Background information about studying Sociology
Sociology is the study of human societies, in all sorts of contexts. It is a very broad discipline. It is classed as a social science, but it's status as a science is under scrutiny, often from sociologists themselves.
What can I expect from studying Sociology?
The subject is as difficult as you make it to be really. In Sociology there are a lot of theories that you have to learn and you also have to learn how to apply them and criticise them but apart from just revising the theories, the subject is not that hard. Once the main theories begin to click (feminist, Marxist, functionalist, New Right etc) it is much easier to apply them to the different topics. It's a very interesting subject and a lot of the theories and studies do have a common sense factor behind them, I found that because the facts in the studies were less abstract than Psychology, to me Sociology was easier in that aspect.
Sociology is a mainly essay based subject so be expected to write many, although they do not always have to be very long. You will also be expected to do your own research and keep up to date with current affairs. The AQA specification is very essay heavy. 20 and 24 mark essays are the norm and these have to be done quickly in exams e.g. 20 marks in 20-25 minutes. My exam board no longer does coursework for sociology so we have a January exam instead.
Required Individual Study
You will be required to do extended reading into topics you may have touched slightly in class, and keeping up to date with current affairs and watching/reading the news is always a good idea, the topics you learn about often relate directly to current news affairs.
How is it assessed?
AQA has two exams for both AS and A2 years, these are both sat in the summer as there are no longer January exams. The second exam generally carries the most weight when it comes to points. Both sets of the exams have source based questions, shorter answers and essay answers.
At the moment, there isn't any coursework involved.
You may take part in mini studies and take your own statistics and data, but it is unlikely that you will be assessed on this.
Field trips and excursions
Although you could think of many reasons to go on a field trip with sociology, it is a theory based subject and it is much more practical just to study it in a classroom -which does seem a little ironic. You are unlikely to go on many trips, unless they are to lectures.
Where can I go with a Sociology A-Level
Sociology is a good foundation subject as the knowledge you learn can be applied to all aspects of society. Sociology can led to a job in teaching, social work, the police force etc.
What I like about studying this subject: I like that the information we're learning about in class has direct real-world application, often in current news stories. It's also a really good accent subject to others such as Psychology and English Literature, sharing research methods and the different approaches to topics e.g. Marxism, Feminism, Socialism... The opportunity for debating that I enjoyed in my AS year, only get better at A2. It's been so interesting to gain a greater understanding of the kind of society we live in and how changes or ideas shape behavior and what this all means.
What I dislike about studying this subject: Sometimes, it can be a bit mentally exhausting trying to learn theorists and the years they wrote in. Keeping arguments for and against can also be a challenge but good revision and reading around the subject really help to clarify certain key areas or recurring themes.
What I like about studying this subject: . I like research methods because I feel that knowing this information will help me in the future. There are some aspects of the education module which I find really interesting, like how gender, ethnicity and social class can affect attainment.
What I dislike about studying this subject:There are not a lot of things I like about sociology. I am predicted an A grade in it but it does not make the subject any less boring. I have no intention of studying social sciences at University level so I don't know when I will be able to use the things I learnt. It was not what I expected at all. If writing essay after essay is for you on topics that are repetitive generally disengaging then sociology is for you. It can be a rewarding subject if you have a genuine interest in society but if you want to study it because it is the only option available to you, (German and History or Economics was not a combination allowed by my school) you will probably prefer another subject.