Welcome to Psychology!

Miss Rogers: Director of Sixth Form & Teacher of Psychology & Sociology

I’m a dog lover. I like other animals too, but it has to be said, dogs are just the best. Last November, I awoke on a Saturday morning to a very moving story being told on Radio 5 Live. It was being told very eloquently by Mark Woods, owner of Walnut (a whippet), who was about to embark on his last walk on a beach in Cornwall. Mark, broken hearted, put a message out on Social Media to the dog walkers who knew Walnut, inviting them to take part in Walnut’s final walk.



What happened?   See for yourself:

So what does this have to do with studying Psychology? Well, Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. Ever wondered why people behave in the way that they do? How animals can affect our physiology and make us feel good? Why some people will go out of their way to be kind and help others while others will commit the most heinous crimes imaginable?

If so, you might be a budding psychologist and this might be the course for you.

What do we study in Psychology?

We study the AQA course in Psychology. In the 2 year A level course, we study a variety of topics which enable you to understand the motivation behind human behaviour. The course outline is included below. Further details can be found on the AQA website.

Social influence – why do we go along with others even when we don’t agree with them? How easy is it to get your friends to agree with you if you are in the minority? Why do we obey people in authority when they ask us to do something? You will investigate the famous psychological studies that have shaped our thoughts about how we can socialise with others. 


Dr Philip Zimbardo - The Stanford Prison Study    


Memory – how does our memory work? What is the difference between short term and long term memory? How can people with brain damage help our understanding of how our memory functions? Can we be reliable eyewitnesses? The importance of how psychology can be applied to everyday life will also be discussed.


 Elizabeth Loftus: The World’s Leading Memory Expert & Clive Wearing: The Man with the 7 Second Memory

Video Material - See Elizabeth Loftus’ TED talk on ‘How reliable is your Memory?’

Clive Wearing – The Man with the 7 Second Memory

Attachment – why is attachment to a parent so important to us for our psychological health? What happens when attachments go wrong? How can we measure attachment scientifically? What interventions can we make with families who are having difficulties with parenting and how might this benefit society?




Harry Harlow: Attachment in rhesus monkeys and Mary Ainsworth: The Strange Situation

Interested? Ainsworth slideshare information & Strange Situation video:

Psychopathology – Why is being scared different from having a phobia?   How do we diagnose depression?   In what ways can we help those suffering with OCD?   This unit will investigate these questions and look at the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions in the treatment of these disorders.

For further information on OCD:


Approaches in Psychology – where does our behaviour come from? Is it nature or nurture?   While the biological approach suggests our behaviour might be a result of our genes/hormones/brain structure, the Behaviourist approach argues that all our behaviour is learned.   Which is correct?   We will be comparing all the different schools of psychological thought to try and answer this (impossible) question.

George Miller (1956), Cognitive Psychology.  Memory: The Magic Number 7”


J.B Watson (1920), Behaviourism.  “How to induce a phobia in a young child”

Biopsychologywhat do we mean by brain plasticity?   Can our brain ‘re-wire’ itself if damaged?   What have we learned from ‘split-brain’ patients regarding how our brain controls our behaviour?   Can you survive if one of the hemispheres in your brain is missing?   Can the brain heal itself?   What happens psychologically and physiologically when we fail to get enough sleep?

Video Material

Brain plasticity: The story of Jodie (5 min clip) -

The brain that changes itself: Dr Norman Doige – Psychiatrist and researcher. (Fascinating sight into neuroplasticity) -

Why do we Sleep? -

Research Methods – how do psychologists study human behaviour?  Is Psychology a science?  How do we use statistics to support our hypotheses?  Why are laboratory experiments important as a form of research?  You will undertake small tasks of your own to test various aspects of behaviour as you go through the course.  There is an element of maths in this module and calculations will be necessary.

Issues in Psychology – In this unit we will consider ethics and why we need to be aware of treating people with respect and dignity when we study them.   We will look at some of the debates surrounding psychology, including do we have freewill or is all our behaviour determined?   What is the difference between idiographic and nomothetic research? Why is Psychology so important to society?

Sam Harris : Author -

Forensic Psychology – Why do individuals commit crime?  Is it a result of nature or nurture?   What is offender profiling and why does Britain have a different system from America? Does body type affect offending behaviour?   Why does psychopathy come from?   Do prisons really work?   These and other questions will be posed in this unit – a must for anybody considering a career in probation.

Jim Fallon: Professor of Psychiatry – University of California

Video material

Jim Fallon: Exploring the Mind of a Killer – TED talk -

Prezi presentation: Canter and offender profiling -

Gender – There is a lot of information in the media regarding gender stereotyping and the issues faced by transgender individuals.  We will look at the difference between sex and gender, consider where and how we learn our gender behaviour along with the difficulties faced by the transgender community in this unit.   We will look at the tragic story of David Reimer, the ‘boy who was turned into a girl’.

The Story of David Reimer -

Eating Behaviour – why do we prefer sweet and salty foods to others?  Why do animals have a preference for salt?  What is food neophobia and how has it been investigated in children?  What role do hormones have in regulating our appetite?  What are the psychological explanations for anorexia nervosa?  Is there a gene for obesity?

Elephants journey to find salt -

Useful websites

Exam board and information regarding the course and assessment -

 British Psychological Society (can sign up for a free online research digest to get up to date information about the world of Psychology) -

TED talks on all academic subjects including Psychology -

Collection of website addresses to find out more about Psychology: -

Great Psychological Recommended Reads -

Films with a Psychological theme -

Where can an A level in Psychology lead?

Many of my previous A level students have loved the subject so much they have continued to study it as undergraduates (first degree) postgraduates (Master’s degree and Doctorate level). My students have gone to universities in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath, London and Swansea to name but a few and I’m even contacted regularly by a student I taught many years ago who is an Occupational Psychologist, living and working in Hong Kong.

An A level in Psychology offers many transferable skills. Evaluation, analysis, scrutiny of data and attention to detail are valuable skills utilised in all professions. Specifically, psychology is advantageous to professions including social work, working in the Police force, teaching, journalism, nursing, civil service, local government, politics and Health and Social care.

Emma: graduated from University of Wales Cardiff. BSc (Hons) 2:1  The year after obtaining her undergraduate degree, she went on to complete an MSc in Psychology at University College London.

Each year, a new group leave my Y13 classes and venture into the world of Psychology at University. I’ll leave you with the thoughts and viewpoints from my 2017 budding undergraduates. Good luck to them and all students in the months ahead in preparation for the exams.

Y13 Students 2017: Daniel Julke, Ellie Hathaway, Charlie Jones and Molly Riddell.

“My name is Molly Riddell and I am Head Girl at Newent Community School. I am hoping to study Psychology BSc (Hons) at Bath Spa University in September 2017. I believe that psychology is an important element in all our lives and that the ability to understand why people behave the way they do is invaluable. I find the subject fascinating and am particularly interested in areas like social and developmental psychology, behaviour and disorders. For my year 12 work experience, I went to ‘Headway House’, a charity which enhances the lives of people who have suffered a brain injury, I have helped patients perform a range of cognitive and physical tasks, this reconfirmed my desire to study psychology at degree level and I regularly volunteer there. I have also decided to investigate strokes for my Extended Project Qualification, focusing on the history and future of stroke rehabilitation and the development of new technology in treating stroke victims. “

“After Sixth Form, I hope to go on to do a course in Psychology with Forensics at the University of Lincoln. I chose this subject as many of the topics in Psychology interest me, particularly studying the criminal mind and behaviour of offenders. In the future, I hope to be working with the police force or in a prison environment rehabilitating offenders.”  Charlie Jones

For further information about the course, please contact:

Miss Lissa Rogers (Director of Sixth Form) 

Miss Catherine Llewellyn (Head of Social Sciences)

Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre, Registered in England and Wales under number 08153177. Registered Office: Watery Lane,Newent,Gloucestershire GL18 1QF
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