Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. Its primary aims are to describe, explain, predict, and change behaviour. The A level course is designed to develop students’ understanding of scientific research and theory, maths and statistical analysis. Whilst studying Psychology, students will gain an understanding about themselves and others in a variety of contexts. They will also have the opportunity to apply their understanding of scientific enquiry to their own research and experiments in and outside of the classroom.
Mrs Alannah Cullen
Subject Leader for Psychology
Mrs Tamsin McKenzie
The aim of Psychology is to provide students with the fundamental skills and knowledge that are valued by higher education and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research. In addition, students should gain an understanding about themselves and others in a variety of different contexts.
The new specification aims to develop maths skills which can be applied to the psychological research of different behaviours. Ensuring students have a secure knowledge of these mathematical skills and are able to apply them to novel scenarios is an important part of the curriculum. With this, students are taught how psychological research is conducted, including the role of scientific enquiry and data analysis. Students then apply this to their own ethicalscientific enquiries.
Many of the topics are governed by the specification. However, where there are choices between topics, the department has chosen areas that the students can relate to and apply to contemporary society, for example Gender Development, Forensic Psychology and Schizophrenia. Students are taught about the foundations and origins of Psychology as well as Psychology as a Science. Core topics include Attachment, Social Influence, Memory, Psychopathology and Issues and Debates within Psychology.
As students progress through the topics from Year 12 to Year 13, the focus on higher level thinking becomes more apparent. Students are expected to analyse findings from research and use this to create detailed evaluation points about psychological theories and concepts.
Psychology is only taught at KS5 at Waddesdon. However, some new students coming from other schools have studied Psychology as KS4. The KS5 curriculum builds on what they learn about the foundations of Psychology and relevant topic areas and increases in demand in terms of critical analysis and application to novel scenarios.
Students are taught the following topics in Years 12 and 13:
- Social Influence
- Research Methods (double weighted)
- The Approaches
- Forensic Psychology
- Gender Development
- Issues and Debates in Psychology
Every year we aim to plan an educational visit to support students in their understanding of A Level Psychology as well as providing opportunities to broaden their experience of psychology in the real world. Previous visits have included seminars hosted at Warwick University from a variety of psychologists in different fields of research, London Zoo to support students’ understanding of phobias and their treatment, and a visit to the Tavistock Centre, London, to focus on mental health explanations and treatments.
Previously we have also invited guest speakers into school to talk to students about relevant topics on their A Level syllabus. These have included a detective inspector who talked about his experience working with offender profilers, relevant to the Forensic Psychology topic in Paper 3, as well professors of psychology from Oxford Brookes University who have discussed their first-hand experience of research within the field of psychology.
Students are also encouraged to read, watch, and engage with a variety of texts to supplement the course across the syllabus.
Students are also given the opportunity to subscribe to the Psychology Review Magazine. In each issue, examiners and subject specialists update students on the key topics they need to understand to achieve their potential at A level. Regular columns develop core A level skills and help students apply their understanding to recent research affecting A level topics.
Across all topic areas, there are several journal articles, newspaper reports and further reading that are provided for students to help further their understanding and encourage a thirst for knowledge. This also supports the students in their understanding and application of psychology in the real world.