An introduction to the basics of A Level Sociology 

The first set of links on this page take you to introductory posts on the core themes within AS and A Level sociology – covering sociological perspectives such as Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism; core themes such as social class, gender and ethnicity; and key concepts such as socialisation, identity, power and differentiation

The second set of links take you to posts which provide a more thorough overview of what you need to know and introduce you to how you will be assessed in A level sociology. 

An Introduction to Sociology

These posts make up part of a two-week introductory block I do with my own students, and the aim is to introduce class, gender and ethnicity and sociological perspectives. If I had time, I’d introduce research methods too at this stage, I don’t because I’m under pressure to get the first key assessment out early which means we need to crack-on with the families module as soon as possible. Bloody system, a bunch of 16 year olds could design a better one. 

What is Sociology?

Nature and Nurture Explanations of Human Behaviour

Social Class – An Introduction to the Concept

Social Class, Income and Wealth Inequalities

The Extent of Material Deprivation in the UK

What is Racism?

Functionalism – An Introduction for A Level Sociology

Marxism – An Introduction for A Level Sociology

Overview of the AS and A Level Courses – Content, Core Themes and Assessment

The AQA provide a very brief formal specification (which has its pros and cons) and a slightly fuller scheme of work on its website – but none of these sources are sufficient for teachers of Sociology, let alone students to really ‘know what you need to know’.

To understand what you need to know, you need to look at the main AQA endorsed text books and revision guides – the exam board actually uses these to set the exam. The structure below is based on my 15 years of experience interpreting what I think the exam board wants you know – that is the minimum you need to know in each ‘sub-topic’ area in order to get you maximum knowledge marks in an essay question which may come up in one of the exams (NB – knowledge marks are only half the story, the other half (or so, it varies from question to question and paper to paper) are for application, analysis and evaluation).

Anyway – for your pleasure and enjoyment – a series of links to how I think AS and A level sociology should be structured into sub-topics (NB – this works, our results are ‘outstanding’).

It’s worth noting here that some of the modules below are optional, and different centres may teach different options – all centres have to do education, research methods, and theories, but everything else is optional – the options I choose are families, crime and deviance and global development.

AS and A Level Sociology – At a Glance – An extremely brief overview which outlines the main modules and the main topics within each module – It’s easiest to think of the first year as having three ‘modules’ – families and households, education (with methods in context) and research methods and the second year as having a further three modules – crime and deviance, theory and methods and global development. 

AS and A Level Sociology – Whole Course Overview – A more detailed version of the above, which includes modules, sub topics and ‘sub-sub-topics’.

Core Themes in AS and A Level Sociology – There are SIX core themes which the AQA say you need to know, which run all the way through both years – Culture, Identity, Socialisation, Power, Stratification and Differentiation. You probably won’t be taught these discretely, but the AQA reserves the right to emphasise any of these in any question on any paper. 

Assessment Objectives in AS and A Level Sociology – Knowledge and Understanding (of concepts, theories, research) is worth about 50% of the marks in the exam, the other 50% are for Application, Analysis and Evaluation. 

Good resources for exploring AS and A Level Sociology further – To get the most out of sociology, and to really ‘get it’ at all, it helps to be reading around the subject – this post provides a few links.