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Psychology AQA A Level (Linear) at Poynton High School

Course description

Unit 1: Introductory topics in psychology
Social Influence – Could a holocaust occur in England? Important questions are raised about ethical boundaries in terms of both human behaviour and the science of psychology itself.
Memory – How does memory work? This section examines scientific research into the intricate and fragile nature of human memory by analysis of previous experiments and case studies.
Attachment – Do we learn to be human? In this section studies and theories of early influences on the emotional and social development of children are assessed.
Psychopathology (In unit 2 at AS) - Examines the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.
Unit 2: Psychology in context
Biopsychology (A Level only) – Do we control our body or does it control us? The biological roots of human behaviour are studied, including the influence of neurotransmitters and mapping the brain.
Approaches in psychology – Who is right? Examining the various disciplines within psychology such as the cognitive approach, the work of Freud and the emergence of psychology as a science.
Research Methods – Proving who is right. The increasingly scientific nature of research demands a thorough understanding of data collection techniques such as experiment, observation, correlation and survey. Inferential statistics, type I and II errors and probabilities are studied at A2 level.
Unit 3: Issues and options in psychology
Issues and debates - Exploring common areas of contention such as ethics and determinism.
Relationships – Why are we attracted to certain people? Includes the formation and breakdown of romantic relationships, and evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour.
Schizophrenia – Hearing voices, thought insertion, mind control? This topic develops knowledge and understanding of schizophrenia. Students will be required to apply models, classification and diagnosis to the disorder.
Aggression – Why be violent? Psychological and biological theories of aggression are studied, including neural mechanisms and evolutionary explanations such as infidelity and jealousy.

Course content

Learning Method:
Lectures and discussion are augmented with experimental practice and activities. Emphasis is placed on the understanding of scientific technique in psychology and assessment of its validity. Independent learning skills are nurtured and students are required to explore and produce their own research according to the protocols of professional scientific reporting, in the manner of a journal article. Visiting speakers have included professional psychologists, able to give an insight into both psychology as subject and also as a career choice.

Entry requirements

  • 5 GCSEs at grade C or above. This must include a grade B in Additional Science or a grade B in a separate science subject.
  • Additionally, it is strongly recommended that students have achieved a grade B or above in English and Mathematics GCSE.


Unit 1 (1.5 hours) - Introductory topics in psychology (50% of AS)
Unit 2 (1.5 hours) - Psychology in context (50% of AS)
A Level
Unit 1(2 hours) - Introductory topics in psychology (33.3% of A Level)
Unit 2 (2 hours) - Psychology in context (33.3% of A Level)
Unit 3 (2 hours) - Issues and options in psychology (33.3% of A2)

Future opportunities

20% of last year’s cohort went on to study psychology at university. The course nurtures a range of transferable skills and can complement a career in the arts, humanities or science. Our ethos is to encourage students to research, analyse and evaluate independently and to communicate their ideas effectively. Consequently, A level psychology is ideal preparation for any research degree at university.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Poynton High School directly.

Last updated date: 20 September 2016

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