Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and human behaviour, as such psychology centres around gaining understanding of the many facets of the human form. By studying Psychology students will be able to hone analytical and organisational skills and learn about scientific research methods, including collecting and working with data. Learning about human behaviour can also help to build your communication skills and improve your teamwork and leadership skills.
Whatever career you pursue, a background in psychology will enhance your employability. Studying psychology can help you understand yourself and other people by learning about aspects of human behaviour that will help you in daily life, including your interactions with others, your learning and memory performance, your ability to cope with pressure and your understanding of the causes of psychological disorders. Also, it is beneficial to have an understanding of human behaviour, be it social interaction, language and communication, human motivation and emotion, or the process of decision-making. Knowledge about brain function and behaviour is of considerable benefit to students studying other science courses.
Psychology is a science. The defining feature of any science is the objective approach that is used to advance our knowledge. In psychology we use this scientific approach to learn about behaviour and mental life. Psychology provides an excellent training in analytic thinking and scientific research methods that are applicable to a broad range of careers.
The course builds upon the knowledge gained at GCSE, but it is not a requirement to have previously studied it. Psychology A-Level allows you to hone your analytical and organisational skills and learn about scientific research methods, including collecting and working with data as well as gaining understanding of the many facets of the human form.
The course consists of 8 core units and 3 option choices, 1 from each option block.
1. Social Influence
5. Approaches in Psychology
7. Research methods
8. Issues and Debates in Psychology
11. Cognition and Development
13. Eating Behaviour
16. Forensic Psychology
At CAST we begin Year 12 with Approaches in Psychology. This topic details the spectrum that exists within the nature versus nurture debate about the causes of behaviour, and feeds into every other topic studied. As such, students gain an insight into the different explanations for behaviour which gives them a good grounding for the rest of the course. The next topic is Psychopathology, as this is the topic that has the most application of the approaches, and enables students to gain an understanding of the causes and treatment of OCD, phobias and depression. Next students cover Social Influence, where they learn about things such as conformity, obedience, authoritarian personality and minority influence. During this unit they look at some famous studies such as Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment and Milgram’s Electric Shock Experiment. The next unit is attachment, where students learn about the importance of forming attachments in early childhood, and the effects if children do not form them, looking at a variety of theories on the subject. Memory follows this, where students learn about two different models of how the memory works, factors that affect memory, and how the knowledge of this has been used to improve eyewitness testimony. The penultimate unit is Biopsychology, in this unit students learn about different structures of the brain and their functions, the brains’ ability to recover form injury, ways to investigate the brain and the different rhythms of the human body such as circadian rhythms. Finally, we end the year by starting to look at Issues and Debates within Psychology, this topic is about arguments surrounding Psychological research such as gender bias, reductionism vs holism and cultural bias and whether they affect the validity of research.
Students have 5 lessons a week of Psychology, during their single lesson throughout the first year we work continuously on the Research Methods unit, this is because this unit feeds into all the other topics. They learn about different types of psychological research such as experiments, case studies and observations; what is good/bad about each technique and when it is appropriate to use them. They also learn ways to represent data, and ways to interpret data using statistical testing such as sign test.
At the end of year 12 they sit paper 1 and paper 2 full A Level papers because we don’t teach the AS content. At this point students will make a class decision about which unit they want to do from option 1, 2 &3.
In year 13 students start by finishing off Issues and Debates from the end of year 12. They then study the options they picked at the end of year 12 in the order option 1, 2 then 3.
The students then complete a revision program focusing of exam technique.
Three 2 hour long papers, each worth 33.3% of the A Level consisting of a variety of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions.
Introductory Topics in Psychology
Written paper- units 1–4
Psychology in Context
Written paper –units 5-7
Issues and Options in Psychology
Written paper – unit 8 and one from option 1, 9–11, one from option 2, 12–14, one from option 3, 15–17
Minimum entry requirements for A level courses: 7 GCSEs at grade 9-4 (including English grade 4) with double or triple science (grade 6/6) and Maths (grade 5/6 depending on subject choice).
Please see our website for more information - https://cast.education/curriculum/a-level
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