Sociology
A level

Are you interested in people and their behaviour?  If the answer is 'Yes', then sociology could be the right course for you.  Sociology asks lots of questions about the relationships between groups of people within society and explores issues of identity, inequality and power.

Sociology will allow you to see your social world in a different way and question taken for granted assumptions about the way that you live.  You will improve your skills in research, analysis and critical reasoning.

Sociology is the study of society and looks at how everyday experiences shape our lives.  In particular, we will study patterns of behaviour within social groups and the impact of class, gender, ethnicity and age on social relationships.  The focus of the course will be the UK, but references will be made to other cultures as well.

You will be involved in many different activities including:

  • debates and discussions on various issues
  • independent research and presenting your findings or designing a poster
  • watching documentaries and answering questions on topical issues
  • examining studies performed by social researchers to draw out strengths and weaknesses in their approach

You may also choose to be involved in one of trips to Brighton to look at Mod culture, to New York to look at the Americanisation of cultural identity or you may attend a student conference on recent research in Criminology or Anthropological research on feral children or attend a lecture on social inequality.

This is a new-style linear A level course.  You will NOT take an external AS exam at the end of the first year.  In the second year of the course, you will take external exams that assess content covered in the first and second year.  These exams will determine your A level grade.

  1. Socialisation, culture and identity - written examination worth 30% of the A level.
  2. Debates in contemporary society (globalisation and the digital world and the sociology of Education) - written examination worth 35% of the A level.
  3. Researching and understanding social inequality - written examination worth 35% of the A level.

Any subject combination is possible, but the skills developed compliment other subjects in humanities and social sciences such as psychology, philosophy, history, government and politics, citizenship and law as well as economics, media and film studies.

Many of our sociology students go on to take degrees in sociology or a related field such as anthropology, criminology or education.  Sociology is also considered good preparation and an acceptable entrance qualification for other courses at degree level.

Common career pathways taken by sociology graduates include journalism, law, PR, marketing, social research, politics, charity (NGO), development work, teaching, social work and nursing.

It is also a useful subject for those not wishing to go to university and wanting to follow careers such as the police, armed forces, civil service and working with children or the elderly.

The best sociology students are interested in the world around them and pay attention to respectable news bulletins.  We recommend that over the summer, students take the opportunity to not only keep up to date with current affairs but to also watch any of the fascinating documentaries produced by the BBC or Channel 4 about society and human behaviour.  Good examples include the Cutting Edge series, Horizon, Panorama or Dispatches.

Many topics of sociological debate are also documented in British films and novels.  Films such as 'Brick Lane', 'Billy Elliot', 'This is England', 'Made in Dagenham' and 'Pride' brilliantly document changes to British society in relation to ethnic, social class, gender and age identity.  All of which are key topics embedded throughout the course.

Exam Board

OCR Learn More

Entry Requirements

  • A qualification in sociology is advantageous but not essential.
  • You will need at least a grade 4 in GCSE maths and ideally a grade 5 in GCSE English language.
  • Your GCSE profile should be supported by a grade 5 in a writing-based subject, such as GCSE history, geography or English literature.

Year 1

  • Socialisation, culture and identity - ask questions such as: how are cultures formed? How do we learn our identities from the environment around us?
  • The sociology of youth - how is youth socially constructed? What is the relationship between young people and sub-cultures? Why are some young people more likely to commit crime?
  • How sociologists carry out their research - what are the problems with trying to research human behaviour?

Year 2

  • Contemporary issues in sociology e.g. globalisation in the digital era. Issues such as how Facebook makes people less satisfied with life; why 75% of 16-24 year-olds claim they couldn’t live without the internet and how the sexes behave differently online.
  • The sociology of education - the structure of the education system in the UK. What function does education have in society? Explaining differences in educational achievement. Global issues in educational provision?
  • Social inequality and difference with research methods - what are the inequalities and differences experienced by different genders, classes, ages and ethnicities? How are research methods used and combined to study this area?

Employability Skills

  • Keen awareness of the world and the society in which we live
  • Communication skills, with the emphasis on formulating and structuring strong written work and the ability to articulate oneself verbally
  • Interpret data and analyse statistics
  • Understanding of how people and society operate, encouraging tolerance and sensitivity towards others

Course Resources

1st year

OCR sociology for A Level Book 1 - ISBN: 9781471839481, Hodder Education 2015, RRP: £24.99, also available as as eTextbook from £16.

2nd year

OCR sociology for A Level Book 2 - ISBN: 9781471839450, Hodder Education 2016, RRP: £24.99

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