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Psychology is defined as the study of mind and behaviour. It is a fascinating subject which enables you to see the way you, and those around you, behave in a whole new light. You will discover why people will give potentially harmful electric shocks to others, just because someone else tells them to, why taxi drivers have different brains to non-taxi drivers, why eyewitness testimony is unreliable, and how the language of psychopaths is different to non-psychopaths. In addition, you will have the opportunity to carry out many of your own small scale experiments, using fellow students as participants. At the end of the course you will be able to criticise studies effectively and be able to design psychological research to ensure that it is as accurate and useful as possible.

Teaching Staff


Key Stage 5

A level Psychology consists of 3 x 2 hour exams taken at the end of the second year. There is no course work element in this subject. The exam board currently used is OCR

First year of study

Unit 1. Research Methods:

This unit introduces and develops knowledge and understanding of the process of planning, conducting, analysing and reporting psychological research across a range of experimental and non-experimental methods. You will have the opportunity to carry out a range of practical activities to enhance your understanding of the different methods used. You will be required to analyse your data, using a range of graphs, as well as statistical techniques. By the end of this unit you should be able to describe the different ways that psychologists carry out research, analyse and display data confidently and know the conventions of psychological report writing.


Unit 2. Psychological Themes through Core Studies:

This unit involves looking at 5 areas in psychology and 2 perspectives. For each of the 5 areas you are required to learn 4 studies, which are in pairs, in detail as follows:

  • Social Area: Looks at how others influence our behaviour. The first pair of core studies are Milgram’s study of obedience and Bocchiaro’s study into whistleblowing. The second pair of core studies are Piliavin’s study into bystander apathy and Levine et al’s study into cross cultural variations in altruistic behaviour.
  • Cognitive area: Looks at our mental processes, such as memory. The first pair of core studies are Loftus and Palmer’s study into how the wording of a question can affect how accurate an eyewitness is and Grant’s study into how our memory is enhanced if we are asked to recall something in the same environment in which we learnt it. The second pair of core studies is Moray’s study into auditory attention and Simon and Chabris’ study into visual inattention.
  • Developmental area: : Looks at how we change as we age. The first pair of core studies are Bandura’s study on whether children imitate violent behaviour and Chaney’s study into the effect of reward on the use of an asthmatic inhaler in children. The second pair of core studies are Kohlberg’s study into the development of morals and Lee et al’s study of lying.
  • Biological area: Looks at how our biological make-up can explain our behaviour. The first pair of core studies are Sperry’s study into how the left and right parts of the brain operate separately and Casey’s study into the areas of the brain involved in the delay of gratification. The second pair of core studies are Blakemore and Cooper’s study into the impact of early experience on vision and Maguire et al’s study into the brains of taxi drivers.
  • Individual Differences: this area looks at people who behave differently to what we would expect in the general population and focuses on understanding mental disorders. The first pair of core studies are Freud’s study of little Hans to explain phobias and Baron-Cohen’s study into how autistic people think differently to non-autistic people. The second pair of core studies are Gould’s study into bias in IQ testing and Hancock et al’s study into the language of psychopaths.


Second year of study

Unit 3. Applied Psychology:

This unit covers:

  • Issues in Mental Health: you will find out about mental illness in a historical context, how mental illness is diagnosed as well as exploring a range of both biological and psychological explanations and treatments for disorders.
  • Criminal Psychology: you will study biological explanations for criminal behaviour, the collection and processing of forensic evidence, the justice system and the effect of imprisonment.
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology: you will explore the role of arousal and anxiety in sport, the benefits of exercise for mental health, the role of personality and how an audience influences sport performance.


Specification: AS and A Level - Psychology - H167, H567 (from 2015) (