Our aim is to produce Psychologists of the future who are going to influence the community around them in their later lives. They must be curious and know how their work is applicable to the wider world. Our students will enjoy challenge and will show thought and resilience when faced with psychological questions. A good psychologist has a clear understanding of the core concepts and can use this knowledge to apply it to a wide range of situations both practically and written. Our curriculum promotes resilience, independence, and organisation. Our learners are scientifically literate and are able to articulate their knowledge and thinking in many different ways. We are keen to make outstanding scientists who are able to complete an experiment from beginning to end. They will be skilled with a wide range of research methods and will be able to select the correct method for the relevant research questions. Our curriculum encourages and facilitates further studies or potential careers in the subject, whilst empowering students to have a greater appreciation and awareness of Psychology related issues in the world around them.
How does Key Stage 4 prepare students for Key Stage 5?
Psychology isn’t taught at GCSE level however there are many cross-curricular links.
Biology – function and anatomy of the brain, neurons, neurotransmitters, synaptic transmission, endocrine system, hormones etc and their effect on behaviour.
Philosophy and ethics- determinism v free will debate, equality and diversity.
RS – empathy and understanding.
Maths – use of statistics to understand significance and analysis of experimental research.
When do they study the topics?
Autumn Term (Sept-Dec)
- Social Influence
Spring term (Jan – Easter)
- Approaches & Bio-Psychology
Summer term (Easter-July)
Autumn Term (Sept-Dec)
- Bio-Psychology – year 2 content
- Issues and debates
Spring term (Jan – Easter)
- Issues and Debates
Summer term (Easter-July)
- Revision & exams.
Why do we study it in that order?
The KS5 curriculum follows the AQA A Level Psychology specification 2015.
All topics are built upon previous content in each topic, particularly approaches, issues and debates and research methods which are referred to and taught throughout the course. The order in which the topics are delivered to students helps with recall of knowledge but also development of many practical skills needed for the world of work, including application of theory.
All students will sit assessments at the end of each topic to address misconceptions and facilitate appropriate teacher interventions whilst also focussing on previously taught content.
How do you ensure students embed knowledge? What do you revisit? When do you revisit it?
Knowledge is tested formatively in class through questioning, quizzes, etc. At the end of each topic, students are required to complete an end of unit test - ‘Do it Now’ tasks – often check understanding from previous lessons. Students are required to attempt 16 mark exam questions in timed conditions for revision purposes.
How do your curriculum choices contribute to the student’s cultural capital?
Approaches - Getting students to understand a basic viewpoint of why people behave in certain ways and how we learn forms the foundations of many explanations across the rest of the topics.
Biopsychology - Students will start to understand some of their own behaviour and relate to everyday situations (e.g. Fight or flight response) and how they can manage themselves in certain situations.
Psychopathology - From studying this, students will become aware of very common mental health illnesses, which are on the rise in today’s society, especially in their age group. Students will (hopefully), form an understanding and develop compassion and patience for individuals with those illnesses, whilst maybe feeling comfortable enough to support their peers should they see any signs or symptoms.
Memory - An understanding of how our memory works will give an opportunity for students to reflect upon their own memory patterns and enable them to apply this to revision techniques.
Social Influence - Students will understand conformity and why people conform or obey. They will be able to apply this to making sense of history and other social issues, e.g. bullying, ‘mob’ mentality and peer pressure.
Attachment - This will help students to understand their own attachments and reflect on current relationships. This should help students understand the importance of maintaining key relationships, particularly at such significant stages of their lives.
Issues and Debates - Knowledge on the current issues & debates throughout psychology will build on their critical thinking skills and prepare them for a career in any social sciences field. This will also give them a greater understanding of the issues still faced in today’s society and how important it is for research to be carried out correctly and ethically in order to keep the reputation of psychology (e.g. understanding cultural and gender bias in research; the impacts of this and when it is needed). This will also hopefully give students an appreciation of other cultures and learn to accept behaviour that differs from our own.
Schizophrenia - Building on from knowledge learnt in psychopathology, students will begin to understand more complex and severe mental illnesses. Again, this will give students the opportunity to appreciate how common this is and be more sensitive to the issue. Education here should also help reduce the stigma surrounding ill mental health.
Gender - Students will begin to understand why males differ from females in terms of both biology and the influence of society. The topic of gender dysphoria enables students to understand the complexity of behaviour and the possible reasons for it to gain a deeper understanding. Learning more about gender and sex and how we see ourselves can help increase understanding and help students establish their own gender identity.
Aggression – Students will understand the risk factors for aggression including prevention and intervention. Students will recognise the strong influence of viewing violence on TV and in video games, can increase aggression.
How do you prepare students for learning beyond Key Stage 5?
- Subscription to the British Psychological Society (BPS)
- Students have access to current articles, recent psychological developments and further study/career opportunities
- Careers guide from BPS on school website.
- Career information posters displayed in the classroom
By the end of Key Stage 5 our students will know:
The multi-store model of memory: sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory; Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration; Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural; The working memory model: central executive, phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity; Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to absence of cues; Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: misleading information, including leading questions and post-event discussion; anxiety; Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.
Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father; Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow; Explanations of attachment: learning theory and Bowlby’s monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model; Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’. Types of attachment: secure, insecure avoidant and insecure-resistant; Cultural variations in attachment, including van Ijzendoorn; Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation; The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.
3) Social Influence
Types of conformity: internalisation, identification, and compliance. Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence, and variables affecting conformity; including group size, unanimity and task difficulty as investigated by Asch; Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo; Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram; Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality; Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control; Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility; The role of social influence processes in social change
Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health; The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias: the two-process model, including classical and operant conditioning; systematic desensitisation, including relaxation and use of hierarchy; flooding; The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression: Beck’s negative triad and Ellis’s ABC; model; cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), including challenging irrational thoughts; The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.
Learning approaches: the behaviourist approach, including classical conditioning and Pavlov’s research, operant conditioning, types of reinforcement and Skinner’s research; social learning theory including imitation, identification, modelling, vicarious reinforcement, the role of mediational processes and Bandura’s research; The cognitive approach: the study of internal mental processes, the role of schema, the use of theoretical and computer models to explain and make inferences about mental processes. The emergence of cognitive neuroscience; The biological approach: the influence of genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour. Genotype and phenotype, genetic basis of behaviour, evolution and behaviour; The psychodynamic approach: the role of the unconscious, the structure of personality, that is ID, ego and superego, defence mechanisms including repression, denial and displacement, psychosexual stages; Humanistic psychology: free will, self-actualisation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, focus on the self, congruence, the role of conditions of worth. The influence on counselling psychology; Comparison of approaches.
The divisions of the nervous system: central and peripheral (somatic and autonomic); The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic; transmission, including reference to neurotransmitters, excitation and inhibition; The function of the endocrine system: glands and hormones; The fight or flight response including the role of adrenaline; Localisation of function in the brain and hemispheric lateralisation: motor, somatosensory, visual, auditory and language centres; Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, split brain research. Plasticity and functional recovery of the brain after trauma; Ways of studying the brain: scanning techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); electroencephalogram (EEGs) and event-related potentials (ERPs); post-mortem examinations; Biological rhythms: circadian, infradian and ultradian and the difference between these rhythms. The effect of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle.
7) Research Methods
Experimental method. Types of experiment, laboratory, and field experiments; natural and quasi experiments; Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation; Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured; Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments; Content analysis; Case studies. Quantitative and qualitative data; the distinction between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques; Primary and secondary data, including meta-analysis; Descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency – mean, median, mode; calculation of mean, median and mode; measures of dispersion; range and standard deviation; calculation of range; calculation of percentages; positive, negative and zero correlations; Presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scattergrams, bar charts, histograms; Distributions: normal and skewed distributions; characteristics of normal and skewed distributions; Analysis and interpretation of correlation, including correlation coefficients; Levels of measurement: nominal, ordinal and interval; Content analysis and coding. Thematic analysis.
8) Issues and debates
Gender and culture in psychology – universality and bias. Gender bias including androcentrism and alpha and beta bias; cultural bias, including ethnocentrism and cultural relativism; Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations; The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach; Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in psychology. Biological reductionism and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism; Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation; Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity.
9) Gender Sex-role stereotypes. Androgyny and measuring androgyny including the Bem Sex Role Inventory. The role of chromosomes and hormones (testosterone, oestrogen, and oxyto-cin) in sex and gender. Atypical sex chromosome patterns: Klinefelter’s syndrome and Turner’s syndrome. Cognitive explanations of gender development, Kohlberg’s theory, gender identi-ty, gender stability and gender constancy; gender schema theory. Psychodynamic explanation of gender development, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, Oedipus complex; Electra complex; identi-fication and internalisation. Social learning theory as applied to gender development. The influ-ence of culture and media on gender roles. Atypical gender development: gender dysphoria; biological and social explanations for gender dysphoria.
Classification of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including speech poverty and avolition. Reliability and validity in diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia, including reference to co-morbidity, culture and gender bias and symptom overlap; Biological explanations for schizophrenia: genetics, the dopamine hypothesis and neural correlates; Psychological explanations for schizophrenia: family dysfunction and cognitive explanations, including dysfunctional thought processing; Drug therapy: typical and atypical antipsychotics; Cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy as used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Token economies as used in the management of schizophrenia; The importance of an interactionist approach in explaining and treating schizophrenia; the diathesis stress model.
Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression, including the roles of the limbic system, serotonin, and testosterone. Genetic factors in aggression, including the MAOA gene. The ethological explanation of aggression, including reference to innate releasing mechanisms and fixed action patterns. Evolutionary explanations of human aggression; Social psychological explanations of human aggression, including the frustration aggression hypothesis, social learning theory as applied to human aggression, and deindividuation; Institutional aggression in the context of prisons: dispositional and situational explanations; Media influences on aggression, including the effects of computer games. The role of desensitisation, disinhibition, and cognitive priming