OCR has overhauled its Sociology A Level to create a hard-hitting syllabus that reflects key contemporary social challenges, including a compulsory module on the profound changes arising from globalisation and the digital media revolution.
The new A Level, now accredited by Ofqual for teaching from September 2015, will see Sociology shake off its image as a softer subject with the inclusion of evidence-based research on globalisation in the digital era. Students will, for example, refer to studies on how Facebook makes people less satisfied with life; why 75% of 16-24 year-olds claim they couldn’t live without the internet and how the sexes behave differently online; and how the global digital divide affects inequality.
With more than 1.3 billion people on Facebook, over a million selfies posted each day and more people worldwide having access to a mobile phone (6 billion) than to a working toilet (4.5 billion), students will analyse how societies manage the positive and negative impacts of, for example, freedom of information, privacy, online safety, equality of access to technology and gender stereotyping.
Victoria Hunter, OCR Subject Team Manager explained: “Globalisation and digital communication are transforming work, family and leisure life. No Sociology A Level would be complete without making it compulsory to study how people are responding to the new rules of the digital global village.”
“Contrary to some outdated misconceptions, sociology is not a soft option: it is rooted in social science theory, demands academic rigour and equips students with the critical reasoning and data analysis skills to understand the complex dynamics that shape societies. The course will be an excellent foundation for university and pave the way to a wide range of careers, from business management to public policy.”
The course has three main components, each accounting for approximately one third of the content and final marks. Globalisation forms half of the third component, ‘Debates in contemporary society’, a completely new component that enables students to explore different methods of social enquiry and develop their critical understanding of social processes, change and policy.
Judith Mudd, Chief Executive of the British Sociological Association, added: "Sociology is fascinating. It's about our everyday lives and like our everyday lives it's rich in subject matter and continually evolving. In today's online world, social groups across the globe are connecting and colliding in ways that could not have been imagined before. We owe it to our students and society to reflect these fundamental changes in the way social groups interact in our courses, not just to make sociology real for students, but also to foster scientific analysis of the social impacts of new technologies to help steer further developments in ways that will better rather than break societies. It is surprising that it has taken so long for the global digital revolution to find its way into the A level curriculum and I am delighted to see it there at last. Well done OCR!"
At the Sixth Form College Farnborough, Carys Fuller, Senior Curriculum Manager said: “Sociology is a fast-changing subject that must be kept contemporary to maintain interest. The staff and students here love the OCR content and find the material stimulating and exciting. I really like the fact that OCR took the opportunity to consult teachers and update its specification to include issues such as social networking, which is a topic with real significance that will really engage our students.”
Take a look at OCR’s exciting new specification.