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Why Study Psychology?

In addition to helping students acquire subject knowledge, this specification:

-provides a sound understanding of the methods and approaches in psychology at an introductory level

-illustrates these methods and approaches through various topic areas representing the core areas of social, cognitive, developmental, biological and individual differences

-develops investigation and report writing skills

-develops analytical and critical thinking skills

-encourages an appreciation of 'how science works'

-provides a strong basis for progression to A-level Psychology specifications.

Course Format


For the new specification there is a short course and a long course. The long course is composed of Units 1 and 2 and the short course is Unit 1 only.

-Unit 1: Making Sense ofOther People (41801)


-Non-verbal Communication

-Development of Personality

-Stereotyping, Prejudice and Discrimination

-Research Methods

-Methods of Investigation

-Methods of Control,Data Analysis and Data Presentation

-Ethical Considerations

Unit 2: Understanding Other People (41802)


-Social Influence

-Sex and Gender


-Research Moethods

-Methods of Investigation

-Methods of Control, Data Analysis and Data Presentation

-Ethical Considerations

Study Help

A Level

Why Study Psychology?

Psychology can be described as the scientific study of the brain, mental systems, social issues and human behaviours and experience. It involves looking at a variety of topics such as memory, the origins of prejudice and the social causes of the holocaust. Through this subject there is an emphasis on the scientific method and the collecting of data.

Psychology is an interesting subject that will help you understand our behaviour. It is also appropriate if you wish to study Psychology after college.

If you are interested in how the brain works, how we are influenced by social surroundings or our childhood upbringing, how we remember things or different theories and approaches to topics then psychology is definitely for you. It is much harder in A2, than AS so it is important that you want to do the subject, and don't just pick it as a last resort.

Course Structure



(PSYA1) Unit 1: Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods -Cognitive psychology, including memory and eyewitness testimony

-Developmental psychology, including early social development, attachment and the effects of day care

-Research methods, in the context of the topic areas.

(PSYA2) Unit 2: Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences

- Biological psychology, including stress, factors affecting stress, coping with stress and managing stress

- Social psychology, including conformity, obedience and independent behaviour

- Individual differences, including definitions of abnormality, approaches and therapies. A LEVEL MODULES:

(PSYA3) Unit 3: Topics in Psychology

- Biological rhythms and sleep

- Perception

- Relationships

- Aggression

- Eating behaviour

- Gender

- Intelligence and learning

- Cognition and development.

Three essay-style questions chosen from the eight topics. QOWC (quality of written communication) will be assessed in each essay.

(PSYA4) Unit 4: Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods

- Biological approach, behaviourism, social learning theory, cognitive, psychodynamic and humanistic approaches

- Comparison of approaches

- Debates in psychology

- Methods in psychology, inferential statistics, issues in research



Unit 1: Introducing Psychology

-Key approaches in psychology, biopsychology, physiological psychology, the genetic basis of behaviour

-Gender development, concepts and explaining gender development

-Research methods, planning research, experimental and non-experimental methods, representing data and descriptive statistics, ethics.

Unit 2: Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology and Individual Differences

-Social influence or social cognition

-Cognitive psychology: remembering and forgetting or perceptual processes

-Individual differences: anxiety disorders or autism.


Unit 3: Child Development and Applied Options

-Child social development

-Cognitive development

-Moral development

-Cognition and law

-Mood disorders and schizophrenia

-Stress and stress management

-Substance abuse, treatment and prevention

-Forensic psychology.

Unit 4: Approaches, Debates and Methods in Psychology

-Biological approach, behaviourism, social learning theory, cognitive, psychodynamic and humanistic approaches

-Comparison of approaches

-Debates in psychology

-Methods in psychology, inferential statistics, issues in research.

Study Help

Take a look at our Psychology Revision Notes.


You don't necessarily need A level Psychology to stream onto University, though having it will prepare you for University. Psychology is now very competitive course, with the top universities often requiring AAA/AAB at A-level. Many of these universities emphasize the scientific nature of a Psychology degree, so you may wish to consider taking an A-level science in order to strengthen your application.

International Baccalaureate

Scottish Intermediate 1/2

Scottish Higher

Higher Psychology

This is a one-year course for students with an interest in Psychology, Social Science, Criminology or Science, who, because of the challenging nature of the course, should have a passing grade in Higher English.

The course will allow students to:

• develop their knowledge and understanding of individual, developmental and social psychology
• develop analytical and evaluative skills
• carry out psychological investigation though a research project <p>

Entry Requirements
• Passing grade in Higher English

Course Content

Contains 3 mandatory Units of 40 hours each, which seek to develop the following skills

• knowledge and understanding, analysis and evaluation

Understanding the Individual
Uses theoretical perspectives to investigate 3 mandatory areas: Cognitive Psychology (i.e. memory), Developmental Psychology (i.e. early socialisation) and Physiological Psychology (i.e. stress)

Investigating Behaviour
All aspects of this Unit are mandatory. Looks at research methods and research skills and how students will use these practically through their own research investigation of approximately 1,500 to 2,000 words. (40 hours)

The Individual in the Social Context

Students study a minimum if one topic from each field, up to a maximum of 3 topics.

Social Psychology: topics –
• Prejudice
• Anti-social behaviour
• Conformity and obedience

• Social Relationships

Individual Differences: topics –

• Atypical behaviour – definitions and origins,
• Atypical behaviour – therapies

• Intelligence (40 Hours)


The Research Investigation conducted by individual students (with supervision from the tutor) is externally marked and will contribute 20 per cent of the overall external exam result. Internal assessment will be no more than 1 hour for each Unit.

• University Degrees in Psychology, Arts, Social Sciences, Sciences and Criminology.
• General entry level for other university or college (HNC/HND) courses.
• Employment in the public sector, police, social work, etc.


Psychology can be studied at degree level.

The Course

Courses will vary in structure, although the same basic modules will be covered in some format (e.g. cognitive, social, developmental, abnormal), along with statistics. Unlike many other subjects, psychology students will have mostly compulsory modules to do in Years 1 and 2: there is not much room to take electives outside of the psychology department, or optional modules in psychology. In Year 3, there is more scope for choice, as well as doing your own research. More information can be found in the link above.


Psychology is incredibly competitive, and not many universities interview; therefore, it is important to make your application stand out. Check that you have the requirements (some universities prefer 2 science A Levels, others have a minimum requirement for GCSE Mathematics). Application for undergraduate is done through UCAS, like any other degree. Unless applying for Oxford or Cambridge (when the deadline is 15th October), the deadline is 15th January.

Personal Statements

There is guidance on the TSR Wiki for writing psychology personal statements here.

Study Help

Revision notes

Take a look at our Psychology Revision Notes.

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