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Exam board: AQA Specification A: AS 7181 A-level 7182

Why choose to study Psychology?

Psychology has been defined as the science of mind and behaviour. Essentially, psychology is all about people.  We are all amateur psychologists, every time we try and work out why someone acted the way they did or try to predict how someone might behave or react.  Psychology tries to find answers to some of these questions by investigating them in a more scientific manner. Consequently, psychologists observe and conduct experiments to find out more about the way people act and interact. Psychologists aim to understand what motivates and challenges human beings and use this understanding to help us tackle personal and social problems.

If you study psychology you’ll be able to hone your analytical and organisational skills and learn about scientific research methods, including collecting and working with data. Learning about human behaviour can also help to build your communication skills and improve your teamwork and leadership skills. If you would like to understand both yourself and others better, psychology is the subject for you.

Course outline:

A-level Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

A-level Paper 2: Psychology in Context

A-level Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Unit/ module



Type of assessment




  • Social Influence: Conformity; Obedience; Resisting social influence; Social Change
  • Memory: Types of memory; models of memory; explanations of forgetting; Accuracy of eyewitness Testimony
  • Attachment: Stages of attachment; explanations and types of attachment; cultural variations; Maternal deprivation; effects on childhood and adult relationships
  • Psychopathology: definitions of abnormality; characteristics of phobias, depression & OCD; behavioural, cognitive and biological approaches to explanation and treatment

Multiple choice, short answer and extended writing

33.3% of A-level



  • Approaches in Psychology: Assumptions of the behavioural, SLT, cognitive, biological, psychodynamic and humanistic approaches in Psychology
  • Biopsychology: The nervous system; endocrine system; fight or flight response; localisation of brain function; plasticity & functional recovery; ways of studying the brain; Biological rhythms
  • Research Methods: Understanding experimental methods; scientific processes; data handling; probability & significance; interpretation of descriptive and inferential statistics

Multiple choice, short answer and extended writing

33.3% of A-level



  • Issues and Debate: Gender and culture; Nature vs nurture; free will vs determinism; holism and reductionism; Idiographic & nomothetic approaches; ethical issues in psychological research
  • Relationships: evolutionary explanations for partner preference; theories of attraction, formation, maintenance & breakdown of relationships; virtual relationships; parasocial relationships
  • Stress: The physiology of stress; The role of stress in illness; Sources of stress; Measuring stress; Individual differences in stress; Managing and coping with stress; Gender differences in coping with stress; The role of social support
  • Addiction: Describing addiction; Risk factors in the development of addiction; Explanations for nicotine addiction; Explanations for gambling addiction; Reducing addiction; The theory of planned behaviour and Prochaska’s six-stage model of behaviour change

Multiple choice, short answer and extended writing

33.3% of A-level

Essential student qualifications/abilities:

At least 5A*-C Grades at GCSE

Desirable student qualifications/abilities:

English GCSE grade B

Maths GCSE grade B

A Science GCSE

Higher education opportunities:

You do not need to study Psychology at A-level for any particular degree, even for Psychology. However, Psychology A-level is useful for a range of social science, arts and healthcare related degrees including: childhood studies, Media Studies, Physiotherapy, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Sports Science, Psychology, Sociology, Speech Therapy and Social Work.                      

Career opportunities:

Psychology can lead to specific careers in Industrial, Clinical, Educational or Forensic Psychology, counselling and therapy, but it is also a useful qualification to have if you are thinking of any career that involves dealing with people (almost everything!).  An understanding of psychological procedures and principles would also be useful in careers such as teaching, health service related occupations, law (including police) and social work.

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