Psychology is about people; it is the scientific study of mind and behaviour. It is fascinating to discover explanations for the way that we behave. It is a science and therefore well designed research studies are important to support the theories that psychologists put forward. The specification has been designed to provide a broad introduction to the scope and nature of psychology as a science.
Psychology will be a new subject to most students. The department aims to gradually introduce the skills required for understanding and success. Students develop a number of transferable skills such as critical analysis and evaluation. A variety of teaching and learning techniques are employed to maximise the potential of each student.
The examination board is AQA. Visit the website at www.aqa.org.uk for further information and past papers.
The aim of the department is to support each student to achieve to their full potential and to enjoy studying a subject that is new and relevant to everyday life.
Course Overview: A Level Psychology
A level Psychology is assessed by three, two hour examinations at the end of year 13. These are equally weighted:
Social Influence: In this unit we look at how the social context can change a person’s behaviour. Specifically we look at why people conform (follow the crowd), why people blindly obey authority before finally looking at those people who stand out from the crowd and sometimes cause social change (e.g. the suffragettes).
Memory: In this unit we look at how memory works, what makes us forget and we link this theory to the real world by considering whether eyewitness testimony should be trusted by the courts.
Attachment: In this unit we look at the importance of the attachment bond between an infant and their caregiver. We look at real life examples of when this bond hasn’t formed and consider whether it is possible for children to recover from this.
Psychopathology: Psychopathology is another term for ‘mental illness’. We look at how we define mental illness before looking at three specific mental illnesses (OCD, depression, phobias) including their symptoms, their causes and their treatment.
Approaches: This unit looks at the history of Psychology and the main schools of thought in Psychology.
Biopsychology: In this unit we look at how biological factors shape our behaviour. Specifically we study the nervous system and neurons. We then look at the brain including its anatomy and how it can be studied. Finally, we look at biological rhythms.
Research Methods: This is a double unit looking at the different research methods psychologists have available to them, how research is planned and undertaken, and how data is analysed in order to determine whether a hypothesis can be supported.
Aggression: In this unit we consider what causes aggressive behaviour before looking specifically at aggression in prisons and whether the media can cause aggressive behaviour.
Cognition and Development: This unit looks at the development of cognition (thought), possible causes of autism, whether empathy has a biological cause and how children learn to take the perspective of others.
Stress: In this unit we look at how stress can lead to illness, causes of stress and ways of managing stress.
Issues and Debates: In this synoptic unit we look at some of the key debates in Psychology such as the ‘nature-nurture’ debate, the question of whether we have free will, and whether we should take a reductionist approach in Psychology. Some of the issues we look at are gender and cultural bias in research.
Key Stage 3:
Key Stage 4:
Key Stage 5:
A level Psychology:
A level psychology comprises four modules each contributing 25% of the marks for a full A level.
AS PSYCHOLOGY: (50% of the full A level)
The specification introduces psychology by offering a broad range of topics. There are two modules:
- Cognitive Psychology: (Human Memory)
- Developmental Psychology: (Attachment)
- Research methods
- Biological Psychology: (Stress)
- Social Psychology: (Conformity and Obedience)
- Individual Differences: (Abnormality)
The modules papers are examined in the summer examinations and contain a variety of question styles. There is usually one short essay question in each module along with short answer questions. Research methods are integrated into the subject material of the first module but may also be examined in paper 2. Many of the questions involve application of knowledge. All questions must be answered; there will be no choice. Each module examination is 1hour 30 minutes in length.
A2 PSYCHOLOGY: (50% of the full A level)
The specification extends the knowledge gained at AS to consider a number of other topics. Lessons follow a similar format to AS but essay skills are developed so that students can construct a coherent and well-reasoned argument in response to a question.
There are two modules:
This module involves further development of essay-writing skills to include detail of issues, debates and approaches within psychology.
- Social Psychology: (Relationships)
- Biological Psychology: (Biological Rhythms and Sleep)
- Developmental Psychology: (Cognitive Development)
This module has a more applied focus; particularly in Media Psychology, where questions will be shorter and involve application of knowledge and research skills to novel situations. Students will be prepared for the Research Methods section by carrying out small-scale studies; treating and analysing data, drawing conclusions and finally reporting in the form of a scientific paper.
- Psychopathology: (Depression)
- Psychology in Action: (Media Psychology)
- Research Methods.
Both module papers are examined in the summer to ensure that essay skills are fully developed. In PSYA3 the focus is on essay skills; students will answer three questions, one for each topic, there is no choice as only three topics are studied. The time allowed for the paper is 1 hour and 30 minutes. In PSYA4 there is a greater focus on research methods and application in a 2 hour paper.
Lessons for both AS and A2 involve identification of the core topic detail and exploration of further detail using a variety of techniques. Students are encouraged to develop their understanding by applying their knowledge to novel situations. When it is possible visual media and practical tasks are used to facilitate discussion.
At both AS and A2 students will be supported; if they find that they are struggling staff will guide them and for those who want develop their knowledge further the opportunities will be provided.