The ultimate aim in A Level Psychology is to produce Psychologists of the future who are curious and independent thinkers. They will benefit from the development of Psychological knowledge and skills to enable them to become active and considerate individuals, they will develop empathy and compassion for others and be able to challenge stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues. All students will develop independent research skills to prepare them for their future careers or next phase of learning. The curriculum promotes independence and organisation. The students will become scientifically literate through the Research Methods embedded throughout the course, they will be able to plan, undertake and write up an experiment and undertake their own empirical research. Specialist vocabulary and psychological concepts will engage students in their process of psychological enquiry. They will have the knowledge and understanding of themselves and others through studying topics such as Attachment, Memory, Psychopathology and Relationships.
Attachment will be studied first to allow students to explore the relationship between children and their primary attachment figure. The importance of secure and insecure attachments as well as those who have been unable to form an attachment are also explored. This topic will help students to understand their own attachments and reflect on their current relationships.
The Memory topic will be taught alongside the attachment topic. This will give students the opportunity to explore how their memory works, reflect on their own learning and memory patterns and enable them to apply the theories to their own revision techniques.
The Psychopathology topic will introduce students to some of the more common mental health issues today. Obsessive compulsive disorder, Depression and Phobias will all be explored. Students will then know how to recognise some of the important signs of those suffering from these disorders.
Social Psychology will be taught afterwards to allow students to understand why people conform or obey in society. They will explore historical figures from the past and analyse their behaviour. Students will be able to apply their social theories to ‘mob’ mentality and peer pressure.
The Approaches topic will bring all of the topics together and explore the foundations of Psychology and links to other subjects. Biological, Behaviourist, Cognitive Neuroscience, Humanistic, Psychodynamic will all be researched and evaluated by students.
The end of the first year Bio Psychology is introduced which links behaviour to the brain and genetics. Fight or flight response will enable students to understand how they can manage their own behaviour in a stressful situation. Split brain research and localisation topics will develop student’s ability to explore complex neurological brain damage and evaluate the findings of the research. This topic will leave students wanting to explore further.
The second year in Psychology A -Level option topics allow students to acquire more detailed knowledge of specific topics. The common but least understood condition of Schizophrenia is taught. A difference between Neuroses and Psychoses and patterns of behaviour. Students will understand the difficulty when making a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, they will understand the tools used and assess the reliability and validity of these diagnostic tools. They will have a detailed knowledge of managing and treating schizophrenia and the validity of each treatment including anti-psychotic medication and token economy and family therapy.
Relationships is also an optional topic taught in the second year. Studying relationships at this stage in their development is crucial for students. Understanding theories and applying them to real life situations of their own helps students to reflect on their own relationships and manage them better. Many students have difficult relationships at home, with romantic partners or friendships, this topic helps them to understand how to maintain those relationships in a healthy, balanced way. This topic is particularly helpful to girls who may have faced emotional neglect and are subject to the detrimental messages that social media portrays.
Forensic Psychology is the other option topic that is taught. Students understand why someone may turn to criminality. Many students are interested in this topic particularly those wanting to pursue a career working with prisoners, youth offenders, or clinical psychology settings. A visit to St Albans Crown court brings this topic to life when students are given the opportunity to meet with a judge and sit in an actual court hearing and trial. Debates are at the core of this topic, arguing for and against the treatment or punishment of offenders.
All students throughout the course are given careers guidance relating to careers in Psychology. As each topic is taught, different career areas of Psychology are explored for example; Psychotherapists, Counselling, Therapy, Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatry, Forensic Psychologists etc
The course aims to educate all students to be able to succeed in life, to have the correct skills for future learning and employment through a number of debates, independent research and presentations.