Social Sciences aim to study the way humans live, behave, relate to each other and experience the world by using a scientific approach to gathering and interpreting information.
Psychology teaches students to reflect on how we experience the world around us, solve problems, and process our emotions. Students will learn about the value of experiments and statistics as well as observations and surveys.
Sociology teaches students to explore the social world, reflecting on ethics, politics, trends, and government policies. Students will learn about the debates going on concerning power, poverty, freedom, and upbringing.
Sociology and Psychology both aim to inculcate an investigative mindset: students are encouraged to view with fresh eyes many taken-for-granted features of human experience and society, looking at unusual cases and imaginative theories. By ‘thinking like a social scientist’ students will reflect on different explanations for human behaviour and employ a range of techniques for investigating these phenomena.
Psychology and Sociology are both delivered as linear A-Level courses with final examinations in Y13. The Department is investigating the possibility of a GCSE Psychology course to boost recruitment and raise standards.
The AQA Psychology course is exceptionally well resourced, with attractive and helpful textbooks, a wealth of online video lectures (notably from Tutor2U and PsychBoost) and several detailed educational websites that follow the AQA Specification (notably Tutor2U, PMT and SimplyPsychology). The Department has purchased the digital textbooks from Illuminate known as the ‘Green Haired Girl’ (Year 1) and the ‘Pink Haired Girl’ (Year 2) which students access to do Prep activities.
The Psychology course largely follows the order of the AQA Specification, concluding teaching of Paper 1 in the Spring, Paper 2 in the Summer and Paper 3 in the Spring of Y13. The only divergence is in the teaching of Research Methods (Paper 2 but a synoptic component of all exams) which is delivered throughout Y12, partly to allow students to access the full content of Paper 1 exams and partly to allow students to carry out their own research in an informed way.
Paper 3 involves a choice of topics and the Department currently offers Gender for its wide appeal and contemporary debates, Schizophrenia for its rigorous reinforcement of psychopathology and biopsychology and Forensics for its popularity with students. In the past, Stress has been taught instead of Schizophrenia.
The OCR Sociology course is less well-resourced but was judged to have the most up-to-date and relevant Specification compared to other Boards. The Head of Department has published a line of study guides for this exam and these are available for free to students in PDF format; in addition, hardback copies are used in class. The Head of Department is also producing a YouTube channel of 15-20min video lectures on all the topics which form the basis of Prep activities.
The Sociology course closely follows the order of the OCR Specification, concluding teaching of Paper 1 in the Spring, Paper 2 in the Summer and Paper 3 in the Spring of Y13. Research Methods (Paper 2) is not a synoptic component of this course; instead, theoretical perspectives (notably Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism) feature in all units.
Paper 1 involves a choice of topics and the Department currently offers Youth Subcultures for its wide appeal and real life applications. In Paper 3, the Department offers Crime & Deviance for its popularity with students and extensive online resources.
Both courses enrol students in a ‘carousel’ system, where one lesson each fortnightly cycle is set aside to independent research and long-term projects. In Y12 Terms 1-2, students carry out a literature review into a social science topic from a list offered to them; this private reading is monitored through presentations in class and concludes in a submitted dissertation. The Department has built a library of social science 'classics' and an online archive (using Wakelet) off digital papers, websites and videos.
Terms 3-5 are given over to a practical research project where students carry out their own investigation and present the results in the form of a paper which is peer reviewed in Term 5. Term 6 is devoted to careers and post-18 investigations using Unifrog and other resources to assess the vocational aspects of Social Sciences. In Y13, students conduct another research project in terms 1-3.
Social Sciences is committed to offering students a varied diet of academic activities, with note-taking in Prep reinforced and checked in class, activities to celebrate different learning styles, in-class experiments and surveys, subject-relevant films and videos and a focus on essay skills to ensure success in examinations. Assessed Homework is always in exam-format and CATs each term are partial exam papers. Feedback refers to Assessment Objectives and advises strategies for improvement. CATs are always followed by RAFT sessions to learn from mistakes and celebrate successes.
- Mr J Rowe (Head of Subject)
- Mrs C Manton
Key Stage 3
Key Stage 4
Key Stage 5