Curriculum – Sociology

Curriculum – Sociology


The Curriculum

Curriculum Intent

Sociology A level at SHSG aims to develop students’ sociological imagination and change the way that you think about the world around you. We want our sociologists to develop a greater understanding and awareness of social, political, legal and educational changes in society and the impact on individuals and groups. Through the study of Sociology, we aim for our students to develop a greater sense of tolerance and understanding of class, gender and ethnic diversity and differences in society. We want our learners to be willing to question their own assumptions and empathetically consider the opinions of others.

As a department we have high expectations of our students and achieve excellent results which enable students to go on to achieve their goals. Students are challenged by engaging lessons and encouraged to go beyond the curriculum.

We follow the AQA Sociology A level specification which embeds the two core themes of socialisation, culture and identity, as well as social differentiation, power and stratification. These two core themes are related to the topics of Families and Households, Education, and Research Methods in Year 1, and Crime and Deviance, Mass Media and Theoretical Debates in Year 2. Sociology A level links well with other Social Science subjects to develop an understanding of society and provides an excellent foundation for those going on to further academic studies in related areas.

During the course, learners will explore the wider sociological debate between structural and social action theories. You will learn about positivist and interpretivist approaches and consider the strengths and weaknesses of using quantitative and qualitative research methods. We will explore the key question of whether sociological research can truly be ‘value free’. We encourage students to use examples drawn from your own experience of small-scale research, enabling sociological knowledge to be applied to contemporary real-world situations.

All students will be supported to develop sophisticated academic writing, including the development of effective analytical and evaluation skills. Critical reading is used as a tool to explore a wide range of sociological research, empowering our students to be able to make their own judgements and conclusions on questions such as ‘can sociology be a science?

By the end of the course, we aim for our learners to be able to articulate different perspectives on a wide range of sociological issues, such as ‘do prisons work’? You will learn how to make intelligent synoptic links between topics, for example recognising the relationship between incorrect socialisation, failure in education and criminal activity. We will challenge learners to think about the interconnectedness of the human experience and the impact of the structures of society on individuals. We want our learners to understand how sociology as a discipline has developed during the last century and why it is more relevant than ever as a subject today. As a student of sociology, you will start a life-long journey of critical thought. We aim to develop the skills needed to help our learners shape their own self-identity and confidence to challenge the status quo. The knowledge and awareness of sociological theories will equip you to become active, critically thinking, considerate global citizens.

What does it feel like to be a student in the Sociology Department?

What does it feel like to be a student of Sociology at SHSG?

As an SHSG sociology student, you will be curious and motivated to learn more about key sociological issues both within the society in which you live and globally. In lessons, you will be challenged to consider preconceived ideas and to ‘rethink’ society, applying a range of sociological perspectives and theories.

Through the development of highly effective independent learning skills linked to the VESPA programme, those wishing to go on to study sociology at a higher level will be extremely well prepared to face academic challenges.

You will be provided with an extensive reading list and encouraged to read widely around the subject. You will read The Sociology Review Magazine to keep up to date with contemporary research and examiner guidance on how to succeed. You will stay abreast of current affairs and have an awareness of the political landscape and changes to social policies.

You will become a critical thinker who will question and challenge what you see and hear. In a world of fake news and so many places to find information, you will learn how to seek out reliable sources and check facts before developing informed opinions. The acquisition of academic language and knowledge will enable you to share your ideas and challenge the views of others.

In the safe classroom environment, you will feel comfortable asking our supportive teachers for help when needed. You will have a wide range of resources available to you at Open House, including revision materials, past papers etc. At weekly support sessions you will have the opportunity to practise a range of examination questions, to hone your writing skills and get valuable feedback from teachers.

There will be a wide range of enrichment opportunities available to you. A programme of visiting speakers will enable you to engage with key theorists, such as Professor Dianne Reay from Cambridge University and Professor Louise Archer from UCL. Carrying out your own research project is encouraged and an excellent way for learners to apply sociological knowledge to the real world, for example by observing the power dynamics in a local magistrate court. Trips to the ‘Sociology in Action’ A level Criminology/Sociology conference aim to develop application skills, giving you the opportunity to debate with sociologists from around the country. If you are interested in sharing your opinions more widely, you will have the opportunity to write for the SHSG Social Science Magazine ‘GenaZine’, an excellent platform to raise awareness of issues affecting young people today. You may follow in the footsteps of SHSG sociology alumni who have entered or been awarded prizes in the prestigious BSA Sociology A Level Essay competition, or the Cambridge University Photography competition.

If you wish to further your education in a sociology related field, you will be advised and guided through the process by our knowledgeable staff. Many of our sociology students go on to read sociology at university or take related courses in areas such as criminology or anthropology- in recent years students have studied at universities such as Cambridge, Durham, Bath, and Exeter. Past students will be able to speak to you about their experiences and offer advice. You may prefer to take an apprenticeship pathway; alumni have previously taken up roles in in related areas such as youth justice and marketing.

As a SHSG Sociology student you will develop a lifelong interest in social issues, you will learn to see the world differently and be able to articulate your opinions effectively. You will develop the skills needed to prepare you for a successful and rewarding career. By studying A level sociology, you will cultivate the skills needed to find solutions to social issues and make positive contributions to society.


Sociology Curriculum

At Southend High School for Girls, we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the syllabus.

We follow the AQA Sociology A Level syllabus due to its coverage of a wide range of sociological perspectives and theories, as well as its focus on both historical and contemporary sociological research.

Assessment objectives:

  • AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of sociological theories, concepts, evidence and methods.
  • AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of sociological theories, concepts, evidence and methods.
  • AO3: Analyse and evaluate sociological theories, concepts, evidence and methods in order to construct arguments, make judgements and draw conclusions

Core Themes- Students will apply the following two core themes to all the units studied:

  • socialisation, culture and identity
  • social differentiation, power and stratification

The Sociology curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge for study in Year 12

  • English Language or Literature GCSE Level 6
  • Humanities subject GCSE Level 6

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the AQA A level syllabus and ambitions of a Grammar school.  They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Sociology curriculum intent. Synoptic links are made between topics. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.  Year 1 topics will be revisited throughout year 13 as spaced retrieval practice and examination practice, either in class, or as independent learning/ homework.

Year 12

Term 1

Teacher 1 –

Introduction to Sociology – perspectives and key concepts

Unit 1 – Families and Households

Topic 1 – Perspectives = the relationship to the social structure, social change. And reference to the economy

Topic 2– Changing Patterns in Divorce, Cohabitation, Marriage/ diversity in household structures

Topic 3 -Gender Roles, domestic labour and power relationships in the family in contemporary society

Topic 4– The nature of childhood and changes in the status of children in the family and society


10 and 20 mark essay questions


Teacher 2 –

Unit 2 – Research Methods


10 mark essay questions

Term 2

Teacher 1 –

Unit 1 Families and Households

Topic 5– Demographic Trends in the UK since 1900, birth rates, death rates, family size, life expectancy, ageing population, migration and globalisation

Topic 6 – Social policies and the family

Unit 3 Education

Topic 1- The role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure

Topic 2 – Relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil relationships, pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning


10 and 20 mark essay questions

4,6, 10 and 30 mark exam questions


Teacher 2 –

Unit 2 Research Methods

Unit 3 Education

Topic 4 -The significance of educational polices, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, polices to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, and the impact of globalisation on ed policy



10 mark and 20 mark essay questions

4, 6 and 10 mark exam questions

Term 3

Teacher 1 – 

(cont) Topic 3- Differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society

Work Experience

Topic 5- The application of sociological research methods to the study of education


4,6, 10, 30 mark exam questions

20 mark exam questions


Teacher 2 –

Topic 5- The application of sociological research methods to the study of education

Work experience  

Topic 5- The application of sociological research methods to the study of education



20 mark essay questions

Year 13

Term 1

Teacher 1 –

Education Unit The application of sociological research methods to the study of education

Crime and Deviance Unit 4

Topic 1- Social order and social control perspectives

Topic 2– Crime stats- The social distribution of crime and deviance by social class, ethnicity, gender/recent patterns and trends

Topic 3 – Globalisation and crime, the media, green crime, HR and state crime



10 and 20, 30 mark essay questions

4, 6, 10 and 30 mark essay questions


Teacher 2 –

Topic 1 – Consensus, conflict, structural and social action theories

Social Action

Topic 2
The concepts of modernity., post-modernity in relation to sociological theory


10, 20 mark essay questions
10, 20 mark essay questions

Term 2

Teacher 1 –


Continued… Topic 3 – Globalisation and crime, the media, green crime, HR and state crime

Topic 4- Crime control, surveillance, prevention and punishment, the role of the CJS and other agencies, victimology

Mass Media Unit 5

Topic 1 –The Relationship Between Ownership and Control

Topic 2 – The Process and selection the News

Topic 3  – The New Media

Topic 4 – The Media, globalisation and popular culture



10 and 20 mark essay questions
10, 20 mark exam questions


Teacher 2 –  


Topic 3-  The nature of science and the extent to which sociology can be regards as scientific

Topic 4 – The Relationship Between Theory and Methods

Topic 5 – Debates about subjectivity, objectivity and value freedom



10 mark and 20 mark essay questions
10, 20 exam questions

Term 3

Teacher 1 –

Topic 5 – The relationships between the media and presentation

Topic 6- The Relationship Between the Media and Audiences



10, 20 mark essay questions


Teacher 2 –  

Topic 6 – The relationship between sociology and social policy


10, 20 mark essay questions

Achieving outstanding outcomes in Sociology– knowing and remembering even more than what is expected in a grammar school Sociology A level curriculum, developing sophisticated application, analysis and evaluation skills. Writing in a successful academic writing style. 

Our assessment practice at SHSG reflects on how successful students have been in knowing, remembering and doing more through the above topics, as well as consistently achieving the highest band in the Sociology A level assessment criteria.

To go beyond what is expected of a SHSG sociology A level student in Year 12 and 13 and achieve outstanding outcomes in Sociology, students should read widely around the subject including academic journals and research, engage in watching relevant Ted Talks and recommended research.  Through the VESPA study skills programme, they will develop highly effective independent study skills.  They may conduct original sociological research and apply its results in their written responses. Students will have a confident understanding and use of key concepts and subject specific terminology.  They will have a sophisticated writing style and be able to critically evaluate existing research.

Recommended reading in Sociology A Level

Poverty /Social Class/ Education

  • Chavs- Jones
  • The Establishment – Jones
  • Mis Education- Reay
  • The Myth of Meritocracy- Bloodworth
  • Hunger Pains- Garthwaite
  • Breadline Britain – Lansley/ Mack
  • Poverty Safari- Mcgarvey
  • The Class Ceiling – Laurison/ Friedman
  • Learning To Labour – Willis


  • Natives- Akala
  • Why I am No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Eddo- Lodge
  • Young Gifted and Black – Mac an Ghail

Gender/ Feminism

  • Why We Should All be Feminists- Adichie
  • Every Day Sexism- Bates
  • Men and Masculinities – Mac an Ghail

Crime / Research Methods

  • Gang Leader for A Day- Venkatesh
  • Mc Mafia – Glenny


  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life- Gofman
  • The Communist Manifesto- Marx/ Engels


Sociology language to master in Sociology A Level

  • All required technical terminology can be found in subject glossaries
  • Key concepts to understand for essay writing: application, analysis, evaluation
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