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Overview

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. Explore the different explanations for a variety of human behaviours — from genetics and evolution to social pressure, computer models and the unconscious mind. Discover how psychological research is carried out, how theories are applied in the real world and consider debates such as nature vs nurture, free will vs determinism.

Psychology takes a multidisciplinary approach including elements of Biology, Statistics, Forensic Science as well Philosophy and History. Studying A level Psychology will develop a range of skills such as critical thinking, evaluation, essay writing, scientific methods and understanding statistical analysis.

Key Facts

Start Dates:

  • 5 September 2022
  • 3 January 2023

Colleges:

  • Bournemouth
  • Brighton
  • London
  • Oxford

Entry level:

  • Academic: Completed 10 years of schooling (GCSE or equivalent)
  • English: IELTS 5.5 or equivalent

Minimum age:

  • 16

Length:

  • 2 Academic Years (3 terms)
  • We also offer entry from Year 12

Lessons:

  • Average 7 hours per week for each A-level subject (plus homework and private study)

Class size:

  • 4-10

Learning outcomes

  • Gain UK national university entrance qualification
  • Raise English to university level
  • Develop study skills required at degree level
  • Develop specialist subject expertise

Course content and structure

The following syllabus outline is based on AQA exam board content.

The first year of the A level course provides a broad-based introduction to many of the fascinating topics in Psychology. In the second year, the course builds on prior learning and covers a range of new topics in depth for those wishing to further develop their interest and enjoyment in this exciting area of study.

Assessment is 100% examination (3 Papers) at the end of Year 2.

Year 1

Paper 1 topics

  • Social influence - conformity, obedience, resistance to obedience, minority influence and social change
  • Memory – different features of memory, types of memory, models of memory, explanations for forgetting, factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony 
  • Attachment - Caregiver-infant interactions in humans, Animal studies of attachment, Explanations of attachment, Types of attachment, Cultural variations in attachment, Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation, Effects of institutionalisation and the influence of early attachment on adult relationships.
  • Psychopathology - Definitions of abnormality, The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias. The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression. The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD.

Paper 2 topics

  • Approaches in Psychology 1 - Origins of psychology, Behaviourist Approach, Cognitive, Social Learning Theory, Biological psychology.
  • Biopsychology 1 - The divisions of the nervous system, The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic transmission, The function of the endocrine system: glands and hormones, The fight or flight response including the role of adrenaline.
  • Research methods 1 - research methods and designs, scientific processes and techniques, data handling and analysis and inferential testing (Research methods is taught separately as well as being integrated within all the different topics)
  • Students will participate in mini practical activities within lessons to aid their understanding of different experimental and research designs and research methods used in particular topics. 
  • In the summer term students will have the opportunity to design, plan and carry out their own research to test a hypothesis, analyse data and evaluate their methods. They will write up their findings as a scientific research report. This is not official coursework but it will support the students to answer exam questions that require these skills. 

Year 2

  • Approaches in Psychology - additional approaches, Humanistic, psychodynamic and a comparison of all of the main approaches
  • Biopsychology - Localisation of function in the brain and hemispheric lateralisation, Plasticity and functional recovery of the brain after trauma, Ways of studying the brain, Biological rhythms: circadian, infradian and ultradian and the difference between these rhythms. The effect of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle.

Paper 3 topics

  • Issues and debates in Psychology – nature/nurture, free will/determinism, cultural and gender bias, scientific status, ethical issues
  • 3 options selected from choice of topics: Aggression, Forensic Psychology and Addiction; Relationships, Gender and Cognition and development; Schizophrenia, Eating behaviour and Stress

Typical A-level subject combinations with Psychology

Psychology A- Level compliments a wide range of science, social science and humanities subjects. In addition, it will be highly beneficial for any career that involves an understanding of others, such as medicine, dentistry, education, marketing, law and forensics.

  • Psychology, Biology and Chemistry
  • Psychology, Economics and Politics
  • Psychology, Law and History
  • Psychology, Business Studies, Maths

Sample enrichment activities

  • Freud museum visit 
  • Bethlem - Museum of the Mind visit
  • Debating Society
  • Summer research assignment/investigation

Sample academic calendar (2021-2022)

Year 1

September

  • 6th: term starts
  • Student induction

October

  • 18th – 22nd: half term
  • Progress tests

November

  • University fairs and talks

December

  • 10th: term ends
  • End of term exams

January

  • 3rd: term starts

February

  • 10th – 11th: half term
  • Progress tests
  • University fairs

March

  • End of term exams
  • 18th: term ends

April

  • 4th: term starts

May

  • Progress tests

June

  • Exams
  • 10th: term ends

Year 2

September

  • 5th Sept: term starts

October

  • 17th – 21st: half term
  • 15th October: UCAS deadline (Medicine)
  • Progress tests

November

  • University fairs and talks

December

  • 9th: term ends
  • End of term exams

January

  • 2nd: term starts
  • 15th January: UCAS deadline (other subjects)

February

  • 9th – 10th: half term
  • Progress tests

March

  • 17th: term ends
  • Mock exams

April

  • 3rd: term starts
  • Progress tests

May

  • Final exams

June

  • 9th June: term ends

Recommended reading

Below is a list of books which may help you prepare for your studies prior to arrival. Please note that additional books, and online resources such as websites and journals will be shared once you begin your course.

  • Cromby, J., Harper, D. & Reavey, P. (2013) Psychology, Mental Health and Distress. Palgrave Macmillan. 
  • Eysenck, M. & Keane, M. (2015) Cognitive Psychology: A Student's Handbook Paperback – Student Edition. Psychology Press.
  • Bowlby, J. (1983) Attachment: Second Edition - Attachment & Loss. Ingram Publisher Services US.
  • Gross, R. (2015) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. Hodder Education
  • James, W. (1950) The Principles of Psychology. Dover Publications Inc. 
  • Pinker, S. (1998) How the Mind Works. Allen Lane.
  • Sacks, O. (1985) The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Pan Macmillan.
  • Zimbardo, P. (2008) The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil. Ebury Publishing. 

Degree progression

Psychology A Level is a science option that prepares you for a huge range of career choices or future higher education pathways.

If you continue to study Psychology at university you could go on to becoming an educational, clinical or sports psychologist, working as an occupational therapist or as a university-based researcher. In addition, it will be highly beneficial for any career that involves an understanding of others, such as medicine, dentistry, education, marketing, law and forensics, social sciences and business studies.

Example degree courses which require or accept Psychology A-level include:

  • Psychology
  • Social sciences
  • Forensic Science
  • Medicine
  • Medical sciences
  • Nursing
  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Philosophy
  • Sports Science

Sample alumni progression

Rui Liang

  • University of St Andrews
  • Psychology

Akerke Makhmud

  • Durham University
  • Applied Psychology

Jiaming Zhu

  • University of Sheffield
  • Education with Psychology

Fen Cong

  • University of Manchester
  • Psychology

Joshua Nagy

  • University of Hull
  • Psychology

Thank you for your enquiry.
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The Kings Admissions Team