At GCSE, psychology is a linear subject meaning it is assessed by two exams (one for unit one and one for unit two) at the end of the two year course. In year 10 students have 4 lessons per fortnight and study the following topics: Biological psychology (stress, brain damage), Social psychology (discrimination, relationships) and Developmental psychology (learning, gender, comparative psychology). In year 11, students have 5 lessons per fortnight and study the topics of Cognitive psychology (perception, cognitive development) and Individual Differences (mental health). They also build on their knowledge of research methods including experiments, case studies, questionnaires, observations and correlations.
Lessons take a varied approach in style and tasks, involving extended writing, poster work, research and presentation, competition, discussion etc. Students are encouraged to work independently, in groups and as a whole class. Different learning styles are catered for, as are different student needs. Throughout the course, students are taught how to approach exam questions and how to organise their work to reach the higher levels of thinking and writing.
At A level, students are encouraged to extend their skills to approach a higher level of thinking. The course is divided into AS and A level years with two exams in each year. At AS level, students are often new to the subject so study a broad introduction into the main concepts and theories. They cover developmental psychology (attachment), cognitive psychology (memory), biological psychology (stress), social psychology (social influence), individual differences (mental health) and research methods.
Through these topics, students are introduced to psychological concepts, issues and research. They are supported in developing higher level thinking skills including evaluation and analysis of theories, sources and studies. This development continues at A2 level in studying specific topics in psychology including relationships, biological rhythms, aggression, media psychology, mental health and research methods. Students have 6 lessons per fortnight shared by two teachers, each taking responsibility for their own areas of specialism. Lessons continue to be delivered using a range of techniques based on different learning styles, interactions and skills.
Students are monitored in their performance throughout the psychology course through assessed homeworks, class tests and timed essays. This helps to prepare them for the exams and the required skills of each level. The Psychology department consists of dedicated, enthusiastic teachers who are committed to supporting each student to achieve their potential.