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What will I study in A Level Psychology?

Psychology tries to find answers to questions such as: Why are children stubborn? Why do some people become addicted to alcohol or gambling? What is the best way to help people who experience depression or phobias? How can the prison service be helped to function more effectively? All of these are difficult and challenging questions that the many psychology schools of thought are trying to answer.

So, then what is psychology? There are many misconceptions created by television and movies today, but the basic answer is that psychology is both an applied and academic science that studies the human mind and behaviour. No matter what area of psychology you refer to, research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion, and behaviour. Psychology is applied to individuals via mental health treatment, performance enhancement, self-help, ergonomics, and many other areas affecting health and daily life.

Introductory topics in psychology

  • Social Influence – conformity, obedience, minority influence, implications of social influence research (e.g. social change) 
  • Cognitive Psychology: Memory – models of memory, memory strategies, memory in real-life (eyewitness testimony) 
  • Developmental Psychology: Attachment – attachment, privation, institutional care, day care

Psychopathology: Abnormality – defining abnormality, approaches to abnormality (biological, psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive, therapies.

Psychology in context

  • Approaches in psychology: Learning approaches, cognitive approach, biological approach, psychodynamic approach, humanistic psychology and comparison of approaches.
  • Biopsychology: Divisions of the nervous system, structure and function of neurons, endocrine system, fight or flight response, localisation of function in the brain, ways of studying the brain and biological rhythms.

Research methods: : Experiments and methods, scientific processes, data handling and analysis and inferential testing.

Issues and options in psychology 

  • Issues and debates in psychology: gender and culture in psychology, free will and determinism, the nature/nurture debate, holism and reductionism, idiographic and nomothetic approaches to investigation and the ethical implications of research and theory. 
  • Relationships: Evolutionary explanations for partner preference, factors affecting attraction, theories of romantic relationship success, virtual relationships and social media, para-social relationships.
  • Eating behaviour: Explanations for food preference, neural and hormonal mechanisms, biological and psychological explanations for anorexia and psychological explanations for obesity.

Addiction: Describing addiction, risk factors for addiction, explanations for nicotine and gambling addictions, reducing addiction and the application of theories for behaviour change.

Where does A Level Psychology lead?

A-Level psychology is excellent preparation for the further study of psychology, sports psychology and a wide range of other careers.