A level sociology or philosophy and ethics? Watch
Hi, I am going to start sixth form in a couple of weeks. So far I have decided to take A level French, A level English literature and A level English language. I have no idea what to choose for my fourth A level. I am interested in taking sociology and philosophy and ethics. I just don't know which one to pick. I don't mind if one looks as though it's a 'soft' subject, I would just like to which is the most interesting and more enjoyable out of the two? What do you learn about in each of them?
Most people do AQA sociology and for AS do Families and Households and Education with Research Methods. You could also do Culture and Wealth or Health with Research Methods but that is much rarer.
In sociology you look at different sociological perspectives on issues in society. These perspectives include marxism, feminism, functionalism, the new right view etc. and then you look at sociologists within this perspective e.g. Durkheim within the functionalist view.
For families and households you look at issues such as the changing nature of the family, i.e. how the nuclear family is declining and family diversity is increasing, and you look at laws that have changed the family such as legalising gay marriage and allowing gay couples to adopt, the divorce reform act etc. You also look at the perspectives general view on the family e.g. feminists think the nuclear family oppresses women, marxists think the family benefits capitalist society, functionalists think it provides primary socialisation. It's interesting, and common sense helps you to guess a decent answer if all went wrong.
For education and research methods there is 2 parts; education, and then research methods; and then theres a question which links the both.
Education covers issues from the history of schooling, such as the introduction of compulsory schooling, the tripartite system, the comprehensive system, to reasons for underachievement in education. The main focus is on the differences between social groups, with regards to social class, gender and ethnicity. For example, why do black boys underachieve, and asians overachieve? Again, stereotypical views can help. You also look at the reasons behind the differences in subject choice and things like that which is interesting, for example girls pick subjects such as sociology because they're used to caring because of dolls yet boys are interested in practical subjects such as science/mechanics because they play with trucks. Again, like families, you look at different sociological perspectives. For example, marxists think the role of the education system is to reproduce and legitimise inequality, functionalists think it is to prepare students for their future etc.
Research methods involves looking at research techniques such as questionnaires, interviews, observations, and analysing their strengths and weaknesses in relation t o practical, ethical and theoretical issues. This is very simple, and the structure always stays the same. You also cover issues such as representativeness, validity, reliability. An example would be "examine the limitations of using questionnaires in sociological research".
Linking the both would involve a question such as "examine the strengths and limitations of using questionnaires to investigate linguistic deprivation in the education system". This is the hardest essay question out of the lot, as many people forget to link the method to what the question is specifically asking for. For example, you cannot just say that questionnaires are time consuming, you would have to say "using questionnaires to investigate linguistic deprivation is limited as it may be very time consuming due to the fact that they may not be able to read the questions properly and therefore the researcher may have to be present to assist the participant...."
I find that it is my easiest a-level and probably the most enjoyable, which makes it much easier to revise because you're interested in what you're reading!