Sociology is offered at A-level as it gives students the opportunities to develop a critical perspective of the societal structures. It is relevant to today’s society and so develops inquisitive and questioning approaches which will be valuable to students in the next phase of their lives/education. The intent of the Sociology curriculum is to enable pupils to participate in our interconnected world with understanding and humanity. Through the study of Sociology, pupils will examine social phenomena that affect people’s lives in profound ways. The course is designed and delivered to nurture thoughtful and motivated young people. The Sociology curriculum empowers pupils with intellectually challenging ideas and concepts and essential skills of critical thinking.
We follow the eduqas specification because each component focuses on issues within contemporary society. This specification guides learners towards the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of key sociological issues and debates. It is designed to encourage the development of higher order skills such as analysis and evaluation. Learners will be challenged to demonstrate their ability to use their sociological knowledge appropriately in the context of the demands of the questions. Additionally, this course fosters the development of critical and reflective thinking with a respect for social diversity. It provides an awareness of the importance of social structure and social action in explaining social issues. It encourages our learners to develop their own sociological awareness through active engagement with the contemporary social world.
Component one: This component focuses on the theme of socialisation, identity and culture and is divided into three sections.
Section A – acquiring culture. In this unit we will cover:
- The social construction of culture
- The process and agencies of socialisation:
- Examples of the influence of socialisation on identity
- The concepts and theories are covered within a distinct unit, which provides a basis for understanding the various sociological theories and concepts throughout the rest of the course.
Section B – Families and Households. In this unit we will cover:
- Family forms and diversity
- Demographic changes including marriage, divorce, cohabitation, life expectancy, fertility, singlehood
- Relationships in families and households with reference to social change
- Theoretical perspectives of families and households: functionalist, Marxist, feminist, postmodernist, New Right
This topic supports knowledge acquisition of human development from birth through death. We study this topic because it is the primary institution for socialising children and caring for the elderly and builds upon their knowledge from section A.
Section C – Education. In this unit we will cover:
- The role and function of education in contemporary society
- Patterns and trends of differential attainment and participation with reference to social class, gender and ethnicity
- Contemporary social policy with regard to education in society
- The influence of material factors, cultural factors and processes such as labelling within the education system and in wider society on patterns and trends in educational attainment
- Theoretical perspectives of education: functionalist, Marxist interactionist, feminist, New Right, postmodernist
The sociology of education is a diverse and vibrant subfield that features theory and research focused on how education as a social institution is affected by and affects other social institutions and the social structure overall, and how various social forces shape the policies, practices, and outcomes of schooling.
For the first year of study, these units were chosen because they are relevant to our students and support their ability to apply the challenging concepts of sociological theory. There is an abundance of opportunities to discover modern, relevant and pertinent examples for these topics, to keep the course up to date.
Component two: methods of sociological enquiry
In this unit students will:
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of methods and sources of data
- demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge and understanding of research methods
- demonstrate their ability to design, analyse and evaluate their own research design
- use examples from contemporary sociological research to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant sociological concepts and key methodological issues.
This unit gives students the confidence to apply their theoretical understanding in the real world, and an understanding of how to conduct sociological research; something they may have to complete if they were to progress to studying sociology at university level. A key focus of the curriculum is active engagement in Sociological research and pupils will complete independent research tasks, solidifying their research methods skills.
Component three: Power and stratification
Section A – Social differentiation and stratification. In this unit students will:
- evidence and examples of areas of inequality related to social class, gender, ethnicity and age in the contemporary UK; evidence and examples may be drawn from across the specification.
- changing patterns of inequality including the distribution of income, wealth and social mobility in the contemporary UK
- theories and explanations for inequality and stratification related to social class, gender, ethnicity, age, for example functionalist, New Right, Marxist, neo-Marxist, Weberian, neo-Weberian, feminist, postmodernist, and theories of racism.
Section B – Crime and deviance. In this unit students will:
- patterns of the social distribution of crime and deviance related to social class, gender, ethnicity and age
- measuring crime; official government statistics including police statistics and the British Crime Survey, victim studies and self-report studies and the impact of contemporary social policies on crime rates
- definitions of crime and deviance as social constructs including the role of the media
- the influence of theories and explanations on social policy
- theories and explanations of crime and deviance: functionalist, Marxist, neo-Marxist, interactionist, right and left realism, postmodernist, feminist, sub-cultural
For this paper, the theme of power, issues of social order and social control is required to be studied. We chose crime and deviance as it an engaging topic and contemporary examples can be studied to support the understanding and application of the knowledge. The compulsory unit will be taught last as this unit develops the student’s ability to make synoptic links to previous knowledge and therefore revisits and revises previous topics that the students have studied.
Skills intent: The emphasis on skills makes this specification an excellent vehicle for the development of transferable capabilities which could be utilised by the learner in both academic and professional arenas alike. Some questions will allow learners to respond in non-prescriptive ways, to develop and demonstrate their “sociological imagination” through their commentary on sociological theories and evidence.