What is Psychology?

Psychology is the science of the mind and it is the job of psychologists to try and explain human behaviour. The human mind is the most complex machine on Earth. It is the source of all thought and behaviour. But how can we study something as complex and mysterious as the mind?

Even if we were to split open the skull of a willing volunteer and have a look inside, we would only see the gloopy grey matter of the brain. We cannot see someone thinking. Nor can we observe their emotions, or memories, or perceptions and dreams. So how do psychologists go about studying the mind?In fact, psychologists adopt a similar approach to scientists in other fields. Nuclear physicists interested in the structure of atoms cannot observe protons, electrons and neutrons directly. Instead, they predict how these elements should behave and devise experiments to confirm or refute their expectations. In a similar way, psychologists use human behaviour as a clue to the workings of the mind. Although we cannot observe the mind directly, everything we do, think, feel and say is determined by the functioning of the mind. So psychologists take human behaviour as the raw data for testing their theories about how the mind works. The key thing with psychology is that there is not a single, unified theoretical framework which applies to all aspects of psychology. Instead there may be several theories and perspectives on one aspect, such as schizophrenia. Due to the extremely varied nature of the discipline, the course structure takes you through many of the different areas and disciplines in a structured manner.

Key questions covered during the AS and A2 course

How do we forget? Why are we attracted to others? Why do people conform? Is there a link between stress and illness? How do people develop a phobia? Do children need a mother? What causes an eating disorder? Why do people dream? Can watching violent films cause someone to become aggressive? What causes depression? What is love?

Facilities and Resources

The Sixth Form Centre provides accommodation dedicated to Psychology. As this is a fast growing and very popular course, a wide range of texts are available and the department boasts a wide range of books. In addition a video and DVD collection is constantly being built up along with a collection of CD ROMs and interactive resources.