Since Psychology is not studied at GCSE level, students will experience this for the first time if they choose to take it at AS level. It is assumed that students will have proficiency in English, Maths and Science, since they need to be able to write complete essays, apply statistical analysis to data and understand scientific research. There are two units studied in the first year. Unit 1 focuses on Cognitive and Developmental Psychology. Students learn how memory works and the early processes involved in the formation of attachments. Unit 2 is concerned with Social Psychology including conformity and obedience to authority and Abnormal Psychology: how psychological abnormality is defined and how different psychological perspectives explain and treat mental disorders. This unit also includes Physiological Psychology, where students learn about stress, its effect on the body and its management. Research Methods as used by psychologists to study behaviour and test hypotheses are covered throughout both units and both Unit exams will test students’ research methods knowledge.
Teaching and learning in Psychology involves a range of activities. Class discussions are useful ways to make students think and express themselves and to gain confidence in doing so. Students have 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. Practical experiments are undertaken to illustrate psychological ideas and give hands on experience with research methods and design issues. Because of the nature of the subject, students are taught to be sensitive towards a variety of issues. Many students find studying human behaviour fascinating and will gain insight into a range of behaviours, often finding it useful for a variety of university courses and careers.