Psychology is a subject taught only in Years 12 and 13. It focuses on the science of the mind, and people’s behaviour and experience. This is a stimulating and challenging subject that explores behaviour from different perspectives and encourages students to reflect on their own experiences. This subject is taught at A-level, and exam specifications aim to give a broad introduction to the scope of psychology as a science. It is a fascinating subject that fosters strong analytical and evaluative skills, and develops effective ability in oral and written communication.

At AS level, topics include social influences on behaviour such as obedience and conformity, issues of memory and attention, developmental stages in emotional development, physiological differences in brain functioning, and abnormal psychology of autism and phobias. At A2 the focus is applied clinical and criminal psychology, and compulsory study of mental health issues. Psychological research and methodology are essential aspects of the whole course and encourage critical scientific analysis. Mathematical skills (at least 10%) are an essential assessed part of the course from 2016.

At the end of Year 12, students will sit two AS exams on Core Studies and Research Methods. At the end of Year 13, students will sit two A2 exams on Applied Clinical and Criminal Psychology, and Research Methodology to complete the full A Level. We follow the new OCR H167 specification at AS-level and the OCR H568 specification at A2-level.

Students will be examined on their knowledge and understanding of key psychological research studies and topics. They will be required to apply evaluative issues, debates, and approaches in their analysis of psychological research and explanations. An appreciation of scientific methodology, practical investigative techniques, and mathematical skill is also tested.

Students should be prepared to carry out significant independent reading and research of specific topics. It is expected that students spend at least three hours on their homework at this level of study.

Students are encouraged to attend a number of conferences on psychological topics over the two years. Additionally, we arrange a visit to the Science Museum for the “Who Am I?” exhibition, and History of Psychology trail, and attend trials at the Crown Court to support Forensic psychology. Students have also participated in local university research and psychology open day activities. Currently, there is also an opportunity to be involved in an excursion to visit Auschwitz in Poland and so enhance understanding of obedience, conformity and conscience.

Students will find the following websites useful:

OCR A-level Psychology specifications, support materials and past papers

Excellent site for OCR psychology topics and studies

An interactive psychology site. Good ideas for practical research and some inspiring topics

British Psychological Society blog

Another good resource for reference to studies and methodology


Page updated Sept 2016