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Psychology

Psychology

What is it about at sixth form level?

The mind is the most sophisticated thing we know of in the universe. For many centuries the province of philosophers, the scientific study of mind and behaviour that we call psychology emerged relatively recently and remains one of the most exciting areas of human inquiry as there is still so much to learn. People talk of our minds being shaped by our genes, our upbringing and our social groups but how accurate is this? You will not only learn in depth about what has been found but also learn about how to conduct the research itself: how to design an experiment and how to analyse results. You will consider how memory works and how it is far from the simple recording device we take it to be. You will be surprised how easily eyewitness ‘memory’ can be corrupted by seemingly irrelevant factors! You will also look at explanations of criminal behaviour, how we form relationships and attachments, explanations of schizophrenia as well as a range of abnormalities from compulsive behaviours to phobias.

It is important to remember that psychology is a science. You will be involved in studying the biology of the brain in detail. You will also need to develop the complex mathematical skills needed to interpret experimental data. Psychology is not about the interpretation of dreams or learning how to develop a healthier mind. This said, by learning more about how the mind works, you may well find it gives you a healthier conception of how humans work.

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Lower sixth
Upper sixth

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Psychology is a challenging and rigorous subject which is well respected by universities. It will prepare you well to pursue the subject undergraduate study but also provide you with skills that will be invaluable in across both sciences and humanities courses. It will teach you about scientific methodology and you will put this into practice when designing your own experiments. This aspect of the course will also help you develop the ability to work independently and in groups. You will develop the valuable and difficult skill of interpreting statistics. The focus on essays will mean that you will learn how to write clearly and concisely.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You should have at least a B in Maths (Higher Tier) and a B in English because of the importance of understanding how to analyse scientific data and of writing essays. On top of that, you should be curious to find out more about how why humans and animals behave as they do.

How is the course assessed?

A level

The A level is examined by three examinations on Papers 1, 2 and 3 respectively. In each paper, there is a mixture of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions. The questions require students to demonstrate their ability to draw together their skills, knowledge and understanding from across the full course of study. ‘Extended response’ questions allow students to demonstrate their ability to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning which is coherent, relevant, substantiated and logically structured. Each exam lasts two hours and is worth 33% of the A level.

Reading

Psychology A Level Year 1 and AS: The Complete Companion Student Book for AQA (Complete Companions Fifth Edition for AQA)
By Mike Cardwell and Cara Flanagan
Published by OUP Oxford; 5th edition, ISBN-13: 978-0198436324

Psychology A Level Year 2: The Complete Companion Student Book for AQA (Complete Companions Fifth Edition for AQA)
By Mike Cardwell and Cara Flanagan
Published by OUP Oxford; 5th edition, ISBN-13: 978-0198436331

Psychology A Level Year 1 and AS: Revision Guide for AQA (Complete Companions Fifth Edition for AQA)
By Mike Cardwell, Rachel Moody
Published by OUP Oxford, ISBN-13:978-0198444893

Psychology A Level Year 2: Revision Guide for AQA (Complete Companions Fifth Edition for AQA)
By Mike Cardwell, Rachel Moody
Published by OUP Oxford, ISBN-13: 978-0198444886

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: AQA (A) 7182

Konstantinos Foskolos
Head of Department

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