If you have ever wondered why people behave in the way they do then Psychology is the course for you. You will discover, and start to unravel, the very complex relationship between our mental processes and our behaviour. You will find that understanding human nature often raises more questions than answers, and you will never see anyone (including yourself) in quite the same light again!
To succeed at A-level you will need a willingness to participate actively in what can sometimes become very heated class debates. You will need the self-discipline to read widely around the topics from a variety of sources. Logical argument, critical thinking and analytical skills are essential and will certainly develop throughout the course. Psychology is a science-based subject, therefore throughout the course you will gain a thorough understanding about research methods used in Psychology.
The Pearson Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in Psychology is structured into nine topic areas. Topics 1 – 4 are compulsory and focus on the areas that have laid the foundations of modern psychological understanding. These are Social, Cognitive, Biological and Learning Approaches. Topics 5 – 8 focus on how our understanding of psychology is applied today. Topic 5 (Clinical Psychology) is compulsory. One topic from 6, 7 or 8 must be studied. This will either be Developmental Psychology or Criminology. Finally, Topic 9 summarises the psychological skills and research methods covered in the qualification.
This qualification consists of three externally examined papers at the end of the two year period.
Incorporation of practicals and how science works.
A practical focus is embedded within Edexcel GCE Psychology. A series of short and manageable practical experiments and tests accompany the first four approaches and allow students to develop an active knowledge of the scientific aspects of psychology.
Qualification aims and objectives
The aims and objectives of the Pearson Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in Psychology are to enable students to:
- Develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other
- Develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods
- Develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem-solving skills
- Develop their interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject
- Appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society
First Year Topic Areas
Social Psychology: Students must show understanding that social psychology is about aspects of human behaviour that involve the individual’s relationship to other persons, groups and society, including cultural influences on behaviour. Individual differences and developmental psychology must be considered when learning about obedience, prejudice, personality and cultural influences on social behaviour.
Cognitive Psychology: Students must show understanding that cognitive psychology is about the role of cognition/cognitive processes in human behaviour. Processes include perception, memory, selective attention, language and problem solving. The cognitive topic area draws on the likeness of cognitive processing to computer processing.
Individual differences and developmental psychology must be considered when learning about memory differences, memory deficits and how this develops as the brain ages.
Biological Psychology: Students must show an understanding that biological psychology is about the mechanisms within our body and understand how they affect our behaviour, focusing on aggression. Individual differences and developmental psychology must be considered when learning about issues such as aggression caused by an accident and how the function of structures of the brain can be affected by the environment.
Learning Theories: Students must show an understanding that learning theories are about learning from the environment and of the effects of conditioning, reinforcement, punishment, the role of reward and social learning on the organism.
Individual differences and developmental psychology must be considered when learning about the effect of rewards and punishment on individuals and how children develop through the different ways of learning, including social learning.
What to study it with?
A-level Psychology will complement any combination of subjects. It is welcomed as a science subject by many universities and is very relevant to degree courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Teaching, Business, and Applied Medical fields.