Sociology GCSE

Full name of specification

GCSE Sociology

Exam board specification link

What is Sociology?

GCSE Sociology aims to broaden students’ minds, helping them to see their world from different perspectives and in new and thought-provoking ways.

Why study this course?

GCSE Sociology provides an insight into living in modern Britain. It explores the influence of major institutions such as the family, and the education system etc. The course also investigates the significance of social factors such as social class, race & ethnicity and gender As part of the AQA GCSE specification, students will examine the impact of various social institutions upon individuals and groups, such as the media, the education system, the family and the criminal justice system.

Students will learn to:

  • Know and understand sociological concepts, terminology, objectives, the integrated nature of sociology in the real world and the impact of sociology on individuals, the wider society and across cultures.
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of sociological research and theories across topics in sociology.
  • Develop ability to write effectively through extended writing.
  • Develop as effective and independent students, and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds.
  • Understand research methods and be able to apply this knowledge across the subject to be able to evaluate and analyse research in an effective way.
  • Develop and apply ability to interpret and analyse data, drawing relevant conclusions.

What will I study?

The Sociology curriculum will begin with the Paper 1 topic – Families and Households. As opposed to A-level, we will begin with families instead of education for two reasons. The first is that although students are in education, they have not yet sat any GCSE exam results and have a less sophisticated understanding of the ‘education system’. Instead, they are likely much more familiar with their ‘family’ and how this works. Therefore, it appears to be easier with a GCSE cohort to apply the main theoretical perspectives to the family, particularly functionalism and feminism which have distinctly different, but memorable opinions of the family.

Following this, I will move onto research methods, as students will now be familiar with what ‘sociological research’ looks like as they will have analysed studies in the family topic. As a result, they should begin to understand the link between studies informing theories and the importance of effective research. Similarly, this will allow them to critically assess some of the opinions from both family and education, by evaluating the research method – which will improve their A03 skills.

On completing research methods, we will then move onto the second topic of Paper 1 – Education. This works well as students can draw on their knowledge of concepts and theory learnt in the family inform their understanding of the education system – e.g. the effect of primary socialisation. This will enable students to sit their PPE in June and complete a full paper 1 and receive feedback.

In year 11, students will begin with their Crime and Deviance topic, it is often the most eagerly anticipated aspect of the course but also one of the most challenging. At this stage, students will be familiar with a range of sociological concepts and theories that they can apply to criminal behaviour. As well as this, it ties in nicely with a trip for students in year to the Old Bailey in London, which allows them to get an insight into the criminal justice system.

Finally, students will complete Social stratification – which is the most synoptic topic and neatly ties in with all three topics studied previously. It allows the students to revise family/education/crime whilst learning a new topic, as it draws on knowledge from all three of them. After February half term students will sit final PPE’s covering paper 1 , 2 and 3.  This allows them, for the first time, to receive an overall mark across all three papers.  The remainder of the academic year students will receive a detail run in plan to their exams where revision in carefully planned and structured to allow for hard thinking and retrieval practice along with exam skill preparation.

How is it assessed?

2 written exams in June

Paper 1: The sociology of families and education

Paper 2: The sociology of crime and deviance and social stratification

How will this prepare me?

GCSE Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions and this qualification prepares students for their next steps after GCSE in a number of different ways.  Sociology’s subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from social stability to radical change in whole societies.  Students studying this subject unify the study of these diverse subjects developing an understanding of how human action and consciousness both shape and are shaped by surrounding cultural and social structures.

Students develop their analytical thinking and learn how research can be evaluated highlighting the strengths and limitations.  The study of research methods provides students with a good foundation that will support their studies at A Level, not on in sociology, but in a number of different subject areas.  Many of the topics taught at GCSE level are also found in the A level specification therefore provides GCSE students with the foundation knowledge needed to go on and study the subject in more depth at A Level and beyond.

Studying sociology can give you a whole host of exciting career options including:

  • Social work
  • Human resources
  • Advertising
  • Policing
  • Marketing
  • Journalism
  • Law

Additional activities within this subject

Studying Sociology here means that you will have the opportunity to take part in plenty of enrichment ranging from fundraising for causes that are important to you, trips to local landmarks and relevant museums, and you will also have the opportunity to get involved with excursions abroad! Students are provided with a range of in house opportunities too such as prisoner talks, university preparation days and guest speakers.