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Psychology A-Level at Priestley College

Course description

Psychology is the ‘scientific study of human behaviour and experiences’. If you have an inquisitive, enquiring mind and are interested in people then you should enjoy the course. However, Psychology is an evidence-based subject and you need to realise that the course involves a lot of reading, writing, independent research and analysis and interpretation and presentation of data using statistics.

Course content

The AS course (Year1 of new linear A Level) looks at a number of psychological themes illustrated through 10 core studies (5 classic and 5 contemporary). These include topics on memory, disorders (e.g. autism) and functions of the brain and cover five different areas of psychology (social, cognitive, developmental, biological and individual differences). You will also learn about the research methods that psychologists use and become familiar with how to interpret and evaluate research using statistics.

The A Level course covers 10 additional core studies extending your knowledge of the themes covered in year one and recaps knowledge of research methods. The main focus is on the application of psychological knowledge in the areas of mental health, crime and the environment: what is schizophrenia and how is it treated, why do people commit crime, and how does building design affect our behaviour etc.?

Entry requirements

You will need to have strong literacy and numeracy skills (be able to express yourself well in both the spoken and written word) and be aware of the requirement to work with statistics. You will need to have good analytical skills in order to interpret and evaluate the psychological case studies you will learn about. You will need to achieve C/4 in English and C/5 in Maths is preferred. We would encourage students considering taking Psychology A level to take the Core Maths course, as this will support the work they undertake in Psychology.


The AS course is assessed with two external examinations at the end of Year 1. There is a 1½ hour exam assessing research methods (Unit 1) and a 1½ hour assessing knowledge of the themes covered through the core studies

(Unit 2). This paper also requires an understanding of how to relate the psychology you have learned to real world situations and events with reference to a media source (e.g. newspaper article). The A Level course is assessed by three 2 hour external examinations at the end of the two year course (Unit 1: Research methods; Unit 2: Psychological themes through core studies; and Unit 3: Applied Psychology).

Future opportunities

Studying Psychology can lead to a number of specific careers, ranging from Clinical Psychology (working with people with mental health problems) to Forensic Psychology (applying research to crime). There are also many other careers and jobs that a knowledge of Psychology would be useful for, such as Social Work, Marketing and Teaching. Many opportunities in research are also available.

Further information

You will have the chance to attend conferences covering topics such as Forensic Psychology, go on various trips including Chester Zoo to hear talks on primate behaviour and undertake your own observational research. You will have opportunities to attend talks and lectures from visiting experts in various fields of Psychology.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 10 October 2016
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