Sociology is the study of society. Society is the collectionof all the people, communities and organisations that make up the country you live in. You can’t see or touch society, but you can see and touch the parts that make it up. When we study society, we tend to study these individual parts one at a time. We can then look at the whole picture and see how all the parts work together. For example at Petchey we study the family, the education system, the criminal justice system and religion as an institution. These are just some of the institutions and organisations that make up society.

As well as studying institutions we study social groups, for example ethnic groups, age groups and social class groups. We learn to understand how our individual experiences in society can be linked to our social background. We develop a sociological imagination. For example, when studying the education system, we learn that some social classes and ethnic groups tend to do better than others in school. We question this. Is it because some social groups are more intelligent than others? Or is it because the education system isn’t designed to help all students equally?

The A-Level Sociology programme at The Petchey Academy is specifically designed not only to provide you with the knowledge and understanding of the way society works, but also to give you the skills that are crucial to your development as a young adult.

These include research and analysis; independence of thought and interpretation; creativity; working as part of a team; managing deadlines;self-organisation; self-confidence; the ability to reflect on your own learning; and being able to take a leading role in your own studies.

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Main topics:

  • The role and purpose of education, including vocational education and training, in contemporary society.
  • 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 subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning.
  • The significance of educational policies, including selection, comprehensivisation and marketisation, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of education.
  • The application of sociological research methods to the study of education.
Theory and Methods
  • 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
  • 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.
Beliefs in Society
  • Different theories of ideology, science and religion, including both Christian andnon-Christian religious traditions.
  • The relationship between religious beliefs and social change and stability.
  • Religious organisations, including cults, sects, denominations, churches and New Age movements, and their relationship to religious and spiritual belief andpractice.
  • The relationship between different social groups and religious/spiritualorganisations and movements, beliefs and practices.
  • The significance of religion and religiosity in the contemporary world, includingthe nature and extent of secularisation in a global context.
Crime and Deviance
  • Different theories of crime, deviance, social order and social control.
  • The social distribution of crime and deviance by age, ethnicity, gender, locality and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime.
  • Globalisation and crime in contemporary society; the mass media and crime; green crime; human rights and state crimes.
  • Crime control, prevention and punishment, victims, and the role of the criminaljustice system and other agencies.
  • The sociological study of suicide and its theoretical and methodological implications.
  • The connections between sociological theory and methods and the study of crime and deviance. 


Assessment in Sociology is through examination only. Details for examinations scheduled this year are as follows:

Paper 1: 33.3% of overall grade

Education, Methods in context, Theory & Methods

2 hour written exam - 80 marks

Education:Short answer and extended writing (50 marks)

Theory and methods: extended writing (10 marks) 

Paper 2: 33.3% of overall grade

Families & Households, Beliefs in Society

2 hour written exam - 80 marks

Families& Households: Extended writing (40 marks) 

Beliefs in Society Extended writing (40 marks)

Paper 3: 33.3% of overall grade

Crime & Deviance, Theory & Methods

2 hour written exam - 80 marks

Crime &Deviance: Short answer and extended writing (50 marks)

Theory & Methods: extended writing (30 marks)