Psychology is a very popular subject with approximately 500 students opting to take the first year of Psychology each year. The majority of these students opt to take the course to full A Level standard. We also offer IB Psychology at Standard and Higher level as well as a Criminology course exclusively for second years. This is a large department with Psychology specialists. Many of our staff are experienced examiners. Psychology is an expanding discipline and the Psychology team strives to keep up with current research developments and to help students to make links between academic Psychology and their everyday lives.

Courses Offered

AS and A2 Psychology

The AS course offers an introduction to some of the major areas of Psychology, including the study of memory, mental health and child development. Students are introduced to a range of psychological theories and research. There is a focus on using psychological knowledge to explain everyday behaviour and students are expected to make such links themselves rather than being taught this information. Psychology is therefore a subject where students are expected to think beyond their notes, both in class and in examinations. There is a strong emphasis on the scientific nature of Psychology and students will develop a good knowledge of methods of research that Psychologists use. The full A level course includes topics studied in greater depth.

IB Psychology (Standard and Higher)

The IB psychology course focuses on the way behaviour can be explored using three levels of analysis. Biological psychology is concerned with how brain activity correlates with behaviour, and the extent to which behaviour is inherited through our genes. Cognitive psychology explores thinking processes, mainly the nature of memory. Social and cultural psychology considers the way other people influence our behaviour, including aggression, conformity and gender roles. In addition to this core content, all students take a module on mental health. Students who opt to take psychology at Higher level will study a further module on human relationships, and one on qualitative research methods. This focuses on how psychologists gain knowledge, and overlaps neatly with the Theory of Knowledge course all IB students take.


This is an optional course for students who successfully complete AS Psychology and continue on to the full A level. Criminology is the study of criminal behaviour. It looks at the causes of crime in individuals and in society, and considers how it can be prevented or controlled. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on elements of Sociology, Psychology, Law and Social Anthropology. The WJEC Award in Criminology is assessed through controlled assessment and involves applying knowledge to real life situations and scenarios. Students learn to use theories of criminality to analyse criminal situations and make recommendations for policy change.

Please see the Course Details box on this page for links to downloadable subject information sheets.

Trips and Visits

The department aims to provide at least one Psychology trip each year to broaden and extend students’ understanding of and interest in Psychology. These usually consist of conferences, lectures, and visits to Higher Education institutions such as the University of Essex.

Support and Extension

Student Support

Psychology is a new subject for most students and we are keen to help students to develop the skills needed to cope with the demands of the course. Our Moodle intranet site, which can be accessed by students at college and at home, has an extensive range of support materials including revision sheets, presentations, examination questions , quizzies and copies of the AS and A2 specification. Teachers are always happy to offer additional support for students and this takes the form of one to one help as well as drop in revision sessions.


We offer students a variety of ways in which they can extend their knowledge of Psychology. We encourage students to watch documentaries that are pertinent to Psychology, of which there are many. The library provides access to Psychology Review magazine and to various scientific papers written by psychologists.

The Psychology department has links with the University of Essex and a representative from the university visits the college each June to talk about Psychology at Higher Education. Each year Psychology students are given the opportunity to visit the University of Essex's Psychology Department to attend lectures and research demonstrations.