Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and human behaviour, and as such it centres around gaining understanding of the many facets of the human form. By studying Psychology students will be able to hone analytical and organisational skills and learn about scientific research methods, including collecting and working with data. Learning about human behaviour can also help to build your communication skills and improve your teamwork and leadership skills.
Whatever career you pursue, a background in psychology will enhance your employability. Studying psychology can help you understand yourself and other people by learning about aspects of human behaviour. In daily like this will you with: your interactions with others; your learning and memory performance; your ability to cope with pressure; and your understanding of the causes of psychological disorders. Also, it is beneficial to have an understanding of human behaviour, be it social interaction, language and communication, human motivation and emotion, or the process of decision-making. Knowledge about brain function and behaviour is of considerable benefit to students studying other science courses.
Psychology is a science. The defining feature of any science is the objective approach that is used to advance our knowledge. In psychology we use this scientific approach to learn about behaviour and mental life. Psychology provides an excellent training in analytical thinking and scientific research methods that are applicable to a broad range of careers.
In Years 10 and 11 the students follow the AQA 8182 specification. The course has two units, with 4 topics in each. Seven of these topics have two key studies each, which students must learn everything about: the method, results, aim, conclusion and evaluation.
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Students have 3 lessons a week of Psychology. Throughout the first year we spend one lesson per week working continuously on the Research Methods unit because it feeds into all the other topics. They learn about different types of psychological research such as experiments, case studies and observations; what is good/bad about each technique and when it is appropriate to use them. They also learn ways to represent data, and ways to interpret data such as using mean, median and mode.
We begin with the Social Influence topic, this is because students find it very interesting and find it easy to relate the content to their real lives such as conformity, obedience and social loafing, which eases them into what is a tough course. The next unit is Memory, which is very good for students to understand how best to learn in order to aid recall, and factors that can affect how well they remember. This is especially useful coming just before they sit their first formal assessments. We also look at false memories, which is applicable to real life situations such as being an eyewitness to a crime.
Once we have finished the Memory unit, we move on to Development, which covers brain development in the womb and the processes of development that children go through as they age. This topic also looks at how we learn, mind-sets and how our understanding of children’s development can aid educational professionals. Next, as the final topic of the year, we cover Language, Thought and Communication because it is a good follow on from Development. The course is very synoptic so there is crossover between topics, much of which occurs between these two.
In this final topic students learn about different theories that debate which came first, language or thought. They also learn about non-verbal ways of communicating, including how bees use movement to describe food locations to fellow bees.
Students start by studying Perception, which we leave until in Year 11 because many students find the concepts quite difficult to grasp. We look at visual illusions, and how they occur because of different misinterpreted depth cues. They also look at the reasons we perceive things the way we do, and whether these perceptions are due to nature or nurture. Next, we start Brain and Neuropsychology so that students gain the necessary understanding of the brain, synaptic transmission and brain scanning techniques that they will need to understand the Psychological Problems topic. They learn about different structures in the brain, what they do and what happens if they are damaged. They also learn about different ways that the brain can be imaged such as fMRI and CT scans, and the advantages and weaknesses of each one.
After finishing Brain and Neuropsychology, we move onto the last topic, Psychological Problems. Students find this interesting because they look at depression, its causes and treatment, which is very relevant to them and their peers. They also study the causes and treatments for addiction. This topic is last because as well as the overlap with Brain and Neuropsychology, there is also overlap with Biology so it is a good point to recap prior learning before beginning our revision
We complete our revision before the exams take place.
Two 1 hour 45 min exams
- Cognition and behaviour
- Social context and behaviour
Each paper contributes 50% of the overall grade. Both are made up of 4 sections and each section contains multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions.