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Psychology A Level at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Technology College

Course description

Would you like to know:
How memory works?
Why we get stressed?
What affects children’s social and cognitive development?
Localisation of brain processes?
How to collect, analyse and interpret data?
Why people obey others?
Psychological and biological explanations for abnormality?

If so, you will find Psychology a stimulating and challenging new subject

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour in human and other species. The curriculum is designed to introduce the scope and nature of Psychology as a science. As a result, activities inside and outside of the classroom provide students with the opportunity to put science in action.

Learning and teaching is focused around applying knowledge and understanding rather than just acquiring knowledge. In turn, students develop transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking.

Course content

At AS level, the AQA (A) specification offers a broad range of topics, with research methods in context. Students sit two written modules (Paper 1 and Paper 2) in the summer. Below is an overview of the AS course content:

Approaches in Psychology
Students will develop an appreciation of the origins of psychology and understand the main assumptions of the behavioural, cognitive and biological approaches to explaining human behaviour.

Research Methods
Psychologists strive to uncover facts about human mind and behaviour using empirical evidence from formal research methods. This section will aim to teach you how these facts are gathered. You will develop skills, knowledge and understanding on how to best carry out a piece of psychological research and how to evaluate the results. This section includes the analysis and interpretation of data using statistics.

Cognitive Psychology
Cognition is the activity of mental processing or ‘thinking.’ This section aims to explain the processes of encoding, capacity and duration in the human memory system. Further to this, students will develop knowledge of memory in everyday life such as, the reasons why we forget and eyewitness testimony.

Developmental Psychology
This aims to study early social and cognitive development in infants and young children. You will learn about how infants form attachments and the long term effects of privation on children. You will investigate the influent of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships.

This is the study of the interaction between the brain and behaviour. You will study the nervous system, the structure of neurons and the process of synaptic transmission. You will understand the role of glands and hormones and behaviour. You will explore the biological explanations for stress including the physiological impact this has on the body.

Social Psychology
This is concerned with aspects of human behaviour which involve people and their relationships with other people, groups and society as a whole. You will study the ways in which others influence our behaviour including conformity and the reasons why people obey others. This section will allow you to discover the implications social influence has for social change.

Individual Differences
This is the study of behaviour outside of the ‘normal’ range; focusing on psychopathology. You will investigate the key features of biological and psychological approaches to abnormality. You will explore the various methods used to treat abnormality from drug therapy to systematic desensitisation.

At A level, the AQA (A) specification allows a range of topic-based options to be selected by the teacher. The topics bring together explanations from different approaches in Psychology and lessons focus on engaging students in issues and debates in contemporary Psychology. These higher-order thinking skills underpin all lessons. Students sit three written examinations, lasting two hours each, taken in the summer.


In the first year of AS study students complete six topics and sit a one hour and 30 minute written examination for each.

AS Examination
Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology
1 hour 30 minutes written examination
50% of the total AS marks
This paper includes: Social Influence, Memory and Attachment.

Paper 2: Psychology in context
1 hour 30 minutes written examination
50% of the total AS marks
This paper Includes: Approaches in Psychology (including biopsychology), Psychopathology and Research Methods.

In the second year students study four additional topics and sit three two hour examinations.

A level Examination
Paper 1:
2 hour written examination
33.33% of the total A level marks
This paper includes: Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychopathology.

Paper 2:
2 hour written examination
33.33% of the total A level marks
This paper Includes: Approaches in Psychology, Biopsychology and Research Methods

Paper 3:
2 hour written examination
33.33% of the total A level marks
This paper Includes: Issues and Debates in Psychology,
One from: Relationships; Gender; Cognition and Development;
One from: Schizophrenia, Eating Behaviour; Stress
One from: Aggression; Forensic Psychology:


Future opportunities

- A broad introduction into aspects of psychological theory and research using scientific principles.
- An understanding of how science works.
- Opportunities to develop critical skills of analysis, interpretation, evaluation and statistical analysis.
- An awareness of the ethical responsibilities of psychological research.
- Opportunities to carry out experimental and investigative activities.
- Opportunities to develop the skills needed to carry out psychological research investigations such as interviews, observation and laboratory based experiments.
- A consideration of the applications and implications of science and appreciate their associated benefits.
- An appreciation of the further study and careers associated within Psychology

Psychology is a science and a well-regarded A Level subject, which will gain you entry onto most degree courses. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the course, students need a good comprehension of English, Maths and Science. Students must attain a grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths and English to gain entry onto the course.

Psychology is beneficial to many career choices such as counselling, educational sports psychology and criminology to name a few. Further to this, there are many careers outside of Psychology itself that benefit from a qualification in Psychology such as, management, nursing, public relations, police work, social work, healthcare, prison work and teaching/research posts.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Francis of Assisi Catholic Technology College directly.

Last updated date: 20 March 2017
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