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Psychology at KS5

Psychology is the fascinating study of human behaviour. Throughout the course we aim to explain a range of different behaviours, including the causes and treatments of disorders such as OCD and depression, why horrific acts like the Holocaust happened, and how our experiences or genetics can influence our likelihood to turn to crime. Research methods are at the heart of the course, so students will be encouraged to take part in, or facilitate, a range of different psychological research, in order to develop their skills as researchers.

The subject requires an interest in a range of disciplines as it is a blend of the humanities and the sciences as well as involving some basic mathematical skills. This allows students to explore each lesson from a range of different perspectives and develop a multi-dimensional understanding of the world around them. As this course allows you to develop an in-depth understanding of human behaviour, it is a useful subject to study in preparation for all career sectors and is an excellent accompaniment to other A level subjects.

Outline of the AQA course:

Unit 1 (Introductory Topics in Psychology):

  • Social Influence – This topic aims to understand how our behaviours are influenced by those around us. It looks mainly at conformity and obedience and why humans blindly obey even destructive authorities.
  • Memory – This topic helps us to understand how the human memory works. It focuses on what strategies we can use to help us remember more and explanations for why we may forget. It also looks at how memory research can be applied to the real world to help with improving the accuracy of eye witness testimonies.
  • Attachment – This topic focuses on how and why we form attachments with our primary care giver when we are infants and looks at how that attachment style can affect our future relationships.
  • Psychopathology – This topic explores abnormal behaviour and the causes and treatments for disorders such as OCD, Depression and Phobias.

Unit 2 (Psychology in Context):

  • Approaches in Psychology – This topic looks at the building blocks of Psychology. It explores the different perspectives that can be used to explain human behaviour such as the biological, cognitive, behaviourist, humanistic and psychodynamic approaches.
  • Biopsychology – This topic explores how our physiology affects our behaviour e.g. brain structures, hormones, neurotransmitters, circadian rhythms etc.
  • Research Methods – This topic focuses on training students on how to be researchers. It looks at how psychologists conduct studies and what different methods they can use.

Unit 3 (Issues and Options in Psychology):

  • Issues and Debates – This topic looks at the key debates in psychology such as: do we have free will or is our behaviour more influenced by nature or nurture?
  • Forensics* – This topic explores why individuals might turn to crime and the effectiveness of custodial sentencing and rehabilitation schemes. It also focuses on criminal profiling as a technique to catch unknown criminals.
  • Relationships* – This looks at the causes and explanations for the formation and breakdown of romantic relationships. It also looks at virtual relationships and the more unusual parasocial relationships.
  • Eating Behaviour* – This topic looks at reasons behind our food preferences and focuses on explanations for anorexia and obesity.

*Optional topics may be subject to change.

Each unit is assessed by a 2 hour examination and counts for 33% of the total A level.