Psychology is the study of human thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviour. The study of Psychology gives students an understanding of the major psychological approaches and their applications. Throughout, students learn about psychological research methods and ethics which they are expected to apply to their own work.
Psychology has close ties with a range of disciplines. Subjects that go well with Psychology include other Social Sciences, Biology, English, Maths and Philosophy. Students of Psychology may use their qualification to study the subject or related disciplines at a higher level. Professional psychologists work in a number of settings including education, health care, marketing and Human Resource Management.
Our chosen specification (Edexcel) ensures that students are given a broad range of topics within Psychology that each focus around a key question.
Within each topic students learn about a range of studies, theories and research methods that they can use to help them investigate the key question and allows them to ask more in depth questions that they can further explore. Below are the seven topics that are covered over the three year course, each of which has integrated within it ‘Psychological Skills’ (a mixture of maths and research methods):
9 Introduction to Psychology - Students will learn about famous psychologists and their research, how psychologists conduct their research and approaches to psychology.
Criminal psychology – Why do people become criminals?
Students will learn about explanations of crime, punishments and programmes to support offenders and research into criminal behaviour. They will evaluate the influence of social factors and biological factors on crime.
Social influence – How do others affect you?
Students will learn about theories of obedience, conformity and bystander intervention. They will study research conducted into social influence and consider the influence of situational and cultural factors and personal factors.
10 Sleep and dreaming – Why do you need to sleep and dream?
Students will study the biological rhythms of the body clock and sleep disorders. They will study theories of dreaming, considering whether dreams have meaning or not. They will evaluate methods used by psychologists to study sleep and dreaming.
Memory – How does your memory work?
Students will learn about the structure of our memory, examining theories into the structure of our memory. They will study types of amnesia and research into our memory. Students will also examine the issue of reductionism.
Development – How did you develop?
Students will study how the brain develops in early life. They will learn about theories of cognitive development, how learning effects our development and moral development. They will examine research conducted into child development.
11 The brain and neuropsychology – How does your brain affect you?
Students will learn about the structure and function of key areas of the brain and differences in activity of males and females. They will learn about how the brain sends messages. They will study what happens when there are problems in the brain and research into this area. They will also consider how psychological knowledge has developed overtime.
Psychological problems – How would psychological problems affect you?
Students will study two psychological issues, unipolar depression and addiction. They will learn about how psychological problems are classified, explanations of problems, and treatments of the issues and evaluations of these. They will look at research conducted and the nature and nurture debate.
Research methods and revision
Students will review research methods used by psychologists and the strengths and limitations of these. They will learn about how psychologists analyse data and students will learn and use mathematical skills.
The course encourages students to think critically about research carried out in Psychology as well as allowing for discussions and debates about a variety of issues that arise within each topic. Students will build on their existing communication skills to ensure that they are able to present balanced pieces of extended writing in the two examinations (there is no coursework element to the GCSE Psychology).
We have chosen to continue teaching the course with the same exam board as GCSE (Edexcel), which aims to give students an understanding of the major psychological approaches and their applications. Throughout, students learn about psychological research methods and ethics which they are expected to apply to their own work. Students are not required to have studied Psychology at GCSE.
Each of the exam papers has a mixture of content, method, studies, a key question and practical investigation. The exams consist of structured questions of varying length that require knowledge, understanding and application of material covered. The essays required range from 8 to 20 marks, with each exam paper lasting two hours. Below is the outline of the examinations that are all sat at the end of year 13 (there is no coursework element):
Foundations in Psychology Social Psychology
Students learn about theories and research into obedience and prejudice and discrimination. They will then relate their knowledge to real life events. Students will learn about questionnaires and conduct their own practical investigation on obedience.
Students will learn about theories of memory and research studies. They will relate their knowledge to dementia and case studies of individual’s will memory impairment. Students will learn about experiments and conduct their own experiment and analyse their data using statistical tests.
Students will learn about the central nervous system, how the brain sends messages and the influence of drugs. They will study biological theories of aggression and will evaluate these. Students will learn about twin and adoption studies and brain scanning. They will conduct a correlation and analyse their data.
Theories of Learning
Students study theories of learning and how these may explain phobias. They will examine research into phobias and will evaluate these. Students will learn about observations and will conduct their own observation.
Applications in Psychology Clinical Psychology
Students learn about schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa. They will study how they are diagnosed, explanations of the disorders and treatments and their evaluations. Students will examine research conducted into psychological issues and evaluate methods used by clinical psychologists. Students will conduct their own practical investigations.
Students will learn about theories and research into attachment, deprivation and privation. They will examine research conducted into these areas. They will review methods adopted by child psychologists and conduct their own questionnaire. Students will also consider the influence of day care on child development.
Psychological Skills A synoptic unit that focusses on the methodology and skills that psychologists use.
A Level students will conduct practical investigations. Students will then be asked to apply this practical knowledge to novel situations in the examinations.
To find out more information about the Edexcel A Level specification please see the following link