A Level Sociology is taken typically as a part of a full time A Level Study Programme.
In sociology you will learn about the complexity and diversity of social situations. You’ll learn how to apply sociological theory to families and households, the criminal justice system and education. You’ll learn how to develop reasoned arguments using your understanding of research methods, analysis and statistical techniques. You’ll develop your own opinions on society’s contemporary issues.
Many of our sociology students have gone onto study it further at university and subsequently progress onto work in the public sector in a social or welfare role. Many students of sociology go onto work in local and central government, industry, commerce, the NHS, education authorities, further and higher education, and charitable, counselling and voluntary organisations. Sociology has links to other careers such as, Public services, Social Services, Youth Services, Advice Services, Social Researching and Charity Fundraising .
What is Sociology A Level about?
Sociology is literally the study of society. The place we live, the place we work, the place we call home. But why is it so important, and why do some people find it so interesting?
Studying A Level Sociology at Gateshead College is your opportunity to delve into the complex and compelling world around us using expert and innovative teachers and techniques. Where others teach to the text book and the exam we immerse you in subject to the point where it becomes an innate habit to analyse everything you see and hear from a sociological viewpoint.
Having excellent links with local organisations allows our students to experience knowledge from all perspectives; universities, law courts, and the probation service all help in offering an experience unique to Gateshead College and one which inspires students to go on and study the subject at university and beyond. A Level Sociology leads to a vast array of career opportunities from teaching through to social work, and equips you with the skills and knowledge to grasp your future goals with both hands.
How will I learn?
Something exciting is happening in the world of Sociology at Gateshead College. Learning, as you know it, is changing. Remember getting an exam question for homework at the end of each lesson? Gone. Remember not having the opportunity to ask your classmates or teacher if you got stuck on it? Gone. The help and support you need is now where you need it most – in the classroom!
The ‘flipped’ classroom approach means your time in class is spent on developing your own knowledge, skills, and understanding of the topics studied. By learning the theory out of class in the time you would normally do your ‘homework’ you can come to the lesson equipped with questions and ideas that you want to work on, and the teacher can set tasks based on your learning needs.
Students on the course will gain skills of critical thinking, knowledge and understanding of research methods and how to apply sociological theory to society’s organisations. They will gain skills of researching, judging and evaluating complex information and in turn learn how to understand, scrutinise and re-assess common perceptions of the social world. Sociology will also enhance written and communicative skills through set assessment, debates and discussion. These skills of sociology match that of the skills required for university study linking to dissertation writing in many disciplines especially the humanities and social sciences.
What does the A level consist of?
Sociology at A level runs over 2 years, with AS student completing year 1. In first year you will study:
Education and Methods in Context
This unit, 'The Sociology of Education' aims to look at the issues around education in the UK. This involves asking challenging questions such as: why do girls outperform boys in exams? Does your social class have an influence on your education? Does race have an impact on a person's educational chances? Who are the winners and losers in the education system? Is education really equal for everybody? We like to think that education and schooling is a 'social good' and that it aids everybody because it teaches them to be literate, use numbers, be creative and achieve their full potential. However, if we look at it closer and use the lens of sociology, there is a darker side than we first originally thought. This unit will explore some of the barriers in society for some people who go through the education process.
Families and Households and Research Methods
'The Sociology of Families and Households' explores the nature of the family structure, how it has changed throughout time and history, and why some put forward criticisms of the family or create the family as 'ideal'. This unit explores the function of the family itself: can it ever be beneficial to society? Has the family ever had a 'golden age'? Why is the modern family so diverse? Has it always been this way? How do we socialise our children? It is helpful in this unit to watch television programmes, films and books which show the family structure (and different types of families) so we can discuss them in lectures! We also get involved in some contemporary debate about toxic childhood. Have children become so consumed and distracted by the internet?
In your second year with us you will study:
Crime and Deviance & Theory and Methods
A firm favourite of students in second year, unit 4 seeks understanding of different theories of crime, deviance, social order and social control, and how the social distribution of crime and deviance differs by age, ethnicity, gender, locality and social class, through recent patterns and trends in crime. Students broaden their vision of crime by researching globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the mass media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes, and how crime is controlled, prevented and punished. The sociological study of suicide and its theoretical and methodological implications leads students to analyse hard hitting topics, whilst developing further their skills in sociological theory and methods in the study of crime and deviance.
Beliefs in Society
This unit looks at different theories of ideology, science and religion, including both Christian and non-Christian religious traditions. We develop an understanding of the relationship between religious beliefs and social change and stability, whilst exploring ideas around religious organisations, including cults, sects, denominations, churches and New Age movements, and their relationship to religious and spiritual belief and practice. All of this is geared around trying to answer the questions surrounding the significance of religion and religiosity in the contemporary world, including the nature and extent of secularisation in a global context.
Who does the subject suit?
Anyone who has an interest in understanding how the world around them works, and who enjoys critical thinking and exploring ideas from different viewpoints. Students who have shown an interest in and ability for English and/or History almost always do well in Sociology, although success in the subject is not limited to such students. Sociology is an excellent complement to other subjects on social sciences and humanities, such as Psychology, Politics and Communication Studies, but it also provides a good balance if your other subjects are mainly science-based.
Who will teach me?
Your Sociology teacher is Laura Mackintosh. Laura has an Undergraduate degree in sociology from Leeds University and a Masters degree in Social Research Methods (Sociology) from Durham University.
Laura has studied a vast number of Sociology and Criminology modules throughout her degrees including social problems, religious beliefs, social welfare and sociological research methods. Laura’s has also conducted a number of social research projects looking at social class status and the education system.
Activities outside the Classroom
Each year we organise a variety of trips to ensure that the study of sociology can be transferred to a real life setting. Within previous years we have had guest speakers visit, and witnessed a court case at the Crown Court We also attend an annual Criminology conferences hosted by academics at Newcastle University. This year Laura is looking at organising a trip to London so the students can experience the Crime Museum and the Houses of Parliament.
What might the subject lead onto?
Sociology is an academic subject which equips students with a range of skills beyond those of the core curriculum. In our classes you will learn to think critically, to question common-sense assumptions, to solve problems, to work independently and as part of a group and to write a clearly structured, analytical essay. All of this is excellent preparation for university or for a whole range of careers.
Sociologists go on to work in the media, law and other institutions of criminal justice, public relations, market research, social work, foreign aid and development and teaching; many of course are inspired to stay in an academic environment researching aspects of sociology for the remainder of their careers!
Many of our Sociology students go on to study Social Sciences at university, particularly Sociology.