My Woodhouse Psychology

Liz Maltseva
Liz Maltseva
Liz Maltseva came to Woodhouse from Friern Barnet School and lives in Whetstone. She studied psychology, philosophy and French at A level and graduated in 2018 with A*AA. She is currently at the University of Nottingham studying Psychology and Philosophy.
She spoke to us during her second year of A levels... 
“I didn’t have the option to study psychology at GCSE and when I saw I could choose it at Woodhouse I thought it would be interesting to learn about how the human mind works, what makes people behave the way they do and what drives human nature? And to study it at Woodhouse is especially good. The atmosphere and people when I came to the open day made me see it’s just a really good place for me. Plus, I got to do all the subjects I wanted to here.
Psychology explores how we can empirically measure human behaviour and scientifically say why people do the things that they do, you have to prove it with actual evidence, it’s more like a science.
Psychology has been one of my favorite subjects because by the end of every lesson I come out having learned something completely new about people and behaviour. When I see people interacting it makes me question why some do things that others don’t. That curiosity, and applying the things I’ve learned in real life, has been a big part of why I like psychology, because a lot of the time the things we talk about in class I see later when I am with friends, and I can understand where they are coming from. Psychology is definitely influencing my life right now!
At the beginning of the course I had to adjust to the fact I would need to do a lot of independent research and work. At GCSE, they give you a text book with all the material you need, but at A level the text book is not enough. You have to talk to your teachers outside of lessons and research different books and articles – because you can’t just expect to find all the information in one source. That said, I think I adapted quite well in the first few months.
Classes are varied… there’s a lot of exam practice, a lot of group activities too – presentations, or getting divided into teams for debates – quite a bit of our teacher explaining theories and the different way they apply to the world… there’s always a lot of interaction going on. Classes are never just passive listening.
There’s always lots of discussion as things we talk about in psychology are often controversial and everyone has their own opinion. And there’s different supporting evidence. Students will bring in one study that supports their view, but then someone else has another that goes against it, so we then have to debate which is more valid and which one is right.
What’s interested me this year? – Talking about mind and body problems. The mind is in the brain... but is there actually a physically reality to the mind, is it all just cells and neurons… or is it something else? There are psychological cases for both and in class people were drawn to both sides… Obviously, we didn’t reach a conclusion, but the fact that everyone had their own point of view and were arguing their own cases was interesting.
We went to a psychology conference in London which was good because a lot of the psychologists we had been studying were there. Elizabeth Loftus was the key speaker and she’s very famous in the psychology world for her research on eye-witness testimonies. We also met the people who created the text book we are studying from and they were able to give us useful exam tips. Later this year we are planning theatre trips to see plays that link to our topics later on… I’m going to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
We get great support and resources here. We can always talk to our teachers or email them, and we have regular subject tutorials. There’s a subscription to the psychology review in the library, so we can read back issues if there’s an article about something we are studying, everything is accessible. Our teacher gives us a revision guide and websites too, so there’s lots of extra material to help you. I like to watch the crash course videos on YouTube, and there’s a website – Simply Psychology - that I use.
The study of psychology is rooted in philosophy before they decide to study it scientifically, so there is always that link. Both study the human mind and ask questions about freewill and nature vs nurture, but from different perspectives.
I want to study a joint honors degree in Psychology and Philosophy, but I’m not sure where yet – maybe Nottingham or Durham. I may take a conversion course to law after because studying a degree in Law isn’t something I want to do. I’ve decided to study something I enjoy at university and then maybe become a lawyer, or I may change my mind during my degree and stick with psychology and do something related to that. I think a lot of psychologists go into law because the study of criminology links with psychology. During my law work experience I found out that a lot of the lawyers working there had a philosophy degree, because the experience of critical and analytical thinking is useful – so my degree will have good, relevant skills for law.
I did work experience at two law firms – HSF (Herbert Smith Freehills is one of the world's leading professional services businesses) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, both in London, and two of the biggest law firms. I applied for the work experience programme through Woodhouse after seeing a visiting speaker from SEO Scholars. About a dozen of us, plus students from elsewhere, shadowed the lawyers activities for a week. We completed a project and did a presentation at the end of it. The experience was very useful, the skills developed – organization, being professional in your manner , team work, debating – I can use anywhere.
I took Latin American dancing for extracurricular. I used to dance a lot but hadn’t in a while and it was great fun, I made some new friends from that. I’ve also been part of the Philosophy Club where we discuss ‘extracurricular’ questions – not things we need to do for exams but things that may be useful for university or interviews, or just because they are interesting questions to look at, we’ve also looked at Oxbridge interview questions.
Friern Barnet School is a partner school with Woodhouse, but I would have come here anyway. I think Woodhouse is such a welcoming place and very diverse - there will never be anyone who feels like they don’t fit in. And staff are not patronizing – they understand that we’re young adults now, they don’t just tell us we’re right or wrong, they talk to us. I’ve come out of my shell since joining Woodhouse and I’ve become more confident around different people when asking questions or giving answers in class. It’s because you are supported here and can feel that no one is ever going to judge you, everyone’s in the same boat. And I’ve learned how to manage my time properly because there is a big workload and a lot of extra hours.
Being able to switch off all my distractions and be more focused on my work – I’ve definitely learned that this year."