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Psychology is often a brand new subject for students with many simply believing that it teaches us how to read minds, this is however of course not the case. The main aim of this course is to give students an understanding of how the human mind works using scientific principles. Psychologists look at all aspects of behaviour and thought in order to establish patterns and develop explanations.  Psychology is delivered through engaging, well-resourced lessons delivered in a variety of ways to incorporate different learning styles and to encourage independent learning.

In addition to the core lessons, teachers are on hand to deliver support and guidance throughout the two years. We also offer a number of trips to consolidate learning, previous trips have included a trip to Berlin to look at the psychological impact of the holocaust, including a visit to Auschwitz, a theatre trip to watch Derren Brown and a trip to London to visit Freud’s house.

Course Content

Year 12 Course Content (AS Level where applicable pre-reform)

Psychology has been through the reform set out by the government and therefore is a 2 year course, in which students will sit 3 exams at the end of Year 13. However at present students are being entered into the AS exam in Year 12 to assess their understanding of the course. Once this has been done students have the choice to continue into Year 13 and take new A level exams or leave the course with just the AS.

The content within Year 12 will cover the following topics:

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

This paper aims to introduce students to the key concepts of psychology covering social influence, memory, attachment and psychopathology. Students will learn concepts with psychology exploring why we conform, obey and also resist social influence. Within the topic of memory students will learn how we remember, looking at the process that our brain goes through to retain this information and the different components, alongside the process of forgetting and why we forget. Included here is also the idea of eye witness testimony. Within the topic of attachment, students examine how we form attachments and how psychologists believe these attachments are formed. Finally within psychopathology, students are taught about abnormality and how phobias, depression and OCD are formed and treated. Alongside all of this students will develop an awareness of research methods.

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

Within this paper students will cover approaches in psychology, biopsychology and research methods. Students will by the end of this paper have some understanding of the approaches that helped to create and bring psychology to where it is today, moving through the timeline of approaches that will lead to one of the newest approaches of biopsychology. Here students gain some understanding of how the brain works and affects the body. Finally students will discover how psychologists do their research, with a very practical hands on approach to learning.

Year 13 Course Content (A Level where applicable pre-reform) Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Within paper 3 there are four key units that need to be covered:

Issues and Debates: Students will be taught an overall view of the issues, approaches and debates that occur within psychology, the focus will be key evaluative themes that run throughout psychology such as gender bias, cultural bias, free will and determinism. We will also explore the nature-nurture argument and the role that genes and environment have on us.

Gender: Students will then move on to learn about gender, examining the difference between sex and gender. The role of chromosomes and hormones will be explored alongside the issues of androgyny and atypical chromosome patterns. There is also a strong focus on the psychological theories such as the psychodynamic approach and social learning theory to attempt to explain gender.

Schizophrenia: students will explore the classification types of schizophrenia and examine the issues that are involved in diagnosis. There is again a strong focus on the psychological explanations of schizophrenia, with the central issue being what causes it, too much dopamine, family dysfunctions or faculty thoughts. Working alongside these explanations are therapies to help alleviate the symptoms, with focus on drugs, CBT and token economies.

Forensic Psychology: this unit explores the problems psychologists have in defining crime and criminal profiling. It will cover different psychological explanations as to why people are criminal, again focus will be around the nature versus nurture debate. Students will also study custodial sentences and the psychological effects this can have on individuals.

Please note that this paper has optional units so the department may change these options from time to time to reflect teaching expertise.


Entry Requirements

Due to the new changes that have been introduced by the government, psychology papers now must assess mathematical ability and accounts for 10% of the paper, therefore a minimum of a C in maths is required. B in science is also advised due to the scientific nature of the course.


Exam Board: AQA

Assessment and Examination for AS Level:

Two papers covering introductory topics in psychology and psychology in context. Each paper lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 72 marks each.

Assessment and Examination for A Level:

Three two hour papers consisting of a number of different question styles, both short answers and essays, all equally weighted at 96 marks each

Financial Information

There will be general stationery costs, such as pens, paper etc.  There will be an opportunity to go on an overnight trip to London which costs approximately £100.

The Academy will not charge for books, materials, equipment and instruction in connection with the National Curriculum or Statutory Religious Education taught at school, except where parents have indicated in advance their wish to purchase the product.

Exam Charging Policy:

–  Students with less than 85% attendance may, under the discretion of the Sixth Form Office, be asked to pay for their exam entry.

–  Exam resits that are made at the request of the post 16 students will be charged at full price.

–  When it is not possible to obtain a refund, full price will be charged to students for:

    –  the Summer Exam entry, if they withdraw from the subject after 20 April.
    –  non-attendance at an exam without good reason.

BTEC students, who leave the Academy prior to the conclusion of the course, will be charged £50.


Future Opportunities

Psychology is a sound foundation for a wide range of courses in Higher Education. It is especially useful for professions that involve dealing with people including teaching, social work and medicine/healthcare. It combines with many subjects including Biology, Mathematics, English and Sociology.

Many students from the sixth form do progress onto study Psychology at University.

Further Information

The main aim of this course is to give students an understanding of how the human mind works using scientific principles. Psychologists look at all aspects of behaviour and thought in order to establish patterns and develop explanations.  

The department is an expanding, well resourced area with access to ICT. There will be many opportunities during the course for students to engage in both individual and group work. The well qualified, specialist teachers deliver the course through a mixture of formal teaching, group discussions, and individual tutorials. As part of the team we have the opportunity to have an examiner for the examination board and therefore we have a wealth of experience in focusing students on attaining their best possible grade.