Faculty of Social Sciences

Head of Faculty
Ms J Cleaves

Curriculum Statement

The Psychology curriculum is designed to give a comprehensive and detailed introduction to a number of different fields within psychology. From KS4 to sixth form, students study a broad range of topics which peak interest and engage students. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and through theories, research and case studies students are able to develop their understanding of human behavior in a critical and thought-provoking way.

Year 10

Term 1 – 2
During these terms, students will explore the complexity of Criminal Behaviour. Students will explore different psychological arguments for this behaviour, research to both support and refute this and examine the role and function of punishing individuals. This culminates in exploring the divide between punishment & rehabilitation.

In addition to this, students will start to explore the important role of Research Methods within psychology. The scientific nature of the subject is analysed, focusing on the different types of experiments, variables and sampling techniques. This helps to support student understanding on how psychologists’ study human behaviour across an array of topics. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are discussed, analysed and evaluated.

Term 3 – 4
The topic of Development is explored across these terms. The concepts of brain and cognitive development are explored throughout life stages and how this impacts intelligence levels. How intelligence is measured and the concepts of fixed and growth mindsets are discussed. Students are exposed to important and classical research by Jean Piaget to support their understanding and more contemporary research to compare and contrast the current thinking on intelligence and learning.

In tandem, students explore the topic of Memory. Students look at explanations of memory and how fragile a person’s memory can be. The concept of forgetting and why we forget is covered in detail and how cues and triggers can support retrieval of information. The role of schemas and memory connections are explored through the use of real-life cases such as Clive Wearing – The man with only 7 seconds of memory. This supports previous learning from the research methods topic.

Term 5 – 6
Towards the latter part of Year 10, students apply their new and developing knowledge to their own research. Students will create their own psychological investigations and carry out this piece of primary research. This term focuses on modelling and practicing how to successfully plan, organise and carry out their own piece of research. Students will apply their knowledge of research methods and other topics in order to complete this.

Year 11

Term 1 – 2
As students enter Year 11, they have become more mature in their thinking and they will study the Psychological Problems topic. This is a topic focusing on mental ill-health and covers, in detail, the classification, symptoms, diagnosis, explanations and treatments for the mental health conditions of schizophrenia and depression. This can be an emotive topic so teaching is sensitive to this and discussions are respectful and informative.

Alongside this students cover the Sleep & Dreaming topic. Throughout this topic students look at the benefits of sleep, sleep hygiene techniques and the meaning of our dreams. Different explanations of dream analysis are looked at in detail and research to support/refute is discussed. Student’s are exposed to the workings of Freud, an important name in the field of psychology and his concepts of unconscious thoughts.

Term 3 – 4
Students finish the psychology curriculum by looking at the topic of Social Influence. Social psychology is the study of how groups and other people impact the behaviour of individuals. This fascinating topic looks at concepts such as conformity, obedience and deindividuation, in an attempt to explain why people’s behaviour often changes when part of a group. Knowledge is applied to contemporary case studies including the London Riots, 2011 to explain how this societal disobedience occurred and how social control was regained. This topic clearly demonstrates how psychology & its applications are present and useful in the real world.

Term 5- 6
Lessons are revision and exam technique focused. Students look at past exam questions & mark schemes and are given time for directed and independent revision to prepare for their final examinations in the subject.

Year 12

Term 1 – 2
Students start their A-level journey by looking at how psychology was founded and the varying approaches and branches within psychology. Students study the origins of psychology and the five main approaches of looking at human behaviour. This topic is the starting point to then explore further fields and topics in psychology. Different approaches are present in all topic areas.

At this time, students also start to explore the concept of Memory. Memory is part of cognitive psychology and allows students to apply their learning of one topic to another easily and start to build confidence in demonstrating synoptic links. The process of memory, forgetting and revision techniques are all covered within this topic. This supports students learning moving forward as they know the importance of rehearsal and retrieval when studying.

 Term 3 – 4
The topic of Attachment is covered by looking at the stages when an attachment develops, attachments within the animal kingdom and the contrasting explanations on the role and importance of human attachment. Students are exposed to famous unethical research and real-life examples of child scandals such as the Romanian Orphan scandal of the 1990s. This is a sensitive and thought-provoking topic which supports the development and understanding of child psychology.

In addition, Psychopathology is also covered during this time. This exposes students to the field of clinical psychology and students look at definitions of abnormality & characteristics of OCD and depression. Students explore the varying explanations for these conditions and the differing treatments available. Phobias are also covered within the topic and possible therapies available to support an individual to overcome these.

Term 5 – 6
Students look at the topic of Social Influence. This builds upon knowledge learnt in the GCSE specification. Social psychology is the study of how groups and other people impact the behaviour of individuals. During this topic we explore reasons for obedience, conformity and social change. The processes of social change are explored & students are exposed to classical research by infamous psychologists such as Solomon Asch, Stanley Milgram & Phillip Zimbardo. Knowledge is applied to historical case studies such as the Holocaust and WW2 to showcase real-world applications.

In tandem, Biopsychology is also covered during this term. The scientific nature of psychology is explored and students study the nervous system, areas of the brain and synaptic transmission. The concept of Fight v Flight is also explored. This supports the biological approach of psychology and indicates how psychology is a science.

Year 13

Term 1 – 2
In Year 13, students start to apply their learning from Year 12 to particular issues within psychology. Within forensic psychology lessons, students cover offender profiling, explanations of criminality and the varying punishments available for convicted offenders. Teachings from the approaches topic are applied to criminal behaviour and real-life case studies such as Ted Bundy are explored. Students are encouraged to explore various examples and their attitudes around restorative justice, retribution and rehabilitation.

Within the term students also explore the important topic of Research Methods. During this we look at the scientific nature of the subject focusing on both quantitative and qualitative methods of research. Each research method is analysed and evaluated and students are taught subject specific research terminology. This helps to support student understanding on how psychologists’ study human behaviour across an array of topics.

Terms 3 – 4
At this point in the curriculum, students study the Schizophrenia topic. Within the topic, students become knowledgeable on the prevalence of the condition, symptoms and how the condition is diagnosed. Biological and psychological explanations of schizophrenia are explored, along with supporting research and treatments. These are critically evaluated and the current thinking of Diathesis-stress is explored.

In addition, students continue their Research Methods and Biopsychology topics. Students cover the more advanced and challenging parts of these topics, including looking at statistical testing and function of the brain. Students build upon their previous knowledge to develop their holistic understanding on these topics.

Term 4 – 5
Students finish their learning journey by looking at the topics of Gender and Issues and Debates. Gender is a contemporary topic allowing students to gain an insight into the difference between sex and gender & how a person forms their gender identity. Concepts such as gender dysphoria, gender neutral behaviour and androgyny are covered. Explanations for gender development are explored and critically evaluated.

Issues and Debates summarises the key debates within psychology and look to apply these to other topics studied. Debates looked at include: reductionism v holism, free will v determinism and nature v nurture. Students develop a solid understanding of the main principles underpinning these and showcase synoptic links of these debates to topics covered. Issues and Debates is the last topic taught in the specification to allow students to fully apply their previous learning to various debates.

Term 6
Students complete their final Students make final preparations for their upcoming examinations. Students sit final examinations. Three papers, 2 hours each in length.

For more information, please utilize the following:

Subject Lead: Mrs Price – rprice@sflt.org.uk

Head of Faculty: Ms Cleaves – jcleaves@sflt.org.uk

Exam board website – AQA – https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/psychology/as-and-a-level/psychology-7181-7182

Tutor 2U revision site – https://www.tutor2u.net/psychology