Psychology is an interesting, challenging and engaging science subject based on the same underpinning principles as the physical sciences. We cover a wide range of areas, considering questions such as:
- How accurate are our memories?
- How do we form early attachments and how does this influence us later in life?
- What causes schizophrenia and other mental illnesses?
- How is our behaviour influenced by other people?
- What factors affect the formation of human relationships?
- How do stereotypes arise?
- What causes people to be aggressive?
- How do hormones affect human behaviour?
- How do we know when someone is mentally ill?
- What ethical issues do psychologists need to consider when conducting research?
- How do we know the results of our research aren’t just due to chance?
As well as mastering the subject matter, students taking psychology will develop a range of critical thinking skills and the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. Psychology will equip students to study the subject at university, as well as being a facilitating subject for many other degree courses.
We follow the linear AQA specification (7182) which is examined via three papers at the end of the two-year course. Students will be required to write both short and extended answer questions and use a variety of statistical techniques(inferential testing) during the course. Please note that the research methods element of the course includes mathematical calculations and counts for approximately 25% of the overall marks.
The full specification can be downloaded from AQA’s website www.aqa.org.uk
Textbooks and support
The main textbooks used on this course are:
- AQA Psychology for A Level Year 1 & AS (green haired girl on cover) ISBN 978-1-908682-40-6
- AQA Psychology for A Level Year 2 (pink haired girl on cover) ISBN 978-1-908682-41-3
You may wish to consider buying a personal copy of the books to use over the two-year course as separate books are used in Year 12 and Year 13. Should you wish to purchase a revision guide you might consider:
- Pearson AQA A Level Psychology Revision Guide & Workbook (+ free online edition) ISBN 978-1-292-11121-6
Workbooks can consolidate your knowledge for each topic providing information and asking questions to ensure you have understood the material covered in class. For example:
- Hodder Education Workbook Psychology 1 Introductory Topics ISBN 978-1-4718-4517-8
- Hodder Education Workbook Psychology 2 Psychology in Context ISBN 978-1-4718-4518-5
- Hodder Education Workbook Psychology 3 Issues & Debates and Options ISBN 978-1-4718-4519-2
A-Level examination papers
- Introductory topics in psychology (2 hours)
- Psychology in context (2 hours)
- Issues and options (2 hours)
Paper 1 – Introductory topics in psychology
- Social influence
Paper 2 – Psychology in context
- Approaches in psychology
- Research methods
Paper 3 – Issues and options*
- Issues and debates in psychology
- Option 1 – human relationships
- Option 2 – schizophrenia
- Option 3 – aggression
* The specific options studied can vary from year to year according to needs and demands
IB Psychology is available at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). All students cover three main approaches to explaining human behaviour, which are:
- The biological approach
- The cognitive approach
- The sociocultural approach
- An option, currently abnormal psychology
Higher Level students will also study:
- A higher level topic for each of the three approaches listed above
- A second option, currently human relationships
- Qualitative research methods
Psychology is examined in three papers using a mixture of short-answer questions (SAQs) and extended response questions (ERQs). In addition, all students carry out a piece of practical research in groups as coursework (the Internal assessment) which counts for 20% of the total marks for Higher Level students and 25% for Standard level students. The coursework requires students to carry out a statistical analysis of the data collected.
More details about Psychology as part of the IB Diploma programme can be found at https://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/curriculum/individuals-and-societies/psychology/
Textbook and support
- Oxford IB Diploma Programme Psychology (2nd Edition) ISBN 978-0-19-839811-0. This textbook is used in both Year 12 and Year 13.
- A more concise study guide is also available. IB Psychology Study Guide: Oxford IB Diploma Programme, Alexey Popov, ISBN 978-0198398172
IB Psychology examination papers
- Paper 1 – Approaches to behaviour (2 hours, SL and HL)
- Paper 2 – Options (1 hour SL, 2 hours HL)
- Paper 3 – Qualitative methods ( 1 hour HL)
Enrichment (A-Level and IB Diploma)
- Register for a free fortnightly digest from the British Psychological Society at https://digest.bps.org.uk/
- Students can subscribe to the student magazine ‘Psychology Review’ which contains article of interest to A-level students. Other suitable journals include ‘The Psychologist’
- The website “InThinking” by John Crane at https://www.inthinking.net/ is aimed at IB students and has a number of free resources as well as some available by subscription.
- The website tutor2u.net/psychology has free helpful information on a range of topics, also selling workbooks and revision aids
- Many classic psychological studies are discussed in YouTube videos, which really bring the research to life – for example, looking at Harry Harlow’s experiments with rhesus monkeys.
- There are many websites (e.g. Psychlotron) and discussion groups set up to enable students to interact and ask or answer questions.
- Libraries often have a range of books about psychology, including classic studies and particular areas of psychological interest plus back copies of the major psychological journals. Some recommended enrichment and extension reading is shown below.
- The school shared area hosts a huge range of articles and enrichment activities for students to access, as well as revision guides and support materials for the course.
- Look out for news stories on bbc.co.uk relating to areas covered in the course – there are often stories that are relevant and interesting.
Suggested Reading List (please check internet for newer editions)
- “50 Psychology Classics”, Tom Butler-Bowdon, ISBN 978-1-85788-386-2
- “Key Ideas in Psychology”, Matt Jarvis & Julia Russell, ISBN 0-7487-6564-6
- “Key Studies in Psychology” (5th Edition), Richard Gross, ISBN 978-0-340-94739-5
- “Themes, Issues and debates in Psychology” (2nd Edition), Richard Gross, ISBN 978-0-340-85784-7
In case of closure or staff absence
In the event of an unexpected absence or school closure, students should initially check Show My Homework for instructions as cover work will be set.
Matriculation requirements (A-Level and IB Diploma)
A minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, ideally to include:
- English – minimum grade 6, ideally grade 7
- Mathematics – minimum grade 6, ideally grade 7
- One other science subject at grade 5 or above
- A commitment and enthusiasm for the subject