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AQA A-level sociology specification content at a glance

I think it’s useful to have the specification laid out in one easy to access to place – so here you go:

With Families and Households and Global Development as the ‘options’ on paper 2

AQA sociology specification content at a glance

Please click here for a PDF Version of the above (probably better for both viewing and printing!): AQA sociology specification content at a glanceI

Text Version of the above:

Core themes (run through all exam papers)

  • socialisation, culture and identity
  • social differentiation, power and stratification.
  • the significance of conflict and consensus, social structure and social action, and the role of values.
  • the focus of study should be on UK society today, within its globalised context.

Education (paper 1)

  • the role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure
  • differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity
  • relationships and processes within schools: teacher/pupil relationships,
    pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning
  • the significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy.
  • Methods in Context – students must be able to apply sociological research methods to the study of education.

Theory and Methods (papers 1 and 3)

  • quantitative and qualitative methods of research; research design
  • sources of data, including questionnaires, interviews, participant and non-participant observation, experiments, documents and official statistics
  • the distinction between primary and secondary data, and between quantitative and qualitative data
  • the relationship between positivism, interpretivism and sociological methods; the nature of ‘social facts’
  • the theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of research
  • 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

Families and Households (option on paper 2, section A)

  • the relationship of the family to the social structure and social change, with particular reference to the economy and to state policies
  • changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation, separation, divorce, childbearing and the life course, including the sociology of personal life, and the diversity of contemporary family and household structures
  • gender roles, domestic labour and power relationships within the family in contemporary society
  • the nature of childhood, and changes in the status of children in the family and society
  • demographic trends in the United Kingdom since 1900: birth rates, death rates, family size, life expectancy, ageing population, and migration and globalisation.

Global Development (option on paper 2, section B)

  • development, underdevelopment and global inequality
  • globalisation and its influence on the cultural, political and economic relationships between societies
  • the role of transnational corporations, non-governmental organisations and international agencies in local and global strategies for development
  • development in relation to aid and trade, industrialisation, urbanisation, the environment, and war and conflict
  • employment, education, health, demographic change and gender as aspects of development.

Beliefs in Society (option on paper 2, section B)

  • ideology, science and religion, including both Christian and non-Christian religious traditions
  • the relationship between social change and social stability, and religious beliefs, practices and organisations
  • religious organisations, including cults, sects, denominations, churches and New Age movements, and their relationship to religious and spiritual belief and practice
  • the relationship between different social groups and religious/spiritual organisations and movements, beliefs and practices
  • the significance of religion and religiosity in the contemporary world, including the nature and extent of secularisation in a global context, and globalisation and the spread of religions.

The Media (option on paper 2, section B)

  • the new media and their significance for an understanding of the role of the media in contemporary
    society
  • the relationship between ownership and control of the media
  • the media, globalisation and popular culture
  • the processes of selection and presentation of the content of the news
  • media representations of age, social class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and disability
  • the relationship between the media, their content and presentation, and audiences.

Crime and Deviance (paper 3)

  • crime, deviance, social order and social control
  • the social distribution of crime and deviance by ethnicity, gender and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime
  • globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes
  • crime control, surveillance, prevention and punishment, victims, and the role of the criminal justice system and other agencies.

Sources:

Modified from the AQA’s A-level Sociology Specification from 2015 onwards (7191-2) – which can be accessed in all its glory here:

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Possible 10 Mark Analyse Questions Derived from the AQA’s A Level Sociology Specification: Education Section

I’m just in the process of re-examining the AQA’s ‘specification’/ vaguefication* for the sociology of education section to get a better idea of what kind of 10 mark ‘analyse’ questions might come up.

In case you don’t know (and you wouldn’t know this unless you’ve been on a course run by the AQA) a 10 mark ‘analyse’ question will take any aspect from any two of the bullet points in the AQA’s specification and ask you to make the links between them (with reference to a small item)….

Now… IF you’re already aware of this, then you probably know that there’s four main topic areas listed under the education specification/ vagueficiation, hence it’s quite easy to think up some nice combination questions taken from across these four bullet points.

HOWEVER, this might not be the limit of 10 mark question combinations – because under the education section of the A-level specification/ vagueification there is also specific reference to the ‘6 core themes’ of socialisation, power etc… so this might open up the possible of an even greater array of 10 markers.

A few possible 10 mark analyse questions:

  • Using material from Item A (remember there will be an item!) analyse two ways in which the functions of education have changed due to globalization.
  • Using material from Item A, analyse two ways in which selection policies might  have influenced the process of teacher labeling.
  • Using material from Item A, analyse two ways in which the privatization of education has affected the way in which different ethnic groups experience school.
  • Using material from Item A and elsewhere , analyse two criticisms  of the view that the hidden curriculum in schools helps to reproduce economic inequalities in wider society.
  • Using material from Item A and elsewhere, analyse two ways in which education policies might help overcome some of the disadvantages boys face as a result of gendered socialization practices.

I know some of these are just horrible, but remember, that the AQA has a burning hatred of all teenagers, and at least the above questions make sense, unlike some which have come up previously!

A reminder of the AQA’s specification for the education section of A-level paper one: 

The study of the topics in this paper should engage students in theoretical debate while encouraging an active involvement with the research process.

The study should foster a critical awareness of contemporary social processes and change, and draw together the knowledge, understanding and skills learnt in different aspects of the course.

In their study of the topics, students should examine:

  • topic areas in relation to the two core themes (socialisation, culture and identity; and social differentiation, power and stratification)
  • both the evidence of and the sociological explanations for the content listed in the topic areas below.

Throughout, students should be encouraged to use examples drawn from their own experience of small-scale research.

Attention should be given to drawing out links with other topics studied in this specification

4.1.1 Education

Students are expected to be familiar with sociological explanations of the following content:

  • the role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure
  • differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society
  • relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil relationships, pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning
  • the significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy.

*I prefer the term vagueification because this ‘specification’ doesn’t actually give us a precise idea about what might come up in the exam – nowhere in the above specification does it explicitly state you need to know (for example) about ‘Chinese’ students or ‘compensatory education’, yet these have both come up in previous exam papers. Thus this specification gives you a vague idea of what might come up, not a specific idea. To get a more specific idea, you need to spend a few years teaching or examining A level sociology, read the four main text books and and intuit the advice circulating about the content of A-level.