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A Level Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes. It is concerned with how and why people think and behave in the way they do. To see whether the subject is of interest to you, consider the following questions: 1. What happens to a person when the two hemispheres in their brain have been surgically divided? 2. Is it possible to fake being mentally ill and gain admission into a mental institution? 3. Would you be prepared to kill another person because an authority figure tells you to? 4. Can a defendant's accent influence the sentence they receive in a trial? These questions, along will others, will be explored and answered in this course. The course will cover key approaches in Psychology, research methods and areas of Applied Psychology such as Criminal Psychology, issues in Mental Health and Environmental Psychology. You will develop logical skills of analysis and interpretation, and an appreciation of the contribution of Psychology to our society. Psychology is unique in that it "fits" well with any other A level subject. Most popular combinations are Biology, Sociology, Law, Business Studies & English Language.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English Language and usually Mathematics.

Course Content

Psychology has been linear since September 2015. Learners will therefore be taught all three components across the two years.

Component 01 – Research methods
In this component the four main types of research methods that psychologists use to investigage human behaviour will be explored. You will have an opportunity to carry out, on a small scale, these methods giving you first-hand experience of the strengths and weaknesses that accompany the methods of investigations. These include an observation, a survey, an experiment and a correlation.

Component 02 – Psychology themes through core studies
There are 20 specific research studies (core studies) that students will have to learn, understand and evaluate in great depth. These studies have paved the way for a greater understanding of human behaviour and introduce the different approaches that psychologists study from. You will learn 4 studies from within these approaches: social, developmental, cognitive, biological and individual differences. Two of the studies for each approach will be classic (early/groundbreaking) whilst the other 2 studies within the approach will give you a contemporary look at where we are today.

How will I be taught?

Teaching concentrates on guiding students through a process of active learning, via lively group discussions and structured activities. These are designed to allow links to be made between personal experience or viewpoints and the more research-based theory and evidence that is studied and assessed by a series of structured essays set as homework throughout the course. While statistics is an aspect of the practical work, there is never any arithmetical testing in the written examination. Regular reading and research is essential, as is the on-going practical element, which is thoroughly supported and assessed by tutors. You will be encouraged to use a variety of sources such as books, videos, journal articles, computer software. Great emphasis is given to the development of independent study skills, making use of the College’s Learning Resource Centre.

How will I be assessed?

Learners will complete three exams at the end of their second year, which are as follows:

1. Research methods – 2 hour written examination
2. Psychological themes through core studies – 2 hour written examination
3. Applied psychology – 2 hour written examination

What qualifications will I get?

Upon successful completion of this two year course you will be awarded an A level in Psychology.

What will it allow me to do in the future?

The skills and knowledge of Psychology are relevant to any career involving contact with other people. Whatever your career path from medicine to law, from counselling to business, from sport to teaching, Psychology provides you with an excellent foundation and many transferable skills.

Course Information

Students, aged over 19 on the 1 September of the year the course commences will be required to pay tuition and assessment fees. If you are in receipt of an income based benefit please ask about financial assistance, which may be available.

This course no longer attracts government funding subsidy for students aged 24 or above on the start date of this course. To help pay for these fees you may be entitled to the 19+ Advanced Learning Loan.

Please contact Customer Services on 0800 056 0511 or email customerservices@southdowns.ac.uk for further information.

This subject will become a Linear A level in 2015. This means in order to achieve a full A level you will study the subject for two years and take all your exams at the end of this period. Further information will be available at your College interview.

Office Use: 06/02/2015

Further Information

Component 03 – Applied Psychology
In this component you will learn about applied areas of Psychology. You will explore issues in mental health, looking at explanations of mental illness. In addition, you will study Criminal Psychology, examining explanations of criminal behaviour and how psychology is applied within the Criminal Justice System. Lastly, you will learn about Environmental Psychology considering issues such as recycling behaviour and the impact of our environment on wellbeing.


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