AQA specification for A Level Psychology

Psychology is the scientific investigation of human behaviour and should appeal to those who are fascinated by discovering why people behave as they do. It is a strongly vocational subject with a wide variety of career options available: educational, occupational, forensic and clinical Psychology (child or adult specialism), as well as counselling, and laboratory and field-based research of various kinds. A Psychology qualification may also be used to access a range of other employment fields such as management in business and industry, police, teaching, journalism and media, social work, and human resources. Psychology is a very popular degree course, and the A Level offers an excellent foundation to a wide range of topics and contemporary issues. Its study encourages the exploration of the analytical mind and the development of basic skills, understanding and knowledge that many employers are looking for.

Psychology has been classified as a science, reflecting its strong research element, as well as the sophisticated statistical analysis developed in pupils throughout the A Level course. Various innovative teaching and learning methods are employed, including role-play to replicate famous psychological experiments, and detailed individual examination of the latest university-based research to inform group presentations. There will be many opportunities for class discussion as well as assessment based on short answer and longer essay-style questions. Students have the opportunity to learn how to analyse arguments and evidence, test hypotheses and make informed judgments, all skills valued by Higher Education institutions and employers. There is no coursework, and final assessment is by written examination.

A Level Psychology Assessment

Paper 1

 

 

Introductory Topics in Psychology: Memory Social Influence, Attachment and Psychopathology

2 hour written exam

96 marks

33.3% of A level

Pupils are assessed on four introductory topics, with a mixture of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions. Each topic is worth 24 marks (96 marks in total).

The introductory topics offer a range of fascinating explanations for everyday behaviours including conformity and obedience, eyewitness testimony, maternal deprivation and explanations for phobias and depression. The four topics to be assessed include an appreciation of issues and debates relevant to each topic studied. Topics include: issues of bias, including Gender and culture; the role of animals in research; ethical issues; the nature/nurture debate; free will and determinism; and reductionism.                                                                                                                     

Paper 2

 

 

Psychology in Context: Approaches in Psychology, Biopsychology, Research Methods,

2 hour written exam

96 marks

33.3% of A level

Pupils are assessed on three areas, with a mixture of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions. Each topic is worth 24 marks (96 marks in total). Double weighting is given to research methods in this paper.


This paper includes the study of biological rhythms, such as those involved in sleeping, and draws on the important crossover between neuroscience and Psychology. They will look at the origins of psychology and the various schools of thought to explain behaviour. The strong element of research methods includes opportunities for practical work, which enables pupils to carry out their own investigations.

Paper 3

Issues and Options in Psychology: Issues and debates, Relationships, Schizophrenia, Aggression

2 hour written exam

96 marks

33.3% of A level

Pupils are assessed on four introductory topics, with a mixture of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing questions. Each topic is worth 24 marks (96 marks in total).


Topics such as why we choose certain relationships, symptoms and treatment of schizophrenia and explanations of aggression are studied, as well as competing Psychological explanations. The course enables pupils to engage in contemporary issues and debates in Psychology, such as the NHS funding policy for mental health.

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