Component 1: Research methods
This introduces the world of psychological research methods. Students are required to conduct their own practical work which they reflect on in the exam.
You will develop a knowledge and understanding of the processes of planning, conducting, analysing and reporting psychological research across a range of experimental and non-experimental methods and techniques and also gain an awareness of associated strengths and weaknesses. You will also be expected to carry out mathematical procedures and statistical analysis on your own data.
You will learn about the four main techniques for collecting/analysing data. These are:
- self report
Component 2: Psychological themes through core studies
This introduces key themes and core studies in psychology.
Section A: Core studies
There are ten pairs of studies to be covered over the two-year course; one is a classic study in psychology, the other is a contemporary study. This helps to place research in its historical context. Each pair is located within a key theme.
You will look at:
- how the two studies are similar and how they are different
- the strengths and weaknesses of the different research methods
- the strengths and weaknesses of different types of data
- how each core study relates to its key theme and to the area of psychology it is placed within.
The studies include:
- an experiment which explores the mental world of autistic people
- a staged collapse on a tube train to see what factors influence people's decisions to help
- disobedience and whistle blowing
- improving adherence of children with rewards
- a comparison of regions of the brain linked with navigation skills in taxi drivers and non-taxi drivers
- evaluation of lying and tuth telling
Section B: Areas, perspectives and debates
You will have to understand and evaluate some of the areas and debates within psychological research, recognising which studies demonstrate a particular area/perspective/debate.
Areas include: Social, cognitive, developmental, biological, individual indifferences
Perspectivies: Behaviourist, psychodynamic
Debates include: Nature/nurture, freewill/determinism, usefulness of research, ethical considerations, psychology as a science
Section B questions will ask you to generate an extended discussion, recognising the inter-relationship between different areas, perspectives and debates in psychology.
Section C: Practical applications
You will apply your knowledge and understanding of psychology to a novel source. The source could be a newspaper or magazine article, a blog, a diary entry, email exchange or equivalent written source.
You will be asked to link it to a psychological issue and use evidence to make a suggestion relating to the source.
Component 3: Applied psychology
Section A: Issues in mental health
This is a compulsory section which provides an introduction to the topic of mental health. It includes:
- The historical context of mental health. This covers issues such as how do we define and categorise mental health, what are typical characteristics of an anxiety/affective/psychotic disorder
- The medical model. This focusses on biological and genetic explanations and treatments for disorders.
- Alternatives to the medical model: behaviourist/cognitive explanations and treatments
Section B: Two applied areas:
- intelligence and how it is measured
- brain development and risk taking behaviour
- cognitive development and education
- the impact of advertising on children
- perceptual development in babies
- what makes a criminal - predictors
- forensics eg. crime scene processing and reconstruction
- collection of evidence from witnesses
- jury decision making
- punishment and reform
- crime prevention
You will cover the background to each topic, a key piece of research and how it can be applied in the real world.
You will gain an understanding of the methodological issues and debates in psychology which run throughout the component eg. nature/nurture debate, ethical considerations, Psychology as a science, freewill/determinism
Component 1 Research Methods
Exam 2 hours 30%
Section A 20 multiple choice questions
Section B Research design and response relating to source material given.
Section C Data analysis and interpretation
Component 2 Psychological themes through core studies
Exam 2 hours 35%
Section A Short answer questions on the core studies
Section B Areas, perspectives and debates: a structured essay question
Section C Practical applications: longer answer questions relating to a novel source
Component 3 Applied Psychology
Exam 2 hours 35%
Section A Issues in mental health
Section B Criminal Psychology, Child Psychology
Both sections have questions requiring extended written responses.
The course demands a high standard of verbal and written English, creative thought, analytical skills and numerical ability. A grade 5 in English and Maths and at least a grade 5 in one Science is required to study Psychology at A level. However, it is also important to have an interest in people and in what motivates them to behave in certain ways.
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