Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. It is a multifaceted subject which includes a wide range of sub-fields, such as human development, neuroscience, clinical psychology, social influence and cognitive processes. The aim of psychology is to understand people and their behaviour better in order to promote universal psychological wellbeing.

Psychology is really a new science, with most advances happening over the past 150 years or so. However, its origins can be traced back to Ancient Greece, 400-500 years BC, when the emphasis was a philosophical one. Philosophers used to discuss many topics now studied by modern psychology, such as memory, free will and attraction. Today, psychologists still debate controversial issues within the field, in order to evolve the discipline, such as gender & cultural bias, nature-nurture, reductionism-holism and the use (and abuse) of psychological findings and theories in society.

As a science, Psychology attempts to investigate the causes of behaviour using systematic and objective procedures for observation, measurement and analysis, backed up by theoretical interpretations, generalisations, explanations and predictions. There is an emphasis on quantitative and qualitative data analysis, including statistics so that theories have a reliable and valid impact on people’s lives.

A Level Psychology (Edexcel)
• The specification can be found at: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/psychology-2015.html
• The course-companion website can be found at: https://www.psychologywizard.net/
Girls will sit three papers at the end of UVI, each two hours long:

Foundations in Psychology (paper 1)
This unit introduces the Social, Cognitive, Biological and Learning approaches in Psychology. It will include areas such as obedience and prejudice, memory and forgetting, structure of the brain, role of genes and theories of learning. Girls will carry out their own studies and critically analyse key issues in society such as ‘how to reduce prejudice and rioting behaviour’, ‘should we use drugs to treat aggression?’ and ‘the role of the media in the development of eating disorders’.

Applications of Psychology (paper 2)
This focuses on the application of Psychology in the areas of Child and Clinical Psychology. The child psychology topic includes areas such as attachment theory, cross-cultural studies, Autistic Spectrum Disorders and applying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) and ethical guidelines to ensure research with children is ethical and beneficial. The clinical psychology topic focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, including the issues with doing so. We focus on Unipolar Depression and Schizophrenia, and look at a range of explanations and treatments in order to evaluate which would work best for different people, alongside studying the ethical and practitioner guidelines that the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) requires psychologists to adhere to. This is an excellent opportunity for girls to understand the ‘real-life’ roles a psychologist may have in different career spheres.

Psychological Skills (paper 3)
This paper is entirely synoptic and requires students to apply the concepts and findings from papers 1 and 2, to novel scenarios. There is an emphasis on issues and debates, such as ‘Is Psychology a Science?’ and ‘Understanding the role of both nature and nurture in Psychology’.

Research Methods and Maths Skills
In all papers/areas of study there is a focus on research methods and synoptic skills through which students will develop an understanding of how to use theories and evidence from many areas of psychology and apply them to the issues. The mathematical requirements can be found in Appendix 3 of the Edexcel specification document.

Quotations can provide us with insight into understanding ourselves, inspiration for how to achieve greater personal fulfilment, and pointers for achieving our goals:

'Education survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten' B.F. Skinner (1904-1990).

The authors of great quotes often have dual interests. Like Pavlov and James, B.F. Skinner dabbled in areas outside of his own discipline. Skinner developed a philosophy of education that he expressed in his book, Walden Two. According to Skinner, you can build a society entirely on the basis of positive reinforcement. In this quote about education, Skinner expresses the sentiment that resonates with all teachers. We can teach you the specifics of our subject matter, but we hope, on a larger scale, to inspire you to seek continued enlightenment: a love of learning for the sake of learning.

'I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have' Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865).

If you didn't know that Lincoln authored this quote, you might think that another Abraham - namely Abraham Maslow - was its author. According to Maslow's self-actualization theory, we strive to achieve our inner potential which may or may not result in success. The 'light we have' is our unique ability to become the best we can be.

'Don't become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin' Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936).

Nobel-prize winning physiologist Pavlov was certainly someone who penetrated the mysteries of behaviour and this quote captures the essence of the scientific method. Whether you are a scientist or not, looking beneath the surface is excellent advice. Understanding the 'mysteries' going on around you, can help you keep your brain and mind in top condition.

Mrs Ellie Waldron (Head of Department)