A-level Psychology

Head of Department

Mrs D Longhurst

Examining Body

Edexcel

Overview of the course:

Entry requirements are usually 6 in English, Mathematics and one Science GCSE, however this is subject to Head of Department approval and 5 may be considered.

AS Level:

Psychology is the study of human behaviour and the mind, and so there is something to interest everybody.  As an A Level Science this is an excellent option for many students who are studying ‘arts’ subjects to also gain a science that links well with their other courses.  You will have the opportunity to conduct research into behaviour and to consider questions of import to society such as, ‘why do genocides occur?’ (social psychology); ‘how can we treat dyslexia and / or dementia?’ (cognitive psychology); ‘are transgender operations ethical?’ (biological psychology); ‘do role models influence the development of anorexia?’ (learning psychology).

A-level:

At A Level, Psychology is in greater depth and focuses on applications to real life, such as reducing prejudice, treating mental health and rehabilitating offenders (criminals).

Lessons within Psychology are rigorous and enjoyable, with many opportunities to conduct practical research to develop your understanding of research methods concepts, and to use video blogs etc. to see real people experience of mental illness or being a member of a cult.


What Will You Study:

Within year one (AS level), you will study four main approaches to explaining behaviour.

  • Cognitive psychology assuming the mind works like a computer, where you will study theories of memory and consider how to treat dyslexia and dementia. 
  • Biological psychology which assumes all behaviour can be explained through natural processes such as genetics, hormones, brain chemistry, where you will learn how drugs effect the brain and explain aggression.
  • Learning psychology assumes behaviour is learnt through nurture / the environment / experiences and also explains aggression, as well as developing and treating phobias.
  • Social psychology assumes group interactions and relationships can explain behaviour, with a focus on explaining blind obedience, prejudice and discrimination (such as event in Nazi Germany).

Within year two, you will study clinical psychology, which is applying the approaches to explaining and treating mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa).  You will also study criminal psychology involving explaining and treating / rehabilitating offenders, as well as using psychology to improve the Criminal Justice System through increased reliability of eye-witness testimony and understanding how juries make their decisions.

 

Assessment:

AS only – two 1.5 hour examinations. 

Paper One – Social and Cognitive Psychology

Paper Two – Biological and Learning Psychology

 

A Level – three 2 hour examinations

Paper One – Foundations of Psychology (the 4 approaches)

Paper Two – Applications in Psychology (clinical and criminal)

Paper Three – Psychological Skills (methods / issues and debates)

 

Possible Career Paths:  

Psychology A-level is a great introduction to explaining behaviour and how other people think.  Students can continue to study a variety of courses at university such as Psychology, Social Psychology, Sports Psychology, Neuroscience, Mental Health Nursing, Human Resource Management, Counselling or Teaching.  Having a full science A level also demonstrates a high academic standard to employers and so is useful to school leavers after A Level for careers such as Nursery Nurse, HR Assistant, Care-worker (social or health) or SEN support worker.