Psychology

Board:  AQA

General overview

The AQA (A) Psychology specification aims to encourage in candidates the development of:

  • a secure understanding of approaches and methods used in Psychology within the context of topic areas.
  • an ability to demonstrate the use of scientific methodology in the context of the subject
  • the ability to apply psychological knowledge and understanding to a range of topic areas
  • critical thinking skills within the context of the subject.

AS and A-Level courses

  • The AQA courses are co-teachable. This means that content common to the AS and A2 courses is covered in the first year (Year 12) and students who may not wish to continue with the subject for the full A-level are able to complete the AS examinations at the end of Year 12.
  • Students continuing through the full course will sit the full set of A-level examinations at the end of the second year.
  • The information below is based on the AQA draft specification for 2015.

A-Level Subject content (Two year course)

Compulsory content

  • Social influence
  • Memory
  • Attachment
  • Psychopathology
  • Approaches in Psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Research methods
  • Issues and debates in psychology

Optional: One topic from each option

Option 1

  • Relationships
  • Gender
  • Cognition and development

Option 2                  

  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating behaviour
  • Stress

Option 3

  • Aggression
  • Forensic psychology
  • Addiction

A-Level Assessment

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

What's assessed:

  • Compulsory content 1–4 above

How it’s assessed

  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section D: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

What's assessed:

  • Compulsory content 5–7 above

How it’s assessed

  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 48 marks

Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

What's assessed:

  • Compulsory content 8 above
  • Optional content, one from option 1, 9–11, one from option 2, 12–14, one from option 3, 15–17 above

How it’s assessed

  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 96 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: one topic from option 1, 9–11 above, multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: one topic from option 2, 12–14 above, multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section D: one topic from option 3, 15–17 above, multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

AS Subject content (1 year course)

  • Social influence
  • Memory
  • Attachment
  • Approaches in Psychology
  • Psychopathology
  • Research methods

AS Assessments

Paper1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

What's assessed:  Compulsory content 1–3 above

How it’s assessed

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 72 marks in total
  • 50% of AS level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

What's assessed: Compulsory content 4–6 above

How it’s assessed

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 72 marks in total
  • 50% of AS level

Questions

  • Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
  • Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Entry Requirements

  • It is desirable for students to have achieved GCSE grades B+ in English and B+ in Additional Science and Mathematics plus another written subject.
  • No prior knowledge of psychology is necessary.
  • Students should have an interest in people and their behaviour and empathy for their problems.

Teaching approaches

  • Teacher exposition
  • Discussion and debate
  • Practical investigations
  • Independent research
  • Group research

Career and Support Subjects

The nature of Psychology chiefly as a science and a social science means that it combines well with many other subjects including Biology, Mathematics, Statistics, Business Studies, Geography, Philosophy and Religious Studies.

The course lays an appropriate foundation for the further study of Psychology or related subjects in higher education.

The material studied would be useful for students intending to pursue business careers or employment in other areas where inter-personal skills are important.

Other Information

Psychology is a diverse discipline that seeks to answer questions about ourselves; psychologists study the processes, motives, reactions, and nature of the human mind. There is a growing number of applied areas in which theory and research findings are brought to bear in trying to improve people’s lives in various ways.

As a student of psychology you should gain some fundamental and lasting insights into human behaviour which will enable you to cope better with your own life and in interactions with the people around you.

Each year a trip will be arranged for sixth form students that involves the use of Psychology beyond that of the A-level specification, for example, conferences about Forensic Psychology or about recent and interesting research developments.

Progression to A2 is contingent on achieving grade C or above at AS level and behaviour, attendance and punctuality records will also be taken into consideration.