics: Family, Education, Sociological research methods

Year 11

  • To guide students in clear and accurate presentation of sociological evidence on individual research, using primary and secondary sources
  • To develop fluent techniques of discussion and debate using precise sociological terminology, both verbally and written
  • To be able to apply sociological concepts flexibly when examining social phenomena.

Topics: Media, Social Inequality, Crime and Deviance

Key Stage 5

The AS qualification focuses on the various sociological views such as Feminist, Functionalist, New Right, Post Modern and Marxist theories on the family and education.  Students are introduced to sociological research procedures.

The A Level qualification allows students to develop skills in understanding the process and function of sociological research in the academic domain.  The qualification covers similar content to the AS qualification for Units 1 and 2, with differentiation being applied through greater synoptic requirements in exam questions as well as an additional topic in Unit 2,  Beliefs in Society.  Students will investigate Christian and non-Christian belief systems, cults and sects and the ideology behind them, the relationship between different social groups and spiritual organisations, and the relevance of religion in the modern day.  We also investigate Crime and Deviance which encompasses the social patterns of various crimes.  It also includes the relationship between Crime and different sociological theories and methods, and the role of the criminal justice system.

Main features of the AS qualification (taken over one year):

What GCSE grades do I need to take the course?
Minimum of 5 GCSEs at Grade A*-C (or equivalent) including English.

Experience shows that your chances of success are greater in the subject if you have at least a Grade B in English Language.

Unit 1:          Education with Methods in Context
Weighting:   Written exam 1.5hrs 50% of total AS

Section A: Education                                          (40 marks)
Section B: Methods in context                          (20 marks)

Unit 2:          Research Methods and Topics in Sociology
Weighting    Written exam 1.5hrs 50% of total AS

Section A: Research Methods                             (20 marks)
Section B: Optional: Families and Households  (40 marks)

Both units are examined at the end of the first year in May/June

Main features of the A Level qualification (taken over two years)

Unit 1:            Education with Theory and Methods
Weighting:    Written exam 2 hrs 33.3 % of total A level

Section A: Education                                           (50 marks)
Section B: Methods in Context                         (20 marks)
Section C: Theory and Methods                       (10 marks)

The questions will be a selection of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing.

Unit 2:          Topics in Sociology
Weighting:   Written exam 2 hrs 33.3 % of total A level

Section A: Optional: Families and Households    (40 marks)
Section B: Optional: Beliefs in Society                   (40 marks)

Unit 3:          Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Weighting:   Written exam 2 hrs 33.3% of total A level

Section A: Crime and Deviance                             (50 marks)
Section B: Theory and methods                            (30 marks)

All three units are examined at the end of the second year in May/June