A-Level Psychology (7182)


Psychology is a popular subject at A level and university.  The study of psychology enables you to develop a good understanding of why people behave in the way they do.  We are very much interested in the psychoanalysis, environmental and biological features of behaviour.  Within psychology you will get a good grounding in securing knowledge, applying this knowledge to stem material and how to write evaluations that will help you to achieve highly in psychology and in other disciplines.  You will also be encouraged to develop a range of valuable skills including critical analysis, independent thinking and research.  These skills are useful and transferable to further study, the workplace and university.

The discipline of psychology is well respected in Russell group universities and others.  Psychology can support you in future careers such as Forensic science; Criminal Psychology; Neuropsychology; Criminal Justice system; Psychotherapy and Counselling; clinical psychology; Further Education Lecturer; Policy Officer; Social Researcher; Probation officer; Statistician; Psychiatrist; Experimental Psychology; Engineering Psychology; Aviation Psychology; Child Psychology; Cognitive Psychology; Lawyer and Journalist.  The list is endless in what you will be able to pursue after undertaking Psychology.

For detailed information see the AQA specification: AQA A level Psychology


Entry requirements

Students must have grade minimum in English as they will have a lot of reading and writing essays for each unit of the discipline.

Grade 6 in Maths - Research methods require a good understanding of maths, which accounts for 25% of the exam, thus research methods are found in all areas of the discipline.

Grade 6 in Science as students will study, among other features, the nervous system, biopsychology and circadian rhythms.

Course content


Course Content and Structure:

Unit 1:

This compulsory unit examines Social Influence; Memory; Attachment and Psychopathology.

Within Social Influence you will explore why people conform and obey atrocious orders as in the case of Nazi Germany.  You will Examine the research of Zimbardo and Milgram to ascertain if ordinary people are capable of barbaric acts of violence and cruelty and thus display ‘The Banality of Evil’. You will evaluate the impact of conformity and blind obedience on the individual, community and wider society.  We will look at those who have challenged authority and consider what is it about their personalities that stands out from the MAJORITY. We will also explore how ordinary individuals can make a difference in the face of adversity as the women in the Rosenstrasse protest did under Nazi occupation.

In the memory section of the syllabus, you will learn about various models of memory to show how memory works.  For example, you will learn how to explain why it is that when you are watching your favourite film, and your parents are telling you to do something that you ‘really’ don’t hear them. We explain how some people’s long-term memories are intact and those same people cannot hold information in their short-term memory.  Learning how memory works will help you to revise thoroughly and benefit all your subjects.

Attachment looks at the relationships or non-relationships you have with your caregiver and questions whether or not these relationships are mirrored in your future relationships.  We evaluate whether negative forms of attachment can be broken. We will be looking at the work of Ainsworth, Bowlby who have contributed extensively to this area and evaluate their work. We will compare animal attachment to human attachment and see what we can glean from the species kingdom. We will also explore attachments in different countries around the world and consider whether these differences are positive or negative and what this means for individuals, families, communities and the wider world.

Psychopathology is concerned with aspects of mental health, where definitions of abnormality are explored.  Students get the opportunity to study phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, (OCD).  They also study how different approaches explain and treat phobias, depression and OCD.

Unit 2:

This Unit focusses on ‘Psychology in context’ where students are exposed to psychological approaches, Research methods and studies and ethical issues.  You will apply approaches to various scenarios called stem and analyse, interpret and evaluate psychological concepts, approaches, research methods, therapies and treatments in terms of their appropriateness and effectiveness.

Research Methods:

For this unit you will engage with research methods, practical research and mathematical skills. These skills will be further developed through designing and conducting research as well as analysing and interpreting data.  You will also enhance your ICT skills.  You will also be exposed to inferential testing where you will consider when to use some of the following test and why such as Spearman’s rho, Pearsons’s rho, Wilcoxon, Mann-whitney, related t-test unrelated t-test and Chi-Squared test.


You will learn about the various approaches used in psychology to explain behaviour such as the work of Wundt; the learning approaches – behaviourism and social learning theory; the cognitive approach studying the internal mental processes and the newly emerging cognitive neuroscience; the biological approach that focusses on your genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour and Biopsychology that explores the nervous system and hemispheric lateralisation amongst other areas of the brain; the psychodynamic approach that engages with the role of the unconscious, defence mechanisms and your psycho-sexual stages, finally the humanist approach of Maslow and Rogers where they talk about the ‘hierarchy of needs’ and congruence respectively.  This approach considers the impact of relationships based on conditional or unconditional love.

Unit 3:

The compulsory unit for this section is Issues and debates where you will learn about a number of debates to explain why people behave in the way they do, including: the nature Nurture debate. Do our genes predispose us to certain behaviour or does the environment?

The options that we have selected for GCA, given the students general interest to study are:

Relationships, schizophrenia and Forensic Psychology.

4. Psychopathology

Paper 2 - all topics are compulsory

5. Approaches in Psychology

6. Biopsychology

7. Research methods

Paper 3 

8. Issues and debates in psychology - compulsory

Plus three options:

9. Relationships

13. Schizophrenia 

16. Forensic Psychology 


At the end of Year 2 you will complete 3 final written exams, each 2 hours long:

Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology (see Course content 1-4). 2 hours.

Paper 2: Psychology in context  (see Course content 5-7). 2 hours.

Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology (see Course content 8, 9, 13 and 16). 2 hours.

Each paper counts for 33.3% of the marks. 

Each paper will have:

  • Multiple-choice question
  • short answer questions
  • extended writing questions


Spanning all sections of the syllabus.

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