Psychology (AQA)

Psychology is the study of human behaviour: why we act the way we do, and why some people act differently to others. The course looks at famous psychologists and their research studies in order to understand things like how other people shape our personality, how our brain works, or even what happens when our mental health doesn’t go to plan, for example with depression or schizophrenia.

A Level Psychology takes a scientific approach to studying human behaviour, and a large section of the course covers experimental method and scientific analysis. Psychology is a challenging subject in which students will be stretched as they attempt to consider many problems from a scientific perspective. It will increase students’ evaluative skills and therefore help them to become better learners and communicators, whatever the future holds for them.

An interest in people is very important, alongside a curiosity to find things out and understand yourself and the people around you. You will need a scientific mind-set and good analytical and evaluative skills, to be able to think about experiments critically and apply your knowledge of psychology to everyday examples. The exams use a variety of scientific, shorter questions, as well as longer essay style questions up to 16 marks.

A Level

Unit 1 – Introductory topics in Psychology

  • Social Influence – Why are people swayed by what other people think or say, even following orders that are ethically wrong?
  • Memory – How does our memory work, and can we rely on eyewitness accounts of crimes?
  • Attachment – Why are our relationships to other people so important, how do our early relationships shape us?
  • Psychopathology – How are disorders, such as depression, OCD or phobias, explained and treated?

Assessment: Written exam, 2 hours, 1/3rd of A Level

Unit 2 – Psychology in context

  • Approaches – What are the various different ways we try and explain human behaviour?
  • Biopsychology – How do our brain, nervous system and hormones control our behaviour?
  • Research methods – How do we run effective experiments in psychology and what makes an experiment good or bad when studying people? This section of the exam is a double section and runs throughout all the exam papers, accounting for 25% of total marks across all three papers.

Assessment: Written exam, 2 hours, 1/3rd of A Level

Unit 3 Issues and options in Psychology

  • Issues and debates in psychology – What are the big problems in understanding people? Such as whether our biology or environment shape us, or whether humans have any control over their own behaviour.
  • Relationships – What makes someone attractive? What makes some relationships successful and others not? How have relationships changed in modern times?
  • Schizophrenia – Why do people hear voices, see things that aren’t there or believe things that aren’t real? How can we help them?
  • Addiction – How do people become addicted to alcohol, smoking, gambling or drugs and what can we do to help?

MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Five GCSEs at Grade 5 or above, including Grade 5/5 in Double Science or at least 2 Grade 5s in Triple Science.

Updated September 2023