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Sociology

At RGS the Sociology Department has seen been hugely successful in recent years with examination grades at all key stages registering well above the school average. Studying sociology will equip your daughter with a respected qualification valued by both universities and employers.

Most importantly your daughter will develop a critical view of the world and develop a number of essential academic skills. Students will question common sense assumptions about the world around them, learn to cut through the spin of advertisers, the media and politician. They will also conduct independent research, develop the ability to analyse, process and present complex information in concise ways and importantly debate ideas and theories in an informed and critical way.

Course Offerings

Course Title Qualifications Obtainable Awarding Body
Key Stage 4 Courses
Sociology GCSE AQA
Key Stage 5 Courses
Sociology A Level AQA

Year 9
Curriculum Content: Sociology helps students develop a wide range of knowledge and understanding about society, and how sociologists study and understand its structures, processes and issues. Sociology is exciting, interesting and relevant to students’ lives. At GCSE level students will study 6 units three of these are covered in year 9.

Topic Key questions
Crime and Deviance
  • What is crime?
  • Is everything that is illegal morally wrong?
  • What are the causes of crime?
  • How can we measure crime & what problems are there with this?
Family relationships
  • Why do women continue to do the majority of housework?
  • What is the function of Marriage?
  • What role should government have in our private lives?
  • What role should governments have in how re raise our children?
Theory and methods
  • Students will ask how we know what we know about the world around us.
  • We will evaluate what we mean by ‘science’?
  • We look at different methods for understanding society and see how valuable/ useful they are.
Year 10
Curriculum Content: In year 10 we cover two topics in depth. This enables us to revise and re-examine key concepts and ideas from year 9 so they are fresh in your minds at all times. I have added some questions that are considered through the course to give you some understanding of what is involved.

Topic Key questions
Inequality
  • What is the role of the welfare state?
  • Do we live in a benefit dependent culture?
  • Should we abolish benefits who have been out of work for a long time?
  • Should the government redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor?
Education
  • Do we live in the age of the exam factory?
  • What are the causes of working class underachievement?
  • Do teachers negatively label some groups of students? Does this effect their achievement?
  • Should we scrap grammar schools? What about faith schools?
Year 11
Curriculum Content: Year 11 we cover only one new unit, ‘Stratification and The Sociology of Power’. This unit involves consideration of how we define power. It provides a strong understanding of democracy and its advantages and disadvantages. We evaluate theories of how power should be distributed from neo-liberalism to social democratic and even Marxist thinking. I find the course really engages students with political ideas and makes them far more interested by current affairs, something that is essential as they move towards Sixth Form study.

The remainder of the year is spent re-examining old content from year 9 and 10 and practicing past paper questions. This year helps to confirm understanding and add depth to students ideas and theoretical understanding.

More Information: AQA Website
Year 12
Curriculum Content: At RGS, we follow the reformed AQA A Level specification for Sociology. This is a linear course, which has three formal exams at the end of Year 13. Each exam is worth 33% of the overall A Level grade. There is no coursework at A Level. Typically, we have 2 A Level groups in Year 12 and Year 13, with several students going on to read Sociology-related degrees at university.

In Year 12, we study 2 topics:

1) The Sociology of Education (with applied Sociological Methods)

This Sociology specification ensures that students gain essential knowledge and understanding of central aspects of sociological thought and methods, together with a range of skills. Students study the two units across year 12.

Education applied to Sociological methods involves the study of the education system. You will gain a deep understanding of government policies for schools since the 1940s, from the introduction of grammar schools to league tables and academies. We will look critically at the impact this has had and who it has benefited. We also examine theories of underachievement which seek to explain the huge gaps between rich and poor in terms of academic achievement at all levels of our education system. The course is engaging and important.

2) Families and Households

Whilst women have made huge progress in terms of legal rights and equality the home remains a site of much injustice for many women. Whether it be domestic violence or the imbalance in the time women spend doing housework, the family is the front line for women looking to fight inequality today. We also examine childhood and the moral panics surrounding their abuse. This topic allows us to critique the protectionist approach of many parents who see their child as overly vulnerable and in danger. We discuss the ways in which parenting has changed over time. If you are interested in gender and inequality this unit will be of huge value.

 

More Information: AQA Website
Year 13
Curriculum Content: In Year 13, we study 2 further topics

Beliefs in Society

In this Unit, you will examine the role of Religion and Beliefs. In particular, you will consider what is mean by the term ‘Religion’ and whether a religion has to have a ‘God’. You will consider why people join ‘religious’ groups and, if religion is losing its importance, how can we explain religiously inspired terrorism and the growing number of sects and cults in the USA. This will be developed through examining key questions that Sociologists are interested in, including:

  • The extent to which science has replaced religion and whether science itself has replaced religion as a belief system in society.
  • What classifies as a religion? Is a religion only something that has a ‘God’ or ‘Deity’ or can religions be far wider – e.g. is supporting a football team or attending Founder’s Day Service a form of religious worship?
  • Does religion prevent social change? Is Marx correct when he describes religion as ‘the opium of the people’ and suggests that religious beliefs encourage the working classes to accept their exploitation by capitalism?
  • Alternatively, can religion engineer social change? Why are large numbers of people willing to join terrorist causes?
  • What are religious organisations? What is the difference between Churches, Denominations, Sects and Cults?
  • Is there growing disenchantment and secularisation in the world or is this just a western phenomenon?

Crime and Deviance applied to Sociological theories and methods

In this unit you will discuss why has there been a sharp rise in the number of Girl Gangs in the last 4 years? Why 57% of crimes reported to police do not make it into official statistics? Different arguments about the causes of the London Riots.

You will examine various theories of crime and deviance which seek to look beyond our instincts that all criminals are ‘evil’. Indeed, some theories urge us to forget street crime, robbery and knife crime, the existence of widespread poverty, starvation and hunger sitting beside extremes of wealth and prosperity should be more criminal than many acts that would put you in jail. Whilst I am sure not many would agree it is the ability to challenge your assumptions that makes A Level Sociology such an exciting and interesting course to study.