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Psychology AS/A Level at Brockenhurst College

Course description

Psychology is the science of mind and behaviour. We look at people’s motivations behind a range of different behaviours from a scientific point of view, looking at data in a rigorous way. We explore research into a variety of behaviours in an attempt to find answers such as 'Can you teach a chimpanzee language?' 'How do you design a test to diagnose Autism?' 'Are each of the hemispheres of the brain responsible for different functions and behaviours and how would we know?

A successful psychology student has an appetite for understanding how scientific principles can be applied to human behaviour.  If you are interested in people and inquisitive about their behaviour, this is the subject for you.  High achieving psychology students develop good analytical and problem solving skills; a keen eye for detail and enjoy using evidence to develop academic arguments.

Psychology is unique in that it “fits” well with a wide range of other subjects from the Arts and Sciences.  Most popular combinations are Biology, Sociology and English.  Whatever your career path from medicine to law, from media to business, from sport to teaching or criminology, psychology provides you with an excellent foundation and many skills.

The course involves an exploration of human behaviour and the mind.  You cover topics ranging from biological explanations of behaviour to how interacting with other people can influence your behaviour.  You use a scientific approach, looking at research evidence.  In the second year this is applied to specific topics such as health and crime. 

You will learn by lectures, class discussions, working in groups, individual note taking and by carrying out your own research.  It is fascinating, hard work and fun!  Examinations are based on structured questions and will be tested formally with 3 exams at the end of the course.

Course content

A Level

  • Research Methods

Candidates become familiar with 4 techniques for collecting/analysing data self-report, experiment, observation, correlation. Candidates will conduct their own small investigations and make a record of their activities.

You will experience designing your own practical project within a classroom setting, but you will be assessed through an exam which will contain a short passage which acts as a stimulus from which you must generate a hypothesis and design an experiment.  You will also be asked evaluative questions on your experiment.

  • Psychological Themes through Core Studies

Candidates build knowledge and understanding of 10 pairs of contemporary and classical psychology studies demonstrating evaluation skills and an appreciation of wider psychological approaches/perspectives, theories, issues and debates. Candidates make comparisons and distinctions between core studies and examine the broader context of general debates within psychology.

  • Applied Psychology

Candidates have the opportunity to study 3 areas of applied psychology:
- Issues in mental health
- Criminal Psychology
- Child Psychology

There is opportunity to learn about applications of psychology and how theory is applied in real life situations.

The lessons you will participate in cover a wide range of teaching and learning styles and activities.  You will also be encouraged to develop Information Learning Technology skills, consider media contact and reflections on the issues studied in the subject.

The department also runs regular workshops to help you get extra support and help with content or exam practice.

The Psychology team often run a trip to local university Psychology departments to put the learning in to a real life setting and to help with career choices.

From time to time we get asked by local universities to be involved with post graduate research where our students can have a go at being a participant in research if they choose to in order to give them a more thorough understanding of the research process.

You may also take an AS level in this subject - please see the section below.

Entry requirements

Studying Psychology requires you to have strong numerical skills and to be literate and scientific in your approach.

You will need to achieve 5 GCSEs, including C in English Language and Literature, Mathematics and Science (Core and Additional or the separate sciences you have studied them, all require a minimum of grade C).

We also expect you to have a GCSE average score of at least 5.0 (grade C in your GCSEs overall).

Students who do not meet the specific entry criteria will be advised on an individual basis.

Although we do not expect you to have studied GCSE Psychology, if you have done so we would expect you have achieved a grade C or above.



You will sit 3 exams for the A level and 2 exams for the AS. At AS you will study Research Methods and 10 studies.

Your progress will also be assessed throughout the year with regular homework and 12 common assessments, including 4 full mocks, progressively building your exam technique and skills. Additionally, you will monitor your own progress and areas of improvement.

Financial information

You will be required to purchase a textbook at approximately £25.

Future opportunities

Many students go on to study psychology at a wide range of universities, including experimental psychology at Oxford, forensic psychology at Portsmouth and health psychology at Southampton.

Some career specialist areas include clinical, occupational, educational, forensic, criminology, health and sports psychology.

Further information

A Level Psychology can be combined with many subjects to study at degree level.  However, some Russell Group universities may require that you take at least 1 science at A Level (Biology or Chemistry).

56% of our Psychology students progressed on to Higher Education last academic year, with 25% of those gaining places at Russell Group universities, and 33% progressing on to a Psychology related course.  Students gained places at institutions such as Southampton, Bournemouth, Winchester, Cardiff and Loughborough and many more.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Brockenhurst College directly.

Last updated date: 18 February 2016

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