AQA GCSE Sociology (4192 – full course), (4191 – Short Course).
Many of us come to realise which academic subjects we are truly interested at busy times in our lives—when we are unable to step away from our daily responsibilities to engage in full-time study. This AQA GCSE Sociology Course offers you unparalleled flexibility—you can choose to take the year-long short course, and, if you like, carry on for a second year of study to complete the full GCSE— and you can do all of this in the comfort of your own home. Most importantly, this course is concise, engaging and enriching and will provide you with a solid foundation in Sociology, from which you may wish to work towards advanced study, or even a career, which incorporates your academic interests. The GCSE Sociology Course will provide a wealth of insight into the structures, patterns, issues and processes that shape society today.
Unit 1: The Short Course
Perhaps you have always been intrigued by Sociology yet are unsure if you wish to specialise in the subject. The one-year Short Course is definitely for you. At the end of the year, you may decide to carry on with a second year of study, leading to a full GCSE qualification, or you may wish to try something different. We suspect the former, but this decision, of course, depends on your willingness to delegate a few hours of your week to learning about your society in a whole new and interesting way. It’s a fun thing to do with your time, really (at least we think so!).
For Unit 1, you will be required to answer the questions in the three sections; however, in two of the three sections, you will be given a choice of questions in the final element (this is the extended answer question).
Unit 1 is divided into three sections: Studying Society, Families and Education. Here is a quick breakdown of what you will cover:
By the end of this section, you should be able to distinguish the sociological approach to studying society and human behaviour from that of other academic disciplines (i.e. psychology, biology, journalism). Further, you should be able to define and understand the implications of key terms and concepts, including social structures, social processes, and social issues. Throughout this course, you should always be aware that different explanations and interpretations of terms and concepts exist within the discipline of Sociology.
Specifically, in this section you will be assessed regarding your understanding of the multi-faceted nature of sociological research. We will break down research and data collection methods into several, concise sections. You will learn about ethical issues that may arise during sociological research and will, ultimately, need to know how to plan a simple research project.
Lastly, and most importantly, you should understand how sociologists may implement research findings in real-life settings (i.e. in fields of education, welfare and criminal justice).
By the end of this section, you should be thinking of education as a political issue and, at a basic level, should be able to describe why educational reforms have been made and be able to identify some criticisms of these reforms. Information will be broken down into the following sections:
- The structure of the educational system and debates regarding issues such as special needs testing, faith schools, and alternative forms of education.
- The impact of class, gender and ethnicity on educational achievement.
- Other factors which influence educational achievement, such as parenting values, peer groups, labeling and economic circumstances.
- The purpose that education systems serve in British society today (i.e. how education can serve the needs of the economy and facilitate social mobility).
You should be able to identify and describe key sociological issues in the above areas regarding education.
The final section of the Short Course (or of the first year of the GCSE Course if you choose to carry on) regards sociological approaches to the family. This section should prove most interesting, given the cultural diversity of British society today.
By the end of this section, you should be able to define ‘family’ and explain the presence of the diverse family structures present in your society (e.g. married/non-married, gay/heterosexual, nuclear/extended and reconstituted). Further, you should be able to understand how migration patterns and shifts in economic/working patterns impact marriages and families in Britain. You should also be aware of individual experiences (i.e. how one person may encounter a variety of family scenarios in a lifetime/the increase of single-person households).
The following information will be broken down into concise sections:
- Relationship dynamics within families (i.e. role and authority relationships between men/women/children).
- Patterns of fertility/life expectancy—how these factors influence individuals, families, and society at large.
- Different sociological approaches to the family (i.e. functionalist, feminist).
- Divorce—patterns since 1945 and consequences for family members and structures.
You should be able to identify and describe key issues in the above sections regarding family.
Unit 2: The Full Course
Now that you are reveling in your newfound knowledge of the society in which you have operated for most, or all, of your life (your friends most likely know all about the statistical correlations between parenting values and educational achievement in Britain, thanks to you!) it is time to take your studies to the next level. Unit 2 of the GCSE Sociology course will enable you to explore 3 specialisms, giving you a more in-depth understanding of the ways in which sociological thought can be applied to the individual behaviours, group structures and large-scale processes that you encounter in daily life. You will select 3 topics from 4 of our absolute favourites: Crime and Deviance, Mass Media, Power, and Social Inequality. You will be required to answer the questions for all 3 sections that you choose, and, in all 3 sections, you will be given a choice of questions in the final element (as you know from Unit 1, this is the extended answer element).
Upon successful completion of the designated coursework for Units 1 and 2, you will obtain your GCSE qualification in Sociology!
Crime and Deviance
In this section, you should learn how to distinguish between the concepts of crime and deviance; you should come to understand how individual criminal and deviant behaviours can be shaped by formal and informal social rules. You should also gain a basic understanding of the distribution of crime across categories of age, class, gender, ethnicity and locality.
Additionally, you should:
- Be able to identify and describe different sociological explanations of deviant and criminal behaviour (i.e. sub-cultural theories, labeling theory and relative deprivation).
- Understand how official crime figures and victim/self-report studies can be of use to sociologists.
- Be able to describe how criminal and deviant behaviour impacts victims, communities and society at large.
Importantly, you should become more aware of recent public debates surrounding criminal and deviant behaviour; specifically, you should be able to recognise the significance of current social problems, such as racism and teenage crime.
In this section, you will learn how to analyse mass media as a socialising agent at individual, group and large-scale levels. Specifically, you should understand:
- The varying viewpoints regarding the nature of the relationship between mass media and audience.
- How the mass media can, along with other agents of socialiasation, contribute to the development of people’s political and social identities.
- How the mass media can be considered a source of power to individuals and organizations and how people exercise power through the dissemination of images of certain groups/organizations.
- The ways in which power may be distributed through technological developments such as the internet.
- How media has the potential to cause stereotyping (specifically you should understand the process of deviancy amplification).
- Current issues surrounding mass media (i.e. whether media exposure encourages violence).
Upon completion of this section, you should understand how citizens contribute to political process in Britain. Specifically, you should be able to:
- Understand how individuals and groups may or may not be limited in their opportunities to contribute to political process at local and national levels. Further, you should be able to gauge what might increase/decrease the chances of such participation being successful.
- Explain the correlation between certain social factors (age, gender, ethnicity, class) and political participation, as well as the correlation between these factors and the distribution of political power and authority.
You should also be able to recognize how governments have tried to alleviate certain social problems (i.e. unemployment, poverty), and you should understand the basic premises of debates about the Welfare State.
Lastly, you should be aware of the existence of power dynamics in ‘everyday’ relationships (i.e. relationships between employers and employees, parents and children, school teachers and children, the police and members of the public).
Last, but not least, you have the option of exploring the subject of Social Inequality. In this section, you should be learn to:
- Describe the key concept of stratification as involving the unequal distribution of wealth, income, status and power in your society.
- Identify and use the key concepts relating to the analysis of stratification, including class, status, and life chances.
- Elaborate on forms of stratification related to class, gender, ethnicity, age and religion.
- Identify and explain the factors that impact life chances, including differing levels of wealth, income, power and status. You should be able to relate these differences to social factors such as class, gender and ethnicity.
Also, you should gain a basic understanding of different sociological explanations of poverty and be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of these explanations (examples of these explanations include: the cycle of poverty, the cultural of poverty, structural explanations, welfare dependency, long-term unemployment, and exclusion).
Lastly, you should be able to apply your newfound knowledge to current debates and modern issues. You should be aware of recent patterns of inequality in Britain and of debates surrounding stratification. (Some examples: you could consider whether Britain is becoming a classless society/meritocracy and approach the issue of whether divisions/inequalities based on gender, ethnicity and age are becoming more significant than divisions/inequalities based on class).
To complete this course it will take in the region of 100 study hours which can be spread over a 12 month period to suit the student.
No previous study is required to access any of our GCSE courses, but they do require basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Support and Benefits
Full tutor support is available via email by fully qualified professionals.
Exam Dates and Information
Exams are in June of each year and the latest dates for enrolment is December.
If you start your course after December then it is unlikely you can take your exam in June unless your tutor agrees and you can find a centre, they will require late registration fees.
Further Reading and Book List
Sociology GCSE for AQA: Student Book – Pauline Wilson, Allan Kid
Publisher: Collins Educational (20 May 2009)
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When you have taken your exams you will be awarded a grade which ranges from A – G with G being the lowest.
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Frequently Asked Questions
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Q. I want to take my exams but there are only a few months to study, is this possible?
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