Psychology is defined as the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context, which is why we aim for students to gain a strong understanding of themselves and the people around them in terms of their behaviour, applying their knowledge to everyday life; and develop a love for learning and researching psychology leading to students wanting to study psychology at further education.
We follow the AQA Psychology A level specification which offers an engaging and effective introduction to Psychology. This specification relates the content to real world scenarios, this allows students to not just learn enjoyable content but also forms well rounded individuals who have a better understanding of the world around them. Students learn the fundamentals of the subject and develop skills valued by Higher Education (HE) and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research. We have chosen this specification over others due to historically having taught the AQA A Psychology specification, the more challenging of the specifications which includes a wider range of topics and application which gives students a better understanding of the people around them in their lives. Our schemes of work and teacher expertise are geared to the AQA specification, which incorporates various topics such as; memory, forensic psychology, relationships, stress and more. Students in year 12 commit to the full 2 year A level course, as they do for their other subjects.
The specification encourages students to:
- Develop an interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject
- Develop well-rounded students who have a good knowledge of the world around them and how it relates to psychology
- Develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other
- Develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods
- Develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem-solving skills
- Understand how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.
At least 10% of the marks in assessments for Psychology will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills are applied in the context of A level Psychology and will be at least the standard of higher tier GCSE mathematics.
Literacy is a focus each lesson as Psychology has numerous key terms which must be learned.
- Social influence
- Approaches in psychology
- Research methods
Issues and debates in psychology
Option 1: Relationships or Gender or Cognition and Development
Relationships is an engaging topic for the students and they can often relate the topic to their personal lives. Gender is an engaging topic and was taught under the previous specification, however, relationships is deemed more relevant to students being at a point in their lives where various relationships will be forming, this can give them a better knowledge of how relationships are formed, why they are formed but also about breakdown of relationships which gives them a better understanding of why events in their life may be in happening. Cognition and development, whilst a relatively straightforward and short topic, is less relevant for students as they are not typically as interested in the development of children.
Option 2: Schizophrenia or Eating behaviour or Stress
Stress was in the original previous specification as a compulsory unit. Students will suffer from stress whilst studying for their A levels and stress is more likely to be relevant to their lives than the other topics. Eating behaviour tends to relate more to female students as there is a higher percentage of females suffering from an eating disorder, which also adds a potential risk to teaching the lesson content; schizophrenia is heavily based in biology which may be an enjoyable challenge for some students, it is agreed that stress offers another various topic which is relevant to them. On the other hand, schizophrenia is mental health focussed similar to psychopathology therefore limiting the overall range of topics which could be studied.
Option 3: Aggression or Forensic psychology or Addiction
Aggression was taught under the old specification and does interest students, but some aspects of this topic are covered within the forensic unit, chosen because it engages students more and many are interested in studying this or criminology at university which is a common pathway which students come into A-LEVELs looking at. The forensic unit, whilst quite a long topic, encourages revision of previous units such as research methods, attachment and approaches so we can revise earlier work as we teach the topic content. Addiction is an interesting topic, but it focuses on addiction to gambling and smoking and students would typically rather focus on drug addiction, but that is not an option.
Students develop a range of skills throughout the course. These are to:
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological concepts, theories, research studies, research methods and ethical considerations
- apply psychological knowledge and understanding of the content in a range of contexts
- analyse, interpret and evaluate psychological concepts, theories, research studies and research methods in relation to the course
- evaluate psychological concepts, theories, research studies, research methods and explore ethical issues and how to overcome them.
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of practical research skills and mathematical skills
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of current issues and debates in psychology, approaches to psychology, application and evaluation of same
A-level Psychology includes questions that allow students to demonstrate their ability to:
- draw together their skills, knowledge and understanding from across the full course of study
- provide extended responses. For example, sections B, C and D of Paper 3 contain extended response questions. An ‘extended response’ is evidence of sufficient length generated to allow students to demonstrate their ability to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning which is coherent, relevant, substantiated and logically structured.
Students demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a wide range of research methods used in psychology, scientific processes and techniques of data handling and analysis, and are familiar with their use and of their strengths and limitations.
These skills are developed through study of the specification content and through ethical practical research activities, involving:
- Designing research
- Conducting research
- Analysing and interpreting data. In carrying out practical research activities, students manage associated risks and use information and communication technology (ICT).