A level Sociology

Sociology students at Ashbourne take on some of the most important and topical issues of the day like the impact of social media on our lives, why crime is on the rise in the UK, how different ethnic groups are treated in society, how sport can bring together family generations and how and where we educate our children.

Through a wide range of multi-media resources, experience and extensive knowledge our tutor will guide students to draw out their own answers using questioning and develop their independent thinking.

Why study Sociology?

Not everyone has the same access to wealth, power and opportunity. Where you fall on the scale of fortune can play a central role in your pathway to a happy and fulfilling life. Exploring why imbalances exists, the role of the media, barriers to social development and the value of different approaches to coping with society’s most fundamental problems (e.g. poverty, crime, environment) is the task of sociologists in a bid to come up with social policy that will help create a more equitable society.

If you are at all curious about the way people behave and interact then Sociology is a great subject to study. It examines all aspects of human social behaviour from individuals, small groups and communities to large organisations, institutions and whole societies, and explores how beliefs, behaviours and identity are shaped.

Studying Sociology will expose you to new ways of seeing and understanding the world around you and help you better appreciate others’ standpoints, as well as equip you with critical thinking skills invaluable for any further study and future career ambitions.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for A level Sociology.

What is covered on the course?

Students focus on UK society (within a global context) to explore two core themes: socialisation, culture and identity; and social differentiation, power and stratification. They will develop an understanding of the significance of conflict and consensus, social structure and social action, and the role of values.

Throughout the course all students will examine and apply sociological theories, perspectives and methods and the design of the research used to obtain the data under consideration, including its strengths and limitations.

A level students will explore the core themes in the context of Education (compulsory) and Families and Households (chosen option) and apply these themes to Crime and Deviance (compulsory) and Global Development (chosen option).

EducationFamilies and HouseholdsCrime and DevianceGlobal Development
Everyday around 35 children are permanently expelled from schools in England, according to UK government figures, because of ongoing disruptive and sometimes violent behaviour. Some argue that a narrowing of the curriculum, cuts to teaching and over testing have pushed some children too far. Many of those expelled suffer from mental health issues caused or exacerbated by being in care, having little support at home, feeling socially or ethnically excluded and by not being engaged at school.

In this component students will examine the role and function of the education system in the UK, its relationship with economic and class structure; levels of educational attainment by social class, gender and ethnicity; social and cultural identities and curriculum bias; and relationships between children, teachers and learning. Students will also consider the effects of different types of educational policy and the impact of globalisation.

Research methods
Students will learn to use a variety of research methods in their study of education which include research design, data collection, critical analysis, understanding of relationship between methods and the theoretical, practical and ethical considerations influencing choice of topics, and conduct of research.

Divorce rates are at their highest in England and Wales since 2009. Do marriages last longer if couples have lived together beforehand? Are marriages longer and happier when couples share household chores and childcare equally? Or are people just more casual about divorce than in the past? How do children fare as a result?

Students will explore a wide range of issues affecting the family and households and consider the relationship of the family in terms of social structure, social changes and the state. They will examine changing patterns of cohabitation, marriage and child-bearing, as well as other domestic trends in the UK since 1900. Students will also investigate family structures in terms of gender roles, domestic labour, power relationships and diversity. The nature of childhood and the changes in status of children in the family and society are also studied.

Crime figures in England and Wales have shot up, including gun and knife crime, and are continuing to rise according to national statistics. Is this because of cuts to the police service, better crime recording, a wider ‘malaise’ in society or all of the above? And are some people more likely to be arrested than others?

In this component students will explore what crime means in terms of social order and control; who commits crimes and why; how criminal activity is judged by other people; prevention, control and punishment; and the role of the criminal justice system and other agencies. Students will also discuss globalisation and crime in contemporary society, the media and crime, green crime, human rights and state crimes.

Research methods and theory
Students will evaluate different methods of research and data collection, analyse the relationship between methods and consider theoretical, practical and ethical issues. They will also discuss subjectivity, objectivity and values when exploring the relationship between theory and research, as well as how theory translates into policy.

Around one percent of the global population have more wealth than the rest of the world put together. Some global corporations have annual revenues far greater than many individual nation states. The gap between the richest and poorest is ever widening and not only in developing countries, but within ‘developed’ nations too.

Students will examine why so many people live in poverty, lack education, healthcare, access to clean water and struggle to cope with disease and conflict, while others live in comparative ease. They will also investigate how wealth can yield political, economic and social power. Students question what, if anything, should be done about global inequality and its effects, and explore how we may deal with the many challenges of global development including migration, environmental crises, human rights abuse, crime and terrorism.

Who teaches this course?

Dennis Fulcher

Head of Faculty: Multimedia and Social Sciences
BSc (Kingston), MA (London), PGCE (Greenwich), Media and Social Sciences (HoD), Psychology, Sociology, Film, Politics and Law
Dennis is Faculty Head for Multimedia and Social Sciences at Ashbourne. He teaches a broad range of subjects including Sociology, Film, Media, Government and Politics, Law and Psychology.
Dennis takes a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and combines his technical expertise and years of experience to create lively and engaging classes for his students. He uses a wide variety of materials and innovative exercises that encourage students to steer their own learning and development. As a result Dennis’ students consistently achieve excellent grades and rate their overall learning experience highly.

Michael Wilkinson

BA Politics (SOAS); MSc Politics Sociology (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Michael Wilkinson began teaching at Ashbourne in September 2009. Prior to this, he worked as a researcher at the Home Office and thus has some first hand insight into the nature of social policy and the UK political system. He has also been involved in freelance social research work at the University of Surrey, and tutoring for undergraduate courses in Sociology.

Beyond A level Sociology

Sociology is a well-respected academic subject valued by employers and universities alike. Possible degree courses include Anthropology, Social Cultural Studies, Economics, Business Administration, Humanities, Government and Politics and History. Career options include law, the police, media, journalism, healthcare, social work, probation services, human resource management, working in the non-governmental and charity sector, research, teaching and the civil service amongst others. And if none of the above is challenging and limit stretching enough try sky diving.

Suggested reading and resources

Sociology, Anthony Giddens and Philip W. Sutton
This book is an excellent introduction to sociology and provides an overview of recent global developments and new ideas in sociology.

Popular sociology books on Goodreads

Sociological Review
Academic quarterly journal covering all aspects of sociology.

British Sociological Association
Provides news, workshops and produces a range of publications.

Thinking Allowed
Laurie Taylor, former Sociology professor, discusses the latest research and issues of the day on the BBC radio programme.

Revise Sociology
Comprehensive and up-to-date revision website.


A level Sociology
Title – AQA A Level Sociology Book Two
Author – Rob Webb et al.