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Are you ever left wondering why you or others think, feel or behave the way that you do? If so, you should consider an A-level in Psychology! Psychology can be viewed as the systematic study of mind and behaviour. If you are interested in understanding why individuals behave the way that they do, helping others, and being a part of making positive changes to individuals and society, this is the course for you.
On the child psychology pathway, you will take a deeper look at topics such as intelligence, cognitive development, attachment and brain development.
When studying A-Level Psychology you will delve into the forces that drive and determine human behaviour. You will study some of the most important and interesting research from around the world. In your first year, you will look at a range of different areas helping to explain behaviour and apply what you have learned to real life situations; for example, how eyewitness testimony can be affected by the wording in a question, and factors that influence whether someone helps in an emergency situation. In your second year, you will have the opportunity to study issues in mental health such as psychological disorders, criminal psychology and one other elective module, either sport, child or environmental psychology. Through studying Psychology you will learn important transferable skills such as analysis and evaluation and have access to a range of different trips and work experience, which will require you to apply your knowledge and develop your skills further.
There are three components / modules taught over two years. All of these modules are assessed by exams at the end of the second year.
- Component 1 – Research Methods (30%, 2 hour exam)
- Component 2 – Psychological Themes Through Core Studies (35%, 2 hour exam)
- Component 3 – Applied Psychology (35%, 2 hour exam)
Component 1 – Research Methods
This module encourages students to become familiar with four techniques for collecting and analysing data: self-report, experiment, observation and correlation.
Component 2 – Psychological Themes Through Core Studies
This module allows students to explore different approaches to explaining behaviour including the physiological, cognitive and social approaches through studying ten pairs of key psychological studies, one classic and one contemporary study.
Component 3 – Applied Psychology
This module allows the exploration of specific areas of Psychology that students may wish to specialise in. All students will study mental health and forensic Psychology.
Mental Health Psychology includes the history of mental health; categorising abnormal behaviour; as well as the biological, behaviourist,and cognitive explanations and treatments of mental health disorders.
Forensic Psychology involves studying Psychology in application to the law including reasons why people turn to crime such as biology, the collection and processing of forensic evidence; the collecting and processing of evidence provided by witnesses and suspects; factors that affect jury decisions,and the effects of imprisonment. Students will then be required to choose one of the following modules to study :sport, child, or environmental psychology.
Child Psychology focuses on areas such as; what psychologists mean by intelligence and what biological factors affect intelligence, brain development and the impact of risk taking behaviour, perceptual development in children, cognitive development in children and the impact on their education, development of attachment and the influence of television advertising on children and the stereotyping in such advertising.
At least 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above all from the core subjects
Maths grade 5 desirable
We use a wide range of strategies to get you involved and deepen your understanding. These include traditional lecturing and note-taking, research and presentation, mind-mapping, discussion, games, quizzes and peer learning. You will be expected to think for yourself and be proactive in your learning!
Assessment is through an examination at the end of the course although you will be assesed through a variety of methods during the course (including recap tests, discussions and presentations) to prepare you for these exams.
Component 1 – Research Methods (30%, 2 hour exam)
Component 2 – Psychological themes through core studies (35%, 2 hour exam)
Component 3 – Applied psychology (35%, 2 hour exam)
You will have the opportunity to attend a number of trips as an A-Level Psychology student. The trips are not compulsory but will help you to extend or apply the knowledge that you are gaining in the classroom. Recent trips include:
- Gloucester Prison - a tour and a talk from a prison officer
- Clink Restaurant - a visit to a restaurant that aids in the rehabilitation of offenders
- Various university trips including University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire
You should expect some small costs for course booklets and stationery
No the syllabus includes an introduction to the topics, no prior knowledge is needed
Although Psychology is often considered a scientific subject, the maths element of the course is not too challenging, but it is preferable that you have gained a higher grade pass in GCSE Maths. The maths included is linked to data analysis.
If you are considering studying Psychology at degree level you should be aware that some universities require a grade 6 in GCSE Maths. You should check entry requirements with individual universities.
If you are not also studying A-Level Maths, taking L3 Mathematical Studies (Core Maths) could be a useful option to help support the work done in A-Level Psychology. This is a one-year course that you would take alongside your other 3 subjects, with exams at the end of your first year. Taking this would help to reinforce the data analysis work done in Psychology, giving you further practice of displaying and interpreting data in graphs such as histograms and scatter graphs, and calculating and comparing averages and measures of spread including standard deviation. You would also get further practice of the Normal Distribution, both to estimate probabilities and find confidence intervals of a population’s mean. Core Maths also looks at critical analysis, Fermi Estimation and personal finance.
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