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Phrenology head

Psychology is the study of behaviour, and as a discipline tries to provide explanations for why people act in the way that they do. Psychology is a science and therefore includes the collection of data leading to the creation of theories. It is a very challenging subject that often helps individuals understand themselves and those around them in more detail.

The course

Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour. Its ramifications extend to sport, education, health, crime and personal development.

Modern Psychology has its roots in philosophy but has moved away from an armchair stance to a ‘hands-on’ approach which aims to observe and measure human nature objectively through experimentation and logical inference. The Psychology that we study can be described as the scientific study of human behaviour, emotions and mental processes; it is essentially about people and why they behave as they do, and it is uniquely challenging, as unlike other disciplines, we are actually studying ourselves.

The department follows the AQA specification which raises the profile of Psychology as a practical way of investigating human behaviour. The course reflects this in its emphasis on conducting research in the real world and relating Psychology to everyday life.

Psychology conference at Manchester University

During Year One of the course pupils cover the following topics:

Psychopathology, where they discuss explanations and treatments of phobias, depression and OCD; Social influence, which investigates how the presence of others affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviour; Memory, where various models of memory and why we forget are explored; Attachment, focuses on how our early relationship with our caregiver affects our adult relationships.

The key approaches in psychology; behavioural, cognitive, biological, humanistic and psychodynamic are compared and contrasted. Biopsychology, examines the basic structure of the brain, areas associated with language and split brain research. Methods used to study the brain and various biological rhythms such as the sleep / wake cycle. Research methods, basic research methods, the scientific process, data handling and inferential statistics.

As there is no coursework involved in the assessment of psychology, throughout the course there is an emphasis on research methods allowing us to conduct some small scale investigations in order to understand how psychologists gain their evidence as a basis for their theories.

Year Two allows us to investigate behaviours in more detail:

Issues and debates in Psychology such as freewill/determinism and nature/nurture are discussed. Then 3 from a number of option topics including: Schizophrenia, various possible causes and treatments; Eating Behaviour, evolutionary explanations for our food preferences and eating disorders; Stress, our biochemical stress responses, possible causes of stress and how we can cope with stress; Relationships, evolutionary explanations of various mating strategies, relationship formation, maintenance and breakdown and virtual relationships.

Forensic Psychology, offender profiling, biological and psychological explanations for offending behaviour; Aggression, genetic and biochemical factors in aggression, institutional aggression and media influences; Gender, the role of chromosome and hormones, Freud’s theories in this area, social learning theory and atypical gender development.

Full details of the new specification (syllabus) can be found by clicking here.

Please consult the Sixth Form Handbook (pdf) for further information

Who should study Psychology?

Psychology is a subject that is accessible to most pupils as it follows scientific principles and also has an emphasis on essay writing allowing it to complement a wide variety of options in the Sixth Form. The subject would be useful for pupils who wish to study psychology at university, but also any social science, or to enter jobs that involve working with other people, for example management.

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