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Psychology AS/A level at Highbury Fields School

Course description

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour and is a very popular A-Level course at Highbury Fields School. It looks closely at the workings of the human brain and aims to explain behaviour using a range of approaches. Psychology students will develop their analytical, critical thinking and evaluation skills during the course and will also get the opportunity to conduct their own research. These skills learnt during the Psychology A-Level course will be particularly useful at university and in employment.

Course content

Students will have six timetabled lessons per week. Students receive homework on a weekly basis in the form of exam-style questions, research and extended reading.

The AS course consists of two units:

Unit 1 (Social and Cognitive Psychology)

  • The Social approach looks into obedience to authority and reasons for prejudice and discrimination.
  • The Cognitive approach explores memory and forgetting and the reliability of eyewitness testimony.

Unit 2 (Understanding the Individual)

  • The Psychodynamic approach examines the unconscious mind and the impact of early experiences on an individual.
  • The Biological approach looks at the effect of genes, hormones and brain lateralisation on behaviour.
  • The Learning approach focuses on different ways behaviour is learnt such as conditioning, reinforcement, rewards and punishment.

At the end of each approach, students are required to conduct their own research.

The A2 course consists of two units:

Unit 3 Applications of Psychology

  • Criminological Psychology explores explanations of anti-social behaviour and eyewitness testimony.
  • Child Psychology looks at attachment, day care and explanations of Autism.

 Unit 4 How Psychology Works

  • Clinical Psychology covers mental health disorders such as Schizophrenia and Depression.
  • Issues and debates in Psychology, including ethics, Nature versus Nurture, and how far Psychology can be classed as a science.

There is a strong focus on research methods and ethics throughout the A-Level course within each approach and application.

Entry requirements

6 GCSEs at Grade C or above. The course involves writing essays and carrying out statistical tests. Therefore these GCSEs must include:
* Grade B in English
* Grade B in Mathematics
* BB in double award GCSE science or BBB triple award GCSE science.


Each Unit is internally assessed. There are two public exams at the end of Year 12 and Year 13, the weightings of which are shown below:

Year 12

Unit 1: Social and Cognitive Psychology



Unit 2: Understanding the Individual



Year 13

Unit 3: Applications of Psychology



Unit 4: How Psychology Works



In addition to the external exams, students are regularly assessed through homework essays and timed exam questions in class. This is designed to build their skills in tackling the different styles of exam questions, ensuring that they enter the exam room with confidence. It also allows their progress to be carefully monitored throughout the course.

Future opportunities

Psychology combines well with many subjects including Media, Sociology, Biology and PE. It is relevant for a wide range of careers including those in the health services, caring professions, police and social services, as well as in business, education, advertising and the media.

Further information

To find out more about this course / qualification please contact us; or you can ask your Connexions Personal Adviser or your school/college careers staff.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Highbury Fields School directly.

Last updated date: 20 July 2016
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