- Average Point Score: 4.5
- English Language GCSE Grade 4
- Mrs Lomas
- Mrs Macfarlane
- Mrs Ward
Studying A Level Psychology
Psychology literally means ‘study of the mind’. There are many areas of research that Psychologists are involved in, these include social psychology, brain and behaviour, emotion, attention, perception, and personality.
Psychology is an extremely popular subject at A level. It is a science with cutting edge research that has real world applications to issues in everyday life, ranging from artiﬁcial intelligence to social change.
Psychologists ask interesting questions regarding human behaviour.
- Why is it that some people suffer from stress and mental illness?
- Why do some people fear open spaces?
- What makes someone become a serial killer?
- What makes us obey unjust commands?
- Are looks, status or personality important when choosing a partner?
- How does the brain work?
Psychologists observe and measure behaviour, and their therapies are often based on scientiﬁc study. Psychology is constantly changing and is best understood through ‘active learning’. You will therefore have the opportunity to carry out a number of activities including; group work, displays, research, presentations, discussion and debate, written work, experiments and conferences. If you enjoy ﬁnding out about key pieces of research and have a critical and inquisitive mind, Psychology is a challenging and exciting subject for you to embark on.
In addition, Psychology has links with many disciplines including Biology and Forensic Science, as well as humanities such as Sociology and Health and Social Care. It is a great basis for all future careers.
If you enjoy ﬁnding out about human behaviour and have a critical and inquisitive mind, Psychology is a great subject for you.
Psychology is certainly not a one-size-ﬁts-all career choice. In fact, one of the greatest strengths of picking Psychology is the enormous variety of career paths that are available.
A Level Psychology and Sociology students on the annual London trip where they visit the Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital’s Museum of the Mind and are taken on a tour of the areas in Whitechapel where the Jack the Ripper murders took place.
The topics studied in Psychology A Level include:
- Approaches to Psychology
- Year 1 Research Methods
- Issues and debates
- Year 2 Research Methods
Although these topics are grouped in to Year 12 and 13 here, there are links between topics generated throughout the course.
There are many opportunities that Psychology can lead to, including:
- Clinical Psychologist
- Educational Psychologist
- Criminal/Forensic Psychologist
- Occupational Psychologist
- Social work
- Applied research
- Sports Psychology
What do our students say about Psychology?
I have enjoyed the wide variety of topics we have studied in Psychology so far – you will definitely find something that interests you. I particularly enjoyed the Psychopathology topic, in which we discussed phobias, depression and OCD. I also love that the Psychology department gives us workbooks at the beginning of every topic, with all the lessons included in it. For students like me, who can get quite anxious about being picked to answer a question in lesson, it is very useful to have a general idea of what will be covered in that lesson beforehand, so you can feel a bit more prepared.
Before I started the course, I underestimated the number of experiments and studies I would have to learn. This was daunting at first but has become easier as the year has gone on.
My best advice for new students is make sure you keep up to date with your work – it is a huge step up from GCSE, so it is very easy to fall behind, especially to begin with. Another piece of advice would be to not worry! I remember being nervous at the beginning of Year 12, but I personally prefer Sixth Form to main school. There is a lot more freedom and, if you choose your subjects wisely, you should not mind the extra effort you have to put in to do well.
I also study History and Biology and am doing an EPQ in how music can help people with dementia. Studying Psychology at A Level has reaffirmed my choice of career. I am planning to study Psychology at university after Sixth Form. Although I am not entirely sure which area I want to eventually get into, I am particularly interested in clinical psychology and mental health therapy.
As well as her A Levels, Lydia loves performing arts, especially musical theatre, and is a regular in school productions.
Drew's study of Psychology alongside Biology and Chemistry will allow her to pursue a Biosciences degree at university.
Despite science being my least favourite subject in secondary school, I thoroughly enjoy the more scientific areas of Psychology A Level. My favourite topic is biopsychology as you learn very interesting things about the brain, from localisation of brain function (the idea that different parts of the brain are responsible for different things e.g. memory and personality) to neuroplasticity (the idea that the brain can change its structure due to new learning experiences or injury).
I wish I would have known at the start of Year 12 that the course gets a lot more interesting as you go on. For example, in Year 13 you learn about forensic psychology (which is about criminal behaviour and investigation) and schizophrenia which are both very fascinating topics.
The advice I would give to Year 12 students is to be organised. I personally like to use a calendar to plan out when I will do homework or revision, this ensures nothing is left until the last minute. Free periods are also very important to use for any work you have to do, this will mean you have less to do at home and more time to relax. As well as this, I would recommend looking into revision guides as they help when making revision notes.
The other subjects I studied were Sociology and Health and Social Care. Sociology does have a couple of cross overs with Psychology (for example Research Methods), I am glad I picked both.
I plan to study a Psychology degree at the University of Manchester, I then hope to study a Masters in Neuroimaging, however I am excited to see where my Psychology course will take me. Studying Psychology at A Level will help me because I already have some understanding of the topics I will learn about in more depth at university.
Nia is planning to study Psychology at the University of Manchester and then specialise in Neuroimaging
After Sixth Form Hannah has continued studying Psychology for her degree
I knew I wanted to take Psychology even before I did my GCSEs so it was really interesting to start learning and understanding more about the brain and why people behave the way they do. It was also good to start understanding what areas I would like to study further after A Levels such as cognitive psychology.
I wish I had known at the start of Psychology in Year 12 how important research methods are and how you need them across all sections of Psychology, especially if you want to do Psychology after A level as well. I would definitely recommend taking research methods seriously even if it’s not your favourite section. Another key thing that you will learn quickly when you start A Levels is what you put in is what you get out so if you work hard from the get go you will be rewarded at the end.
When I started in Year 12, the jump in content compared to Year 11 feels massive at first so the best thing I can suggest is organisation and using the time you have in lessons to fully understand the topic, instead of trying to learn it all when revising. Doing GCSEs it’s easier to learn content during revision but all 3 A Levels take up a lot of time.
I studied Biology and English Literature along with Psychology. I feel as though these subjects really complemented each other as Biology goes more in depth about certain aspects of Psychology, ie synapses and the brain. Being able to understand these topics more in depth from Biology developed my understanding of Psychology. English Literature helped me develop my essay writing skills that are essential in Psychology.
Since leaving Sixth Form I have started a degree in Psychology at Edge Hill University, so obviously doing Psychology A Level benefited me in understanding the university course. I hope in the future to become further trained in Psychology and hopefully start a career working towards becoming a Psychologist or working in a similar area. Doing A Level Psychology definitely puts you a foot in the right direction for progressing in many career pathways as it is very versatile.