Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour. The subject is taught by a specialist teacher and follows the AQA specification.
Psychology is a very popular subject which aims to develop a range of skills valuable in further education and the workplace.
These skills include critical analysis, presenting an argument fluently, analysing and interpreting data, and planning and conducting research.
Psychology is a broad subject with significant biological content and should appeal to students who are interested in science and specifically in understanding peoples behaviour and thinking, including the underlying drivers behind behaviour, such as the influence of genes, neurotransmitters and hormones, as well as the influence of peoples early experiences.
The scheme of work follows the AQA specification closely, although Research Methods is taught alongside the other topics, so that students can see how Research Methods are utilised in the studies we cover.
The A-Level course is a linear course with three two-hour exam papers at the end of Year 13:
Memory: Theories and research into memory, forgetting and eyewitness testimony.
Social Influence: Explanations of conformity, obedience and resistance to social influence.
Attachment: Research into human and animal attachment. Effects of deprivation and institutionalisation.
Psychopathology: Definitions of abnormality. The clinical characteristics, explanations and treatment of phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Approaches in Psychology: Wundt, learning, cognitive, biological, psychodynamic and humanistic approaches.
Biopsychology: The nervous system, neurons and synaptic transmission. The endocrine system. Localisation and lateralisation of brain function.
Brain plasticity. Ways of studying the brain. Biological rhythms.
Research Methods: how psychologists investigate thinking and behaviour. The scientific process. Data handling and analysis. Inferential Statistics.
Issues and Debates in Psychology: Gender and culture bias. Free will and determinism. The nature-nurture debate. Holism and reductionism. Idiographic and nomothetic approaches. Ethical implications of research.
One topic from Relationships or Gender or Cognition & Development.
One topic from Aggression or Forensic Psychology or Addiction.
One topic from Stress or Schizophrenia or Eating Behaviour.
The Psychology Department also promotes extended development of skills and knowledge through promoting wider reading and extra-curricular activities such as visits to London Zoo for sessions about phobias and ‘Brain Day’ which involves a visiting professor sharing latest research in the field of neuroscience.
Students will also complete independent projects throughout the course to develop their research methods skills.
Our library has copies of a variety of books which extend students’ knowledge of psychology beyond the curriculum. Recommended reading includes: The anatomy of violence – Adrian Raine; Why we sleep – Matthew Walker; Into the grey zone – Adrian Owen; Skeleton cupboard – Tanya Byron; The man who mistook his wife for a hat – Oliver Sacks; Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl; Sane new world – Ruby Wax; Thinking fast and slow – Daniel Kahnemann.
Students will also have access to a digital online version of the course textbooks which have interactive features.
Course Code: 7182 QAN: 601/4838/X
The Year 1 Text-book is Illuminate Publishing, AQA Psychology For A Level Year 1 & AS (Flanagan, Berry, Jarvis, Liddle). ISBN: 978-1-908682-40-6.
The Year 2 Textbook is Illuminate Publishing, AQA Psychology For A Level Year 2 (Flanagan, Berry, Jarvis, Liddle). ISBN: 978-1-908682-41-3
Students will need to purchase textbooks that they will use in class and at home.
Psychology A-Level complements a wide range of other A-Levels, in particular Biology (there is a significant element of biology in the Psychology specification); Geography and Sociology (there is some overlap with research methods and statistics). It is a helpful subject for anyone interested in pursuing a ‘people-centred’ career (e.g. teaching, police, social work, human resources) or those who might want to train to be a psychologist (e.g. Clinical, Occupational, Forensic or Educational Psychologist).