Changes have been made to the Sociology A level examination and it is important that you refer to the correct specifications when you are working independently.  You can find the most recent 2015 specifications on the website below.

Please note also that most past papers and marking schemes published on the Psychology website are based on the old specifications rather than the new.  It is critical that you familiarise yourself with the new content and approaches to marking as this can make all the difference to your result. 

Make sure that if you decide to purchase books for the course that you select those which relate to the new specifications, unless you are buying more general or topic specific books which do not go into detail about how the papers are marked.    


28th May 2014

SY4 Social Inequality
Make sure you incorporate contemporary themes into SY4 paper, using a Weberian analysis which provides the most comprehensive explanation of recent events.    

Weber argued that social inequality is based on broader differences in power, not only on class. Weber believed that class involved market position, ownership and ease of mobility, but that status and party were also important in determining the degree of power available to an individual.  Status groups share ownership and patterns of consumption, whilst party refers to those who are organised in some way (and therefore have greater power).  

The concern over the 'school conspiracy in Birmingham' (BBC News March 2014) can be seen as part of a wider concern over party: this is not about class, so much as about party.  Equally, the moral panic over the educational performance of white working class boys in school (described as an 'educational underclass' by Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice in September 2013] challenges deep-seated notions of class, status and party in the white majority. This, and the efforts of the educational establishment to rectify the position, can be explained through Weberian analysis.  In line with Weberian predictions, the well-documented poor performance of working class girls is less well addressed, in fact, it is more or less absent from the educational agenda, subsumed under a general concern over those receiving FSM.  Moreover, the worst performing group of all, a group without class, party or status, Gypsy, Roma children, were excluded from the  CSJ survey.  

Taking a related, broader perspective, the rise of UKIP and the rise of the right in Europe can be explained through Weberian and Marxist theories, but the former is more comprehensive. The UKIP campaign focused not on what immigration has given, but on the fear of what it might take away; whilst fear of Europe tapped into fear of loss of status, loss of party.  UKIP have fostered growing divisions within the work-force along ethnic lines, dividing, in particular, the working class, as reflected in Natcen's British Social Attitudes (2014) survey which found that those most likely to be prejudiced were white working class men.  A group with status, party but without property seeking to root out those without party, class or status.  Equally interesting was the finding that white middle class men have shown the greatest rise in prejudice. What Parekh (2014), the Labour peer has been quoted as identifying as "a deepening sense of insecurity in the workplace" reflects changing patterns of educational success and employment rates from both ethnic minority groups and women. It could be argued that the political shift is a response to the perception that the dual-labour market, which served the interests of white men so successfully, is no longer dual.

30th May 2013
SY3 and SY4 - Comment in your papers on recent research which has provided with further evidence of how organisational structures  can generate unequal outcomes.  Having an operation on a Friday, is different to having one on a Monday (Aylin et al., 2013).   Research into educational attainment has, for many years, indicated the impact of month of birth, with the latest research linking it to Oxbridge entry. (Institute of Fiscal Studies, 2013).     

28th May 2013

SY3 and SY4 -  see the ‘GET BRITAIN FERTILE CAMPAIGN’  , due for launch on 3rd June.  Though it could be the basis of a book, it should account for only two or three lines in your script.  Comes under the guise of health and is perfect for any question on gender and age inequality.  Relate to functionalist perspective, female expressive role, the inevitability of inequality, Weber' s view that cultural ideas shape society and individual actions, along with the role of status in generating social divisions.. From a Marxist Feminist perspective, the campaign…

1.  Disempowers females reminding them that biology rules and that their options are limited.  Women shouldn’t think they have choices.    

2.  Suggests that women need help.  Somebody has to assist females to help make them fertile before they can even consider conceiving, presumably because they've been at work (an unnatural role which has rendered them infertile).

3.  Makes it seem as though the real job of women is to reproduce (for Britain) and that they should be mindful of the rules of the game, which are different to the rules for men; (women are closer to nature).

4.  Ridicules older women in general, but in particular older women who decide to have babies later in life rather than sooner    Makes later motherhood seem false, unnatural, out of order.

5.  It suggests that children should be conceived regardless of psycho-social circumstances, at a time when 20.2% of children in the UK are raised in poverty* and teenage pregnancy rates are higher than in any other Western European society

6.  Creates anxiety over pregnancy (‘Can I get pregnant? How will I know if I don’t try?  ‘Here’s a national campaign telling me I’ve left it too late! Have I left it too late?’)    This turns into an urgent need to know – who will benefit from this urgent need to know? 


Whose idea was it?  First Response is a  pregnancy test…marvellous for publicity.  Everyone now knows about First Response...


* Figures though set to rise according to predictions by Institute of Fiscal Studies (growth of 400,000 between 2011 and 2015, with a total of 800,000 by 2020).    


Anyone studying Sociology GCE can attend any session.  These sessions are not compulsory - pick and choose according to need.  

WEDNESDAY May 8th 2013:  2.15-3.20
Research Methods and Sociology of Education - key terms, understanding the language of the examation and links with recent research.

THURSDAY 9th May:  10-11
Sociology of Education – Social class inequalities in attainment.  Key evidence from recent research.

WEDNESDAY 15TH MAY: 11.20-12.20
Key sociological perspectives on educational inequality, including the postmodern perspective. 

THURSDAY 16TH MAY:  9-10 and 2.15-3.20     
Gender inequality and ethnic inequalities.  Recent research.

 All sessions will be held in F1

ALT 5.5.13

25th June 2012 -  SY4 Sociologists -  David Cameron is proposing major changes to the benefits system, which will have major implications for many people.  Get ready for university interviews.  Listen to this Public Lecture  - The Big Society - a new agenda for welfare, recorded at The London School of Economics and Political Science.

Speaker(s): Faiza Chaudary, Dr Armine Ishkanian, Professor David Lewis, Ralph Michell, Professor Simon Szreter 
Chair: Professor Nicholas Deakin

Latest 23rd June 2012- more on the Swansea University Open Day trip on Satuday 30th June 2012 (7 am start and thanks to all parents for driving students into Aberystwyth - particularly those from Tywyn).
Swansea University is the largest provider of Health Care Education in Wales and on those grounds, should be seen if you are remotely interested in this area.  The University has drawn together all health-related disciplines (including Psychology, Health and Social Care and Social Policy) in a Department of Health and Human Sciences -
1)The Complete University Guide for 2011 assessed this Department's Social Work degree programme as being the best in Wales and one of the top ten in the UK.
2) Its Psychology Department was the first in Wales to be given an 'Excellent' rating for the quality of its teaching.
3) It is the first university in Wales to appoint a Professor of Midwifery, Professor Billie Hunter.
4)It has been ranked the best in Wales in a research assessment exercise for Social Work and Social Policy.
5) The university is strongly committed to responding rapidly to changes in health care, social care and medical practice.

This is the link for the Department of Health and Human Sciences (general information)-

This is the link for the Department's Open Day programme only -

Open Day Programme June 30th 2012

Remember I would strongly advise you to try and keep an open mind at this stage and visit other departments whilst you are at the university  (Modern Languages, English, Sciences etc).  This is a decision-making process and the more information you have, the more likely you are to come to a good decision about your future.  

Link for the programme for all university departments -