The study of Psychology at Key Stage 5 allows students to consider the reasons behind human behaviour using scientific principles. As Psychology is a subject new to students at Key Stage 5, this course is a unique opportunity for them to use skills they learned in GCSE Science, Maths and English to understand a wide variety of individual and group behaviour they observe in everyday life. Within this course, students strengthen their transferable skills of analytical thinking, improved communication, and problem solving. They also focus on research skills such as developing and carrying out practical, ethical and valid research in socially sensitive areas such as psychological disorders, aggression within institutions, and functional recovery after brain trauma. The maths component of the course gives students the opportunity to use statistics, graphs, and algebra within topics that engage and allow critical analysis. A Level Psychology is now accepted as the 3rd science for many medical degree courses; students who take A Level Psychology also go onto a variety of careers from different fields of psychology (i.e. clinical) to nursing, teaching, marketing, business, accountancy, and the police. An in-depth understanding of their own motivations and drives allows students to be more self-reflective as they progress into further education, training and careers.





Knowledge, skills and understanding

Window for Assessment






















Component 1 - Introductory Topics in Psychology

Topic 1 – Social Psychology

Topic 2 – Memory

Topic 3 – Attachment


The study of A Level Psychology begins with the four topics of Paper 1. This is because the topics are engaging and “hook” students from the start, fully immersing them in the range of concepts that they will add depth to for the next two years. Fundamental areas of this discipline are explored within these components:

Social Psychology – conformity, obedience and independent behaviour

Memory – cognitive models, reasons for forgetting, applications to the justice system (eye witness testimony)

Attachment – the role of caregivers in development, the impact of neglect


Within this interesting context, the core skills of research methods are fully integrated; students begin to critically consider research using this new vocabulary (e.g. reliability, validity, bias). This means that by the time the students need to learn about Research Methods in more depth in Component 2, these skills are already becoming more natural to them, allowing them to spend the remainder of the course mastering these methodological skills.

Topic Assessments on:

-Evaluation of key studies in Social Influence

-Evaluation of Models of Memory and the Factors Affecting Eye Witness Testimony

-End of Half Term Test Assessing Knowledge of Attachment



Completion of Component 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

Topic 4 - Psychopathology



Introduction to Component 2: Psychology in Context

Topic 1 - Research Methods

This term begins with the final section of Component 1 – Psychopathology. This section is often the one students most associate with the subject, and it can be very personal to them. As the students are now working well as a group and feel more confident and skilled in using the language of evaluation (transition words, PEEL points, research methods), their oracy skills are now focused on via a research project and presentation.

Key areas explored in Psychopathology are definitions of abnormality, symptoms, causes and treatments for well known psychological disorders (phobias, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder).


In the second half of Term 2, students are introduced to Paper 2, where they focus fully on Research Methods, mastering these skills and beginning to apply them more practically. At the beginning of this topic, students are given a research project that they will complete alongside the topic – complimenting it.. By completing their own research within the context of the Research Methods components, they are engaged with research methodology in a practical way – allowing to relate Research Methods and Psychology to their own lives.


A separate topic in this area – Psychology and the Economy – also has practical real world applications. Students consider how the research done in psychology can help the British economy/the British work force. They are able to draw examples from Components 1, 2 and later 3. Again, these are examples students can often relate to, further contextualising their learning.


Key areas explored in this section are:

  • Aims and hypotheses
  • Variables and Control of Variables
  • Experimental Design and Types
  • Sampling
  • Ethics
  • Self Report Techniques
  • Correlations
  • Case Studies, Content Analysis, Meta Analysis
  • Reliability and Validity
  • The Peer Review
  • Psychology and the Economy
  • Basic Maths (e.g. Ratios and Percentages)
  • Graphs
  • Measures of Central Tendency
  • Measures of Dispersion
  • Probability and Significance
  • Inferential Statistics

Topic Assessments on:

-Explanations of Definitions of Abnormality and -Evaluation of Treatments for Phobias


-Research Methods Project

-End of Half Term Test on Research Methods


Mock Exam – Full Component 1



Continuation of Component 2: Psychology in Context

Topic 1 – Completion of Research Methods

Topic 2 – Approaches in Psychology

Topic 3  - Introduction to Biopsychology

In the first half of this term, students continue their exploration of Research Methods, complete their research project, and present to their peers as part of a practical application of the “peer review” concept. Analysis of their results allows them to focus on the Maths component of this course; they review and apply basic mathematical concepts they learned at GCSE (e.g. mean, median, mode, and how to construct a graph) and learn higher level skills of inferential statistical analysis.


After completing their exploration of research methodology, students then take a macro view of psychology by investigating the main Approaches/Perspectives within this field. By the time they reach this level of the course, they have already considered these different perspectives at a basic level and so are now ready to master these approaches further. The study of the Biological Approach is particularly appropriate here because the students will soon be focusing solely on this approach, so studying Biopsychology here serves as an introduction to the more complex material to come. The students finish their study of Approaches by learning about two very different and novel approaches  The unique nature of these approaches often serves to reignite students’ interests in the field, encouraging discussion and further study for their Bridging work over the summer holiday. The Humanistic Approach often encourages self-reflection as the students transition from Years 12 to 13.

Key Approaches explored in this topic are:

-The Behavioural Approach

-The Social Learning Approach

-The Biological Approach

-The Cognitive Approach

-The Psychodynamic Approach

-The Humanistic Approach

In the last two weeks before the students finish lessons to complete work experience, they are introduced to the final topic of Paper 2 – Biopsychology. This topic is often the one that students who feel less confident in science tend to feel most anxious about. By being introduced to the more fascinating aspects of this topic any anxiety relating to this topic is often eased.

-Research Project

Topic Assessments on

-Inferential Statistics (use of Sign Tests) and Maths Skills

-The Behaviourist, Cognitive, and Social Learning Approach

-Bridging Work for Summer




Completion of Component 2: Psychology in Context

Topic 3 – Biopsychology


Introduction to Component 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Topic 1 - Aggression

From September, students re-engage with Biopsychology by focusing on the fundamental aspects of this topic. Some of this will be review from GCSE Science, so students will be familiar with several of the ideas Beginning at this basic level will allow students to move through this technical  topic with confidence, building on their existing knowledge. In this topic, students can also apply previous knowledge, from case studies of brain damage from Memory (Component 1), to evaluating studies using research methodology.  As students progress through this topic they can often relate to the material. For example, students may have family members or friends who have experienced brain trauma as a result of a stroke or accident. This allows them to connect to the material and apply it in a very practical way. Psychology and the Economy also links here as students study the importance of research into functional recovery (e.g. saving money for the NHS). The final are of Biopsychology is the area the students tend to find most interesting – the study if biological rhythms, including the sleep-wake cycle. Here, students can consider what influences their own sleep.

Key Areas explored in this section are:

-The structure of the nervous and endocrine systems, neurons, and the process of synaptic transmission

-Localisation and lateralisation of the brain

-Brain plasticity and functional recovery

-Ways of investigating the brain

-Biological Rhythms

In the second part of this half term and into the next half term, students begin the final component of the course – Issues and Options in Psychology. In this component, there is 1 mandatory topic and 3 additional topics that can be chosen from a given list of topics. The first optional area tends to be Aggression. Students are given the option to learn about aggression or Forensic Psychology and are presented with information about both. In most years, students have chosen the Aggression option as it involves the study of a number of engaging and applicable topic areas.


In the second half of this term, students continue to learn about Aggression. A number of engaging case studies and experiments are used to illustrate this topic; students are able to use evaluation points from both Approaches and Research Methods, adding to their understanding and confidence in this topic. They can also relate the topic to real life issues, such as the impact of violent media on children’s behaviour; this sparks debate and encourages discussion and further research.

Topic Assessments on:

-Localisation and Lateralisation of Brain Function

-Research Into Circadian Rhythms

-End of Half Term Test on Biopsychology



Continuation of Component 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Topic 1 – Aggression

Topic 2 – Relationships


In the first part of this term, students continue their exploration of aggression.

Key Areas explored in this section are:

-Biological and Environmental Explanations of Aggression

-Institutional Aggression

-Media Influences on Aggression

Students then go on to investigate the second option topic in Component 3 – Relationships. This option has been chosen as it is the most accessible of the other 2 possible option in this section. It is also very relatable to students; they can consider their own personal relationships and those of their families and friends, and apply their knowledge to a number of fascinating real life events, from online dating and other virtual relationships to celebrity stalking. Relationships is a relatively straight-forward topic, allowing students to retain confidence in their ability to succeed in this Component. Note: In both Relationships and Aggression one real life application that students find quite compelling is the “red flags” seen in relationships that are potentially abusive. Awareness of these red flags is an important aspect young women need to be aware of in the development of their own relationships.

Key Areas explored in Relationships are:

-Theories of Attraction

-Theories of Romantic Relationships and Relationship Breakdown

-Virtual Relationships

-Parasocial Relationships

Topic Assessments on:

-Evolutionary Explanations, Social-Psychological Explanations and Institutional Aggression


End of Half Term Test on Relationships



Completion of Component 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Topic 3 – Schizophrenia

Topic 4 – Issues and Debates

In this final term, students finish their investigation of Relationships and begin the final option of this Component – Schizophrenia. This option has been chosen because it is the one psychological disorder of the 3 available for study which the students have not yet explored. Students are keen to learn more about this disorder. By doing so they are able to correct these misconceptions and recognise/give examples of the stigmatisation of mental illness as a whole.

Key Areas explored in this topic are:

-Biological and Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia

-Biological and Psychological Treatments for Schizophrenia


In the final part of this term, students complete the last topic in Component 3 – the mandatory topic of Issues and Debates. It is useful to complete the course with this topic because it explores and revisits many of the key ideas the students have been learning about and discussing throughout the course. It is therefore is a very appropriate bridge to the students’ final exam revision. On a wider level, the students finish this course as psychologists, recognising the value and pitfalls of various perspectives in the field, identifying and understanding the often ethnocentric/westernised focus of this discipline,  and exploring solutions to the bias seen in science as a whole.

Key Areas explored in this topic are:

-Gender and Cultural Bias

-Free Will and Determinism

-The Nature-Nurture Debate

-Holism and Reductionism

-Ideographic and Nomothetic Approaches

Mock Exam – Full Component  2

Topic Assessments on:

-Issues of Validity and Reliability in Diagnosis and Classification of Schizophrenia

-Psychological Treatments for Schizophrenia

-Free Will vs Determinism


Mock Exam – Full Component 3

Mock Exam – Full Component 1