A Level Psychology

Why Study Psychology?

What can you change about a situation to make people more likely to obey you? Why do we forget things? Do people become criminals because of their genes or because of their environment? Do humans learn behaviour the same way that dogs do? These are just a few of the questions A Level Psychology students will explore at Dunottar.

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context.  The focus is on understanding how the physical brain as well as our environment impact on our behaviour as humans.  The department follows the AQA specification which explores topics such as human memory, abnormality, social influence, sleep, child psychology and abnormalities such as schizophrenia. Critically, research methods and data handling techniques used by psychologists are also a core focus.

Course Outline and Assessment

A-Level Psychology encourages students to critically evaluate scientific research and the theories that arise from it. We look to apply theories to real life situations, such as understanding why eye witness testimony is flawed and which treatments are the most effective for psychological disorders such as OCD, Phobias and Depression.  Students are encouraged to develop their knowledge and understanding of Psychology outside the classroom, through keeping up with current research in magazines such as The Psychologist or through books and documentaries; wider reading around the subject is heavily encouraged.

The course is broken down into three broad sections:

  1. Introductory Topics in Psychology (Paper 1) – Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychopathology
  2. Psychology in Context (Paper 2) – Approaches to Psychology, Biopsychology and Research Methods
  3. Issues & Options (Paper 3) – Issues & Debates, Cognition & Development (Child Psychology), Schizophrenia and Aggression

The assessment is made up of three two-hour exams in the summer of the second year.

What are the Career Opportunities?

Psychology is currently one of the most popular subjects to study both at A Level and at University. It appeals to a wide variety of students as it complements science subjects such as Biology or Chemistry.  Psychology is highly regarded by employers; people who study it have experience in logical analysis of data as well as the ability to empathise with others. A Psychology degree opens the doors to a wide variety of careers. Of those who continue studying on to University level, only a relatively small percentage actually choose to become professional Psychologists. The rest embark on a range of people related careers including management, advertising or human resources.

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