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Psychology at Rugby High School

Psychology encourages students to explore why people think, feel and behave the way they do. We study the different approaches to psychology, enabling students to explore the different theories which attempt to explain why we do what we do. We critically examine all explanations, assessing the strengths and weaknesses, and considering how the explanations could be usefully applied to the real world. Students also have the opportunity to conduct their own research learning through hands-on experience the challenges and opportunities of collecting and analysing their own data from experiments, questionnaires and observations. We focus on specific fields of psychology, such as clinical psychology and we examine possible explanations and treatments for schizophrenia and unipolar depression. Child psychology enables students to explore topical issues such as attachment styles, cultural differences in childrearing and the impact of day care on child development. Throughout the course we facilitate discussions, encouraging students to have an open mind and maintaining a respectful attitude when learning about potentially sensitive subjects, thus developing students who are able to think as psychologists and take their learning out into the world.

Overview of the course

The course covers a wide range of topics, starting with memory, obedience and prejudice, and moving on to three approaches in Psychology: the Psychodynamic, the Biological and the Learning Approaches. Each unit has a key issue which is current and relevant; and also a short practical investigation. This is not assessed as coursework: instead, an exam question will assess students’ understanding of the research they have carried out.

Course Outline

The A Level course covers an introduction to the main Approaches in Psychology (Social, Cognitive, Biological and Learning Theories), by concentrating on one topic area in each.

  • Social Psychology looks at the origins of obedience and prejudice.
  • Cognitive Psychology looks at memory and problems such as Dementia and Dyslexia.
  • Biological Psychology looks at the brain and competing explanations for behaviours such as aggression.
  • Learning Theory looks at how behaviour is learned, such as phobias.

The second year course covers two more additional topics:

  • Clinical Psychology (mental illness, treatments etc)
  • Child Development.

The third exam paper will test your Mathematics and Science skills in Psychology and also looks into psychological Debates and Issues in more depth.

Psychology is taught and assessed as a science, and so has a significant statistics component, which students need to master to learn how to gather and analyse data from research studies.  By covering research methodology and data analysis, and examining how science works, your maths skills will develop significantly.

Who should consider Psychology?

Psychology is a worthwhile course for those interested in a career which involves working with people. Careers where Psychology would be useful include medicine, law, social work, occupational therapy, speech therapy, teaching, business management, advertising, media and, personnel management.


Psychology is seen as an excellent preparation for higher education courses such as, Psychology, Social Sciences, Sociology, Politics, Economics, Medicine, Philosophy, Business, Law and Media, to name just a few.

Entry requirements

To gain a place on this course you will need to get at least a grade 6 in GCSE English (because there are exam questions which require extended writing skills), and a minimum grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics, (because there is a significant maths content in the A level course).  It is not necessary to have studied Psychology before.