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Psychology at Holcombe Grammar School

Course description

Studying Psychology will give you fundamental and lasting insights into human behaviour; you will learn about the main approaches in this subject (Biological; Cognitive; Social; Developmental and Individual Differences). The research in Psychology ranges from controlled experiments on humans (power of the authority figure to conformity in administering electric shocks) to long term case studies (deprivation studies).

Course content

The A level course is divided into three components:

  1. Research Methods

This component introduces the world of research methods whereby students actively engage in their own practical research investigations.  Through the first hand experiences of collecting data via a range of methods and techniques, students will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different techniques.

  1. Psychological themes through core studies

This exciting component draws upon classic core studies and contemporary studies, to appreciate how psychological knowledge and understanding has developed over time.  There are ten pairs of studies to cover behaviours ranging from child aggression to brain abnormality.   Media sources are analysed in detail for their applications and engagement with psychological research. 

  1. Applied psychology

This insightful applied unit examines how the research and theories in psychological theory have an impact on life in certain areas.  The compulsory unit is “issues in mental health” plus students learn from two other optional units, choosing from:

Child psychology

Criminal psychology

Environmental psychology

Sport and exercise psychology

The issues and debates element run throughout this component.  Issues such as ethical and socially sensitive considerations to conducting research. Debates range from “nature/nurture” to “freewill/determinism”.

Entry requirements

A minimum of 5 grade A* - C GCSEs including English Language and mathematics

At least grade B in relevant GCSEs such as English and the sciences


Component 1                                                             30% of A level

2 hours (calculator allowed)

90 marks available in three sections of the paper.  Section A is a multi-choice question which can cover any part of the component.  Section B students have to apply their research design and methodological understanding to a stimulus source. Section C is based upon data analysis and interpretation of the stimulus material.  Students will be able to demonstrate their application of mathematical analysis in this section, using inferential statistics.

Component 2                                                             35% of A level

2 hours

105 marks available in the three sections of the paper. Students will to answer short and more detailed questions on the core studies (classic and contemporary) and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of all the areas and perspective in psychology, such as the psychodynamic, developmental, cognitive, biological, social and individual differences. The students will have an opportunity to relate their psychological imagination to a stimulus response and demonstrate their informed insights, e.g. how Freud’s Oedipus complex is used in the advertising industry.

Component 3                                                            35% of A level

2 hours

105 marks available in the three sections.  Section A assesses issues in mental health (35 marks). The remaining marks are available from the optional applied areas assessing their application through extended writing.

Future opportunities

Taking Psychology as an option will change your life; besides learning about human behaviour, you will also learn how to express yourself coherently, how to challenge information, how to be confident about yourself and how to be a more self-aware person! Our students are highly successful and progress onto the best Universities in a wide range of subjects.  Psychology will be a pathway to a variety of careers and professions including the public services, media, human resources, the law, education, research and many more.  Psychology is relevant to every sphere of industry, as demonstrated in the work of psychologists’ worldwide, see the British Psychological Society to be enlightened.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Holcombe Grammar School directly.

Last updated date: 24 November 2014
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1 year at AS, 1 year at A2