Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. Psychology tries to explain why we think and do the things we do. We’re all psychologists to a certain extent since we all use our knowledge of ourselves and others in everyday life. When we study psychology we discuss the research psychologists have done to investigate the way we tick. There are many areas of psychology, at A level we look at Social, Developmental, Biological, Cognitive and Abnormal Psychology.
Who is it for?
Candidates for Psychology will have a genuine interest in people and trying to understand their behaviour. Psychology is a controversial subject with conflicting viewpoints so enthusiasm for debate and a questioning, open mind is essential. Students will develop skills in analysing and evaluating psychological research including, data collection, presentation and interpretation. You will learn in a variety of ways including use of ICT, group work, participation in studies and developing an awareness of cultural and individual differences and ethical issues. Candidates need to have English and Maths GCSE to grade 4 or above.
What and how will I study?
The A level course is very much and introduction to Psychology assuming that students will not have formally studied the subject previously. The AS course covers a few areas to give you a flavour of the subject and the A2 course both extends this and focuses in more detail. The course content given below briefly describes what will be studied in each unit.
The approach Psychology uses to study mind and behaviour is fundamentally scientific since we try to be as objective as possible when collecting information about humans and formulating theories based on our observations. Indeed, psychology is now classed as a science by examinations boards and many universities. However, Psychology is different from the sciences you will have studied to GCSE since investigations and information about humans are always open to challenge and interpretation. For example, research findings depend on who is being studied and the social and cultural setting of the research. Psychology is often called a social science for this reason and involves gaining knowledge and skills that can fit with any combination of other subjects.
As well as learning about psychological research you will develop skills in questioning its validity and how usefully it can be applied in real life situations. Psychology is only valuable if it can be used to benefit individuals and society. Most professional psychologists are employed putting their knowledge and skills into practice in communities, schools, prisons, hospitals, sport organisations, businesses and a range of other places. We will study the contribution they make. We hope to include out of school visits and outside speakers, for example students have visited the Freud museum in London in the past.
Learning about Psychology is immensely fascinating and rewarding in its own right but a knowledge of psychology is invaluable in a world where good interpersonal skills at work and play are increasingly important. Gaining a qualification in Psychology demonstrates that you have good intellectual and enquiry abilities as well as having a genuine interest in and insight into people.
The course is made up of:
Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology
Memory: How does memory work? Why do we forget? How can we improve our memory? How reliable is eyewitness testimony?
Attachment: How and why do infants form attachments? What impact on our adult lives does our early experience have?
Social Influence: How is our behaviour influenced by others?: What is obedience and conformity? Why do some people obey and conform more than others?
How easy is it to change society based on what we know about social psychology?
Paper 2: Approaches, Psychopathology and Research Methods
Psychological Approaches and Biopsychology:
What are the different ways in which Psychologists explain behaviour.
‘Abnormality’: How do we decide if someone is ‘abnormal’? What causes ‘abnormality’ and how can it be treated?
Research methods: How do psychologists collect and interpret data about humans and what are the issues and ethical problems involved?
Paper 1 : Social Influence; Memory; Attachment; Psychopathology (extension of work covered at AS)
Paper 2: Approaches to explaining behaviour, Psychology and Research Methods (extension of work covered at AS)
Paper 3: Issues and Debates ; 3 Topics in Psychology
Gender: Will boys be boys and girls be girls and why? Sex role stereotypes and androgyny. Discussion of what causes our senseof gender. Gender Identity disorder, what is it and suggested causes.
Aggression: What causes aggression? To what extent is aggression influenced by the environment we are in or our biology?
Schizophrenia: What are the symptoms, causes and treatments of Schizophrenia?
How will I be assessed?
Paper 1: A 1 hour 30 minute exam. Some short answers and 2 short essays. Worth 50% of AS
Paper 2: A 1 hour 30 minute exam. Short answers, short essay and source material. Worth 50% of AS
= Psychology AS (Exams in May 2017)
Paper 1: A 2 hour exam. Multiple choice, short answers and extended writing 33.3 % of A level
Paper 2: A 2 hour exam. Multiple choice, short answers and extended writing 33.3 % of A level
Paper 3: A 2 hour exam. Multiple choice, short answers and extended writing 33.3 % of A level
= A Level
See Mrs Livings or Ms Yemm for further details.
Download the AQA specification from www.aqa.org.uk