Sociology is the ‘study of society’ and it is a very popular A Level at Chepstow School.

The term ‘society’ refers to the world around you, your community, your country and all the different people and groups that exist, with their different cultures, beliefs, values, languages and religions.

It gives students the chance to study and understand why things are the way they are, and why people behave in certain ways.  Examples of issues that students look at include:

  • Why do some people commit crime?
  • Why do girls tend to do better at school than boys?
  • Why are we seeing an increase in divorce and a decrease in people getting married?
  • Why is there so much inequality and poverty in the country?

Sociology aims to give students an interest in social issues, social justice and current affairs and the opportunity to gain a valuable understanding and insight into how society works and how the structures and processes in society inevitably shape who we are, how we behave and many other aspects of our lives and life chances.

Students develop an understanding of how individuals, groups, institutions and societies are interdependent; the way in which they cooperate and conflict with each other, and the potential causes for the social differences between individuals.  Students are encouraged to think critically and analytically, and to make informed judgements and arguments based on evidence and theories.  Students are asked to reflect on their own experiences of the world in which they live in order to develop an increased awareness and understanding and the role they play in it.

At AS and A2 Level, students follow the AQA syllabus which offers them the opportunity to study a range of topics and issues within sociology.  The topics that students cover are:

AS Unit 1 – Families & Households

•The relationship of the family.

•Changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation, separation, divorce, child‑bearing and the diversity of contemporary family and household structures.

•Changes within the family, with reference to gender roles, domestic labour and power relationships.

•The nature of childhood and changes in the status of children in the family and society.

•Reasons for changes in birth rates, death rates and family size


AS Unit 2 – Education With Research Methods

•The role and purpose of education, including vocational education and training in contemporary society.

•Differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society.

•Relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil relationships and pupil subcultures.

•The significance of educational policies.

•The application of sociological research methods to the study of education.


Research Methods

•Quantitative and qualitative.

•Research design.

•Sources of data, including questionnaires, interviews, participant and non‑participant observation, experiments, documents, and official statistics.

•The distinction between primary and secondary data.

•The relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods.

•The theoretical, practical and ethical considerations.


A2 Unit 3 – Beliefs in Society

•Different theories of ideology, science and religion, including both Christian and non-Christian religious traditions.

•The relationship between religious beliefs and social change.

•Religious organisations, including cults, sects, denominations, churches and New Age movements and their relationship to religious and spiritual belief and practice.

•The significance of religion and religiosity in the contemporary world, including the nature and extent of secularisation in a global context.


A2 Unit 4 – Crime & Deviance with Theory & Methods

•Different theories of crime, deviance, social order and social control.

•The social distribution of crime and deviance by age, ethnicity, gender, locality and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime.

•Globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the mass media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes.

•Crime control, prevention and punishment, victims and the role of the criminal justice system and other agencies.

•The sociological study of suicide and its theoretical and methodological implications.


Theory & Methods

Same topics as AS including the following;

•Consensus, conflict, structural and social action theories.

•The concepts of modernity and post-modernity in relation to sociological theory.

•The nature of science and the extent to which sociology can be regarded as scientific.

•Debates about subjectivity, objectivity and value freedom.

•The relationship between sociology and social policy.

The course requires students to complete extended writing and essay tasks, independent research (so being comfortable reading and assimilating information is essential), as well as being able to express ideas and communicate them well in writing.  Students will be expected to have an interest in current issues and be willing to discuss these.

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