In A Level Psychology pupils explore topics which reflect contemporary areas of psychological research interest, such as Forensic Psychology, as well as ‘classic’ areas of psychology such as Child Development.
In the first year of the course pupils develop an understanding of major psychological theories through examining six key approaches: Biological, Behaviourist, Social learning theory, Cognitive, Psychodynamic and Humanistic. They then apply these approaches to understand alternative perspectives on the origins of gender differences, and certain phobias and syndromes such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Pupils also study Human Memory and Social Influence phenomena such as conformity and obedience.
Pupils are expected to gain an understanding of the methods used to conduct psychological investigations. To complement their study of research methods as part of the examination specification, they conduct a research project of their own design at the end of the first year in order to hone their research skills.
In the second year, pupils build on the knowledge they have gained by applying it to Criminal Psychology, to Psychopathology and to Child Development. They will, furthermore, explore philosophical debates in psychology, such as how to reconcile the mechanistic view of human behaviour suggested by many psychologists with the apparent feeling of freedom of choice experienced in everyday life.
The final component of the course is synoptic. Here, candidates are required to draw on material they have encountered from across their two years of study in order to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the whole course.
Upon successful completion of the course, candidates could follow a degree course in Psychology or related fields. Psychology is also a valued precursor to courses in medicine, marketing, political sciences and the humanities. Successful completion of a degree in Psychology could lead to careers in professional areas of psychology, including clinical, occupational and educational. The degree may also be an excellent ‘springboard’ to many careers in local and central government, the social sciences, industry and commerce.