Subject content

AS Thinking, Analytical and Communication Skills

AS Thinking, Analytical and Communication Skills

The skills, knowledge and understanding detailed below will be assessed in the context of the content statements set out in units 1 and 2.

The content statements for units 1 and 2 should be interpreted in the light of the level of the knowledge, understanding and attainment of skills that a candidate might reasonably be expected to possess after following a broad range of subjects at GCSE Grade C level, including English, Mathematics and Science, and a one year post-16 course in General Studies alongside other specialist AS subjects.

3.1.1  Understanding the nature of knowledge, truth and belief and the distinctions between them Examination of the way concepts such as knowledge, truth and belief are used; development of the ability to draw distinctions between them, understanding what constitutes 'proof'. 
 3.1.2 Analysis of data, information, ideas, opinions and arguments Exploration of sources of knowledge and information, methods of research, how information is collected and analysed; the differences between quantitative and qualitative data, facts and opinions.  
 3.1.3 Use of the above to examine questions, form values, make judgements and draw conclusions Development of the ability to assess the validity and reliability of data and information; understand arguments; appreciate the nature of objectivity and subjectivity; recognise bias; distinguish between deductive and inductive reasoning, and arguments based on cause, authority and analogy; recognise fallacy and unsound arguments; draw conclusions.  
 3.1.4 Understanding of different kinds of knowledge, appreciating their strengths and limitations Appreciation of the different characteristics of the arts, social sciences and sciences and the kinds of understanding gained from these; methods and processes of study of different disciplines.  
 3.1.5 Use of language to impart knowledge and understanding and present opinions and argument Selecting and using a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose and subject matter; organising relevant information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate; ensuring text is legible and spelling, grammar and punctuation are accurate, so that meaning is clear. 

 

Unit 1 GENA1 AS Culture and Society

Unit 1 GENA1 AS Culture and Society

 

3.2.1  An understanding and appreciation of the changing nature and importance of culture Cultural values and the similarities and differences between people and cultures; nature and use of language; ways in which different uses and forms of language can affect meaning; literary and linguistic devices. 
3.2.2 Creativity and innovation The role of artists; their contribution to society and interaction with their audiences; benefits of participation in the arts; the place and value of arts in education. Examples of art works and practitioners of major artistic movements. 
3.2.3 Aesthetic evaluation Personal response to the arts and appreciation of a variety of forms using appropriate critical language; differences between subjective and objective evaluation of works and performances across a range of art forms. Objective criteria for such judgements. 
3.2.4 Beliefs, values and moral reasoning The role and importance of religious and value systems; a broad outline of the distinguishing features and tenets of major world religions. 
3.2.5 Religious belief and experience and connections between them Differences of opinion about beliefs and values; tolerance; the place of religious and moral education. Viewpoints on moral issues; bases for moral and value judgements; religious and secular approaches to moral arguments. 
3.2.6 Examination and appreciation of ideologies and values in society Factors which affect the interaction of individuals with society as a whole: concepts of freedoms and restrictions; rights and responsibilities; equality of opportunity. 
3.2.7 Media and communication Processes and effects of the media and communication industries; similarities and differences between various media and between popular culture and 'high' art in entertainment; control and censorship. How the media present information and the recognition of a biased viewpoint. Effects and use of the internet and information technology. 
3.2.8 Political processes and goals The British political system and the role of the monarchy. Processes and powers of government and parliament; electoral procedures; main policies of the major UK political parties; citizenship. 
3.2.9 Relationship between law, society and ethics  Values and ethical issues which affect social interaction in such areas as politics, society and business; crime and punishment. 

Unit 1 Assessment

This unit consists of an objective test component (Section A) and a structured writing component (Section B).

Section A

Material for comprehension, analysis and evaluation in objective test format.

This section will assess candidates' ability to identify themes and arguments; to recognise and distinguish between explicit and implicit statements, inferences, assumptions and conclusions; perceptions of the nature and use of language, style, references, illustration and justification; grasp of interrelationships of ideas, organisational structure, overall meaning and validity of argument.

Section B

Structured questions requiring written responses and based on a collection of short extracts provided in the question paper.

Assessing candidates' abilities to summarise and comment on ideas, arguments and issues, using their own words and presenting their own opinions and judgements.

 

Unit 2 GENA2 AS Science and Society

Unit 2 GENA2 AS Science and Society

 

3.3.1  Characteristics of the sciences (physical, life and earth) An outline of the nature of, and ideas on, the origins of the universe, space and matter; natural forces and sources and forms of energy; the earth's resources. 
 3.3.2 Explanation and evaluation of human behaviour Characteristics of human and social behaviour and approaches to social studies and policy: the changing role of the family; class, gender, race, age and disability. 
 3.3.3 Social and economic trends and constraints Economic issues on a national scale; the workings of business, commerce and industry; impact of political and economic issues on science, society and the environment; aspects of employment and unemployment; education; poverty. 
 3.3.4 Understanding of scientific methods, principles, criteria and their application The nature of scientific investigation; design and use of scientific investigations; design, manufacture and use of equipment and technology in contemporary society and description of underlying scientific principles. 
 3.3.5 The nature of scientific objectivity and the question of progress

Research in science and the extent to which scientists can be impartial in their methods and contribution to scientific research and development

Background to scientific discoveries and emergence and use of scientific ideas. Recent developments in information and communications technology, transport systems, sport and leisure.

 3.3.6 The nature of objectivity in social sciences  Research in social science and the extent to which social scientists can be impartial in their methods and contribution to society and social policy.
 3.3.7 Mathematical reasoning and its application Use of mathematics in science and society; mathematical functions and their graphs; interpretation of statistical information; representations of two- and three-dimensional objects and situations; relationships between moving parts in mechanical devices. 
 3.3.8 The social, ethical and environmental implications of scientific discoveries and technological development Analysis of the impact and implications of new inventions, developments and techniques, and decisions to put them into practice. The influence of scientific applications on the quality of life. Developments in genetics and biotechnology, agriculture, food production and conservation; health, fitness and balanced diets; hygiene; disease and everyday medical matters; the use and abuse of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
 
 3.3.9 Moral responsibility of scientists Moral dilemmas associated with the work of scientists, technologists and industrialists; the application of moral dilemmas in a social and economic context. 
 3.3.10 Past and present relationships between technology, science and society The contributions of science and technology to human progress and lifestyles in society; effects of industry on ecological systems; consumption of the earth's resources; pollution and methods of waste disposal; the protection and conservation of the environment; medical advances. 

Unit 2 Assessment

This unit consists of an objective test component (Section A) and a structured writing component (Section B)

Section A

Material for comprehension, analysis, evaluation and mathematical reasoning in objective test format.

This section will assess candidates' ability to understand scientific principles and information; interpret and apply statistical information and graphs; grasp ideas; consider validity of argument and implications for society.

Section B

Three optional questions requiring written responses. Candidates answer one question only. Each question will be divided into parts and will have its own source.

Section B will assess candidates' abilities to analyse and evaluate sources and use own knowledge to present arguments about scientific and social issues.

 

A2 Thinking, Analytical and Communication Skills

A2 Thinking, Analytical and Communication Skills

 

The skills, knowledge and understanding detailed below will be assessed in the context of the content statements set out in units 3 and 4.

The content statements for units 3 and 4 should be interpreted in the light of the level of the knowledge, understanding and attainment of skills that a candidate might reasonably be expected to possess after following a broad range of subjects at GCSE Grade C level, including English, Mathematics and Science, and a two-year post-16 course in General Studies alongside other specialist AS and A Level subjects.

NB Statements in italics indicate extensions for A2 beyond AS.

3.4.1  Understanding the nature of knowledge, truth and belief and the distinctions between them  Examination of the way concepts such as knowledge, truth and belief are used; demonstrate the ability to draw distinctions between and recognise the impact of values upon them, understanding what constitutes 'proof'. Demonstrate appreciation of the limitations of knowledge.
3.4.2  Analysis of data, information, ideas, opinions and arguments  Evaluation of sources of knowledge and information, methods of research, how information is collected and analysed; examine the differences between quantitative and qualitative data, facts and opinions, assessing their relative merits. 
3.4.3  Use of the above to examine questions, form values, make judgements and draw conclusions  Assess the validity and reliability of data and information; integrate and evaluate arguments; make informed judgements, appreciating the nature of objectivity and subjectivity; recognise bias; distinguish between deductive and inductive reasoning, and arguments based on cause, authority and analogy; recognise fallacy and unsound arguments; draw justified conclusions.
 
3.4.4  Understanding of different kinds of knowledge, appreciating their strengths and limitations  Appreciation of the different characteristics of the arts, social sciences and sciences and the kinds of understanding gained from these; methods and processes of study of different disciplines. Show understanding of how values can influence judgements and that one mode of analysis or branch of knowledge may provide an incomplete picture.
 
3.4.5   Use of language to impart knowledge and understanding and present opinions and argument
Selecting and using a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose and complex subject matter; organising relevant information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate; ensuring text is legible and spelling, grammar and punctuation are accurate, so that meaning is clear.
 

 

Unit 3 GENA3 A2 Culture and Society

Unit 3 GENA3 A2 Culture and Society

NB Statements in italics indicate extensions for A2 beyond AS. 

3.5.1  An understanding and appreciation of the changing nature and importance of culture Cultural values and the similarities and differences between people and cultures; nature and use of language; ways in which different uses and forms of language can affect meaning; literary and linguistic devices. 
3.5.2  Creativity and innovation

The human creative impulse and its processes; the role of art and design in society, the structure of art forms and genres and how their meanings are communicated; benefits of participation in the arts; the place and value of the arts in education.

The role of artists; their contribution to society and interaction with their audiences; the role and responsibility of musicians, writers, film makers, television producers, artists and those involved in creative arts; issues of taste, judgement, morality and the law in the evaluation of art and protection of the public.

Examples of art works and practitioners of artistic movements; the development and impact of artistic styles and movements; major examples of artistic achievement from a range of cultures and times, including modern and contemporary movements.

3.5.3  Aesthetic evaluation Personal response to the arts and appreciation of a variety of forms using appropriate critical language; differences between subjective and objective evaluation of works and performances across a range of art forms. Objective criteria for such judgements.
3.5.4   Beliefs, values and moral reasoning The role and importance of religious and value systems; features and tenets of major world religions. 
3.5.5  Religious belief and experience and connections between them

Differences of opinion about beliefs and values; tolerance; the dilemmas and complexity of a multi-faith and pluralist society; tolerance; the process and problems of changing and developing morality; the place of religious and moral education.

Viewpoints on moral issues; bases for moral and value judgements; religious and secular sides of moral arguments; philosophical, moral and ethical problems faced by society and individuals.
3.5.6  Examination and appreciation of ideologies and values in society Factors which affect the interaction of individuals with society as a whole: freedoms and restrictions; rights and responsibilities; equality of opportunity, the law and judiciary, the relationship between civil law and religious belief. 
3.5.7  Media and Communication Processes and effects of the media and communication industries; similarities and differences between various media and between popular culture and 'high' art in entertainment; control and censorship; how information is presented and the power of language and images to transmit, persuade or distort; 'spin' and propaganda; the creation of wealth and exercise of power in the media and communication industries. Effects and use of the internet and information technology. 
3.5.8  Political processes and goals The British political system and philosophies; the nature, processes, problems and responsibilities of a democracy; Processes and powers of government in Britain and other countries (from local policies through to the EU): the monarchy; electoral procedures; main policies of the major UK political parties; citizenship and rights and responsibilities of the individual within a political context. 
3.5.9  Relationship between law, society and ethics Aspects of social interaction at personal, local, national and international levels; values and ethical issues in such areas as politics, society and business; crime and punishment. International relations; standards in public life. 

Unit 3 Assessment

This unit consists of a source evaluation exercise (Section A), a culture essay (Section B) and a society essay (Section C).

Section A

Two compulsory structured writing questions requiring written responses.

Section A will assess candidates' ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of at least one source and provide a personal opinion on the topic concerned.

Section B

Four optional essay questions taken from the main cultural themes in the Unit 3 content. Candidates answer one question only.

Section B will assess candidates' abilities to analyse the question; conduct arguments and justify opinions with appropriate knowledge and illustrations; synthesise and communicate ideas; make overall judgements and draw valid conclusions.

Section C

Four optional essay questions taken from the main social themes in the Unit 3 content. Candidates answer one question only.

Section C will assess candidates' abilities to analyse the question; conduct arguments and justify opinions with appropriate knowledge and illustrations; synthesise and communicate ideas; make overall judgements and draw valid conclusions.

 

Unit 4 GENA4 A2 Science and Society

Unit 4 GENA4 A2 Science and Society

 

3.6.1  Characteristics of the sciences (physical, life and earth)

An outline of the nature of, and ideas on, the origins of the universe, space and matter; natural forces and sources and forms of energy; the origin, extraction, processing, storage and distribution of the earth's resources.

The concept of life;

Science and religion in society.

3.6.2  Explanation and evaluation of human behaviour

Characteristics of human and social behaviour and approaches to social studies and policy; the changing role of the family; class, gender, race, age and disability.

Approach of different disciplines in social science to how we understand and evaluate people and problems.

3.6.3  Social and economic trends and constraints

Economic issues on a national and international scale; the workings of business, commerce and industry; impact of political and economic issues on science, society and the environment; aspects of employment and unemployment; education; poverty.

Different stages of social, industrial and scientific development in other countries.

Nature, effects of, and approaches to, solving world problems and trouble spots; co-operation and intervention; international agencies.

3.6.4  Understanding of scientific methods, principles, criteria and their application

The nature of hypothesis and theory in scientific development.

The nature of scientific investigation; design and use of scientific investigations; design, manufacture and experience of equipment and technology in contemporary society and explanation of underlying scientific principles.

3.6.5  The nature of scientific objectivity and the question of progress

The nature and reliability of research methodology in science and the extent to which scientists can be impartial in their methods and contribution to scientific research and development. 

Background to scientific discoveries and emergence and use of scientific ideas. Recent developments in information and communications technology, transport systems, sport and leisure.

3.6.6  The nature of objectivity in social sciences The nature and reliability of research methodology in social science and the extent to which social scientists can be impartial in their methods and contribution to society and social policy.
3.6.7  Mathematical reasoning and its application Commenting on data and representations of data; interpreting results and drawing conclusions. Assessing their implications.
3.6.8  The social, ethical and environmental implications of scientific discoveries and technological development Evaluating the impact and implications of new inventions, developments and techniques, and decisions to put them into practice. The influence of scientific applications on the quality of life. Developments in genetics and biotechnology, agriculture, food production and conservation; health, fitness and balanced diets; hygiene, disease and everyday medical matters; birth control; the use and abuse of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. 
3.6.9  Moral responsibility of scientists Moral dilemmas associated with the work of scientists, technologists and industrialists; the application of moral dilemmas in a social and economic context. Professional codes of behaviour. 
3.6.10  Past and present relationships between technology, science and society The contributions of science and technology to human progress and lifestyles in different societies; effects of industry on ecological systems; consumption of the earth's resources; pollution and methods of waste disposal; the protection and conservation of the environment; genetic engineering and medical advances. 

Unit 4 Assessment

This unit consists of a Case Study exercise (Section A) and a science and society essay (Section B).

Section A

Short answer questions assessing a Case Study on a major issue. The source material will be part prereleased (approximately five extracts) and part contained in the examination paper (approximately one extract).

It will involve wide-ranging stimulus material including data and statistics.

The pre-release material will be available from 1 November for January examinations and 1 April for June examinations. Teachers will be allowed to discuss the pre-release materials with their candidates.

This section will assess candidates' ability to show understanding of the detail of the material and to summarise the points and arguments contained within the extracts; to recognise the connections between the different elements of the subject concerned; and to exercise their own judgements on the nature of the problems presented. Questions related to the statistical data within the material will assess candidates' ability to handle statistics and appreciate their use in the context of a broader issue.

Section B

Four optional science and society essay questions. Candidates answer one question only.

Section B will assess candidates' abilities to analyse the question; conduct arguments and justify opinions with appropriate knowledge and illustrations; synthesise and communicate ideas; make overall judgements and draw valid conclusions.