Guidance for Year 13

Why Study A Level Sociology?

Sociology can be defined as "the systematic scientific study of human groups". A Level Sociology is designed to give the student a comprehensive understanding of the major social institutions of Western Societies, with particular reference to modern Britain.
Sociology forms an important part of many professional qualifications and training courses. For example, medicine, social work, nursing, teaching, policing, management, etc.

A Level Sociology is accepted by all major Universities, Colleges and professional bodies and is of direct relevance to many courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts.

Recommendations for Entry

Students considering A Level Sociology should have an interest in current affairs. It is one subject which may be improved by watching television provided that the programmes are appropriate. Such programmes as the News, documentaries and current affairs programmes as well as cultural and anthropological programmes will be particularly useful. The course demands much reading; not just text books, but also journals, magazines and quality newspapers.

Finally, the Sociology course like many other A Level courses involves essay writing. Therefore, candidates should have at least a Grade B in English at GCSE Level.


AS and A Level courses based on this specification should enable candidates to:
  1. acquire knowledge and a critical understanding of contemporary social processes and structures;
  2. appreciate the significance of theoretical and conceptual issues in sociological debate;
  3. understand sociological methodology and a range of research methods;
  4. reflect on their own experience of the social world in which they live;
  5. develop skills which enhance their ability to participate more effectively in adult life.

There should be a focus on contemporary society. Where appropriate, comparative and/or historical materials may be introduced.

In addition, A Level specifications in Sociology should enable candidates to:

demonstrate a deeper understanding of the connections between the nature of sociological thought, methods of sociological enquiry and substantive sociological topics.

Synoptic Assessment
The Advanced Subsidiary and Advanced Level Criteria state that A2 specifications must include synoptic assessment.

The definition of synoptic assessment in the context of Sociology is as follows:
  • the drawing together of knowledge, understanding and skills learned in different aspects of the course.
It involves the explicit assessment of understanding of the connections between one or more substantive areas of Sociology, and the nature of sociological thoughts and methods of sociological enquiry using the higher level skills identified in section. Synoptic assessment represents 20% of the total A 2 marks, all of which are available in Unit 6.

Integral Elements
All of the following should be an integral part of the study of each topic area:
  • the connections between the different substantive areas of Sociology, the nature of sociological thought and methods of enquiry;
  • sociological theories, perspectives and methods;
  • the design of the research used to obtain the data under consideration, including its strengths and weaknesses.

Core Themes
Candidates must study the following two core themes:
  • socialisation, culture and identity;
  • social differentiation. Power and stratification

The themes should be understood and applied to particular substantive areas of sociology. However, these themes are to be interpreted broadly as threads running through many areas of social life and should not therefore be regarded as discrete topics.