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Psychology A level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

A successful Psychology student has an appetite for understanding how scientific principles can be applied to human behaviour.  If you are interested in people and inquisitive about their behaviour, this is the subject for you.  High achieving Psychology students develop good analytical and problem solving skills, a keen eye for detail and enjoy using evidence to develop academic arguments.

Psychology is unique in that it “fits” well with a wide range of other subjects from the Arts and Sciences. Whatever your career path from medicine to law, from media to business, from sport to teaching or criminology, Psychology provides you with an excellent foundation and many skills.

The course involves an exploration of human behaviour and the mind.  You cover topics ranging from biological explanations of behaviour to how interacting with other people can influence your behaviour.  You use a scientific approach, looking at research evidence.  In the second year this is applied to specific topics such as eating behaviours, addiction and gender.  You will learn by lectures, class discussions, working in groups, individual note taking and by carrying out your own research.  It is fascinating but hard work.

Course content

AS Level: Unit 1 Introductory topics in Psychology

You will explore three compulsory, these include:

Social influence (including conformity, obedience, resistance to social influence and the role of social influence in social change).

Memory (multi-store model and types of long term memory, working memory model, theories of forgetting and eyewitness testimony).

Attachment (infant care-giver interaction and the role of the father, learning theory and Bowlby’s explanation for attachment, strange situation and attachment types cultural variations, Romanian orphan studies and the influence of early attachment)

AS Level: Unit 2 Psychology in Context

Consists of Psychopathology, Approaches in Psychology and Research Methods:

Psychopathology (definitions of abnormality, introduction to psychological disorders, characteristics of and behaviourist explanations of phobias, treating phobias, characteristics of depression and cognitive explanations of depression, treating depression, explanations of and treating OCD).

Approaches in Psychology (including Behaviourist, Cognitive, Biological)

Biopsychology (synaptic transmission autonomic nervous system, central nervous system and endocrinal system, adrenaline and fight or flight response)

Research methods (experiments, observations, self-report techniques correlations)

A Level

In Year 2 you will expand the depth and understanding of topics covered in the AS as well as including new material:

Two additional approaches will be covered (Humanistic approach and Psychodynamic approach).

Debates in Psychology (gender and culture bias, free will and determinism, nature and nurture, reductionism and holism, ethical issues in research)

You will cover three topics from a range of options including Schizophrenia, Forensic Psychology, Gender, Eating Behaviour, and Addiction.

You will develop a deeper understanding of research methods and data analysis with an extended consideration of conceptually more demanding aspects of scientific process, analysis of qualitative data and the use of inferential statistics. This includes the consideration of ethical issues in the design and implementation of research.

Entry requirements

5 GCSEs grades A*- C. Successful students would normally achieve a grade A or B in a number of relevant GCSE subjects, such as Science, English and Maths.


You will sit two 1 ½ hour exams for the AS Level and three 2 hour exams for the A Level.

AS Level exams:

Paper 1: Introductory topics in Psychology

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

A Level exams:

Paper 1: Introductory topics in Psychology

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods:

You will be assessed regularly using online practice questions that are conducted either as homework or under timed conditions in class and given feedback on your progress. You also will be assessed regularly on linguistic terminology.

Discussions and mini research projects are a vital part of our learning process and you will be expected to contribute to those in groups and individually.

You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.

You will undertake mock examinations on each unit in advance of your final exams.

Future opportunities

Psychology is recognised as a valuable science A Level by both employers and universities. In addition to numeracy, communication and IT skills, you acquire a wide variety of skills – from organisation to analysis, from investigative research to a deeper understanding of the diversity of human behaviour.

Psychology at A Level or degree level provides a valuable background for a large variety of employment opportunities, e.g management, personnel, sales, advertising, marketing, teaching, uniformed services, nursing, health and welfare fields. Further training and experience beyond degree level is usually required for qualification as a professional psychologist, e.g clinical, educational, forensic, organisational psychology.

Further information

We encourage all students to read widely around topics being covered and to stay up to date with current research, especially those who wish to study Psychology at degree level. We will offer opportunities for you to conduct independent research.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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