A Level Psychology

Did you know?
of our Psychology A Level entrants achieved A*- B grades in 2017

Why should I study Psychology?

Can we rely on eyewitness testimony? Why do people obey authority? How can we define what is ‘normal’?

If you are curious to find answers to these questions then you will enjoy this subject. Psychology is the science of human behaviour and mental processes. Students will learn a range of famous influential psychological experiments that have radically changed our knowledge about the brain and behaviour. Psychology bridges the gap between arts and sciences as scientific and written skills are assessed.

The Psychology Department has a wide range of textbooks, articles and documentaries to enhance the students’ learning experience. There is also the Psychology Putney Twitter feed, Psychology Review Magazine and many psychology related books available in the Senior School Library. The Psychology Department also organises a GDST-wide Essay Competition and Psychology Lecture Evening.

What will I need to study Psychology?

The course is taught from first principles, as it is assumed that no student has studied Psychology before. Skills in written communication, data interpretation and critical evaluation will be assessed. Therefore an A grade in English GCSE is required. The A Level course also contains knowledge of inferential statistics so at least a B grade in Maths GCSE is also required. 

Structure and Outline of the Course:

Psychology is a fascinating science concerned with the study of the mind, brain and behaviour. Students who study this subject find learning about psychological research fascinating and enjoyable and frequently go on to study at university. Lessons involve independent research, informal discussion, group debate, presentations and essay writing. There is a great deal of new psychological content to be covered, all with specialist vocabulary, so the course is rigorous, challenging and detailed. 

There is a sizeable part of the course that contains research methods and mathematics, so students must be aware of this before applying to study this subject for A Level and beyond. We want to encourage students to develop a sense of wonder and enlightenment about the behaviour of the people they come across, as well as gaining an awareness of themselves.

Students study a range of famous influential psychological experiments that have radically changed our knowledge about the brain and behaviour. Psychology bridges the gap between arts and sciences so scientific and written skills are assessed.

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

(Social Influence, Memory, Attachment, Psychopathology)

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

(Psychological Approaches, Biopsychology, Research Methods with statistics)

Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

Issues and debates, and teacher will choose combination of three topics e.g. Relationships, Gender, Cognition and Development, Schizophrenia, Eating Behaviour, Stress, Aggression, Forensic Psychology, Addiction

Method of Assessment:

The A Level requires a more mature response to evaluation, a deeper understanding of research, as well as a broader range of reading.

Assessment is a mixture of multiple choice, short answers and 16 mark essays. There is no coursework in Psychology A Level

Student Comments:

“I chose Psychology as I wanted to study something new and have always been interested in why people behave as they do. Although the course is challenging and really makes you think it is also very relevant to everyday life.”

“Studying psychology is fascinating because it enables you to understand aspects of human behaviour that we often overlook.  It excites me because it is a subject that is still developing, meaning there are always new questions to answer, predictions to be proved and theories to evaluate.”

“The research studies are fascinating with often surprising results!  I really enjoyed carrying out my own research as part of A Level.”

Extension Activities

Psychology Society is a fortnightly discussion group run by sixth formers, open to all years, on a range of topics in Psychology that are not covered by the A Level syllabus. We run a psychology essay competition which is open to any enthusiastic Year 12 or Year 13 GDST Psychology student. Over 70 psychology students from Wimbledon, Notting Hill & Ealing and South Hampstead join Putney students every year for the Psychology GDST Conference. Previous topics covered include: face processing, body representation, teenage brain, occupational psychology and clinical psychology.


Psychology is an integral part of much professional training and so forms a good basis for any career, whether or not you decide to study it for a degree. Typical careers areas include educational, clinical, occupational, forensic psychology and research. Many psychology graduates also go into business, marketing, advertising and personnel work. Psychology graduates from good universities have excellent employment prospects because they have acquired the essential skills of written and verbal communication, research techniques and the ability to handle data via statistical techniques, all of which are started at A-level. 


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