Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. The mind is the most complex machine on Earth; it is the source of all our thoughts and behaviours. If you are passionate about understanding how and why people think and behave in a certain way, then this subject will appeal to you.
Students need to have a flexible approach, as the Linear A Level sees them applying knowledge from across the course to each of the three papers. Questions vary from short answer questions but a significant amount of the marks are attributed to essay writing. Many questions require students to apply their knowledge to scenarios.
Psychology sits well within most combinations of subjects including both sciences and arts as it seeks to use scientific and mathematical methods in order to understand behaviour. Given this, the subject is best suited to those who have good GCSE’s in Biology, English and Maths. A third of all A Level marks are awarded for essay writing. A quarter of all A Level marks are awarded for scientific enquiry and 10% of marks will assess mathematical skills.
The AQA A-Level course covers a variety of topics and disciplines and is assessed in three, two hour examinations.
- In Paper 1 you will study social influence (e.g. why did the Germanic people obey the Nazis and why do people conform?), memory (e.g. how do we create and store memories and are these memories reliable?), attachment (e.g. how do we form attachments and what impact do these attachments have on our later development?) and psychopathology (e.g. how do we define abnormality and treat those who suffer from mental illnesses?).
- In Paper 2 you will cover approaches in psychology (e.g. how do the different disciplines in psychology explain why humans behave the way they do?), biopsychology (e.g. explaining behaviour as a result of brain physiology and brain chemistry) and scientific processes (e.g. how to create ethical, reliable and valid experiments).
- In Paper 3 you will cover issues and debates in psychology (e.g. the nature-nurture debate — is human behaviour influenced more by genetic inheritance or the environment?), schizophrenia (e.g. what are the symptoms, causes and treatments of schizophrenia?), relationships (how and why are romantic relationships formed, maintained and breakdown?) and forensics (e.g. what are the different explanations of offending behaviour?).
Further Career Options
Career options are varied; there are many specific options for applied professional psychological careers such as Sports Psychology, Clinical, and Educational, Forensic, etc. Of course, the subject also contains many transferable skills applying to Law, Advertising, Media, Teaching, Public services and Business.