Avoid becoming a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

Psychology seeks to understand how people think, feel and behave. It is essentially about people and why they behave as they do. Psychologists investigate the causes of behaviour employing scientific techniques. As a result, psychologists have learned much that can help people to fulfil their potential as human beings, and increase understanding and functining in all aspects of life.

The psychology department follows the AQA Psychology course. The specification is designed to encourage students to engage with the subject, by introducing new, contemporary topics, as well as allowing candidates to demonstrate the ability to utilise scientific methodology in the context of psychology and to develop their critical thinking skills.

Assessment is linear and for the A-level course, the students are required to take three examinations at the end of the two year course. The examinations involve a mixture of multiple choice, short answers and extended writing. The course enables students to develop a broad knowledge and understanding of the core areas of psychology through a range of topics such as cognitive psychology (memory), developmental psychology (attachment), research methods, biopsychology (brain, stress and sleep), social influences, psychopathology and approaches. In the second year, more specific topics are studied in greater depth such as issues and debates, aggression, gender and schizophrenia. Theories will be examined for each topic and research evidence critically considered. Psychology requires a blend of creative and logical thinking, and is suitable for students with a keen interest in evaluating psychological material in an objective and analytical manner. Apart from testing psychological knowledge, understanding and application, 25-30% of the assessment focusses on research methods and 10% on mathematical skills. Confident use of English language, science and mathematics is required due to the amount of written work, biological content and statistics used. There is no coursework in psychology; however students will have the opportunity to carry out small research projects.

Psychology is a fascinating and stimulating subject, however, students need to be prepared to work hard, make a contribution and above all, come with an open mind; human behaviour is complex. It is unlike any subject you will have studied before, however, it is interesting and relevant to all aspects of everyday life.

Dr Julia Adlam