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Welcome to

St Albans Girls' School

Psychology

The Department

Curriculum Leader: Mrs K Birkett

A Level

Exam Board: AQA

Specification Number: 7181/7182

Psychology is an interesting, stimulating and challenging subject that complements a wide range of traditional subjects. Psychology is “the Science of the mind”; its subject matter is primarily people, their experiences and their behaviour although it does include some study of non-human animals.  Its immediate goal is to understand humanity by both discovering general principles and exploring specific cases, and its ultimate aim is to benefit society.

The specification for Psychology changed in September 2015, but the department continues to follow the AQA examination board – Awarding Body: AQA:  A Level (7182) and this involves a full A Level lasting two years.  The specification has been designed to provide a broad introduction to the scope and nature of psychology as a science using a range of topics with research in context. The emphasis is on applying knowledge (rather than just acquiring it), thereby developing students’ transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking. The department also aims to promote independence in students through active learning

In Year 1 the topics include Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychotherapy examined in paper 1 and the fundamental Approaches to Psychology, Biopsychology and Research Methods examined in paper 2.  Research methods is studied within the context of all areas.  In Year 2 there are the additional aspects of Issues and Debates encompassed within Psychology, such as nature/nurture and ethics, and Biopsychology which continues an appreciation of the Biology behind this discipline.  There are also a range of topic-based options, and possibilities for study including Relationships, Schizophrenia and Forensic Psychology.  Psychological research and scientific method also feature throughout the A Level with a practical and investigative emphasis requiring some understanding of statistical analysis.  The whole A Level is examined across three separate papers.

Learning methods include discussions, debates, videos, individual and group presentations, class room exercises and activities. Students are expected to make an active contribution to whatever method is being used.  There is a very wide syllabus to cover and students are required to carry out substantial research on their own.  Students must be prepared to spend time reading around the subject or researching specific topics – in this way the vital skills of independent learning will be acquired and developed.

As Psychology is a new subject to all students, students need to be aware of the need for strong analytical and evaluative skills. They must be persuasive writers as there is rarely a single, correct answer to any question.  The aim is to use psychological knowledge and evidence in order to support an argument or opinion.  Fluency (both written and verbal) is essential as is a secure understanding of certain scientific principles particularly in Human Biology.  A facility in Maths and the ability to interpret numerical data is also beneficial.

Psychology is taught by specialist teachers with extensive experience, a focus on exam technique and a clear enthusiasm for the subject. The department makes available a wide range of resources including a variety of textbooks to help promote independent learning and effectively uses the Google Classroom providing links to websites, enabling students to research and to participate in discussion forums.

In Psychology we celebrate success by nominating a student from each teaching group every week for the Sixth Form Rainbow Raffle which results in a termly draw for a prize and one student from Year 12 and one from Year 13 for Student of the Month. We also have a number of Psychological related bookmarks and badges etc which serve as rewards for outstanding pieces of work. Students are also given the opportunity to attend day long conferences in London with innovative and eminent guest speakers such as Philip Zimbardo and Elizabeth Loftus. Guest speakers have also been invited into school to provide activity days designed to stretch and challenge the students eg neuroscience.

A first degree in psychology can lead to a further degree in a wide range of related fields (e.g. clinical, educational, occupational psychology etc.)  However it is also highly regarded and a useful entry point for virtually any career that involves interacting with people. N.B. Psychology is a science and as such continues to be regarded as one of the sciences for entry to universities and medical schools.

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What is the course content?

Year 12

  • Social Psychology, including conformity, obedience and independent behaviour.
  • Cognitive Psychology, including memory and eyewitness testimony.
  • Developmental Psychology including early social development, attachment and the effects of deprivation.
  • Psychopathology, including the treatment of phobias, depression and OCD.
  • Approaches in Psychology, including the behaviourist, cognitive and biological approaches to Psychology.
  • Biopsychology, including the study of the brain.
  • Research Methods in the context of the topic areas.

Year 13  

  • Issues and Debates, including the ethics of Psychological Research and Nature vs Nature.

Option 1

  • Relationships including formation, maintenance and breakdown, virtual and parasocial  relationships
  • Gender including atypical gender behaviour and the influence of culture and media.
  • Cognition and development including intellectual development.

Option 2

  • Schizophrenia including diagnosis and biological and psychological explanations.
  • Eating Behaviour including anorexia nervosa and obesity.
  • Stress including workplace stress, personality type and therapy.

Option 3

  • Aggression including institutionalised aggression and the effect of computer games.
  • Forensic Science including offender profiling and anger management.
  • Addiction including risk factors and therapies.

What support is needed?

  • Through the Google Classroom
  • Psychology Review online and JSTOR
  • Digital Complete Companion Student Book by Oxford University Press
  • Bayhouse Psychology
  • Relevant YouTube Tutorials suggested by the department
  • Reading magazines, newspapers and watching relevant TV programmes.

How will students be assessed?

  • Base Line Tests in September
  • Mock Examinations in November/December
  • Classroom Examinations in February
  • End of Topic Tests
  • End of Course Examinations in May/June
Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology Paper 2: Psychology in context Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology
What’s assessed Compulsory content 1–4 above What’s assessed Compulsory content 5–7 above What’s assessed Compulsory content 8 aboveOptional content, one from option 1, 9–11, one from option 2, 12–14, one from option 3, 15–17 above
Assessed
  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level
Assessed
  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level
Assessed
  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level
Questions
  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section D: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
Questions
  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 48 marks
Questions
  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: one topic from option 1, 9–11 above, multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: one topic from option 2, 12–14 above, multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section D: one topic from option 3, 15–17 above, multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

What texts are recommended?

Year 12

Psychology A level Year 1 and AS – The Complete Companion Student Book – Cardwell and Flanagan – Oxford University Press – ISBN -978-0-19-833864-2

AQA A Level – Psychology for A Level Year 1 and AS Book1 – M.Lawton, and Willard- Hodder – ISBN – 978-1-4718-3488-2

AQA Psychology for A Level Year 1 & AS- Illuminate Publishing – Flanagan, Berry, Jarvis, Liddle – ISBN – 9781908682406

Year 13

Psychology A level Year 2 – The Complete Companion Student Book – Cardwell and Flanagan – Oxford University Press – ISBN -978-0-19-833868-0

AQA A Level – Psychology Book2 – M.Lawton, and Willard-Hodder – ISBN – 978-1-4718-3537-7

AQA Psychology fo A Level Year 2- Illuminate Publishing – Flanagan, Berry, Jarvis, Liddle – ISBN – 9781908682413

There are also a range of older text books affiliated to the previous AQA A specification which will also be of use and copies are held in the departmental library.

What websites are recommended?

AQA.org.uk for past papers
Psychlotron.org.uk
S-Cool.co.uk
Simply Psychology.co.uk
Holah.co.uk

What equipment is needed?

A calculator, ruler, pen and pencil are essential at all times as well as A4 file paper and a robust ring binder folder for each topic with dividers and plastic wallets.

Get in touch

Mr P O'Neill, Business Manager

Sandridgebury Lane

St Albans

Hertfordshire

AL3 6DB

01727 853134