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Why study Psychology?
Psychology gives you an understanding into how others behave, which in turn gives you knowledge of yourself.  Through key studies in different branches of psychology, the students gain insight into diverse areas such as attachment behaviour and the accuracy of eye-witness testimony.  The topics guide students through relevant and motivating material whilst building a growing awareness of research studies and analysing data from experiments.  A benefit of this is students can start to see connections between what we study and the world around them.  This gives them new perception and opens minds.

Psychology A level Course Content

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology (first year material)
Students begin by examining different areas of psychology, learning key studies and criticising theories.  Key studies in the first topic include Milgram’s experiments with electric shocks and Zimbardo’s prison experiment.  These are very accessible as they are usually familiar to the students.  The topics are: Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychopathology. 

Paper 2: Psychology in Context (first year and second year)
Students move on to focus on how to apply theory in this paper.  They examine different perspectives on how to consider a behaviour.  Research Methods, which includes mathematical analysis, is a vital component of the A level and comprises half of this paper.  The focus of the assessment is on applying theory to real-life scenarios.  The topics are: Approaches, Biopsychology and Research Methods.

Paper 3: Issues and Options (second year material)
Students study more involved topics to a deeper level and are required to evaluate and analyse.  One of the sessions, Issues and Debates, covers determinism (whether we are in control of our actions) and the implications of sensitive ethical research (such as past social effects of IQ testing).  The students need to explain key terms and be able to cite relevant examples from any topics covered on the course.  All theories are based on research evidence.  Students study three options such as gender, relationships, schizophrenia, stress and aggression.

These are provided by the department

Psychology A Level Year 1: The Complete Companion  
Student book : Authors Cara Flanagan, Mike Cardwell
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Psychology A Level Year 2: The Complete Companion
Student book : Authors Cara Flanagan, Mike Cardwell
Publisher: Oxford University Press


  • To gain the A-level qualification students will need to sit the 3 papers at the end of their second year. 
  • All the papers are 2 hours in length and are worth 33.3% of the A level total grade. 
  • With the exception of Research Methods in Paper 2, the other options are all 25% of the marks for the paper. At least 25–30% of the overall assessment will assess skills, knowledge and understanding in relation to research methods.

Paper 1: Introductory topics in Psychology

Paper 2: Psychology in context

Paper 3: Issues And Options In Psychology *

Social influence

Approaches – 25%

Issues and Debates


Biopsychology – 25%

Option 1: Gender


Research methods - 50%

Option 2: Schizophrenia



Option 3: Aggression


Paper 3 topics may vary from year to year and are chosen by the department following the AQA guidelines.

Academic Skills
Psychology gives you transferable skills and combines well with other subjects.  It is frequently combined with Biology, Sociology, Media and Business Studies.  Psychology  is a popular A level subject and, once discovered, can present new avenues for further studies. 

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