Psychology is a fascinating and highly regarded A level that is popular with students, employers and universities alike. It provides students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of the causes of behaviours and emotions, and to explain some of the more disturbing and perturbing events in our culture such as war and addiction. The Department aims to stimulate curiosity, enjoyment and interest in Psychology and to inspire a passion for the subject, and for learning in its students. Psychology develops higher order thinking skills of evaluation and synthesis which are of benefit to students in all of their academic subjects and are valued by universities and employers alike. The Department makes use of active learning and uses psychological understanding of learning processes to enable all students to achieve. The Department is firmly committed to the use of varied interactive teaching methods that facilitate the development of understanding and the acquisition of knowledge for all students. The use of differentiated teaching resources is an integral part of the Department’s ethos.
Psychology has a dedicated base room containing a library of books ranging from GCSE to undergraduate level which are available to students to broaden their understanding of the subject. The Department develops its own workbooks to include materials that enable students to access the curriculum regardless of barriers to learning such as language or specific learning difficulties. The materials also contain stretch and challenge materials to allow all students to access up to date research and challenging theoretical concepts at a level that challenges all.
We make extensive use of recent research papers and visual mediums such as recent television programmes to ensure that the syllabus is kept contemporary and meaningful for students.
The Head of department Mrs Julia Bryant teaches Yr 12 and 13, and Mrs Geraldine Davis teaches Yr 10 and 11.
Courses at GCSE
The GCSE course provides an introduction to a wide range of psychological issues. These are examined linearly through two ninety minute exams which cover the following subjects:
Unit 1: Making sense of other people
Unit 2: Understanding Other People
Research methods are learnt actively through the students undertaking a range of research studies across the two years including experiments, observations and interviews. This enables the students to develop a thorough understanding of research methods in an active manner which students find enjoyable. However there is no assessed course work contributing to the students’ final grade in GCSE psychology.
Courses at A level
Students are not required to have studied GCSE psychology in order to undertake A level Psychology. This course of study comprises two written units at AS and two at A-level, with no coursework. The emphasis is on applying knowledge and understanding, thereby developing students' transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking. Students are provided with many opportunities to develop and implement research projects throughout the course in order to develop their awareness of the research process and the issues inherent in it.
AS level Psychology
Paper One: Cognitive and Developmental Psychology and Research Methods
Students will study memory, attachment and research methods.
This includes a consideration of models of memory; the reliability of eyewitness testimony; memory improvement strategies; the nature of attachment; models of attachment; individual differences in attachment; the effects of deprivation and privation; the effects of day care on social development of infants; the application of knowledge to life and the development of research knowledge.
Paper Two: Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences
Students will study the biological stress response and its impact on health; workplace stress; individual differences in the stress response; the effects of life changes and daily hassles on stress; stress management techniques; the social psychology of conformity and obedience; independent behaviour; how people resist pressures to conform and obey; social change and minority influence
The A2 syllabus provides an opportunity for the development of deeper psychological understanding of a more focused range of subjects.
Paper Three: Topics in Psychology
Explores aggression, relationships and gender from a range of theoretical perspectives including cognitive, psychodynamic, evolutionary, biological and behavioural. This involves consideration of research studies to evaluate these differing theoretical explanations of our behaviour
Paper Four: Psychology In Action And Research Methods
Explores explanations of and treatment for schizophrenia including a consideration of the validity and reliability of diagnosis.
Addiction to cigarettes and gambling is considered from a wide range of theoretical positions and this knowledge is applied to addiction in society in terms of treatments and public health interventions.
Research methods are explored further and students take part n the design of research studies may of which they will conduct throughout the course. They also develop their understanding of the nature of science and the role of peer review in ensuring the distribution of trustworthy research data.
Extra-curricular activities in department
The department offers a range of activities to develop a greater understanding of Psychology and to appreciate the role of Psychology in society. This includes attendance at conferences in Bristol and London exploring issues such as the role of hypnosis in clinical treatment, the psychology of dance and humour, scepticism regarding scientific claims, mental health and sleep. The London trip also includes a visit to the Freud museum. In addition the Department organises visiting speakers on psychiatry and forensic psychology. A stretch and challenge club is also offered for students who wish to explore the subject beyond the confines of the specification, this included discussion of psychodynamic theorists such as Klein and Winnicott.