Psychology A Level

Board: AQA
Syllabus: A Level 7182

About the subject

Psychology is often thought of as the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. The AQA syllabus offers students a chance to become acquainted with the fundamental theories and scientific methods that psychologists employ to make sense of complex human behaviour. Psychology is a demanding subject which requires students to have an inquisitive, analytical mind and an interest in the biological basis of behaviour.

In the first year students discuss the structure and function of the human memory, focusing on factors that influence eye witness testimony. Developmental and social psychology are explored looking at different types of attachment in childhood and the influences of social groups on our behaviour. There is a heavy scientific element in the syllabus where students will learn about biopsychology including the role of genetics, brain dysfunction and biological (and non biological) explanations for abnormal behaviours; such as anxiety disorders covered in the psychopathology topic.

In the second year students will focus on the physiology of the brain looking at the localised functions on the brain and biological rythems suchs as the sleep wake cycle. Also, in forensic psychology we will discuss the use of current offender profiling techniques; the role of nature vs nurture in crimininality; and methods used to rehabilitate offenders. In addition, students will learn about fundamental theories of cognitive development, behavioural psychology, social cognition and the development of empathy/ theory of mind.

In both years there is a heavy emphasis on students using and understanding the key research methods used by psychologists; these include experiments, self reports, observations and correlations. Students will be expected to analyse and interpret statistical data and conduct statistical tests. 10% of the overall first year  and second year A level assessment will contain a mathematical element.

Learning styles

A variety of learning styles will be used to deliver the syllabus; including class based activities, research tasks, e-learning and visual aids.

Subject Combinations and Progression

Psychology can be usefully combined with most subjects to allow progression on to university, however, it is particularly well suited to the following subject combinations:

Psychology with English, Biology, Maths, Law, Sociology, Business Studies and History. Many of our students go on to study psychology at university, for others it has led to degrees in related areas such as neuroscience, sports science/psychology, teaching, occupational therapy and nursing. Psychology provides you with many transferable skills and an understanding of human behaviour which will be beneficial to any future career.

Subject Modules and Assessment

End of the first year: 2 hour internal transfer exam on the first year course content to determine continuation onto the second year of study. End of the 2nd year: three 2 hour external exams that assess knowledge of ALL first and second year content.  No coursework. Mock exams throughout both years.

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology (Social Influence; Memory; Attachment;  Psychopathology).

Paper 2: Psychology in Context (Approaches in Psychology; Biopsychology; Research Methods)

Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology (Issues and Debates in Psychology; Cognition and Development; Schizophrenia; Forensic Psychology).

All assessments include multiple choice questions, short answer questions and extended essay writing.

Entry requirements

GCSE grade 5 minimum in Maths. Grade 5 in one science (this is a scientific subject with a large biological component running through all topic areas). Grade 4 in English Language.