Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. Psychology is well suited to pu-pils who are curious, and enjoy thinking about and researching questions such as: ‘How does memory work?’, ‘How is our behaviour influenced by those around us?’, and ‘How do our early attachments affect the relationships we form in later life?’. Due to the cross-curricular nature of Psychology, with strong links to Biology, Mathematics and Humanities, pupils with an A-level in Psychology have gone on to study a variety of different courses at university. This also makes Psychology an excellent subject to pair with a diverse range of subjects at A-level for example, Physical Education, Biology or any Humanities subject. Studying Psychology will allow you to have a better understanding of the human mind and how everyday behaviour is influenced by the world around us. It will enable pupils to develop their critical thinking, evaluative skills and have a better understanding of many social, scientific and contemporary issues involved in our daily life. Although Psychology isn’t psychiatry (a field of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental diseases) or psychotherapy (use of psychological methods to modify human behaviour), understanding the mind and behaviour will contribute to these fields.
A-level Psychology courses concentrate on three areas:
In the first year, pupils will study a variety of topics including: memory, social influence, attachment, research methods, approaches, biopsychology and psychopathology (the study of abnormalities). In the second year of the A-level course, pupils will specialise in three areas of research, for example, forensic psychology, gender, addiction, schizophrenia or stress. As well as this there will be further study on research methods with pupils being required to carry out their own experiments. There is no coursework in the A-level course, so assessment is by externally assessed written examinations.
Psychology is a scientific course, so a reasonable degree of competence in Science and Mathematics is important. Psychology is a demanding subject requiring pupils to conduct independent research outside of lessons. Candidates will be required to design their own investigations and analyse data using statistical methods. Due to Psychology being a linear course with the exams at the end of the two years, the ability to recall information is important. As Psychology is a Social Science, the capability to write short essays as well as analysing experimental data is essential.
Pupils will have a mixture of practical-based and theory-based lessons. Most lessons would involve class discussion about aspects of psychological research and study of specific experiments and case studies. Pupil-led oral presentations and independent research would take place regularly. In order to conduct larger investigative studies, pupils would need to use some non-lesson time in school collecting data from participants, e.g. at lunchtimes. Some lessons would be more mathematically focused, analysing data from investigations into aspects of human behaviour.
Mrs H V P McKay, Head of Psychology