Psychology is a hugely rewarding, challenging, and ever expanding area of academic study. Increasingly Psychologists are at the forefront of the investigation into one of the final frontiers of human study - the mind - and with so much still yet to be discovered about the factors that make us who we are, it promises to continue to increase in popularity and importance for some time yet.
What will I study?
The new AQA Psychology Specification B offers an interesting and applied content which students enjoy studying, with high levels of retention between AS and A level.
- To develop an increased awareness and understanding of the 'main schools' in Psychology and how they each interpret human behaviour
- To create independent, articulate students who are able to interpret evidence critically.
Students will develop a sound understanding of the various methods and approaches in Psychology at both AS and A2. They will develop in-depth knowledge of the core topics which at AS include (in module 1) Biological Psychology, Approaches to Psychology, Gender and Research Methods and (in module 2) Remembering and Forgetting, Anxiety Disorders and Social Influence. There is no externally examined coursework at either AS or A2 however students will take part in practical activities as these provide invaluable knowledge for students to be stretched and challenged academically, providing the opportunity of gaining higher grades on their final A Level. One such research project has been featured in the national press. At A2 students will study three further units in module 3, including Child Cognitive Development, Schizophrenia and Mood Disorders and Forensic Psychology and in module 4, Approaches, Debates in Psychology and Methods, including Statistics in Psychology.
How will I be assessed?
Students will be assessed on two units at AS and a further two units at A Level. Skills known as AO1 (Knowledge and Understanding), AO2 (Application of Knowledge and Understanding) and AO3 (How Science Works) will be measured. The units will be examined in either January or June. Practical skills will be developed through class activities and the methods used will be taught through experiments, observations, interviews and other research methods. These skills, known as 'How Science Works' will be assessed throughout the units described above. A further aspect student will be assed on will be Quality of Written Communication and this includes legibility of written work, spelling, punctuation, grammar and the use of specialist vocabulary.
Students should be enthusiastic, communicative and diligent with a minimum of a Grade B at GCSE in English and Mathematics. Some knowledge of Science and Biology is always helpful, especially as the discipline follows the scientific method in its research practice.
How will I study?
Through a wide variety of methods including reading, debating, ICT, learning theory and carrying out practical work. It is important that students participate in independent learning and wider reading; to facilitate this we provide after school trips to local speakers and clubs such as the after school 'Psychology Film Club', which comes complete with pizza. A study trip to Auschwitz runs biennially.
Where will it lead?
Psychology incorporates aspects from both the sciences and the humanities; therefore the course can complement almost any combination of A-level subjects or degree subjects. A Psychology A-level is not considered a 'soft' subject by any university, and also is counted as a 'science' in applications to university, for those planning a degree application in medicine or related scientific fields. Due to its broad content, Psychology has applications in many career areas ranging from advertising, law, counselling, social work, industry, child care, media and PR, plus many others. Some of us even end up in teaching!