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Devonport High School for Girls

Head of Department

Miss L Wilkinson, BSc (Hons), PGCE, NPQSL

Statement of Intent

At Devonport High School for Girls, we take a scientific approach to the study of Psychology, with the overall aim of using our psychological knowledge and understanding to have a positive impact on the world around us.  Upon completion of the A Level Psychology course, students will: 

  • understand and be able to explain the influence of the many and varying factors that affect human behaviour as well as being mindful of the complex interaction between these factors; 
  • be able to apply psychological knowledge and understanding to explain real-life situations as well as offering practical strategies and advice based on this knowledge and understanding;
  • be able to analyse both quantitative and qualitative data to draw logical conclusions;
  • be able to critically appraise even the most academic and scientific research; 
  • have developed abstract thinking skills, e.g., the notion of type 1 and 2 errors in statistical testing and the concept of the unconscious mind; 
  • be able to express themselves clearly and concisely using appropriate subject specific terminology; 
  • appreciate the value of psychology in a wide variety of workplace settings and in our personal lives. 

We achieve this by building on: 

  • prior learning from GCSE Science and Mathematics, e.g., synaptic transmission, hypotheses, descriptive statistics and graphs;
  • students’ own experiences, e.g., conforming to fashions, different types of memories and obedience to teachers/parents; 
  • historical events e.g., the holocaust, the London Bombings and the murders of Jeffrey Dahmer;
  • more recent societal changes e.g., the increase in mental health issues, the smoking ban and charging for carrier bags;
  • practical experiences, e.g., designing and carrying out research, acting out procedures and testing ideas on themselves. 

A Level Course Outline

Studying psychology at A level enables students to think scientifically about why people behave and think in the ways they do. It focuses on knowledge and understanding of concepts, theories and research studies from a wide range of topics; from why babies love their parents to what causes serious mental illness.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

Success in psychology A Level shows that you can master complex subject content and use advanced critical analysis. Course content is relevant to a range of careers: Law, Crime and Policing, Teaching, Medicine and Nursing, Psychology, Psychiatry, Counselling, Management and Marketing. Each year a number of students go on to study for psychology degrees at university.

Course Content

Examination Board


Full details of the specification and assessment criteria can be found on the AQA website

A-level Psychology

A Level

Paper 1

Introductory Topics in Psychology:

Social Influence



Paper 2

Psychology in Context:



Research methods


Paper 3

Issues and Options in Psychology:

Issues and Debates in Psychology




Curriculum Programmes of Study 


Cycle Content

Year 12

Cycle 1

Origins of psychology and experimental method
The behaviourist approach and research issues
Social learning theory and experimental designs
The cognitive approach and types of experiments
The biological approach and sampling
Bio-psych 1 and revision
Bio-psych 2 and ethics
The psychodynamic approach and pilot studies etc
Assessment and The humanistic approach
Comparison of approaches and observational techniques and designs
Definitions 1 and 2 and self report techniques and designs
Phobias 1 and Phobias 2
DIT Week

Cycle 2

Phobias 3 and correlations
Depression1 and types of data
Depression 2 and descriptive stats and mathematical content
Depression 3 and the sign test
OCD 1 and OCD 2
OCD 3 and peer review
Conformity 1 and psychology and the economy
Conformity 2 and conformity 3
Obedience 1 and 2
Revision and assessment
Obedience 3 and obedience 4
DIT Week

Cycle 3

Resistance to social influence and minority influence
Social change and encoding, capacity and duration
MSM and types of LTM
WMM and interference and retrieval failure
EWT 1 and EWT 2
Cognitive interview and caregiver-infant interactions
Stages of attachment and role of the father
Animal studies and learning theory
Mock Exams
Bowlby and types of attachment
Enrichment Week
Cultural variations and maternal deprivation
Romanian orphans and later relationships

Year 13


Cycle 1

Inferential stats
Psychology and the economy and peer review
Atavistic form and genetic and neural
Eysenck and Cognitive
Differential association theory and Psychodynamic
Offender profiling: top down and bottom up
Custodial sentencing and behaviour modification
Anger management and restorative justice
Revision and assessment
Diagnosis and classification and biological explanations
Psychological explanations and biological therapy
Psychological therapy and token economy
The interactionist approach and mini-assessment

Cycle 2

Mock exams
Vygotsky and Baillargeon
Selamn and Theory of mind
The mirror neuron system and  mini-assessment
The nervous and endocrine systems and neurons and synaptic transmission
Localisation of function and hemispheric lateralisation
Split brain research and plasticity and functional recovery of the brain
Ways of studying the brain and circadian rhythms
Infradian and ultradian rhythms endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers
Revision and mini-assessment

Cycle 3

Paper 1 exam and revision
Paper 2 exam and revision