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Psychology

Psychology

What do I need to know before taking this course?

You do not need any knowledge of psychology to take this course. However, the nature of the course means that a 'B' grade or better at GCSE Maths, English Language and Science is required (or an average of a B if more than one Maths or Science GCSEs were taken).  

What is psychology?

Psychology is a science and is the study of brain and behaviour. We all have ideas about people and about ourselves, and psychology investigates such ideas but draws on formal research methods to build a body of knowledge. Psychology can be theoretical, looking at how the brain works and what drives our behaviour, including issues such as early childhood experiences and what happens to us as we develop. Psychology can be practical, such as in therapy and treatments for mental disorder and also as in the workplace, for example by devising adverts or advising the police.

What will I learn?

Year One - Foundations of Psychology

In Year One you will study the following four topic areas in psychology.
Cognitive psychology is concerned with thought processes such as using language, storing memories and solving problems. We will study theories and research concerned with the structure and functioning of human memory.  
Social psychology focuses on how we interact with others and how our behaviour is influenced by people. We will study theories and research into obedience and prejudice.

Biological psychology investigates the influence of physiology on our behaviour. We will study the structure and functioning of the nervous system, the endocrine system and also the localisation of functions in the brain. We will compare a biological explanation of aggression with a classic psychological model of aggression: Freud’s theory.

Learning theories explain our behaviour as an adaptive response to the environment. Pavlovian conditioning provides an explanation of phobias and some effective therapies for phobias. Other theories can explain our response to praise and punishment or how people learn by imitating others.

In each of these four topic areas you will study theories which attempt to explain why people behave as they do as well as research studies which reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the theories.  You will also study the research methods used in these areas of psychology and conduct a research investigation using these methods. You will learn how to use inferential statistical tests to analyse the data from these investigations. In each of the four topic areas you will study a key question for society and the research that helps to explain and perhaps resolve it.

Year Two has two parts. In the first, you will study two applications of psychology.

Year Two - Applications of Psychology  


Clinical psychology covers mental health and we will investigate schizophrenia. You will study difficulties with diagnosing schizophrenia, the different explanations of the disorder as well as therapies which help those with the diagnosis. We will also investigate OCD again looking at diagnosis, explanations and therapies.
Child psychology looks at how we develop from very early childhood to adolescence. In the course we will study the important role of attachment in young children. Child psychology also covers issues like day care and separation, and how they affect a child's development. Autism is studied at as a developmental disorder.
As with the Year One the ‘Foundations in Psychology’ topics, the ‘Applications of Psychology’ topics involve content (theory and research), the study of research methods, a key question and a practical investigation.

Year Two - Psychological Skills

The second half of the Year Two course involves the further development of psychological skills.
Methodology - research methods are the strategies and techniques used to conduct research. You will have studied the major methods of psychology in the six topic areas (Cognitive, Social, Biological, Learning, Clinical & Child). In the Psychological Skills section of your course we will bring this material together for Paper Three and so that is can be revised in preparation for the A-Level exam.

Review of studies refers to reviewing all the key studies we have covered over the two years of the course. There is one classic study and one contemporary study for each of the six topic areas. We will revise these studies for Paper Three and this in turn will aid revision with the other papers in the A-Level exam.  

Issues and Debates – In this advanced topic we will examine some of the overarching issues surrounding theories and research in Psychology, including gender and culture bias, problems of free will and determinism, the nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of hereditary and environment; the type of explanation that Psychology should aim for: holistic vs. reductionist and also the moral problems arising from socially sensitive research.

Is the subject right for me?

The most important quality for anyone wanting to study psychology is to find people fascinating. Are you intrigued by why people act in the way they do? If so, then psychology will capture your interest. You will need to:
•    be willing to have your opinions and values challenged,
•    be willing to listen to and take on board new ideas and novel arguments, and
•    be able to see both sides of an issue, not simply reject one side because you initially believe it is wrong.

Psychology provides many opportunities to develop skills in assessing debates and arguments. It will develop your essay writing skills, the precision with which you use language, your understanding of how to conduct research and your maths and statistics skills.

How will I be assessed?

Psychology is now a ‘linear’ A-Level which means all the exams are taken at the end of the two-year course. All the papers must be taken in a single exam season and it is now not possible to retake a paper. The exam papers all contain some short-answer questions and some essay questions. Questions can be also asked about the practical investigations you conducted during the course. All the papers are calculator papers and require skills in statistical analysis.

With the new ‘linear’ A-levels, you can now either hold the AS qualification or the A-Level qualification but not both. The AS qualification no longer contributes to the A-Level qualification though the four Foundation Topics are studied on both courses. Unfortunately, at QEGS we cannot offer the AS qualification at the end of year one. The reason for this is that it is not possible to teach all the AS topics in time for the AS exams in late May at the end of year one. Hence, when you take the psychology A-level you are signing up for a two-year course and taking the exams at the end of the second year.

AS Level

Paper One

Paper Two

  • Social
  • Cognitive
  • Biological
  • Learning

1½ Hour written paper

1½ Hour written paper

A Level

Paper One

Paper Two

Paper Three

  • Social
  • Cognitive
  • Biological
  • Learning
  • Clinical
  • Child

 

  • Methodology
  • Review of Studies
  • Issues and debates

2 Hour written paper

2 Hour written paper

2 Hour written paper

 

What can I do after I have completed the course?

Psychology is a very useful subject for any career where you interact with people. Occupations such as journalism, nursing and marketing all welcome trainees who have studied psychology. If you are considering higher education, psychology can be an invaluable subject. Although psychology is a science, it sits on the boundary between science and art and combines elements of both. If you choose the arts route, psychology shows a competence in scientific thinking and numeracy that will add breadth to your skills. Similarly, the science route can lack the opportunity to show your ability to construct a well-argued essay and this is a key skill in psychology. Additionally, there are careers which require psychology degrees such as clinical psychology, organisational psychology as well as careers in psychological research and university lecturing.