Psychology is often a new subject for students at A Level, but one many are drawn to in the hope of answering their questions about themselves, society and possibly humanity as a whole. Over the course of two years, students are introduced to a wide range of topics using the AQA specification, and are assessed over three exam papers at the end of the course. The first year focuses on Paper 1 and 2, which includes topics from Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychopathology, but also looks at how Psychology has developed as a Science over the years. In the second year, students are challenged to show their synoptic skills by discussing the scientific and ethical issues of studying human behaviour, and applying their knowledge to applied areas of human behaviour. Currently, those optional topics are Gender development, Eating behaviour and Addiction.
It is assumed that students will have proficiency in English, Maths and Science, as they need to be able to write complete scientific essays, apply statistical analysis to data and understand the process and evaluation of scientific research. Teaching and learning in Psychology involves a range of activities. Class discussions are a useful way to make students think and express themselves and to gain confidence in doing so. Also, because of the nature of the subject, students are taught to be sensitive towards a variety of issues through these discussions. Students have opportunities to read from a variety of sources, e.g. textbooks, journal articles, newspaper articles, magazines and other relevant material, making notes and completing worksheets. Self-directed study is a feature of sixth form study in general and students are encouraged to go beyond the main textbooks in order to stimulate a wider interest in the subject matter. Group work is sometimes used to get students to share responsibility in preparing and delivering presentations, or to design and carry out practical experiments.