Sociology is the study of societies and human groups.  Why do we act in the ways that we do, and how are we influenced by our upbringing and people around us.  Why do we commit crime?  How does inequality affect us?  How does our gender, age, ethnicity and social class affect the actions we take?  These are some of the questions that Sociology attempts to answer. 



Advanced Level

Course Aims

Studying sociology develops an understanding of how society is organised and the skills and knowledge developed throughout the course will often focus on the human activities and structural elements of society that connect individuals, groups and institutions.  In this regard it is a subject that can be of great relevance to a wide variety of careers. Students will develop ideas relating to a range of human and societal issues including the economy, work, gender, race, social inequalities, social norms, the criminal justice system, the mass media, political system, deviance, the social environment, organisations, religion and class. Students studying sociology become more aware of, and develop more rounded opinions of, the world in which they live.

Key skills:

  • applying sociological theory to society's organisations including education, mass media, political system, criminal justice system, economy, healthcare and welfare;
  • researching, judging and evaluating complex information;
  • making reasoned arguments orally and in written work;
  • strong IT skills gained through the presentation of projects and essays;
  • knowledge and understanding of research methods (quantitative and qualitative), analysis and statistical techniques;
  • developing and challenging opinions and forming new ideas on societal issues;
  • make reasoned arguments through interpretation of evidence and texts
  • working collaboratively with others;
  • using effective methods to communicate your ideas and conclusions;
  • statistical and other quantitative techniques;
  • the ability to understand, scrutinise and re-assess common perceptions of the social world;
  • relating sociological knowledge to social, public and civic policy;
  • understanding ethical implications within sociology and assessing the merits of competing theories and methods of research;
  • organising work and meeting deadlines.

Entry Requirements

Because of the need for concise, written responses based on objective observations it is recommended that students should have at least grade C in English literature.

Course Content:

Unit 1 - Education & Methods
Unit 2 - Work, Welfare & Poverty
Unit 3 - Mass Media
Unit 4 - Crime & Deviance with Theory and Methods

The A Level Sociology exam is assessed in a final examination format at the end of Year 13.

Career and Higher Education Opportunities

Sociology and the skills developed through it's study can be applied to a wide range of occupations. Many are attracted to careers that centre on the challenges and demands that members of a society face. This leads to jobs in social services, education, journalism, criminal justice, welfare services, government, counselling, or working for charitable organisations.

Students regularly take sociology as a singular or joint discipline at degree level and Downs School sociology students have gone on to study Sociology or Criminology at some of the country's top universities.

Recommended text books, revision guides and reference books


AQA A-level Sociology Year 1 and AS Student Book

Authors: Steve Chapman, Martin Holborn, Stephen Moore and Dave Aiken 
Publisher: Collins
ISBN-13: 978-0-00-759747-5 

AQA A-level Sociology Year 2 Student Book

Authors: Steve Chapman, Martin Holborn, Stephen Moore and Dave Aiken 
Publisher: Collins
ISBN-13: 978-0-00-759749-9 


AQA Sociology for A Level Book 1

Authors: David Bown, Laura Pountney, Tomislav Maric 
Publisher: Hodder Education
ISBN-13: 978-1-4718-3939-9 

AQA Sociology for A Level Book 2

Authors: David Bown, Laura Pountney, Tomislav Maric, Natalie Meadows 
Publisher: Hodder Education
ISBN-13: 978-1-4718-3942-9 

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