Sociology: No. 5 with a Bullet…

We’ve been doing a bit of research on the rising popularity of Criminology, mainly it has to be said in Wales (the popularity, not the research) and speculating about why no English exam board currently offers the subject at a-level (WJEC currently offer an a-level equivalent Diploma that’s recognised by UCAS, but it’s mainly only offered by 6th Form / FE College Colleges).

My view, for what it’s worth (not much, actually) is that school’s would struggle to staff it at a-level because of it’s combination of sociology and law – two standalone subjects that have historically struggled for staffing in English schools. There’s also an argument that one of the major English Boards decided against creating a Specification a few years back it in case it detracted from their increasingly-lucrative Sociology Spec.

And that tenuous link brings me to the main point of this post, the increasing popularity of Sociology – and Psychology – at a-level.

While Psychology has steadily worked it’s way to the top of the Popularity League Table (something that sort-of exists but which isn’t really A Thing. Yet) over the past 25 years, Sociology has always been a bit of a poor relation bobbing around the lower reaches of the Top 10: popular with The Kids, but not that popular…

The latest iteration of the post-pandemic table, however, shows a couple of significant things:

1. Both Psychology (+11.6%) and Sociology (+9.5%) have markedly increased in popularity over the past couple of years.

2. While Psychology is the second most popular a-level subject after Mathematics (which it seems to be steadily catching), Sociology is now the fifth most popular a-level, a little way behind Chemistry and moving ahead of subjects like Business Studies, History, Geography and English Literature.

Considering it’s not one of the so-called STEM subjects increasingly foisted on the school population by an increasingly out-of-touch Education Department and is not extensively taught further down schools at GCSE, this is, IMHO, quite a remarkable achievement.

Not least on the part of those Sociology teachers who, with limited budgets, resources and support have managed to make Sociology an increasingly important post-16 option for their students.

Give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back (because, trust me, no -one else is going to…).

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