Sociology

Sociology is ‘the academic study of society’. What does this mean? Well, just as History studies the past, Sociology studies the present. If you choose this subject expect to take a really detailed look at modern Britain, warts and all. It appeals to those with a genuine interest in current affairs, social issues and a desire to understand human behaviour. Sociology is not simply a debating chamber. Success on the course depends on detailed knowledge of theories and research findings, expressed using appropriate academic language. Sociological insight enables students to challenge social stereotypes and prejudices. It is guaranteed to change the way you see the world!

Those who have studied the complexities of social life will clearly have an enhanced understanding of the world that surrounds them. It is therefore difficult to think of an occupation that wouldn’t benefit from sociological insight. Former students of Sociology can be found in the fields of education, healthcare, the police force, the media, journalism, criminology, social work and politics. A qualification in Sociology should not, however, simply represent a stepping-stone to a career. The subject is about much more than that. It aims to foster a culture of enquiring minds and enlightened thoughts.

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Mr C O'Keefe

Mr C O'Keefe c.okeefe@danum.outwood.com

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Mr M Hurley

Mr M Hurley m.hurley@danum.outwood.com

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Sociology GCSE

Studying Sociology will involve a strong emphasis on essay writing and independent reading.

How will this course be assessed?
You will face two exams, both at the end of Year 11. They are worth 50% of the total grade. There is no coursework option.

What skills do I need?
Sociology students need to be inquisitive and brimming with thoughtful questions; the whole course is based around exploring and analysing human behaviour. Here are some of the many questions you will be obliged to answer:

  • What influence does society – your family, friends, the mass media – have on your everyday behaviour?
  • Do we ‘learn’ to be masculine and feminine or are such characteristics natural?
  • How important are parents in a child’s intellectual and social development?
  • How important is social-class in a child’s development and opportunities in life?
  • Why has divorce and single-parenthood become more common? What has happened to the traditional nuclear family?
  • Has sexism disappeared or is it still prominent in most families and in wider society too?
  • Why have girls achieved higher grades than boys in recent decades?
  • If females achieve better grades, why don’t they earn higher salaries?
  • Why do pupils from wealthy backgrounds achieve higher grades than those from less well-off areas (such as Doncaster)?
  • Is the academic underachievement of children from deprived backgrounds due to poor parenting, poor schooling, poverty, peer-group pressure? Or are such children ‘naturally’ less intelligent than children from ‘posh’ families?
  • Is poverty due to laziness and a lack of talent, or a deeply unfair society based on unequal opportunities?
  • Does social-class remain the most significant division in modern Britain, or is a person’s gender and ethnicity a more important source of identity and life chances?
  • Is there such as thing as a ‘typical criminal’ or do we all break the law?
  • Why is Britain’s prison population over 90% male?
  • Why are the vast majority of prisoners from deprived backgrounds?
  • Is the mass media still guilty of negatively stereotyping ethnic minority groups, contributing to prejudice and discrimination?
  • Feminists argue that the mass media presents women as sexual objects and pressurises females to emulate ‘false beauty’. Is this a valid argument?
  • Does on-screen violence via video games trigger real-life violence?
  • Do newspapers influence voting habits? Are we misinformed by a politically biased press?
  • How has modern technology influenced family life and interactions within the home?

Do these questions appeal? Do they fire your curiosity? Then Sociology may be the subject for you!

Career opportunities

GCSE Sociology students develop a detailed and enlightened knowledge of the world they are about to enter as young adults. This understanding of the social issues that affect all our lives should help you to make informed decisions about your future.

Sociology A-level

Entry Recommendations
Studying Sociology will involve a strong emphasis on essay writing and independent reading.
A GCSE grade of C or above in English is therefore essential. Beyond this formal requirement, the Sociology classroom would be enriched by those with a curiosity to develop their knowledge of modern life. An appetite for debate would be welcome too!

How will I be assessed?

The A-level Sociology course is assessed through exam only. Three two-hour exams at the end of the two-year course.

What will I study?

Major topic areas include the following:

Families and Households:
How has family life changed in recent decades? Is the traditional nuclear family still the most common type of family? Is the nuclear family a sexist institution? Why is the divorce-rate significantly higher now than it was in the 1960s? How has ‘childhood’ altered over recent decades? Is there a ‘dark side’ to family life?

Education:
Why have females achieved higher grades than males in recent decades? What is the pattern of achievement among ethnic minority groups in Britain? Why are white working-class males the worst performing group at GCSE? How does money and family background influence grades and life chances? What is the purpose of an education system: equal opportunities or social control?

h2.The Sociology of Religion and Belief Systems:

Why is Christianity experiencing a long, slow death in British society? Are ethnic-minority faiths also declining in popularity? Do religious beliefs lead to harmony or conflict within communities and across the world? Is religion a ‘drug’ used to control the masses? Do all major world religions treat women as second-class citizens? What are the benefits of religion for individuals and wider society?

Crime and Deviance:
Is there a typical criminal in British society? Is there a typical victim? What causes crime: poverty…prejudice…poor parenting…peer group pressures? Should we be tough on criminals or tough on the causes of crime? What do males represent 95% of the prison population? Is policing institutionally racist? Is there ‘one law for the rich and another for the poor’?