Overview of Psychology at OLA
Psychology is a subject that is offered only in the Sixth Form at OLA. The key focus is the analysis of human behaviour. It is classed as a science and is studied in a disciplined way using empirical research and data analysis. Students must be prepared to accept that multiple and often contradictory explanations are given credence and validity within this discipline. A certain amount of uncertainty is inevitable and indeed is one of the things that make this subject exciting.
We have two designated rooms in the Sixth Form centre packed with a wealth of resources and two specialist teachers.
Sixth Form Psychology Curriculum
AQA A Level Psychology Specification Code 7182
In the first section of the specification, students study four separate topics drawn from different areas of the subject:
- Social Influence which examines the forces that shape human behaviour in a group context and theories of causation concerning obedience and conformity.
- Memory and how the brain encodes, stores and accesses information
- Attachment which is the aspect of developmental psychology concerned with the effect that early attached experiences impact on adult cognitive and emotional development.
- Psychopathology which assess how mental illness is diagnosed, explained and treated
Students are expected to amass knowledge of psychological theories of causation through an examination of empirical research studies. They are expected to be conversant with research and be able to analyse and evaluate the methodology and importance of such studies.
In the second section of the course the first topic considered is Approaches which seeks to examine how Psychologists from different schools of thought seek to explain behavioural phenomena. Biopsychology is concerned with the biological mechanisms that underpin our behaviour and much attention is paid to brain neuroanatomy, the role of the nervous and endocrine systems and the regulation of biorhythms. This part of the course also looks at the Research Methods that social scientists use to gather data, design research projects and analyse data to support proposed hypotheses. It is here that a competence in Mathematics, especially Statistics, is vital.
In the final section of the course students study three separate topics of Schizophrenia, Aggression and Relationships. Lastly, the topic entitled Issues and Debates tackles some of the big debates which run through the whole of the course. Students will examine the Free Will/Determinism debate and consider the extent to which our choices are free or the result of biological or environmental factors that shape our behaviour. Other areas that need to be tackled include the Nature/Nurture debate, cultural and ethical issues and gender bias within research.
The course is assessed by three written exams at the end Sixth Form:-
Paper 1: Introductory topics in Psychology: 2 hours: 33.3% of the total A Level marks
Paper 2: Psychology in context: 2 hours: 33.3% of the total A Level marks
Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology: 2 hours: 33.3% of the total A Level marks.
Trips for Psychology
At present, the Lower Sixth students visit London Zoo in the Trinity Term to attend a Phobias workshop with a clinical hypnotherapist. This trip ties in with the Psychopathology topic studied.
Co-curricular Activities in Psychology
Students are encouraged to attend McAuley Society talks at OLA where they are relevant and any specialised lectures in Oxford if they are available.
Revised February 2017