Psychology

Psychology can be defined as the science of human behaviour. The aim of the subject is to study various aspects of people’s lives in the hope that understanding and insight can be gained. We explore the subject critically - constantly considering the quality of arguments and explanations, as well as mapping critical themes and debates in Psychology like nature versus nurture and the ethical issues that surround our use of both human and animal participants in studies.

Exploring the way this research is designed, carried out and analysed is called Research Methods and is a very important part of the course. Statistical analysis is also a part of this section. We have to use these to test the results of research and help us decide whether we have been able to support the hypotheses we are investigating.

Whilst Advanced Level Psychology is a scientific subject, based on research, we are always mindful of the unpredictable and unique nature of people. So we like to embrace the subjective side of the human experience as well. Psychologists have offered different explanations of behaviour which draw attention to a variety of causes for human behaviour. For instance, the Psychoanalytical approach pioneered by Sigmund Freud suggests that there are unconscious reasons for the things people do.

One of the key aims of psychological research is to provide insights that make a difference in the real world. Theories which explain the operation of memory can be used to help police officers elicit more accurate eyewitness testimony from witnesses in criminal cases. Developmental Psychology has helped us understand the attachment processes babies and infants go through and shown us how active and involved infants are in this process as soon as they are born. Another area that psychologists have studied is obedience. This topic was of burning interest to psychologists in the aftermath of World War Two in order to try to understand how the Holocaust could have happened.

The full list of our A level Psychology course topics is: Attachment, Memory, Social Influence, Psychopathology, Approaches to Psychology, Research Methods, Bio-Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Schizophrenia, Relationships and Issues and Debates. The majority of these are the core topics that you would study on a Psychology degree at university. Indeed, that is a route that several students follow every year after leaving us.

Psychology also has the additional bonus of giving you some insight into what makes people tick and this includes our own processes. The Memory topic might help you understand how to learn and revise for future tests for example. One area that is really interesting is the Humanistic Approach to Psychology. This is a way of looking at people that emphasises growth and learning. This has been an influence on lots of psychological ideas that you hear about in the media like mindfulness and mind set.

The topics of the A level course are a well-chosen and varied selection but we are always keen to provide students with extra learning and reflection opportunities as well as resources. We have connected students with Open University courses in our subject area as well as lectures and study days with local universities. We also point students in the direction of films and books. Psychology is truly a subject that is all around you and you can fully immerse yourself in it. It will help you understand yourself and other people a little bit more as well as giving you skills which you can take on to the next stage of your own journey.

Please view our Sixth Form Courses Booklet for more information about this subject in Sixth Form.

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