St Augustine's Catholic College

A Level Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of the way people think, feel and behave. The most important quality for anyone wanting to study psychology is to find people fascinating. If you are intrigued by why people act in the way they do, then psychology will capture your imagination.

It is taught through discussion, written work and by applying knowledge to different behavioural scenarios as the course develops. Psychology students will also learn about the different ways of studying human behaviour.

What will I study?

In year 1 of the course we look at 4 topics, as well as the different research methods used in psychological research and the different psychological approaches to explaining human behaviour. The topics are: Social influence; Memory; Attachments and Psychopathology.

Social influence is about how our behaviour is affected by other people. We will look at conformity, obedience and minority influence.

The topic of Memory involves looking at different types of memory, reasons why we forget and the accuracy of eye-witness testimony.

Attachments looks at the importance of early relationships with our primary care-givers and the effects of these relationships on our later lives.

Psychopathology involves finding out about different types of mental illnesses and treatments, these include: depression, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We will also look at the origins of psychology and how it has developed as a science.

In year 2 we look at issues and debates in psychology e.g. whether our behaviour is a product of nature or nurture, and the issue of free will.

We will take a deeper look at biological psychology and find out about our biological rhythms. Knowledge and understanding of research methods will be also be developed.

We will also study three option topics, these are: Gender and explanations of how our gender develops. We will study the symptoms, possible causes, and treatments of schizophrenia. Finally, we will look at forensic psychology and offender profiling, and the different ways of dealing with offending behaviour.

See the full specification from AQA here: psychology/specifications/AQA-7181-7182-SP-2015.PDF

How will I be assessed?

It is assessed at the end of the second year in three 2-hour papers:

Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology

  • Social influence

  • Memory

  • Attachments

  • Psychopathology

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

  • Approaches in psychology

  • Biopsychology

  • Research methods

Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

  • Issues and debates in psychology

  • Gender

  • Schizophrenia

Where can Psychology take me?

Psychology is a very useful subject for any career where you interact with people. Occupations such as journalism, as well as nursing and marketing all welcome trainees who have studied psychology. Although psychology is a science, it sits on the boundary of science and arts subjects and combines elements of both. A psychology A Level shows a competence in scientific thinking and numeracy and also the ability to construct a well-argued essay. It is especially useful for careers in sport, education, business and medicine.