Study option                                   Exam board                         Specification code

A Level two-year course                               OCR                                                       H567

Why choose psychology?

Psychology focuses on the science of the mind, behaviour and experience. It looks at how individuals think, what they do and the way they are affected by their biological make up and their wider social environment. You will explore the five key areas of psychology through studying classic and contemporary studies based around ten key psychological themes. You will also learn the importance of psychological research methods and explore the areas of mental health, child psychology and criminal psychology.

Where can it lead?

Psychology sits very well with other A Level subjects and is widely welcomed by universities because the analytical and interpretive skills you learn are so useful for studying almost any subject. You could also opt to pursue the subject further and ultimately forge a career in a psychology-related setting.

What and how will I study?

The first year of A Level:

Research methods:

  • Research methods and techniques
  • Planning and conducting research
  • Data recording, analysis and presentation
  • Report writing
  • Practical activities
  • How science works

Psychological themes through core studies:

  • Cognitive psychology: memory – the reliability of eyewitness testimony and the importance of context in retrieving memories.
  • Developmental psychology: external influences on children’s behaviour – the transmission of aggression and the influence of operant conditioning on children’s behaviour.
  • Social psychology: obedience – the extent to which people will obey a negative authority and the occurrence of disobedience and whistleblowing.
  • Biological psychology: regions of the brain – split-brain patients and the neural correlates of delayed gratification.

Individual differences: understanding disorders – analysing Freud’s case study of ‘little Hans’, the boy with a phobia of horses, and understanding autism in adults.

The second year of A Level:

Applied psychology:

  • Issues in mental health – the historical context, the medical model and alternative models.
  • Child psychology – intelligence, pre-adult brain development, perceptual development, cognitive development and education, development of attachment and the impact of advertising on children.
  • Criminal psychology – what makes a criminal, the collection and processing of forensic evidence, collection of evidence, psychology and the courtroom, crime prevention and the effects of imprisonment?

Psychological themes through core studies:

  • Cognitive psychology: attention – visual inattention and auditory attention.
  • Developmental psychology: moral development – the stages of moral development and evaluating lying and truth-telling.
  • Social psychology: responses to people in need – the factors affecting the likelihood of helping a person in need and cross-cultural altruism.
  • Biological psychology: brain plasticity – the impact of early visual experience and the adaptable brains of taxi drivers.
  • Individual differences: understanding disorders – IQ testing and the language of psychopaths.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment for the A Level consists of three two-hour examinations.

Are there any specific entry requirements?

You will need to have achieved at least a grade B in English language and a grade C or higher in GCSE mathematics. You will also need to be able to learn and memorise terminologies, analyse and evaluate scenarios as well as apply the knowledge gained to various aspects of life.