Sociology for Year 13

This course is intended for students in Year 13 to gain an understanding of some of the key issues that are explored in the discipline of sociology, and the ways in which sociologists approach the task of understanding society.

Course aims

This course will give students a taste of the material that would typically be covered in year 1 of an undergraduate degree, but rather than teaching ‘theory’ and ‘methods’; the focus will be on real-world themes, applications and developing a ‘sociological imagination’.

What this course offers

In addition to introducing students to university life, this course will complement and enhance their A level studies in sociology and related disciplines. We teach students through the development of their curiosity about the world that they live in, and how to make sense of it. Parallel to this, the course will help develop transferable skills in critical thinking, oral communication, essay writing and interpreting complex information.

The course at a glance

  • Course lead: Dr Kevin Gillan
  • Six x 2 hour weekly sessions in October/ November on Wednesday afternoons (2-4pm).
  • Each class lasts for two hours and will include a mix of lectures, reading tasks and interactive group discussion.
  • The emphasis is on ‘learning by doing’ (enquiry-based learning) and everybody gets chance to participate.
  • Students do not receive any homework and all work will be completed during class time.
  • All students will be given the option to write and receive feedback on an essay to get a sense of what kind of work is produced at first year undergraduate level.

Course content

Students will explore:

  • What sociology is and why it is relevant to them
  • The ways in which sociology approaches questions of social organisation and social change
  • The relationship between individuals and their broader social, political and economic circumstances

Week 1: Welcome and introduction

This workshop will introduce the purpose and benefits of the course, as well as the expectations that we have of students. Guidance will be given on UCAS applications and personal statements. The session will end with an activity to get students thinking about what it means to ‘think sociologically’ in relation to real world issues.

Week 2: What is sociology?

In this workshop, we explore the emergence of sociology as a way to make sense of rapid and major social changes. Students will be presented with examples of the things that sociologists do and the ways in which they go about developing understandings of society. Discussions will focus on the development and application of a ‘sociological imagination’.

Week 3: How are societies organised?

In this workshop we investigate social divisions and inequalities. It includes a focus on issues of class, race and ethnicity, and gender. Students will be introduced to key accounts of what holds societies together as well different ideas about why they might fall apart. Discussions will focus on sociological accounts of rioting and far-right politics.

Week 4: Who do you think you are?

Most people like to think that they have an identity that is entirely their own. This session considers the ways in which sociology helps us to understand who we are and how we might be perceived by others. Students will consider the relationships between social categories and self-identity as well as questions of belonging and exclusion. Discussions will focus on the role of individuals and relationships in the organisation of society.

Week 5: Where were my jeans made and why did I buy them?

In this workshop, we think about globalisation and contemporary ‘consumer cultures’. Students will be introduced to the ways in which sociology analyses and critiques the media, popular culture and advertising. Discussions will focus on the ways in which the things we consume connect us to people elsewhere in the world that we are unlikely to ever meet.

Week 6: What makes a good sociology essay and how do you get high marks?

This final session focuses on how to write a good sociology essay and the criteria that are used when essays get marked. Students will work collaboratively with tutors in order to develop plans in response to essay titles that have recently been used for formal assessments.

All students will be given their own copy of the following textbook to keep: Fevre, R. & Bancroft, A. (2010) Dead White Men and Other Important People: Sociology's Big Ideas, Palgrave Macmillan.