Why is it that some people suffer from stress or mental illness? Or that others are considered abnormal for deviating from social norms? Psychology looks at questions like these and more. It’s a fascinating science with cutting edge research that has real-world applications that you are bound to find interesting.

Curriculum outline

Year 12

You will study:

  • Social influence: Types of conformity and explanations for conformity; obeying evil authority figures; explanations for obedience; explanations of resistance to social influence; explanations of change in society.
  • Memory: Models of memory; explanations of forgetting; eye witness testimony and police interviews.
  • Attachment: Attachment between babies and their caregivers; problems caused when attachment goes wrong; the effect of early attachment on adult relationships.
  • Approaches: Origins of psychology; learning approaches including classical and operant conditioning; cognitive approach: computer models to understand mental processes; biological approach: genes, brain chemicals and evolution.
  • Psychopathology: Definition of ‘abnormality’; biological, behavioural and cognitive explanations and treatments; phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Research methods: Different methods used in research such as experiments and observations; designing investigations, including sampling, ethical issues, control of variables; presenting, analysing and interpreting data.

There is no coursework but you will carry out practical research activities as part of your learning in both years of the course.

Year 13

You will study:

  • Further approaches: Psychodynamic: Freud and the unconscious; humanistic: Maslow, the self and counselling; comparing approaches.
  • Biopsychology: Function of different brain regions; split brain research and recovery after trauma; brain scans and post mortem examination; bodily rhythms and the sleep/wake cycle.
  • Research methods: Case studies and content analysis; features of science: reporting and peer review; data handling and analysis; probability, significance and statistical tests.
  • Issues and debates: Gender and culture bias; debates: free will and nature/nurture; explanations: parts or wholes, behavioural laws or individual characteristics; ethical implications and social sensitivity.
  • Relationships: Evolved partner preferences; factors affecting romantic attraction; why relationships last and what happens when they don’t; virtual relationships and ‘relationships’ with media personalities.
  • Schizophrenia: Symptoms of schizophrenia and problems in diagnosing it; genes and brain chemistry; faulty thinking and dysfunctional families; therapies: drugs, family therapy and CBT.
  • Aggression: Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression; genetic factors; Ethological and evolutionary explanations; social psychological explanations; institutional aggression and media influences on aggression.

At A-level there are three exams, each account for one third of your A-level. The three exams last 2 hours and are worth 96 marks each. The exams consist of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions.