Psychology (A Level)


Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it influences behaviour, from communication and memory to thought and emotion. It is about understanding people and how this understanding can help us address and solve many of the problems in society.

As a science psychology is dedicated to the study of human behaviour through observation, measurement, and testing, in order to form conclusions that are based on sound scientific methodology.

Psychologists employ their knowledge and expertise in many areas of society, such as:

    Helping us prevent and overcome mental disorder, stress, and trauma. 

    Speeding up recovery from brain injury. 

    Improving performance both at school and in the workplace.

    Assisting the police, courts, and prison services in the operation of their duties. 

    Analysing and improving athletic performance.

The department has close links with a number of universities, so students will have an opportunity to experience psychology in a university setting as well as attend lectures by leading psychologists in their field. Local Universities also visit to offer support and guidance for university applications. The department also runs a ‘grade booster’ trip every year.


The Psychology Department also offers a Criminology Level 3 Diploma. This can be taken in addition to Psychology but offers a good alternative course to those students who do not achieve the mathematics or science grades required for A Level Psychology but still have good literacy skills. If both Psychology and Criminology are taken the third A Level subject must be a facilitating subject (e.g.: Biology, English, Mathematics, History or Geography).


The first year of the course consists of six topics:

Social Influence – This is the study of how society influences the individual. Why we do as we are told, why we do what everyone else is doing. Why some people rebel against society.

Memory – Different types of memory.  Why eye witnesses to crime make such poor witnesses. Why we forget.

Attachment – How our relationships with our first carers influence all our future relationships. The impact of institutionalisation in childhood on relationships.

Approaches – Different fields of psychology and how they explain human behaviour.

Psychopathology – What is normal and what is abnormal. Explanations and treatments for phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Research Methods – The methods used by psychologists to investigate human behaviour.


Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.

The Year 2 Psychology course consists of the following subjects: 


    Research Methods

    Issues and Debates



    Forensic Psychology

The course is examined by three two hour written examinations. Each is worth 33% of the A Level grade.

Core Mathematics (Mathematical Studies) is a very useful complementary course for this subject and is strongly recommended as a further (4th) course choice for students who are not taking A Level Mathematics or A Level Statistics options. See the Core Mathematics subject page for further details (page 92).

Minimum Entry Criteria 

Standard College entry requirements (as detailed on page 12 of the Prospectus) and a minimum of:

Grade 5

In at least one predominantly written based GCSE subject (from English Language, English Literature, History, Religious Studies or Sociology)



Grade 4

GCSE English Language and English Literature



Grade 4

GCSE Mathematics          



Grade 4

Both 1st and 2nd grade GCSE Combined Science


If triple science is taken

Grade 4

Two GCSE single sciences including Biology

(Grade 5 is preferred in Biology)

Please note that GCSE Applied Science or Level 2 BTEC Science qualifications are not acceptable as alternative GCSE Science qualifications for A Level Psychology.


Psychologists work in a number of fields and therefore a psychology degree offers good career opportunities. These include forensic psychology, clinical psychology, educational psychology, cognitive psychology, occupational psychology, neuropsychology, health psychology, sport psychology, counselling psychology. 

In addition, people with psychology degrees go into a range of other professions as they have demonstrated an ability to be adaptable and have a range of skills. They have a good grasp of scientific and mathematical principles and can write in detail.