Psychology is a subject taught only in Years 12 and 13, and is a popular A-level choice at Loreto. Students follow a linear two year course with an internal exam at the end of Year 12 and externally marked exams at the end of Year 13. The Year 13 final exam will be the basis of the grade awarded, whereby the Year 12 internal exam has a diagnostic purpose only.
Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and the mind. We offer a unique educational experience that develops a distinctive and broad set of skills. It’s rooted in scientific methodology and allows scope for extensive evaluation from a range of areas, such as those of Social Psychology , Cognitive Psychology, Psychodynamic Psychology and the Developmental Psychology of children.
The main aim of Psychology A-level is to develop an understanding of the behaviour of individuals. We explore how people make sense of their world by focussing on social, biological and cognitive factors that affect us at different stages of life. We ask important questions about the individual, social and cultural diversity of human behaviour. Our course should help students understand how others think, remember and concentrate, how we develop and maintain identities and how we interact with others.
In Year 12, the emphasis is on how psychologists collect their data and the strengths and weaknesses of the procedures used. This should encourage students to think critically about research methods so that they can design and practise their own when testing behavioural hypotheses and research aims. Students develop an understanding of how to prepare and write a formal academic reports based on their own research using four different methods in Psychology (experiments, observations, self -reports and correlations). We aim to develop an understanding of how to use mathematical procedures and formulae in psychological research to present results as well as test for validity and strength of significance.
Students then apply their knowledge of research methods to the core studies in this OCR Psychology course. They will evaluate the evidence gained from these studies in order to make judgements about some of the big questions that form debates in Psychology, such as the influences and behaviour of nature versus nurture, or the extent to which free will guides our thinking and actions. The two important perspectives, Behaviourism and Psychodynamism are studied and evaluated in the context of each core study.
In Year 13, we want our students to be knowledgeable about the application of psychology to key areas of behaviour: mental health, criminality and sports and exercise performance. Here, we want them to harness what they have learned in Year 12 about methodology, perspectives and debates to form balanced arguments based on key research in each area. We ask students to use their knowledge of these areas and apply them to real life scenarios. For example, students might be asked to use their knowledge of what makes a criminal in order to suggest possible ways in which prisons and probation officers could develop strategies which might help reduce the significant problem of repeat offending in society. Students will be asked to justify and evaluate their own suggestions in terms of their practicality, ethics and usefulness.
Curriculum planning lies at the heart of what we do in the department. We are committed to an ongoing plan of reviewing and developing our schemes of work. We use all available resources and teaching strategies to ensure that students have a comprehensive knowledge of the specifications and are capable of going beyond what is taught in lessons. This means that students can apply Psychology and Sociology to their own lives and the social, political and economic world they live in. Techniques to help develop long-term memory and help students master subject content are embedded in the curriculum. These are focused on embedding challenge, metacognition, memory techniques, numeracy and literacy into our departmental curriculum. To complement the schemes of work, students also engage in Psychology revision webinars and Tutor 2 You resources with senior examiners and other experienced practitioners. These activities allow students to gain valuable insight into the subject and the demands of the examination. In Psychology we also implement our curriculum using a variety of teaching strategies and tasks as well as more traditional skills practice. All staff in the department make full use of the Microsoft Teams applications and You Tube for education and all students use this to access the departmental resources both in lessons and remotely.
Our students are introduced to a wide variety of viewpoints from some of the most influential Psychologists throughout history. We study the impact that their work has had on the world we live in and students are encouraged to make links between their studies and real life examples. They are expected to analyse the relative contributions of competing theories in order to discuss their impact on our understanding of human behaviour and society as a whole.
The quality of teaching and learning in Psychology has been praised by both external and internal observers.
Psychology courses aim to assess and support the progression of its students through a combination of independent learning tasks, short weekly knowledge assessments, weekly written assessments and weekly written homework. In Psychology students will also be given the opportunity to carry out a number of research projects throughout the course, which will be written-up to professional research standards in the form of an academic report.
Students will be supported by the provision of high-quality learning booklets, which balance the study of Psychology with the demands of high achievement in examinations.
We have a fantastic support intervention in both subjects for students who might need that extra bit of help in achieving their target grades.
Research methods (component 1)
Planning, conducting, analysing and reporting psychological research across a range of experimental and non-experimental methodologies and techniques.
- 90 mark exam
- 2 hours
- 30% of total A level
Psychological themes through core studies (component 2)
Introduces some of the central areas of investigation in psychology organised in key themes. Each key theme is represented by a classic and a contemporary core study.
- 105 mark exam
- 2 hours
- 35% of total A-level
Applied Psychology (component 3)
In Year 13, candidates will also being to study two applied options in Sports & Exercise psychology and Criminal psychology.
- 105 mark exam
- 2 hours
- 35% of total A-level
Text Books are provided by the school but further and extended reading can be achieved by using the relevant sections of this excellent book by Richard Gross:
Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour 7th Edition
The following revision book is also available in the Loreto online shop:
My Revision Notes
OCR A-level Psychology specifications, support materials and past papers
Excellent site for OCR psychology topics and studies
Studywise A-level Psychology revision
S-Cool Research Methods
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
- The number of students choosing to study Psychology at A-level at Loreto College is very high, and a number of our students go on to study the subjects further at university. Our exam results demonstrate that many students achieve their target grades or higher.
- Most students achieve between A* – C grades.
- Students frequently express their enjoyment of Psychology, the quality of teaching they have received, and their appreciation of the knowledge and study skills they have gained from the department.
- Students become critical thinkers, engaging with academic literature, which develops their cultural and academic capital in order to participate fully in society. Promoting academic success is crucial to the study of Psychology and Sociology, broadening student horizons and opportunities in their future careers.
- The quality of teaching and learning in Psychology has been praised by both external and internal observers.
- The impact on exam grades of the support interventions has been very positive and students are very complimentary about the quality of regular one to one sessions with a subject specialist mentor.
- Data on student destinations over the past few years has shown that many of our students continue their education in subject or subject related courses at Russell Group Universities.
Psychology & Careers@Loreto
Want to find out more about Psychology work skills, then check out this infographic poster, which can also be found on the Maths corridor.