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Psychology A Level at Dame Alice Owen's School

Course description

The mind is something intangible that exists within our brain. An unseen process of enzymes, chemicals and electric current moving within the structure of our neural networks dictates why we feel, think and behave the way we do.

But why is it that some people suffer from stress and mental illness? Why does addiction happen? What happens if we destroy certain parts of our brain? How does memory work? What happens in the brain when we hallucinate? Why is it that if people are told to push a button even if it may kill someone- they push it anyway? How is it that some cultures actually have 3 genders but we traditionally have just male and female? How do visual illusions work?

Psychology looks at questions like these in the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. It is a science with cutting edge research that has real world applications to issues in everyday life, ranging from artificial intelligence to social change.

Psychologists observe and measure behaviour and their therapies are based on scientific study. Psychology has links with many disciplines including biological, computer and forensic science as well as humanities such as sociology, philosophy, anthropology and literature. It involves the study of theory, empirical evidence and practical applications. This mix of disciplines helps to make psychology such a fascinating subject.

The mind is something intangible that exists within our brain. An unseen process of enzymes, chemicals and electric current moving within the structure of our neural networks dictates why we feel, think and behave the way we do.

But why is it that some people suffer from stress and mental illness? Why does addiction happen? What happens if we destroy certain parts of our brain? How does memory work? What happens in the brain when we hallucinate? Why is it that if people are told to push a button even if it may kill someone- they push it anyway? How is it that some cultures actually have 3 genders but we traditionally have just male and female? How do visual illusions work?

Psychology looks at questions like these in the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. It is a science with cutting edge research that has real world applications to issues in everyday life, ranging from artificial intelligence to social change.

Psychologists observe and measure behaviour and their therapies are based on scientific study. Psychology has links with many disciplines including biological, computer and forensic science as well as humanities such as sociology, philosophy, anthropology and literature. It involves the study of theory, empirical evidence and practical applications. This mix of disciplines helps to make psychology such a fascinating subject.

Course content

This course of study comprises three written units, with no coursework.

 The emphasis is on applying knowledge and understanding, thereby developing students' transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking.

It is an essay-based subject however incorporates How Science Works principles throughout. For this reason, it is important that students who wish to study the subject have a thorough understanding of science to enable success in this subject.

Entry requirements

You will sit 3 exams at the end of the two years. This will comprise 3 papers, each paper accounting for 33.3% of your marks for the year, lasting 2 hours each. The exams will include multiple-choice, short answer and extended writing (up to 16 mark essays).

Assessment

Examination Board - AQA

You will sit 3 exams at the end of the two years. This will comprise 3 papers, each paper accounting for 33.3% of your marks for the year, lasting 2 hours each. The exams will include multiple-choice, short answer and extended writing (up to 16 mark essays).

The whole course is taught from first principles as it is assumed that no student has studied psychology before. The ability to express yourself both in writing and verbally will help you and there is some data analysis required which uses basic statistics. Students who take Psychology need a combination of curiosity and scepticism and need to enjoy research.  

Students must obtain at least grade 6 in Biology, English and Maths (6 preferred in all three GCSE Sciences) or two 6s if taking combined science). Psychology students often also study Biology at A level, although this is not a requirement.

Overall, at least 10% of the marks in assessments for Psychology will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills will be applied in the context of Psychology and will be at least the standard of higher tier GCSE mathematics.

Future opportunities

Psychology can help your career either directly or indirectly. Of course, if you wish to become a psychologist, therapist or mental health worker, this A Level is of direct value. In terms of further study, students may go on to study a BSc at University in the subject itself or use its good reputation as a rigorous course for access to other destinations. 

Possible career options: marketing, business development, accountancy, human resources, forensics, occupational therapy, clinical psychology, neuroscience, nursing, teaching. It is such a varied A level it opens many doors for further study and careers.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Dame Alice Owen's School directly.

Last updated date: 31 October 2018
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years

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