Fast Track A Level Psychology Entry Requirements
Although the Fast Track 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.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Course Duration
Study Hours Required
Approximately 350 hours.
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.
Students are required to arrange and pay for their 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.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Course Content
The whole ‘A’ level has TEN (10) specific units of study, with their own TMAs with the final unit Units of learning are:
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 1: Social Influence (Compulsory Core Unit)
In this compulsory unit students will consider some of the following aspects of psychology: 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: 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.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 2: Memory (Compulsory Core Unit)
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, Visio-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.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 3: Attachment (Compulsory Core Unit)
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 including: 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, using the example of the Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation. The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including: the role of an internal working model.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 4: Approaches in Psychology and Biopsychology (Compulsory Core Unit)
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 and more.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 5: Psychopathology (Compulsory Core Unit)
Definitions of: abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health. This unit will include aspects of psychosis and the therapy and treatments that assist in diagnosis and recovery.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 6: Research Methods (Compulsory Core Unit)
To understand psychology, it is important for students to know and study the various techniques that are used in honing strong research; without which the focus of the science would not advance and debate the wider context of this fascinating subject. Students will learn about, observational techniques, qualitative and quantitative methods and the importance of triangulation.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 7: Issues and Debates in Psychology (Compulsory Core Unit)
In this unit of learning we will follow on from unit six and learn about the issues and debates that have arisen from research. We will consider the empirical debate that continues to thrive in academic settings and wider clinical practices. This will include among subjects: gender, culture, ethnicity, free will, environmental, nature, nurture, holism and most importantly, ethics.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 8: Cognition and Development (Option 1 Unit)
We will consider the interesting subjects of cognition and development which will include considering: Piaget’s theory of cognitive development: schemas, assimilation, accommodation, equilibration, stages of intellectual development. Characteristics of these stages, including object permanence, conservation, and egocentrism and class inclusion. Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development, which will include: the zone of proximal development and scaffolding. Baillargeon’s explanation of early infant abilities, including: knowledge of the physical world; violation of expectation research. We will also consider: 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 and finally, the role of the mirror neuron system in social cognition.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 9: Stress (Option 2 Unit)
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 immune-suppression and cardiovascular disorders. Sources of stress: life changes and daily hassles. Workplace stress including: the effects of workload and control. 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.
Fast Track A Level Psychology Unit 10: Forensic Psychology (Option 3 Unit)
How crime is considered in this fascinating area of psychology, in which we will consider: Problems in defining crime; Ways of measuring crime, including official statistics, and victim surveys and offender surveys. We will move onto consider; 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, to include: Recidivism; Behaviour modification in custody. Anger management and restorative justice programmes.
Although the course programme is ‘self contained’ the student may wish to obtain further materials in regards to learning. The following materials are in the main useful, but not essential to guide learning: –
Andrew Northedge – The Good Study Guide Open University
All of the above can also be obtained in an electronic format.
Awarding Body Syllabus
The course does not as standard have any ‘course work’ element and is therefore, has an end loaded final assessment by a THREE (3) papers across the four syllabus units of learning, that amount to 6 hours in total examination time.
To ensure that the three assessment objectives (AOs) are clearly placed and assessed prior to the final examination, the TMA’s are weighted in accordance with these AO statements below:
AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures.
AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures:
In a theoretical context
In a practical context
When handling qualitative data
When handling quantitative data.
AO3: Analyse, interpret and evaluate scientific information, ideas and evidence, including in relation to issues, to:
- Make judgements and reach conclusions
- Develop and refine practical design and procedures.
Our Fast Track 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