Psychology

 “A failure is not always a mistake, it may be simply the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

B.F.Skinner

Psychology At Kings Langley School

This subject offered as a sixth form option offers an engaging and effective introduction to Psychology. Students will learn the fundamentals of the subject and develop skills valued by Higher Education (HE) and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research.

Assessments in the form of internal and external written exams, employ a variety of familiar types of question such as multiple choice, short answer and extended writing/essays, which target the skills of knowledge and understanding, application and evaluation. Students’ understanding of research methods, gained through classroom experience of practical Psychology, will be assessed using the familiar scenario-based question style and research methods questions embedded in topics.

The specification will appeal to a cross-section of students, regardless of whether they have prior knowledge of the subject. It builds on skills developed in the sciences and humanities, and enables progression into a wide range of other subjects and career paths in the arts, social services, media or management.

Staff:

Mrs F O’Hanlon (Year 12 and 13)
Mrs H Pocklington (Year 12)

Curriculum Intent Objectives:

  • The AS and A-level specification is designed to cover the core areas of Psychology and be fully co-teachable within the first year of study. The specification allows students to switch between AS and A-level during the first year if they wish.
  • Students are introduced to the main approaches and theories in psychology as well as developing their knowledge and skills of research methods and a scientific method of studying human behaviour.
  • The content will give them a rich background to understanding their own and others’ behaviour which will be particularly relevant not only in their own development as young adults but in any career which involves working in the fields of human development, therapeutic intervention, education, care and social services or academia.

Content Topics:

At Kings Langley, we follow the AQA specification and teach Psychology as a Year 13 linear course. In certain circumstances, students have occasionally sat the external Year 12 exams instead of the Year 13 final exams, if they are not continuing in the Sixth Form. For most students however, the Year 12 exams are internally set but to the Year 13 standard for the linear course, the same standard for their final external exams in Year 13. There is an overlap with some of the courses taught in Year 12 and Year 13, as specified below.

Year 12

In Year 12, the topics for the final Paper 1 in Year 13 are covered and some of the topics for the final Paper 2 in Year 13.

AS Paper 1 – Introductory Topics in Psychology

  • Social Influence (conformity and obedience, resistance to social influence, minority influence, social influence and social change).
  • Memory (types of memory, models of memory, explanations for forgetting, factors affecting the reliability of eye-witness testimony and improving eye-witness testimony through the cognitive interview).
  • Attachment (stages of attachment, theories of attachment - learning theory and Bowlby’s theory, animal studies in attachment, cultural variations in attachment, Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation, Romanian orphan studies and privation, the influence of early attachment on later relationships).

AS Paper 2 – Psychology in Context

  • Approaches in Psychology (Origins of Psychology - Wundt and the first laboratory, psychology as a science, the Learning Approach: Behaviourism - classical conditioning and operant conditioning, Social Learning Theory - Bandura and the Bobo doll experiments, the Biological Approach - the influences of genes, genotype, phenotype, evolution and behaviour , the Cognitive approach -the role of schema, cognitive neuroscience, Biopsychology – the nervous system, the endocrine system, the structure and function of neurons, synaptic transmission).
  • Psychopathology (definitions of abnormality, characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias, the cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression, the biological approach to explaining and treating OCD.
  • Research Methods (the experimental method, control of variables, types of experiments, experimental designs, sampling methods, ethics of research, pilot studies, observational techniques and design, self-report techniques and design, correlations, data analysis – descriptive statistics and graphs, mathematical content, introduction to statistical testing – the sign test, peer review, psychological research and its impact on the economy).

Year 13

In Year 13, some new topics are covered for Paper 2 in Year 13 and all the topics for Paper 3 in Year 13.

A2 Paper 1 – Introductory Topics in Psychology – Each section is worth 24 marks

  • Section A : Social Influence (conformity and obedience, resistance to social influence, minority influence, social influence and social change).
  • Section B: Memory (types of memory, models of memory, explanations for forgetting, factors affecting the reliability of eye-witness testimony, improving eye-witness testimony through the cognitive interview).
  • Section C : Attachment (stages of attachment, theories of attachment - learning theory and Bowlby’s theory, animal studies in attachment, cultural variations in attachment, Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation, Romanian orphan studies and privation, the influence of early attachment on later relationships).
  • Section D : Psychopathology (definitions of abnormality, characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias, the cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression, the biological approach to explaining and treating OCD.

A2 Paper 2 – Psychology in Context – Section A and B are worth 24 marks each, C is worth 48 marks.

  • Section A : Approaches in Psychology (Origins of Psychology -Wundt and the fist laboratory, psychology as a science, the Learning Approach : Behaviourism -classical conditioning and operant conditioning, Social Learning Theory - Bandura and the Bobo doll experiments, the Biological Approach - the influences of genes, genotype, phenotype, evolution and behaviour , the Cognitive approach -the role of schema, cognitive neuroscience. The Psychodynamic approach – Freud and the role of the unconscious, tripartite theory of personality, defence mechanisms, psychosexual stages of development, the Humanist approach – the importance of the self, self-actualisation and the conditions of worth, the role of congruence, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and free will, comparison of the approaches in the study of human behaviour.
  • Section B: Biopsychology (the nervous system, the endocrine system, the structure and function of neurons, synaptic transmission. Localisation of functions in the brain, plasticity and functional recovery of the brain after trauma, split-brain research, brain scanning and other techniques, Biological rhythms – circadian, infradian, ultradian, endogenous pacemakers in the brain and exogenous zeitgebers and the sleep/wake cycle.
  • Section C : Research Methods (the experimental method, control of variables, types of experiments, experimental designs, sampling methods, ethics of research, pilot studies, observational techniques and design, self-report techniques and design, correlations, data analysis – descriptive statistics and graphs, mathematical content, introduction to statistical testing – the sign test, peer review, psychological research and its impact on the economy). Case studies and content analysis, reliability – assessing and improving it in research, validity – assessing and improving it in research, choosing a statistical test, probability and significance, type I and type II errors, the Mann-Whitney U test, Unrelated t-test, Spearman’s rho, Pearson’s r, Chi-squared, Sections of a Scientific research report, features of science.

A2 Paper 3 – Issues and Options in Psychology – Each section is worth 24 marks each

  • Section A : Issues and Debates in Psychology – gender and cultural bias in research, nature versus nurture, determinism versus free will, reductionism versus holism, the nomothetic versus the idiographic approach in research, ethical implications of research.
  • Section B : Relationships – theories of attraction and formation of relationships – self-disclosure, physical attractiveness, filter theory, theories of maintenance and breakdown of relationships – social exchange theory, equity theory, Rusbult’s investment theory, Duck’s phase model of breakdown, virtual relationships in social media, parasocial relationships.
  • Section C : Schizophrenia – issues in diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia, biological explanations including genetics and neural correlates, psychological explanations including family dysfunction, expressed emotion and cognition, biological therapies including typical and atypical anti-psychotics, psychological therapies including CBT, family therapy and token economies, the interactionist approach including the diathesis-stress model for explanation and treatment.
  • Section D : Addiction – describing addiction, risk factors in the development of addiction, explanations for nicotine addiction – brain chemistry and learning explanations including classical and operant conditioning, explanations for gambling addiction – including dysfunctional cognition and the learning theories of classical and operant conditioning, reducing addiction – drug therapies, behavioural therapies including aversion therapy and covert sensitization, CBT for gambling including functional analysis and preventative skills training.

Implementation:

  • Students have full access to a knowledge rich psychology curriculum which is differentiated to meet learning needs and styles.
  • Module trackers which help students organize content and plan their revision materials for exam preparation.
  • Informal and Formal assessments -providing opportunities for repetition to embed knowledge, increasing the chance of information recall and to integrate new knowledge into larger ideas. Regular class based tests and the two yearly formal examinations will require students to recall more knowledge.
  • Variety of teaching approaches so that students are engaged in the content of the curriculum and are encouraged to learn more.

Impact:

Key Stage Five – A level

By the end of Key Stage 5 students will demonstrate a complex understanding (AO1) of psychological theories, issues, practical applications, research methods and statistics. They will be able to analyse and evaluate (AO3) theories of, and approaches to, the study of many different human behaviours, including their practical application (AO2) in society in terms of service provision or therapeutic intervention.
University standard journal articles referred to will be available via the School Library’s subscription to JSTOR.
Also AQA approved textbooks, detailed lesson content via power point and appropriate video material will be used to help students familiarize themselves with the major theories and concepts of psychology so that they can build a strong foundation from which they can excel in their undergraduate studies.

Key Stage 5 Psychology Exams and Assessment objective weightings

AQA A Level – Linear course over 2 years.
Students will sit three final written papers, each 2 hours long.
Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology; social influence, attachment, memory, psychopathology (96 marks)
Paper 2: Psychology in Context; approaches, research methods, biopsychology (96 marks)
Paper 3: Issues and Options; Issues and Debates plus 3 other options. (96 marks)

A level assessment objectives

Assessment Objectives Component weightings, approximate (%) Overall weighting approximate (%)
  Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3  
AO1 (Knowledge and understanding) 11-14, 7-10 and 9-12 30-33
AO2 (Application) 6-9, 16-19 and 5-8 30-33
A03 (Evaluation) 12-14, 7-9 and 15-17 36-38
Overall weighting of components  33.3, 33.3 and 33.3 100

 

Useful website links for parents:

AQA - Psychology

Prospects

The British Psychology Society

Top Psychology Courses