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Psychology AS/A2 Level at Alton College

Course description

Psychology is the fascinating scientific study of behaviour. You will study how people interact, how we change and develop, how we think, how the nervous system works, how we differ from animals and how we decide what is normal. In this course you will be looking at scientific research on a regular basis and will learn about the different research methods that psychologists employ, such as experiments. It is a popular and academically demanding subject requiring a broad range of skills including data collection and analysis, identifying strengths and weaknesses in research, written and oral communication plus group work and designing and delivering class presentations. Psychology is an exciting discipline that encourages you to consider the origins of behaviour and to decide why we engage in acts such as violence, why we obey authoritative figures and we always leave you wanting to know more. What you learn will have relevance to your everyday life and any future career.

Our students always enjoy the practical investigations that allow them to plan their own research, carry out experiments, observations or interviews and analyse their results. You will take part in projects allowing you to collect data, analyse your results and assess your findings.

Your teachers will use a variety of teaching methods including class discussions to critically evaluate studies, debates about ethical issues, helping you to design and carry out your own research, trips, DVDs, textbooks, quizzes and past exam questions.


You will be expected to pre-read information before your lessons, as well as completing regular homework assessments.


Course content

What will I study?

Year 1

  • Social Influence: this areas looks at how behaviour relates to conformity, obedience, resistance, and minority influence
  • Memory: You will look at the multi-store model, types of long-term memory, working memory, explanations of forgetting, factors affecting the accuracy of eye witness testimony.
  • Attachment: This topic looks at caregiver-infant interactions, animal studies of attachment, the influence of early attachment and explanations including Ainsworth’s and Bowlby’s theories.
  • Psychopathology: You will study the definitions of abnormality, characteristics of phobias, depression and OCD. You will learn about the behavioural, cognitive and biological explanations behind these conditions, and the treatments available for them.

Research methods runs throughout the topics and you will learn about the methods used in psychological research and how to design your own research.

Year 2

  • Putting in context: This topic area furthers your understanding of the approaches, such as behaviourism and cognitive, biological, psychodynamic and humanist perspectives.
  • Biopsychology in which you will look at the structure of neurons, function of the endocrine system, flight or fight reactions, functions of the brain and hemisphere lateralisation, ways of studying the brain and biological rhythms.
  • You will cover a wide range of research methods and techniques including data handling and analysis, objectivity, the role of peer reviews, presentation of data, content analysis and when to use specific tests.
  • You will also look at issues such as gender and culture, free will and determinism, nature-nurture, holism and reductionism and ethics. Options within this section of the course will enable you to explore an area related to your specific field of interest such as relationships, stress or forensic psychology.

Entry requirements

Students studying a 3 or 4 AS level programme should normally have achieved an average GCSE point score of 5.5 or above and at least a grade C in Maths and/or English (unless specified otherwise). Students with a point score between 4.5 - 5.5 will normally take a mixture of Subsidiary Diplomas and AS levels.

You should have at least a grade B in GCSE Science.


This qualification is linear. Linear means that students will sit all the A-level exams at the end of their A-level course.

Paper 1: What's assessed?
Compulsory content 1–4 above

  • Assessed
    written exam: 2 hours
    96 marks in total
    33.3% of A-level
  • Questions
    Multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Paper 2: What's assessed?
Compulsory content 5–7 above

  • Assessed
    written exam: 2 hours
    96 marks in total
    33.3% of A-level
  • Questions
    Multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
    Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks and 48 marks

Paper 3: What's assessed?
Compulsory content 8 above
Optional content

  • Assessed
    written exam: 2 hours
    96 marks in total
    33.3% of A-level
  • Questions
    Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
    Section B,C,D: one topic from option multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Financial information

All students will be expected to provide their own textbooks and stationery

Essential: £20 per year for written resources and electronic book.
Optional: £22 for magazine subscription

Costs of trips vary

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Future opportunities

Not only will psychology give you a deeper understanding of human behaviour, it will also develop your skills in written and oral communication, research, study and revision. These skills will be of great value to you in Higher Education and employment.

All universities accept AS and A2 Psychology and past students have gone on to a wide range of courses and careers. The most popular degree courses for our students include psychology, nursing, teaching, business, sports sciences and occupational therapy.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 08 August 2016

Key information