Hints for A Level Sociology Paper 3 (Crime and Deviance)

A few hints for how I recommend answering the Crime and Deviance section of AQA’s paper 3 (which also contains theory and methods, more of that later). NB – What’s below isn’t endorsed by the AQA, but it’s my best interpretation based on what I’ve been told works.

Questions 1 and 2 (4 and 6 mark short answer questions) –‘Outline two ways/ Outline three reasons’

  • Point (1 mark) + Explanation (1 mark)
  • Do this (two times over for question 1, three times over for question 2)
  • Bullet point each point and explanation.

Question 3 – The Outline and Analyse Question (10 marks) – ‘Using material from Item A, outline and Analyse two ways in which…’

  • Read the item – this will give you your two ways (it will effectively limit you to two points)
  • For each of the two points, make two further analytical points to develop that point, and ideally evaluate it.
  • Do this twice.

Question 4 – The essay question (30 marks) Applying material from Item B evaluate something

  • Read the question – if it asks you to do two things, make sure you do both
  • Read the item – at least two of your points should stem from the item
  • Make 3-6 total points depending on the essay – deeper or broader
  • Use the Point –Explain – Expand (analyse) – Evaluate structure
  • If it’s a perspectives essay, evaluate using other perspectives towards the end of the essay as you build up to your conclusion.



Analyse two criticisms of the theory that police racism is the main factor which explains the higher imprisonment rates of ethnic minorities

An example of a 10 mark ‘analyse’ question written for the AQA’s crime and deviance paper.

This could form the basis of a 10 mark question in the crime and deviance paper, in which case, you would have an item, which will direct you to two of the reasons mentioned below, which you must use if they are in the itme to get 10/10!

A mark scheme and some suggested answers to the above question*


  • Answers in this band will show good knowledge and understanding of relevant material on two reasons.
  • There will be two developed applications of material from the item
  • There will be appropriate analysis/evaluation of two reasons.

To get into this mark band you need to identify one reason, develop it, analyse it (so three good sentences of development/ analysis) and then repeat this for your second reason.

4- 7

  • Answers in this band will show a basic to reasonable knowledge and understanding.
  • There will be some successful application of material from the item.
  • There will be some analysis/evaluation

This means you’ve identified, developed and analysed one reason well, but not effectively developed or analysed the second reason.


  • Answers in this band will show limited knowledge of one or two reasons
  • There will be limited application of material from the item.
  • There will be limited or no analysis/evaluation.

You shouldn’t be down here.

Possible Criticisms

These could form the basis of any one of your two points. 

  • Underlying patterns of offending are different…
  • The characteristics of offenders are different….
  • It’s the public that’s racist, the police just respond….
  • Racism is subjective, thus difficult to define
  • Racism is difficult to research in practice.

Example which should get you 5/10

Repeat with one of the other reasons to get 10/10

The first reason why it is doubtful that police racism explains the higher imprisonment rates of ethnic minorities is that there is some evidence that ethnic minorities might commit more crime.

Development  For example, many ethnic minority groups experience higher levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation (applying left realism) which could explain actual underlying higher levels of offending.

Analysis Thus it might be these factors related to class and deprivation which explains the higher levels of policing and stop and search (and corresponding imprisonment) in minority areas rather than police racism. The police are not necessarily racist – they are just responding in an objective, rather than a racist way to really existing high crime rates in poorer areas, where ethnic minorities are more likely to live.

*Answers not endorsed by the AQA. These are my best guesses as to a safe minimum for getting full marks. NB –  You may as well go with my best guess as the exemplars produced by the AQA don’t necessarily reflect the standards they mark to anyway. 

Analyse two ways in which crime has changed in postmodern society (10)

Outline and analyse some of the ways in which crime has changed in postmodern society (10)

An example of how you might go about answering such a question (not an exhaustive answer)

(Before reading this through, you might like to recap the difference between modernity and postmodernity.)

Postmodern society is a society based around consumption and consumerism rather than work – people primarily identify themselves through the goods and services they buy rather than the jobs they do. As a result there is simply more stuff being bought, which means here is more opportunity to commit crime – Robert Reiner has identified a straightforward link between the increasing amount of stuff and the increase of property crime, as witnessed with the crime explosion since the 1950s. The increase in property crime has been further fuelled by an increase in the type of ‘strain’ identified in the 1940s by Robert Merton- The mass media today is rife with programmes promoting high consumption, celebrity lifestyles as both normal and desirable, thus increasing demand for stuff, which combined with insufficient legitimate opportunities to earn enough money to buy such a lifestyle, creates what Jock Young calls a ‘Vertigo of Late Modernity’, fuelling a historically high level of property crime.

Baudrillard calls postmodern society a hyperreal society – mediated reality (basically life as experienced through the media) is more common and more ‘real’ than face to face reality – it is thus no surprise that the fastest growing type of crime is cyber-crime of many different varieties – where criminals do not come face to face with their victims – this at least partially explains one growth area of cyber crime – which is sexual and racist abuse and ‘trolling’ more generally via social-media – many such criminals would not dare say the things they do face to face. Another example of cyber crime is the online-dating romance scam, which illustrates all sorts of aspects of ‘postmodern’ crime – it is hyperreal, in that the criminals make up fake IDs to put on dating sites to lure victims into giving them money, and many of these scams are done by people in West Africa, illustrating the global nature of much postmodern crime, this particular example being at least partially fuelled by the wealth gap between the developing and the developing world. In short, the fact that we are connected via the internet globally, the relative ease of access to the internet, and the relatively low risk of getting caught, all help to explain the increase of cyber crime in the age of postmodernity.

Related Posts

Post and Late Modern Criminologysummary sheet

Assess the Contribution of Post and Late Modern Perspectives to Our Understanding of Crime and Devianceessay plan