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Psychology

Psychology is the perfect subject for an inquisitive mind. Students will examine many questions such as ‘why do people suffer from stress or mental illness?’, ‘why are some individuals considered abnormal for deviating from social norms’ and ‘can early attachment experience affect later relationships?’.

It is a fascinating science with cutting edge research that has real world applications that students are bound to find interesting. Across the two years students learn a variety of skills including analytical thinking, improved communication, problem solving and many more that will prepare them for an exciting future with the possibility of a range of fantastic careers.

Students will study different topic areas ranging from social influence, memory, attachment, approaches in psychology, biopsychology, psychopathology and research methods. In the second year of the A level students will deepen their understanding of human behaviour even further by examining topics such as relationships, schizophrenia and aggression.

Whatever a student wants to do in the future they are going to encounter and work with lots of different people in lots of different environments. Understanding how people work and what can affect their behaviour will be beneficial to whatever path they wish to pursue.

Qualification

A level psychology

Awarding body AQA

Entry requirements

Grade 5 or above in GCSE maths, English and science.

Year 12

Social influence - conformity, obeying evil authority figures, obedience, resistance to social influence and change in society.

Memory - models of memory, forgetting, eye witness testimony and police interviews.

Attachment - babies and their caregivers, when attachment goes wrong and early attachment on adult relationships.

Approaches - origins of psychology, classical and operant conditioning, cognitive approach and biological approach.

Psychopathology - ‘abnormality’, biological, behavioural and cognitive explanations and treatments, phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Research methods - experiments and observations, investigations and presenting, analysing and interpreting data. 

Year 13

Psychodynamic - Freud and the unconscious, humanistic, Maslow and counselling.

Biopsychology - 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 and features of science.

Issues and debates - gender and culture bias, free will and nature/nurture, behavioural laws, ethical implications and social sensitivity.

Relationships - evolved partner preferences, romantic attraction, virtual relationships and ‘relationships’ with media personalities.

Schizophrenia - symptoms and problems in diagnosis, genes and brain chemistry, faulty thinking and dysfunctional families, therapies, drugs and CBT.

Aggression - neural and hormonal mechanisms, genetic factors, ethological and evolutionary explanations, social-psychological explanations, institutional aggression and media influences on aggression.

Assessment

Three exams, each accounting for one third of the final grade. The three exams last 2 hours and are worth 96 marks each. The exams consist of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions. At least 10% of the overall assessment will contain mathematical skills equivalent to Level 2 or above. At least 25–30% of the overall assessment will assess skills, knowledge and understanding in relation to research methods.

Psychology explains why things are how they are. You don’t have to wonder why something happens you can answer it with the knowledge you learn and even enlighten others as to why.
Elliott Barton, psychology student

Why study psychology?

Psychology is a well-respected degree for a range of occupations. A degree in psychology opens up opportunities to train as a chartered psychologist. Psychology is of particular value to those hoping to pursue careers in medicine, business, education and the legal profession.

I have always been interested in mental health and how and why people do the things they do and psychology brings that answer to life.
Erin Oakes, psychology student