OctThe Psychology qualification will be linear, which means that students will sit all three A-level papers at the end of their two-year course.

Subject content 

Paper 1: Introductory topics 

  1. Social influence
  2. Memory
  3. Attachment
  4. Psychopathology 

Paper 2: Psychology in context 

  1. Approaches in psychology
  2. Biopsychology
  3. Research methods 

Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology 

  1. Issues and debates in psychology 
  2. Relationships
  3. Schizophrenia
  4. Aggression

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. There are plenty of great reasons to learn more about psychology, even if you don't plan to work in a psychology-related profession.

So why exactly should you study psychology?

Psychology is all around you and touches on every aspect of your life.

  1. You can gain a greater appreciation for human development at all stages of life. Understanding human behaviour can make it easier to understand the people around you. It can also shine a light on your own experiences as you encounter different challenges and opportunities.
     
  2. You'll gain a stronger grasp of research methods. Having an understanding of psychology research methods can help you better understand some of the many claims that you’ll encounter in books, magazines, television shows, and movies.
     
  3. Psychology can help you in your future career, whatever that may be. There are plenty of exciting careers in psychology that you might want to explore, but studying the subject can help you in many other professions as well. For example, if you want to become a business manager, understanding human behavior can improve your ability to manage and interact with your employees.
     
  4. Psychology can complement your study of related subjects. Because different areas of psychology encompass a range of topics including biology, studying the subject can help you gain a richer understanding of these related areas.
     
  5. Studying psychology can also give you greater insight into mental illness, including how psychological conditions are diagnosed and treated. You can also discover how mental wellness can be enhanced, how to reduce stress, and to live a happier, healthier life.

Psychology can be both fun and fascinating! From intriguing theories for schizophrenia to shocking experiments that expose how far people will go to obey an authority figure, there is always something amazing and even downright astonishing to learn about the human mind and behavior

Psychology students will learn to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological concepts, theories, research studies, research methods and ethical issues
  • apply psychological knowledge in a range of contexts
  • analyse, interpret and evaluate psychological concepts, theories, research studies and research methods
  • evaluate therapies and treatments including in terms of their appropriateness and effectiveness

In addition, the A Level will place a greater emphasis on:

Knowledge and understanding of mathematical skills including:

  • Statistical testing and the Sign test. Factors affecting the choice of statistical test. When to use the following tests: Spearman’s rho, Pearson’s r, Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney, related t-test, unrelated t-test and Chi-Squared test.
  • Probability and significance: use of statistical tables and critical values in interpretation of significance
  • Descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency; measures of dispersion; range and standard deviation; calculation of range; calculation of percentages; positive, negative and zero correlations.

Knowledge of research methods & practical research skills including:

  • The ability to analyse and interpret quantitative and qualitative data
  • Presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scattergrams, bar charts.
  • Distributions: normal and skewed distributions; characteristics of normal and skewed distributions.

Knowledge and understanding of biological concepts including:

  • Brain structure and function. The divisions of the nervous system: central and peripheral
  • The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic transmission and neurotransmitters
  • The function of the endocrine system: glands and hormones.
  • The fight or flight response including the role of adrenaline. 

 

Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology

What's assessed:  Compulsory content 1-4

  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks
  • Section D: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks

Paper 2: Psychology in context

What's assessed:  Compulsory content 5–7

  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    48 marks

Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology

What's assessed: Compulsory content 8, 9, 10, 11

  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing,
    24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section D: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Entry requirements: Minimum B in GCSE Maths, Science and English

Examining Board: AQA Specification A

Course TeacherSarah Flavell

Read Sarah's blog on the rigour and value of studying Psychology at A Level

Read the Bedales Psychology Newsletter, written and edited by Bedales Psychology students: