Psychology involves delving into the forces that drive and determine human behaviour. You will study some of the most important and interesting research from around the world. In your first year, you will look at a range of different areas helping to explain behaviour and applying what you have learned to real life situations; for example, how eyewitness testimony can be affected by the wording in a question and factors that influence whether someone helps in an emergency situation. In the second year, you will have the opportunity to study issues in mental health such as psychological disorders, criminal psychology and one other elective module, either sport, child or environmental psychology. Through studying Psychology you will learn important transferable skills such as analysis and evaluation and have access to a range of different trips and work experience, which will require you to apply your knowledge and develop your skills further.

Awarding Body

Available As

A Level

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What will I study?

Psychology A-level

There are three components / modules taught over two years. All of these modules are assessed by exams at the end of the second year.

  • Component 1 – Research Methods (30%, 2 hour exam)
  • Component 2 – Psychological themes through core studies (35%, 2 hour exam)
  • Component 3 – Applied psychology (35%, 2 hour exam)

Component 1 – Research Methods
This module encourages students to become familiar with four techniques for collecting and analysing data: self-report, experiment, observation and correlation.

Component 2 – Psychological themes through core studies
This module allows students to explore different approaches to explaining behaviour including the physiological, cognitive and social approaches through studying ten pairs of key psychological studies, one classic and one contemporary study.

Component 3 – Applied Psychology

This module allows the exploration of specific areas of Psychology that students may wish to specialise in. All students will study mental health and forensic Psychology.

Mental Health Psychology includes; the history of mental health, categorising abnormal behaviour, as well as the biological, behaviourist and cognitive explanations and treatments of mental health disorders.

Forensic Psychology involves studying Psychology in application to the law including; reasons why people turn to crime such as biology, the collection and processing of forensic evidence, the collecting and processing of evidence provided by witnesses and suspects, factors that affect jury decisions and the effects of imprisonment.  Students will then be required to choose one of the following modules to study; sport, child or environmental psychology.



As a psychology student you have the choice of three pathways. These are linked to the component 3 exam and are studied in year 2. You will have the choice of child psychology, sport psychology or environmental psychology.

Child Psychology

Child psychology focuses on areas such as; what psychologists mean by intelligence and what biological factors affect intelligence, brain development and the impact of risk taking behaviour, perceptual development in children, cognitive development in children and the impact on their education, development of attachment and the influence of television advertising on children and the stereotyping in such advertising.

Environmental Psychology

Environmental psychology focuses on areas such as; Environmental stressors and their impact on our biological responses, biological rhythms and the impact of their disruption on our behaviour, conservation behaviours and the factors which influence the tendency to conserve or recycle, cognitive overload and the impact of observation in the workplace environment, the impact of built environment and urban renewal on our wellbeing and territory and personal space in the workplace.

Sport Psychology

Sport psychology focuses on areas such as; optimising arousal, controlling anxiety and measuring anxiety in sport, benefits of exercise to mental health, self-efficiency and sports confidence including imagery and sports orientation, personality, its measurement and its relationship to sport and teams, coaching and leadership.

How will I learn?

We use a wide range of strategies to get you involved and deepen your understanding. These include traditional lecturing and note-taking, research and presentation, mind-mapping, discussion, games, quizzes and peer learning. You will be expected to think for yourself and be proactive in your learning!

How will I be assessed?

Component 1 – Research Methods (30%, 2 hour exam)

Component 2 – Psychological themes through core studies (35%, 2 hour exam)

Component 3 – Applied psychology (35%, 2 hour exam)

Assessment is through an examination at the end of the course although you will be assesed through a variety of methods during the course (including recap tests, discussions and presentations) to prepare you for these exams.

Are there any trips on this course?

You will have the opportunity to attend a number of trips as a psychology student. The trips are not compulsory but will help you to extend or apply the knowledge that you are gaining in the classroom. Recent trips include:

- Gloucester Prison - a tour and a talk from a prison officer

- Clink Restaurant - a visit to a restaurant that aids in the rehabilitation of offenders

- Bethlam (mental health institution) 

- Various university trips including University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire

Are there any extra costs?

You will be expected to buy booklets that cover the course content - these cost between 90p and £3.50 depending on the unit. You will also need a set of SAFMEDs which are a set of cards that will help you learn the key concepts for the Component 1 exam.

Additional costs are also incurred for trips

Are there any specific entry requirements?

Grade 5 in Maths desirable.

What enrichment activities are offered?

We offer a range of course enrichment oppotunities. A variety of trips are offered but in addition to this we offer:

- Life Behind Bars Conference - a talk from a variety of ex-offenders who have been in prison. They discuss their experience of prison and answer your questions

- Sleep Deprivation Study - stay in college for 24 hours without sleep and complete a range of psychological tests to see the influence sleep deprivation has on you (50 places per year only).

- Visting speakers include: Nick Gazzard

What work experience opportunities are there?

Work experience placements specifically related to Psychology are tricky to gain due to issues such as confidentiality. You could gain work experience in a health care setting which would support applications for university.

Careers Information


Do I need to have studied Psychology before?

No – the syllabus provides an introduction to the subject and no previous knowledge is required.

Do I need to be good at Maths?

Although Psychology is often considered a scientific subject, the maths element of the AS course is not too challenging, but it is preferable that you have gained a higher grade pass in GCSE Maths. However, if you are considering studying Psychology at degree level you should be aware that some universities require an A or B in GCSE Maths and that top universities can require Maths to AS Level. You should check entry requirements with individual universities.

Are there enrichment activities?

Yes, recent events have included visiting Longleat, seeing Derren Brown on stage, attending a criminology conference and doing our own 24-hour sleep-deprivation study. We also run Psychology book and film clubs throughout the year.