Teaching Staff

  • Mrs C Anderson, BTh PGCE
  • Mrs P McHugh, BA PGCE


Sociology is a diverse and interesting subject that challenges students’ perceptions of everyday life. Sociology deals with society. It is the study of the different forces and influences that shape society as a whole and the people within it. Sociologists apply theory and method to the study of topics such as crime and deviance, wealth and poverty, education, to name a few.

You are required to be keen on reading and thinking about controversial ideas, conflicting arguments and evidence. You will have to be prepared to develop your ability in essay writing. This course involves studying statistics and trends so you have to come ready to think in an analytical way.

A level Sociology is recognised by employers and universities alike as an excellent qualification showing literacy, numeracy, scientific ability and insight into human situations.

Spanning, as it does, the boundary between science and arts, it can be useful in getting into many higher education courses from criminology to philosophy and literature. It is also an asset in business, management, education and many other fields of employment requiring an understanding of human relationships and experience.

A Level


The AQA Specification is followed through Year 13 and Year 14.


  • UNIT 1 = 40% of AS Level = 20% of A Level 1 hour written paper
  • UNIT 2 = 60% of AS Level = 30% of A Level 2 hour written paper
  • UNIT 3 = 20% of A Level 1 hour 30 minutes written paper
  • UNIT 4 = 30% of A Level 2 hour written paper

Unit 1 – Wealth, Poverty and Welfare

1. Different definitions and ways of measuring poverty, wealth and income.
2. The distribution of poverty, wealth and income between different social groups.
3. The existence and persistence of poverty in contemporary society.
4. Different responses to poverty, with particular reference to the role of social policy since the 1940s.
5. The nature and role of public, private, voluntary and informal welfare provision in contemporary society.

Unit 2 – Education with Research Methods


1. The role and purpose of education, including vocational education and training in contemporary society.
2. Differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society.
3. Relationships and processes in schools.
4. The significance of educational policies for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of education.
5. The application of sociological research methods to the study of education.

Research Methods:

1. Quantitative and qualitative methods of research; their strengths and limitations; research design.
2. Sources of data and the strengths and limitations of these sources
3. The distinction between primary and secondary data and between quantitative and qualitative data
4. The relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods; the nature of ‘social facts’.
5. The theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of research.

Unit 3 - Power and Politics

1. Different theories of the nature and distribution of power.
2. The role of the contemporary state.
3. The nature of, and changes in, different forms of political participation, including voting behaviour, political action and protest, and membership of political organisations and movements.
4. The role of political parties, pressure/interest groups, new social movements and the mass media in the political process.
5. The significance of globalisation for an understanding of power and politics in the contemporary world.

Unit 4 - Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods

Crime and Deviance:

1. Different theories of crime, deviance, social order and social control.
2. The social distribution of crime and deviance by age, ethnicity, gender, locality and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime.
3. Globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the mass media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes.
4. Crime control, prevention and punishment, victims, and the role of the criminal justice system and other agencies.
5. The sociological study of suicide and its theoretical and methodological implications.
6. The connections between sociological theory and methods and the study of crime and deviance.

Theory and Methods

Candidates should examine the following areas, which are also studied at AS Level:

1. Quantitative and qualitative methods of research; their strengths and limitations; research design.
2. Sources of data, including questionnaires, interviews, observation (participant and non- participant), experiments, documents, and official statistics; the strengths and limitations of these sources.
3. The distinction between primary and secondary data, and between quantitative and qualitative data.
4. The relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods; the nature of ‘social facts’.
5. The theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of research.

A2 candidates should also:

  • Demonstrate a wider range and greater depth of knowledge and understanding than at AS Level.
  • Study the nature of sociological thought and methods of sociological enquiry in greater range and depth, and demonstrate more highly developed skills of application, analysis, interpretation and evaluation than at AS Level.

In addition, A2 candidates should examine:

  • 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.
  • The relationship between theory and methods.
  • Debates about subjectivity, objectivity and value freedom.
  • The relationship between sociology and social policy.

Extra Curricular

Students should take advantage of the excellent sociological learning opportunities on offer:

  • Attending relevant public lectures
  • Attend the Annual A Level Sociology Conference at QUB
  • Educational visit to Parliament Buildings, Stormont including a Q&A session with MLAs
  • Educational visit to Crumlin Road Gaol
  • Selected students will be part of a BBC ‘Spotlight Special’ audience
  • Exam skills workshops are held throughout the academic year (All Yr13 and Yr14 students are expected to attend their relevant session)
  • Speakers from specialist organisations will be invited in to school e.g. speakers from charities and other social groups; local politicians and public representatives

Homework & Core Assessments

Students are involved in many different activities and will be asked regularly to give their thoughts on the issues through debates and discussions. All students are encouraged to research independently and produce their findings in different formats, for example in a presentation or a poster. Students will also examine various documentaries and answer questions on topical issues. They will also be required to examine studies performed by social researchers to draw out strengths and weaknesses in their approach.

Each student is expected to complete one hour of preparation for every lesson. Sample Prep tasks in Sociology:

  • Background reading and summative note-taking
  • Producing mind-maps and concept diagrams on different topics
  • Reviewing lesson learning
  • Preparing for assessments
  • Watching a current/topical documentary/news story
  • Listening to a topical broadcast/podcast
  • Completing sample short answer exam questions

In addition to this sociology students are expected to write essays for homework or prepare for writing an essay under exam conditions. It is planned that each student will complete up to 2 essays per fortnight and spend up to 4 hours preparing for/writing up each essay. Sample homework tasks:

  • Revise for a assessments
  • Completing Exam essay questions
  • Completing series of shorter exam questions
  • Completing a full past exam paper


Extra reading sources are provided and students are expected to use them to write essays.

Students are expected to read broadsheet newspapers.

Links to useful websites: