Helen Brooke - B.Ed (Hons), Cert Ed. (Head of Department)
Jane Davis - B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc., PGCE.
Mary Wills - B. Sc (Hons), C.Psychol.
All three members of the department are examiners for AQA.
In line with the academically demanding nature of Psychology you will need to have a minimum of 'B' grade in Mathematics, English and Science.
What is Psychology?
Perhaps the most widely accepted definition of Psychology is that it is the scientific study of human behaviour. That is to say that, through scientific research, psychologists aim to ask questions about the way human beings behave and how our behaviour is influenced by a wide range of biological, social and cultural factors. Psychology as a scientific discipline has had only a short history; only just over a hundred years. A level Psychology was introduced as a minority subject in the late 1970s, but has rapidly grown to become one of the most popular A level subjects with over 60,000 taking the examination in 2010. Despite its popularity, Psychology is not an 'easy option'. It is a demanding and diverse discipline, but if you have a genuine interest in the mysteries of human behaviour, you will find it a fascinating and rewarding subject.
Structure of the course
The syllabus followed is the AQA (A) specification. The course consists of two modules taught in year 12 leading to an AS qualification, and two further modules taught in year 13 leading to the full A level qualification. Throughout the course, you will study several different branches of Psychology offering a diverse range of explanations for our behaviour:
* Social Psychology focuses on our thoughts, feelings and behaviour in social situations, encompassing topics such as conformity, obedience, interpersonal attraction, relationships, prosocial and antisocial behaviour, prejudice and discrimination.
* Cognitive Psychology is concerned with all aspects of thinking and knowledge acquisition in humans and other animals. Topic areas include memory and forgetting, language acquisition, attention and visual perception.
* Developmental Psychology looks at our cognitive, emotional and social development throughout the life span. Topics include attachment in infancy, cognitive development, gender role development, adolescence and ageing.
* Bio-Psychology looks at the relationship between biological processes and behaviour. It covers topics such as structure and functions of the brain, effects of drugs on behaviour, bodily rhythms, stress, motivation, sleep and dreaming.
* Evolutionary Psychology considers the ways in which our behaviour has been shaped by evolutionary processes and involves comparison of human and animal behaviour. Topic areas covered include reproductive behaviour, mental disorders and intelligence.
* Individual differences as the name suggests, is concerned with factors that account for differences between individuals. In addition to personality and inteelligence, topics focus on mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, phobias, OCD and eating disorders.
One of the most rewarding aspects of studying Psychology is the cross-fertilisation of ideas which occurs among students specialising in so many different disciplines. Psychology is an equally appropriate choice for arts and science based students. A good background in Maths and Science will help you to grasp the more analytical concepts involved in Cognitive and Bio-Psychology, whereas studying 'wordy' subjects such as English, History and RE can be advantageous in the more discursive areas of Social and Developmental Psychology. In addition, Physical Education, Media Studies, Art, Geography and Languages all complement Psychology very well.
A level Psychology is welcomed by universities as a demanding academic course which is recognised as a science. A Psychology degree is obviously the starting point for a career as a practising psychologist in areas such as clinical, educational, organisational and forensic psychology. A level Psychology is also highly valuable in any career involving working with people. Some examples are teaching, medicine, nursing, social work, police, prison service, journalism and human resource management.