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Psychology A'Level at Newstead Wood School

Course description

AQA A-Level Psychology

Psychology is a very popular A level subject linking both the natural and social sciences. It introduces students to alternative ways of thinking and allows them to examine areas of immediate interest within their own learning, for example, exploring the way memory works, quantifying its capacity and evaluating its construction as an essential tool in education. Psychology attempts to answer some of the important questions posed by contemporary society such as how to define and treat mental health problems, or how working women need to evaluate day care as either essential development, or a detrimental period of separation for mother and child.

Course content

AS Psychology:

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology – Social Influence, Memory and Attachment

Paper 2: Psychology in Context – Approaches in Psychology, Psychopathology, Research Methods

Please note it is an option to take the exam at the end of Year 12 but this will only offer a metric measurement of performance. Students are encouraged to follow the course as a linear, sitting all exams at the end of the 2 years of study.

A-Level Psychology:

Paper 1: Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychopathology.

Paper 2: Approaches in Psychology, Biopsychology, Research Methods.

Paper 3: Issues and Debates in Psychology, Relationships, Eating Behaviour and Aggression (please note these are liable to change)

Please note that options in BOLD indicate content to be covered in the 2nd year of study – other content will have been covered in the previous year.


Psychology specific skills and concepts:

1. The ability to assess a psychological investigation and critically analyse the results with consideration for the implications of criticisms made.

2. The development of critical skills of analysis, interpretation and evaluation including the use of inferential statistics.

3. The ability to see how psychology has contributed to an understanding of individual, social and cultural diversity through the application of research to the real world.

4. An awareness of the process of conducting research, including the ethical responsibilities of psychological researchers.

5. An understanding of selected aspects of psychological concepts, theories and scientific research.

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto the AS Psychology course, students need at least a GCSE Grade 7 in English in order to cope with the extended essay writing required at A-Level. An excellent ability to deal with scientific knowledge stemming from both Biology and Chemistry is required for students to examine the biological approach to Psychology. Students will also be expected to analyse and scrutinise research findings alongside examining inferential statistical tests. It is therefore highly recommended that students also achieve a Grade A or above in Science and at least grade 7 in Maths.


AS Paper 1 Examined by exam, 1 hour 30 mins, 50% of AS Level

AS Paper 2 Examined by exam, 1 hour 30 mins, 50% of AS Level

A2 Paper 1 Examined by exam, 2 hours, 33.3% of A Level

A2 Paper 2 Examined by exam, 2 hours, 33.3% of A Level

A2 Paper 3Examined by exam, 2 hours, 33.3% of A Level

Future opportunities

A Level Psychology is able to provide a thorough training in critical analysis, reasoning and the ability to carry out experimental and scientific research. It is a useful foundation for the sciences, social sciences and humanities subjects. Specialisation in psychology can lead to careers in a wide variety of professions including law, health services, counselling, psychiatry, clinical, forensic, media and advertising, educational and child psychology.

Further information

The emphasis in Psychology is on student-based enquiry both on a class and group basis and will involve both research and discussion. The course is supported by a range of textbooks relevant to the module topics, but students will be expected to carry out considerable wider reading, research application. At A-Level an understanding of issues and debates is essential, encouraging independent learning.

Homework is comprised of reading, note taking and exam question practice and students will be expected to engage in up to 3-4 hours of homework per week. The course is regularly assessed on the completion of topic exam papers completed in timed examination conditions.

Exams will be sat in the summer term of 2017/2018. All students will be offered the chance to sit an exam at the end of the AS-Level in Year 12, however this does not contribute to performance at A-Level and will merely offer a metric indication of student performance to date.

In recent years Psychology students have enjoyed key successes including:

  • 27% A* Grade at A2 level in Summer 2016.
  • 65% A* - A Grade at A2 level in Summer 2016.
  • 88% A Grade at AS level in Summer 2015.
  • Admission to Top UK Universities including Manchester, Lancaster, Warwick and Cambridge to continue studies within Psychology.
  • Admissions to American Universities to continue studies within Psychology.

Student highlights have included:

  • Opportunities to conduct own psychological investigations.
  • Meeting Zimbardo at a student conference in London.
  • Exclusive trips to the Bethlem Hospital, part of the Maudsley NHS trust.
  • Attendance at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court.
  • Participation in research for Goldsmith’s University.
  • Visits from Psychology Professionals to offer careers advice.
  • Attendance at Gresham College Psychology lectures

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Newstead Wood School directly.

Last updated date: 15 November 2016
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Key information