‘The science of mind and behaviour’

The subject matter of Psychology relates to the sciences, humanities and mathematics, so combines successfully with many subjects and provides good preparation for many university courses. As psychology is a science, it has the same requirement as other sciences for examination papers to have 10% of questions testing relevant mathematical skills.

Aims of Psychology:

•    To explore people’s thinking and behaviour.

•    To develop investigative skills and critical thinking in relation to theories and research.

•    To apply knowledge and understanding about psychology to the real world in areas such as eye-witness testimony (in A1) and mental health (in A2).

•    To develop a thorough understanding of how psychologists conduct research, for example using experiments, of the skills needed to design and conduct effective investigations, and of ways to analyse results using a range of statistical techniques.

A1 of the Edexcel specification is examined in Paper 1, Foundations of Psychology (examination, 35%), which includes the following four topics, plus issues and debates:

•    Social psychology: this explores the nature of obedience and prejudice. We consider such questions as 'Why do we obey orders?'

•    Cognitive psychology: this explores memory, considering such questions as 'Why do I remember some things and not others?'

•    Biological psychology: this explores the influence of the nervous system and hormones on our thinking and behaviour. We consider questions such as 'What causes aggression?'

•    Learning theories: this explores how new behaviours are acquired. We consider such questions as ‘What causes phobias?'

A2 of the Edexcel specification is examined in two papers:

Paper 2: Applied psychology (examination, 35% - Clinical psychology and one other topic)

•    Clinical psychology: 'If schizophrenia isn’t about having a multiple personality, what is it?' In this section we explore the symptoms and causes of disorders such as schizophrenia and depression and discover how people with these disorders can be treated.

•    Health psychology: 'Is there an addictive personality?' An investigation into how drugs work, what makes people take them and how addiction can be treated.

Paper 3: Psychological skills (examination, 30%):

In this section we consider the research methods and statistical techniques used by psychologists as well as the dilemmas raised by psychological research and arguments, such as the nature-nurture debate, that relate to many areas of the course.

Psychology in school

The Department organises ‘Psych Soc’, a Sixth Form society for all girls to enjoy exciting and entertaining aspects of Psychology. A level psychology and Psych Soc together provide a diverse introduction to the range of ideas which psychology explores. As a consequence, many girls have gone on to read psychology at university.