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Psychology

Psychology is the perfect subject for an inquisitive mind. Students will get to examine many questions. Why is it that some people suffer from stress or mental illness? Or why are some individuals considered abnormal for deviating from social norms? Can early attachment experience affect later relationships? Psychology looks at questions like these and more.

It is a fascinating science with cutting edge research that has real world applications that students are bound to find interesting. Across the two years students learn a variety of skills including analytical thinking, improved communication, problem solving and many more that will prepare them for an exciting future with the possibility of a range of fantastic careers. Students will study different topic areas ranging from social influence, memory, attachment, approaches in psychology, biopsychology, psychopathology and research methods. In the second year of the A-level they will deepen their understanding of human behaviour even further by examining topics such as relationships, schizophrenia and aggression. Whatever a student wants to do in the future they are going to encounter and work with lots of different people in lots of different environments. Understanding more about how people work and what can affect their behaviour will be beneficial to whatever path they wish to pursue.

Qualification

A level Psychology

Awarding body AQA

Entry requirements

GCSE at Grade 5 or above in Maths, English and Science.

Year 12

Social influence: Types of conformity and explanations for conformity; obeying evil authority figures; explanations for obedience; explanations of resistance to social influence; explanations of change in society. 

Memory: Models of memory; explanations of forgetting; eye witness testimony and police interviews.

 Attachment: Attachment between babies and their caregivers; problems caused when attachment goes wrong; the effect of early attachment on adult relationships.

Approaches: Origins of psychology; learning approaches including classical and operant conditioning; cognitive approach: computer models to understand mental processes; biological approach: genes, brain chemicals and evolution.

Psychopathology: Definition of ‘abnormality’; biological, behavioural and cognitive explanations and treatments; phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Research methods: Different methods used in research such as experiments and observations; designing investigations, including sampling, ethical issues, control of variables; presenting, analysing and interpreting data. 

Year 13

Further approaches: Psychodynamic: Freud and the unconscious; humanistic: Maslow, the self and counselling; comparing approaches.

Biopsychology: Function of different brain regions; split brain research and recovery after trauma; brain scans and post mortem examination; bodily rhythms and the sleep/wake cycle.

Research methods: Case studies and content analysis; features of science: reporting and peer review; data handling and analysis; probability, significance and statistical tests.

Issues and debates: Gender and culture bias; debates: free will and nature/nurture; explanations: parts or wholes, behavioural laws or individual characteristics; ethical implications and social sensitivity.

Relationships: Evolved partner preferences; factors affecting romantic attraction; why relationships last and what happens when they don’t; virtual relationships and ‘relationships’ with media personalities.

Schizophrenia: Symptoms of schizophrenia and problems in diagnosing it; genes and brain chemistry; faulty thinking and dysfunctional families; therapies: drugs, family therapy and CBT.

Aggression: Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression; genetic factors; Ethological and evolutionary explanations; social psychological explanations; institutional aggression and media influences on aggression.

Assessment

At A-level there are three exams, each account for one third of your A-level grade. The three exams last 2 hours and are worth 96 marks each. The exams consist of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions. At least 10% of the overall assessment of Psychology will contain mathematical skills equivalent to Level 2 or above. At least 25–30% of the overall assessment will assess skills, knowledge and understanding in relation to research methods.

Psychology explains why things are how they are. You don’t have to wonder why something happens you can answer it with the knowledge you learn and even enlighten others as to why.
Elliott Barton, psychology student

Why study psychology?

Psychology is a well-respected degree for a range of occupations which require graduate status, and also opens up opportunities to train as a chartered psychologist. Psychology is of particular value to those hoping to pursue careers in medicine, business, education, academia and the legal profession.

I have always been interested in mental health and how and why people do the things they do and psychology brings that answer to life.
Erin Oakes, psychology student