Psychology studies human behaviour and tries to understand why people behave in the way they do. Psychology is made up of a variety of approaches and, during the first year of study, students will have the opportunity to learn about the origins of psychology, as well as the key approaches. In addition, students will explore the early years of development and its effects on the rest of life, how human memory works and eyewitness testimony, the stress that people experience, why humans obey and conform and the mental disorders that people can face.
In the second year, students build upon their knowledge of different approaches, and apply them to a range of behaviours. Throughout the course, students learn research method skills that will enable them to carry out their own studies relevant to the material covered.
Summary of course content
The course provides a sound understanding of scientific methods and approaches to explaining human behaviour. It reviews research in many fields and applies ideas and concepts to a range of real-life situations.
In the first year, students will study a range of topics including:
• The origins and approaches in psychology
• Social influence
• Memory, attachment, psychopathology
In the second year, students will be given the opportunity to study three of the following areas:
• Relationships and gender
• Cognition and development
• Eating behaviour
• Stress and aggression
• Forensic psychology
• There will also be an opportunity to learn additional content in topics such as the humanistic and psychodynamic approaches.
Students will undertake more practical research methods as well as learning in detail how to statistically analyse and critically evaluate results.
The psychology department plays host to an annual ‘Brain Day’ event, where Dr Guy Sutton gives a series of lectures on the field of neuro psychology as well as demonstrating a brain dissection.
You will gain extensive understanding of human behaviours and interactions in a multitude of human fields from early socialisation, to relationships, to individual and cultural differences. It is important that students appreciate that psychology is considered to be a science. They will therefore acquire analytical and evaluative skills in terms of the rigour of the science involved in psychological experimentation and research. Students will need to have an affinity with the methods of scientific enquiry and have an interest in concepts such as reliability and validity.Where the course leads
Employment prospects are excellent for those with a physics qualification. Astronomy, radiology, medicine, sports physics, meteorology, financial analysis, science journalism, etc all use physics. Engineering (civil, electrical, aero, space, chemical) are major shortage subjects which require physics. Physics teachers are very scarce too!
It is important to note that, to achieve a full A Level in psychology, students will be assessed by three two hour examinations at the end of the second year. Each paper will consist of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing requirements. There is no coursework element.
Where the course leads
There is hardly a walk of life in which psychology is not useful. The emphasis on understanding human behaviour gives valuable insights for those working with other people.
Psychology is particularly valued in health care, personnel, the media, marketing, retail management, educational psychology, social work, probation work, teaching and the police force.
Special entry requirements
Psychology is one of the most popular subjects at A Level with a very high demand for places. A keen interest in understanding human behaviour, the ability to write essays and a desire to question psychological findings/behaviour is required. The nature of the course is such that students must have GCSE grade 4 or above in mathematics, science and English. Due to the high demand, grade 5 in all of these subjects is preferred. Students are encouraged to read widely; the department has an extensive reading and podcast list to help prepare students for the course.