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Exam Board Specification: AQA

How the course is assessed

100% externally assessed:
AS Level: 2 examinations
A Level: 3 examinations

Description of course

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. Psychology is a broad subject with many theories of why humans behave in certain ways. In this course you will learn about different psychological approaches and develop the ability to critically analyse their assumptions and the research that is used to support or refute them. Within the AS or the first year of A Level you will study: social influence, memory, attachment, psychological approaches with biopsychology, psychopathology and research methods. Within the second year of A Level you will study: psychological approaches, biopsychology and research methods at a higher level, issues and debates in psychology and then three of the following topics: relationships, cognitive development, gender, schizophrenia, eating behaviour, stress, aggression, forensic psychology and addiction.

Higher education, future careers and progression routes

Students will develop transferable skills that both support study in a wide range of subjects at university and the transition to employment, including quantitative and analytical analysis and forming and testing hypotheses. The development and application of mathematical skills prepare students for the study of psychology and related courses at university. Students can progress from A Level Psychology to: higher education qualifications such as degrees in Psychology, Neuroscience, Human Biology, Criminology and others or further education courses such as BTEC Higher Nationals. Qualifications in psychology are useful to develop a career in: teaching, youth work, careers advice, human resources, market research, psychotherapy, social work or the police force. Students who go on to gain a psychology degree can further develop a career within clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, occupational, sport or media psychology.

2017 Examination success rates:

98% pass rate

65% A*- B grades

91% A* - C grades

Entry Criteria:

Students must meet the Consortium minimum entry criteria for A Level courses, that is, a GCSE grade 4 or higher in English Language, grade 5 or higher in Maths or B/5 in Biology/BB/55 combined Science (point score of 46 or higher).

Additional information:

Psychology is a subject that requires skills you would have developed from GCSE English, maths and science. In order to be prepared for the course you will need:

  • A good level of written communication including correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax and paragraph structure.
  • Competent mathematical skills including the use of fractions, percentages, measures of central tendency and dispersion and the ability to plot graphs.
  • An awareness of human biology including the structure and function of the nervous system.

Prior to starting the course students should also access the following website to gain more information about the topics that will be studied:

It is fundamental that psychology students read around the subject; the following books are suggested to enhance students’ psychological understanding:

  • As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl – John Colapinto
  • Bad Science – Ben Goldacre
  • Picking Cotton – Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson-Cannino
  • Superstition in the Pigeon – B.F. Skinner
  • The Bobo Doll Experiment – Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross and Shelia Ross
  • The Lucifer Effect – Philip Zimbardo
  • The Case of Little Albert – Watson and Rayner
  • Elephants on Acid and other Bizarre Experiments – Alex Boese

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