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AS Sociology for AQA

[1st Edition]

Originally published in 2005, this complete textbook covers Introduction to Sociology, Family Life, Education, Work, Welfare and Poverty, Mass Media, Research Methods.

AS Sociology for AQA

[2nd Edition]

This second edition, originally published in 2010, covers Introduction to Sociology, Culture and Identity, Family Life, Education, Work, Welfare and Poverty, Research Methods.

A2 Sociology for AQA

Originally published in 2006, this complete textbook covers Religion, Power and Politics, World Sociology (Global Development), Sociological Theory,  Crime and Deviance, Social Stratification.

The Sociology Book

Take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject,  in this case Sociology, (The Psychology Book is also available if you're interested) and explain them clearly and concisely – or as the Publisher’s blurb puts it:

The Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.” In other words, select a range of well-known writers (such as Parsons, Foucault, Stacey and Beck on Families, Mead, Baudrillard, Goffman and Anderson on Culture) and write some nicely-illustrated pages about their work in a way that’s generally accessible to a-level students.

Sociology Now

Once you get past the rather primitive visuals and general design of this American textbook it covers pretty much all of what you’d expect from an A-level / High School / College book (from culture and society through family and media to crime, religion and science) in an accessible and fairly even-handed way.

Introduction to Sociology

A big, free (open-source), Sociology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

Sage Dictionary of Sociology

This has always been something of a standard in this field and even though this version is over 10 years old there’s still plenty here to interest a-level sociologists looking for concise explanations of complex concepts.

Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Sociology

The 2007 version, edited by Georges Ritzer, consists of short articles on a very wide range of topics. Probably more a teacher’s than a student text.

Sociology for Dummies

If you want to give your students a slightly irreverent take on sociology and sociologists this can be a good place to start. Although it’s not a textbook, as such, it does contain a lot of useful material. More importantly, however, encouraging your students to read any “non-textbook sociology” resource is probably a bonus.

Sociology 6th Edition

Anthony Giddens’ long-running textbook (currently in its 8th edition) covers most of the usual suspects (Family, Education, Crime, Media…) plus slightly more-esoteric areas like Nations, War and Terrorism. There's also an online flipbook version available.

Sociology and You

This American High School textbook, published in 2002, is a little dated in terms of content if not necessarily design - it employs many of the features we now take for granted in contemporary textbooks: short pieces of text around big colourful pictures, key terms identified, tables, boxouts, short readings and simple assessments. If you don't want to download the whole textbook it's possible to download and examine each of the 17 individual chapters.

Sociology and You. Too

An updated (circa 2008) version of the textbook that boasts a new design and some updating of the text. As with its predecessor, you can either use the main link to download the complete textbook (around 200mb...) or you can download single chapters if you don't want the whole textbook. A range of supporting materials - mainly PowerPoint Presentations - are also available for download. These may prove useful whether or not you decide to use the textbook.

Sociology 101

Another fairly recent text that conforms, once again, to contemporary notions of textbook design. It does, however, have quite a bit of text packed into its pages and this probably reflects the fact it’s mainly aimed at American undergraduate Introduction to Sociology (Sociology 101) courses. Having said that there’s little here that should be beyond most a-level students. Once again you’ll find familiar sections (Family, Education, Deviance…) sitting alongside sections (Politics and the Economy, Urbanisation) that don’t really feature much in UK Specifications.

Sociology in Our Times

This is a contemporary-styled textbook and the areas it covers (family, education, deviance, religion…) will be familiar to UK Sociology teachers and students, as will much of the content.

Sociology in Focus for AQA AS-Level

One of the new breed of Sociology A-level textbooks - full-colour pages, lots of colour pictures, activities, questions, summaries and short bite-sized paragraphs - this was first published in 2009 and might still be a useful addition to your teaching / learning armoury. The text covers: Culture and Identity, Families and Households, Education and Methods, Sociological Methods.

Resources: The text was supported by a range of resources (revision maps, activity answers, worksheets, teaching and exam tips) you might like to explore:

Culture and Identity

Families and Households

Education and Methods

Research Methods

Sociology in Focus for AQA A2-Level

Companion volume to Sociology in Focus for AS that covers Beliefs in Society, Crime and Deviance, Mass Media, Sociological Theory and Sociological Methodology.

Resources: The text was supported by a range of resources (revision maps, activity answers, worksheets, teaching and exam tips) you might find useful:

Mass Media

Crime and Deviance


Beliefs in Society

Sociological Theory

Introduction to Sociology

This is a more conventional sociology textbook from Wikibooks built around the Wikipedia “open content” principle that it can be edited by anyone – something that’s both a towering strength and obvious potential weakness. You can download the pdf version of the book or, if you prefer, simply view it online (which will give you some idea of both content and general format). As a general rule it’s text-heavy and picture-light.

Sociological Research Articles

A set of research articles covering things like Families and Households, Culture and Identity, Poverty and Welfare, Education, Health, Religion and Beliefs, Mass Media, Crime and Deviance, Stratification and Differentiation). Each article is broken-down into a set of easily-digestible chunks running across no-more – and no-less – than 2 x A4 pages.

Sociology: The Core

American textbook from 2009 that covers most of the areas (crime, religion, family, education, social inequality and the like) familiar to a-level teachers with a few extras (organisations, power and politics, population and the environment) thrown-in for good measure.

Sociology: The Basics

Less a textbook (there are no pictures, test questions, key words...) and more just a 2003 book of text (did you see what I did there?).  Which, given the title, is fair enough.

Seeing Sociology

A more-contemporary (2011) introductory textbook that covers all the usual areas for UK teachers (family, deviance, education etc.) plus many more that  American teachers will find useful.


The 12th edition (2008) of the long-running Macionis text (for UK teachers he's the American equivalent of Haralambos) that contains everything you’d expect and more from a best-selling textbook.

Sociology: The Essentials

A Cliffs Notes textbook from 2000, which basically means it’s a revision text from back in the day when “revision text” meant big long lists of “essential information” and pictures were for wimps.

Cambridge International AS and A Level Sociology Coursebook

Some chapters from my best-selling 2014 CIE textbook the publisher has generously decided to give away for free: The sociological perspective; Socialisation and the creation of social identity; Research methods (although for some reason they're only included half the chapter). There's also a free mass media chapter available. The complete textbook's still available to buy if you like the cut of the jib of the free chapters.

Basics of Sociology

Although a slightly older (2012) text that makes few, if any, concessions to contemporary styling (when I say it’s a text book I really mean it’s a book with lots of text). In this respect it’s a bit like the “Themes and Perspectives” produced around this time – perhaps a little advanced for many students but may reward those who like to read about things in a little more depth.

AP Sociology

In broad terms this isn’t a textbook, as such, but rather an Activity Book. In other words, all the usual chapters (family, education, deviance, religion…) are illustrated through a series of activities – usually around 10 per chapter. It’s something you might find useful as both a source of inspiration and ready-made activities.


The National Council of Educational Research and Training publishes a range of a-level type textbooks under the aegis of the Indian government, presumably for use in Indian schools and colleges. While the emphasis is on Indian society there’s enough general sociology here to keep everyone interested and happy:

Class 11 Introducing Sociology [There’s also a Hindi version]

Class 11 Understanding Society [There’s also a Hindi version]

Class 12 Indian Society

Class 12 Social Change and Development in India


Introduction to Sociology 101

Just to even things up culture-wise, this text hails from the Virtual University of Pakistan and is split into 45 “lessons” covering areas like Family life, Stratification, Population, the Environment, Crime and Education. The “101” and American spelling lead me to suspect this might be some sort of Introductory undergraduate text, but I could be wrong. I am sometimes.

Introduction to Sociology

This is a Study Guide and my guess is that it’s an American course guide put together by an Instructor to support students in their use of their primary textbook Macionis’ “Society: The Basics” (which I think might be a cut-down version of his main textbook “Sociology”). I could be wrong but what have you got to lose? The study guide covers the Usual Suspects – albeit in a more-limited way than the textbook it sort-of supports. Although as an added bonus there are lots of activities for students to get their teeth into.


A Popular US textbook (it says here), this version, the 12th, hails from 2010 but if you want an earlier version (the 10th) for some reason, that’s also available too. It has everything you’ve come to expect from an Introductory textbook in terms of content (Media, Religion, Education etc.) but this version is a little weird in that it seems to be some sort of hyperlinked pdf effort. Whether this is something someone’s put together or, more-likely I think, a proto-online version I don’t know. It’s interesting, however.

Sociology: The Key Concepts

This text by John Scott (2006) is basically a glossary on steroids. Key sociological concepts (from Agency to World Systems) aren’t merely defined, they’re explained and elaborated in some detail by a stellar cast of contributors. Probably a little beyond most a-level students, but useful for teachers.

Sociology, Work and Industry

This is a little more specialised than the general run-of-the-mill textbooks featured here and is probably only of interest to undergraduates. But at least it’s free.

Sociological Theory

Another text that’s probably more for teachers / undergrads than a-level students. This covers a range of theory and theorists in reasonable depth.


The 10th edition (2013) of this widely popular US textbook that’s just fine-and-dandy for a-level in terms of content and presentation.

Penguin Dictionary of Sociology

Although published at the turn of the 21st century, it’s a dictionary. Most sociological words and their meaning haven’t really changed that much in the ensuing 20 years. Also, although it's not, strictly-speaking, a textbook you might find it useful anyway.

Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology

Same author / editor (Bryan Turner) as the Penguin version. Similar words and definitions. Later date (2006).


(Comprehensive Edition)

This is a fully-featured sociology textbook that covers all your favourite topics (crime, family, education etc.), plus a few that aren’t so popular (Health, Stratification…) albeit from an American perspective. The original title of the text seems to have been Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World and there's a cut-down version - Sociology: Brief Edition - available. At around 200 pages shorter than its Comprehensive counterpart there must be some differences, but what they are I'm not sure.

Social Problems

Although very similar to Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World (they’re by the same author), this takes a slightly different approach by initially focusing on a “Social Problem in The News” and examining it in the light of sociological knowledge. It’s an interesting and slightly-innovative approach but whether or not it actually works as a teaching device I’ll leave up to you to decide.

Methods: Quantitative and Qualitative

While this might seem a little over-the-top for a-level, there’s plenty here to pick’n’chose – from types of sampling to types of research methods – that will be useful. For those who want to dig a little deeper there’s also quite extensive sections of various types of methodology.

Mass Communication,

Media and Culture

Although not specifically aimed at sociology teachers / students there’s plenty here – from Media Efforts to the development of new media technologies – that make it interesting and worthwhile.

Understanding Media and Culture

Free textbook focused on the cultural impact of different types of media, both old (books, newspapers, film and television) and new (video games, entertainment, the Internet and social media). Each type is given their own discrete chapter which, among other things, looks at their broad development, relationship to culture and, perhaps most-interestingly, how they have been impacted by the development of new technologies.

The Real World

Although this is a fairly conventional High School sociology textbook in the sense it has chapters covering all the basic stuff you might expect (Culture, Methods, Education, Deviance, Inequality…), it stands out from The Crowd by its inclusion of extensive “Applications to the Real World”. Hence, I guess, its title. These encourage students to apply the stuff they’ve just learnt to situations and examples drawn from "real life" (or as close as you can get to it in a textbook. Now approaching its 7th edition, the two options available here are the 2nd (2008) and 5th editions (2016).

Sociology  (Brief Edition)

Another perfectly-serviceable American textbook, released under a Creative Commons licence. It’s probably a little more text-heavy than more contemporary texts but once again it’s a book whose general content could be used to give your students a bit more depth if you think they need it.


Free. If a little bit dated. Sometimes.

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