Our aim in psychology is to enable students to be able to comprehend a wide range of psychological theory, with the ability to critically analyse them. There is also a practical element to psychology where students will be expected to plan, conduct, and analyse their own psychological research. This will enable students to deepen their understanding of how science plays an important role in psychology.
Students will be expected to work in small groups to prepare presentations and to conduct investigations, but will also be expected to work autonomously on research and essay writing tasks.
To improve their understanding of psychological concepts and how they play a role in human interaction it is important that the students broaden their reading from their textbook. Students should complete extra reading throughout their course that gives detailed examples of psychological theory at work in real life.
A Level Psychology
Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology
2 hours written exam 33.3% of the A level, 96 marks
- Social Influence – exploring what research has shown us about whether people conform and obey and what makes them do this; explaining why some people don’t conform and in what situations people don’t obey.
- Memory – studying the models of memory that have been suggested by psychologists; investigating why we forget; applying our knowledge to eyewitness testimony and its accuracy.
- Attachment – reflecting on the relationship between babies and their caregivers, in particular their mothers; explaining why attachments are necessary and how they form.
- Psychopathology- a consideration of how abnormality is defined, and how different perspectives explain and treat disorders, including phobias, depression and OCD
Paper 2: Psychology in Context
2 hours written exam, 33.3% of the A level, 96 marks
- Approaches in Psychology – comparing and contrasting the different views found in psychology, for example biological psychologists, vs humanist psychologists, vs cognitive psychologists.
- Biopsychology – Identifying key features of the human body, such as the central nervous system and the endocrine system, as well as looking at the fundamental structures of the brain; understanding how our physiology is of importance in psychology.
- Research Methods – learning how psychologists conduct research and carrying out practical research of our own.
Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology
2 hour written exam, 33.3% of full A-level, 96 marks
- Issues and Debates in Psychology – developing an understanding of the key issues and debates in psychology, such as the nature-nurture debate, culture bias, and gender bias.
- One from: Relationships; Gender; Cognition and Development – At Loxford we have chosen ‘gender’’ where we will consider the gender spectrum, stereotyping, and the different influences on gender development
- One from: Schizophrenia; Eating Behaviour; Stress. At Loxford we have chosen ‘schizophrenia’, where we will investigate the nature of schizophrenia, as well as comparing possible explanations and treatments.
- One from: Aggression; Forensic Psychology: Addiction. At Loxford we have chosen ‘forensic psychology’, where we will learn about ways in which crime is measured, factors that lead to criminal behavior, and rehabilitation and recidivism.
Why you should consider this course
Psychology is a social science that offers students the opportunity to investigate the motivations behind the human mind. Through the study of Psychology A Level, students develop knowledge and understanding of key psychological concepts, theories and studies. Students also develop the skills of analysis and evaluation, which they will demonstrate in essay writing, as well as knowledge of how psychologists conduct their research and the ethical issues involved in this. Psychologists at Loxford will cover a range of topics including memory, attachment, social influence, and abnormality.
Psychology is useful in a wide range of careers as it equips you with the ability to understand people and behaviours, as well as developing critical and communicative skills which are useful in a range of environments and occupations. Studying psychology also helps develop practical maths skills, including understanding graphs and interpreting statistical analyses. Psychology students are desirable employees because they have both language and numerical skills.
A Level Results 2023
Congratulations to the Year 13 students on achieving
80% grades A* - C
Best of luck in your future pursuits and well done on all the hard work
A Level Results 2022
Congratulations to all A Level students
81% of students achieved A* - C
Best of luck in your future pursuits and well done on all the hard work
The most common careers in psychology include:
- Counselling psychologist
- Educational psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- Health psychologist
- Mental health worker
- Sport psychologist
- Occupational psychologist
- Research and Teaching
Some of the books, films and websites recommended below are fictional, some are nonfictional. Some are directly relevant to the topics you will study on your A-level course, and some are related to psychology as a whole. This reading list will be especially useful to you if you are considering studying psychology at University. This list is, of course, not exhaustive, but just a selection of what we have enjoyed!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon Christopher is an intelligent boy with autism. When the dog next door is killed with a garden fork, Christopher is determined to work out who did it.
Before I go to Sleep – S. J Watson A psychological thriller about a woman who completely loses her memory every time she goes to sleep. A real page-tuner.
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugides A really interesting look at gender and sex changes: the story of Cal who is “born twice” – first as a baby girl in 1960 and then again as a teenage boy in 1974.
Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes Another psychological thriller. This one is about a woman with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The tension and suspense in this book will keep you awake for days!
The Dice Man – Luke Rhinehart *Caution – very violent* Bored psychiatrist Luke decides that he will decide everything in his life by the throw of a dice to see what his personality is really made of. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath A classic in American Literature. This book tells the story of a talented young woman’s mental breakdown and depression.
Books – Non-fiction
Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments – Alex Boese As it says in the title, this book describes some of the bizarre experiments that have taken place in psychology. It’s interesting to dip in and out of this book.
Bad Science – Ben Goldacre This book is not strictly psychological, but it clearly demonstrates some key issues in science that you need to understand as a psychologist. The book is a collection of Goldacre’s columns from The Guardian and, despite what is sounds like, is actually quite an entertaining and easy read.
An Unquiet Mind – Kay Redfield Jamison An autobiographical account of a woman with bipolar disorder. This book is especially interesting because the author is a psychiatrist.
The Tell-Tale Brain: Unlocking the mystery of Human Nature – V. S. Ramachandran A very famous neuroscientist, Ramachandran answers many important questions, such as how language developed, why we like art and why we can empathise with one another.
The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins. A book that will help you understand the evolution of both physical and behavioural characteristics, in humans and non-humans.
Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human - Matt Ridley Armed with the extraordinary new discoveries about our genes, Ridley turns his attention to the nature versus nurture debate to bring the first popular account of the roots of human behaviour. What makes us who we are?
The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry - Jon Ronson -The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry.
Criminal Recidivism: Explanation, prediction and prevention - Georgia Zara, David P. Farrington- an examination of the processes underlying persistent criminal careers. This book aims to investigate criminal recidivism, and why, how and for how long an individual continues to commit crimes, whilst also reviewing knowledge about risk assessment and the role of psychopathy in encouraging recidivism.
Criminal Behaviour: A Psychological Approach to Explanation and Prevention - Clive Hollin This study looks at contemporary psychological research and theory into criminal behaviour and considers the relationship between psychological and criminological theories.
A list of films:
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest- provides a disturbing look into mental hospitals in the 1960s, including electroshock therapy as a form of treatment and a dysfunctional form of group psychotherapy
- As Good as it Gets-A portrayal of a man with OCD
- A Beautiful Mind- can’t tell you what it is about- spoilers! Based on a true story.
- 12 Angry Men- a great way to get to grips with minority influence
- Shutter Island- good way to look at the unconscious mind and repression( beware spoilers!)
- The Machinist- another example of repression(beware spoilers!)
- Memento- a portrayal of a person with short-term memory loss trying to solve a mystery.
- Silence of the Lambs- a fictional example of FBI profiling, in a hunt to catch a serial killer
- For revision and A-level psychology:
- aqa.org.uk – for the specification, past papers, mark schemes, examiner’s reports, exam dates etc.
- tutor2u.net– key studies and content
- BPS Research Digest– contemporary research and latest news
- You can sign up for the BPS newsletter, which gives easily understandable summaries of the latest psychological research, here: http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/research-digest/research-digest
- There are also plenty of specification-specific revision guides readily available to buy online.