The Psychology Department at Warminster aims to impassion pupils in the complexity and wonder of the human mind, brain and behaviour. How do we learn? Why do we dream? What is intelligence? Why do we have emotions? Is conformity a bad thing? Is there a limit to our memory? Are drugs the best way to treat mental illness? What makes some people turn to crime? How does our brain actually work?
An academic discipline of immense scope, psychology aims to answer the highly complex question of why we do what we do. The goal of studying psychology is to better understand, predict and sometimes manipulate both individual and group behaviour, thoughts and feelings. The applications are incredibly far-reaching, whether it be helping an individual make better decisions, improve their memory, have greater compassion for others and live more healthily and happily in a multi-cultural society, or whether it is focused on much broader issues, for example, dealing with pandemics, violence, the rise of artificial intelligence and climate change.
Both the AQA and IB courses have at their core an exploration of sociocultural, cognitive and biological approaches in psychology that interact to produce a holistic understanding of human behaviour. There are dozens of fascinating topics within each approach, including conformity, obedience, memory, decision-making, brain plasticity, genetics and attachment. The second year of both courses then dives into more concrete applications of the theories above in areas such as forensic psychology, romantic relationships, child development and psychopathology (mental illnesses).
There are a couple of overarching themes in both courses. One of these is research methods where pupils are encouraged to take part in and develop their own experiments and investigations (coursework for IB and examined with AQA). These include laboratory and field experiments, observations, surveys and content analysis. Evaluating existing psychology journal articles and carrying out one’s own investigations provide an excellent grounding for undergraduate research at university. The second overarching theme is key debates and issues in psychology which include nature vs nurture, reductionism vs holism, and free will vs determinism. Discussion and debate are important in all areas of scientific study, but particularly in a science as young as psychology where discoveries in neuroscience and microbiology mean the discipline is still evolving with new theories ready to be put under the psychological microscope in creative empirical research.
Psychology has grown considerably in popularity at IB and A-level over the last decade. Many pupils take it just because they are fascinated, while others are thinking specifically about psychology-related careers. Its close link with the medical professions as well as teaching, business and sport is another reason why many are selecting the subject. No matter the reason, all are welcome to join us in the Warminster Psychology Department.
Experimental resources for carrying out practical research.
- Light box – for investigating the effect of light on SAD and mood disorders
- Galvanometer – for measuring skin reaction in response to stress
- Distortion goggles – for investigating response time whilst simulating the effect of drug or alcohol use
Psychology is undergoing a re-launch at Warminster in 2021. Part of this re-launch includes looking at options for new Psychology trips and visits. Ideas being considered include the following:
- Erlestoke Prison – visit to a category C prison for age-appropriate pupils.
- Courtyard Nursery – visit to a day-care provider to conduct structured observation.
- Staff visits – from those with young children and new pets, to explore attachment types.
- Monkey World – links to infant development and deprivation; classical and operant conditioning; ethical issues; extrapolation of data gathered from animals and applied to humans.