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Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, brain and behaviour, allowing us to analyse and explain the link between them in understanding human behaviour. It’s about recognising what makes people tick and how these factors can help us address many of the problems and issues in society today. For example, are criminals born or made? And what impact would this have on rehabilitation?

Exam Board


Entry Requirements

GCSE grade 5 in maths.


  • 100% Exams
An introduction to Psychology Presentation About this course Pathways Information

What is psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. Psychology relates to those ideas but draws on scientific methods to build a body of knowledge about such issues. Psychology is a science. Because of this, all theories and strategies need to be backed by research and data. Therefore, by studying Psychology in detail, you have the opportunity to advance your analytical skills, using scientific research methods to base assumptions and form opinions on the human brain and links to behaviour.
Psychology can be theoretical, in exploring how the brain works and what drives our behaviour, finding answers to questions such as ‘what makes a serial killer?’. Psychology can also be practical, such as conducting therapy and treatments . Also, Psychology is frequently used in the workplace, such as when devising advertisements for businesses, improving education or working with the police. Psychology can be chosen as part of a large number of A Level combinations as it will develop a range of skills that are invaluable to help you succeed in other subjects, For example, the study of language and communication can complement a range of humanities subjects. Meanwhile, the analytical side of the subject can complement other technical STEM-related courses.


What will I study?

Topic 1: Social Psychology. We study broad topics of obedience, for example the impact of authority figures such as the police, and prejudice, for example group hostility such as football violence. We consider wider issues such as genocide. Topic 2: Cognitive Psychology. An understanding of how human memory works and how our memories are often inaccurate. Theories and research is applied to how we can help dementia sufferers and also improve eye witness testimony following a crime. Topic 3: Biological Psychology. This topic covers the structure and function of the brain and considers the impact of drugs and whether some behaviour, such as aggression, is biologically determined. We consider the use of twins and animals in research. Topic 4: Learning Theories. Here the focus is on how behaviour is learned through our environment and experiences such as punishment and reward as well as our role models. This is applied to real life issues such as phobia development and treatment and the impact of the media.
The research methods used by psychologists will be covered throughout the two years. You will conduct your own research using the methods and considering the strengths and weaknesses of the process as well as analysing the data itself. Topic 5: Clinical Psychology. This is the study of explanations and treatments for mental health issues, and the different ways of treating them, including drug treatments. Diagnostic systems and media portrayal of mental health is also considered. Topic 6: Criminological Psychology.
This application is about the definition and causes of crime and the identification and treatment of offenders undertaken by forensic investigators. We also consider practical issues such potential bias in a jury and the way that the police conduct their interviews.

In addition, there is a synoptic section which involves bringing together all areas of the course to consider a range of debates such as whether behaviour is down to nature or nurture and whether psychologists manipulate individuals and groups for their own benefit rather than society. There are three, 2 hour exam papers which are sat at the end of the second year. There is no course-work element but you may be asked in the exam about your practical investigations.

Trips, visits and enrichments:

  • Trips vary each year but examples of previous trips include the Natural History Museum, the Freud Museum and visiting Auschwitz
  • Visits to universities to experience hands on Psychology, taking part in research.
  • Other events have included inhouse conferences such as the ‘Behind Bars’ company and Brain days!

What can it lead to?

Psychology A Level can lead to further study in clinical, forensic, educational and occupational psychology. A-level Psychology is also considered a second science subject to study Medicine at degree level. The diverse range of skills developed such as research and critical thinking are directly transferable to a range of other higher education subjects such as teaching, business studies, marketing, Policing and Law.

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