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A Level Psychology

Examining Board: AQA
Next Examination Period: May / June 2021
Exam Specification Code: 7182
Coursework Element: None
Practical Element: None
Course Fee Includes: Online course materials and tutor support. Additional materials available at extra cost.
Fast Track Option: Fast Track Psychology A Level
Payment Options: Interest free instalment plans available

AQA A Levels are available for study anywhere in the world. Examinations must be taken in a registered UK exam centre. It is recommended students check with UK examining centres that the chosen exam is available.

Introduction

Oxford College offers this full ‘A’ level course in Psychology and the A level award has now been redefined as a final qualification, so no marks can be carried forward to that qualification from the separate AS award.

The course materials are comprehensive standalone content which follow the specification closely. Most students like to have a supporting text book to draw on which provides alternative perspectives on main topics and themes; text books also follow the specification closely. If you would like to purchase a supporting text book or borrow one from your local library then simply makes sure that it covers the AQA 2015 Psychology specification. There are a range of different text books to choose from and each one is slightly different in presentation and how it is written so selection will be according to individual preference so have a look at some before deciding.

AS AQA Level Psychology 7181

A Level Psychology Entry Requirements

Although the A Level Psychology programmes build on the course content of GCSE, it is not necessary to have this qualification before undertaking an A-Level. However, in order to meet the demands of the course, it is recommended that candidates have literacy and communication skills equivalent to C or higher at GCSE. Please note that full tutor support is still provided throughout your course duration.

All students must be 16 years of age or above.

A Level Psychology Course Duration

2 years.

Study Hours Required

Approximately 350 hours.

Awarding Body

AQA

AQA A Levels are available for study anywhere in the world. A Level Psychology Examinations must be taken in a registered UK exam centre. It is recommended students check with UK examining centres that the chosen exam is available.

Examination Information

Students are required to arrange and pay for their A Level Psychology examinations and manage the course work element if the subject requires this. Students must check the relevant examination board website for further information and final examination sitting dates for the specification.

All examinations are held during the May / June exam period of every year.

A Level Psychology Course Content

A Level Psychology Unit 1: Social influence (compulsory content)

Types of conformity: internalisation, identification and compliance. Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence, and variables affecting conformity including group size, unanimity and task difficulty as investigated by Asch.

Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo.

Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram.

Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality.

Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.
Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility.

The role of social influence processes in social change.

A Level Psychology Unit 2: Memory (compulsory content)

The multi-store model of memory: sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory.

Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration.

Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural.

The working memory model: central executive, phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity.

Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to absence of cues.

Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: misleading information, including leading questions and post-event discussion; anxiety.
Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.

A Level Psychology Unit 3: Attachment (compulsory content)

Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father.

Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow.
Explanations of attachment: learning theory and Bowlby’s monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model.

Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’. Types of attachment: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure resistant.

Cultural variations in attachment, including van Ljzendoorn.

Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation.

The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.

A Level Psychology Unit 4: Approaches in psychology and biopsychology (compulsory content)

Learning approaches: the behaviourist approach, including classical conditioning and Pavlov’s research, operant conditioning, types of reinforcement and Skinner’s research; social learning theory including imitation, identification, modelling, vicarious reinforcement, the role of meditational processes and Bandura’s research.

The cognitive approach: the study of internal mental processes, the role of schema, the use of theoretical and computer models to explain and make inferences about mental processes. The emergence of cognitive neuroscience.

The biological approach: the influence of genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour. Genotype and phenotype, genetic basis of behaviour, evolution and behaviour.

The divisions of the nervous system: central and peripheral (somatic and autonomic).

The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic transmission, including reference to neurotransmitters, excitation and inhibition.

The function of the endocrine system: glands and hormones.

The fight or flight response including the role of adrenaline.
The divisions of the nervous system: central and peripheral (somatic and autonomic).

The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic transmission, including reference to neurotransmitters, excitation and inhibition.

Localisation of function in the brain and hemispheric lateralisation: motor, somatosensory, visual, auditory and language centres; Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, split brain research. Plasticity and
functional recovery of the brain after trauma.

Ways of studying the brain: scanning techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); electroencephalogram (EEGs) and event-related potentials (ERPs); post-mortem examinations.

Biological rhythms: circadian, infradian and ultradian and the difference between these rhythms. The effect of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle.

A Level Psychology Unit 5: Psychopathology (compulsory content)

Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health.

The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias: the two-process model, including classical and operant conditioning; systematic desensitisation, including relaxation and use of hierarchy; flooding.

The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression: Beck’s negative triad and Ellis’s ABC model; cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), including challenging irrational thoughts.

The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.

A Level Psychology Unit 6: Research methods (compulsory content)

Experimental method. Types of experiment, laboratory and field experiments; natural and quasi experiments.

Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation.

Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured.
Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments.

Aims: stating aims, the difference between aims and hypotheses.

Hypotheses: directional and non-directional.

Sampling: the difference between population and sample; sampling techniques including: random, systematic, stratified, opportunity and volunteer; implications of sampling techniques, including bias and generalisation.

Pilot studies and the aims of piloting.

Experimental designs: repeated measures, independent groups, matched pairs. Observational design: behavioural categories; event sampling; time sampling.
Questionnaire construction, including use of open and closed questions; design of interviews.

Variables: manipulation and control of variables, including independent, dependent, extraneous, confounding; operationalisation of variables.
Control: random allocation and counterbalancing, randomisation and standardisation.

Demand characteristics and investigator effects.

Ethics, including the role of the British Psychological Society’s code of ethics; ethical issues in the design and conduct of psychological studies; dealing with ethical issues in research.

The role of peer review in the scientific process.

The implications of psychological research for the economy.

Reliability across all methods of investigation. Ways of assessing reliability: test-retest and inter observer;
improving reliability.

Types of validity across all methods of investigation: face validity, concurrent validity, ecological validity and temporal validity. Assessment of validity. Improving validity.

Features of science: objectivity and the empirical method; replicability and falsifiability; theory construction and hypothesis testing; paradigms and paradigm shifts.

Reporting psychological investigations. Sections of a scientific report: abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion and referencing.

Quantitative and qualitative data; the distinction between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques.

Primary and secondary data, including meta-analysis.

Descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency – mean, median, mode; calculation of mean, median and mode; measures of dispersion; range and standard deviation; calculation of range; calculation of percentages; positive, negative and zero correlations.

Presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scattergrams, bar charts.

Distributions: normal and skewed distributions; characteristics of normal and skewed distributions.

Introduction to statistical testing; the sign test.

End of unit TMA.

A Level Psychology Unit 7: Issues and debates in psychology (compulsory content)

Gender and culture in psychology – universality and bias. Gender bias including androcentrism and alpha and beta bias; cultural bias, including ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.

Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations.

The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach.

Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in psychology. Biological reductionism and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism.

Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation.

Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity.

A Level Psychology Unit 8: Cognition and development (Option 1)

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development: schemas, assimilation, accommodation, equilibration, stages of intellectual development. Characteristics of these stages, including object permanence, conservation, egocentrism and class inclusion.

Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development, including the zone of proximal development and scaffolding.

Baillargeon’s explanation of early infant abilities, including knowledge of the physical world; violation of expectation research.

The development of social cognition: Selman’s levels of perspective-taking; theory of mind, including theory of mind as an explanation for autism; the Sally-Anne study.

The role of the mirror neuron system in social cognition.

A Level Psychology Unit 9: Stress (Option 2)

The physiology of stress, including general adaptation syndrome, the hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal system, the sympathomedullary pathway and the role of cortisol.

The role of stress in illness, including reference to immunosuppression and cardiovascular disorders.

Sources of stress: life changes and daily hassles. Workplace stress, including the effects of workload and control.

Measuring stress: self-report scales (Social Readjustment Ratings Scale and Hassles and Uplifts Scale) and physiological measures, including skin conductance response.

Individual differences in stress: personality types A, B and C and associated behaviours; hardiness, including commitment, challenge and control.

Managing and coping with stress: drug therapy (benzodiazepines, beta blockers), stress inoculation therapy and biofeedback. Gender differences in coping with stress.

The role of social support in coping with stress; types of social support, including instrumental, emotional and esteem support.

A Level Psychology Unit 10: Forensic psychology (Option 3)

Problems in defining crime. Ways of measuring crime, including official statistics, victim surveys and offender surveys.

Offender profiling: the top-down approach, including organised and disorganised types of offender; the bottom-up approach, including investigative Psychology; geographical profiling.

Biological explanations of offending behaviour: an historical approach (atavistic form); genetics and neural explanations.

Psychological explanations of offending behaviour: Eysenck’s theory of the criminal personality; cognitive explanations; level of moral reasoning and cognitive distortions, including hostile attribution bias and minimalisation; differential association theory; psychodynamic explanations.

Dealing with offending behaviour: the aims of custodial sentencing and the psychological effects of custodial sentencing. Recidivism. Behaviour modification in custody. Anger management and restorative justice programmes.

This specification has been designed to provide a broad introduction to the scope and nature of psychology as a science, bringing the content up to date. The emphasis is on applying knowledge and understanding rather than just acquiring knowledge, thereby developing your transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking.

 

A Level Psychology Assessment

The course is assessed via written exams. However, assignments are included at the end of each unit to assess your progress and provide feedback. The following information contains details of all the exams for AQA ‘A’ level.

A Level Psychology Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology

2 hours written exam

Compulsory content assessed

33.3 % of A level

96 marks

Questions:

Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Section D: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

A Level Psychology Paper 2: Psychology in content

2 hours written exam

Compulsory content assessed

33.3% of A level

96 marks

Questions:

Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 48 marks

A Level Psychology Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology

2 hours written exam

Compulsory content assessed

33.3 % of A level

96 marks

Questions:

Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
(Option 1: the college offer Cognition and Development as the topic for this option)

Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks (Option 2: the college offer Stress as the topic for this option)

Section D: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks (Option 3: the college offer Forensic Psychology as the topic for this option)

Progression

Our A Level Psychology programmes are eligible for UCAS points, making them a great choice for students aiming to progress to University. UCAS points are awarded according to the grade earned, please see below for details.

A levels are also widely recognised by employers and are useful for students looking to progress their careers or meet requirements for promotion.

UCAS Points Table

A* = 56
A = 48
B = 40
C = 32
D = 24
E = 16

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