A Level Psychology

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Course Code : H77

Guided Learning Hours : 320

Support Period : Through to Summer 2018 exams

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Our A Level Psychology online course covers a broad range of subjects, including social and cognitive psychology, child development, and the psychology that lies behind atypical behaviour.

You'll learn why people develop differently and study the causes of conditions such as autism and anxiety disorders. You'll gain an understanding of the main issues that arise from various psychological methods, and the ways in which psychology can be applied.

In the course of your study, you'll learn to conduct effective research, interpret the results, use statistics effectively and deal with ethical issues.

As you discover how others think, you'll also gain an insight into your own psyche and behavioral traits, which is a valuable asset in both your personal and working life.

This course will prepare you for the AQA Psychology A Level specification (7182) exams.

A Level Psychology is structured into 10 individual units which relate to three themes. All three themes have externally examined assessments.


  1. Introductory topics in Psychology
  2. Psychology in context
  3. Issues and options in Psychology

Unit 1: Approaching Psychology

You'll learn about the origins of psychology, including Wundt, introspection and the emergence of psychology as a science.

You'll study:

  1. 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 mediational processes and Bandura’s research.
  2. 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.
  3. The biological approach: the influence of genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour. Genotype and phenotype, genetic basis of behaviour, evolution and behaviour.
  4. The psychodynamic approach: the role of the unconscious, the structure of personality, that is Id, Ego and Superego, defence mechanisms including repression, denial and displacement, psychosexual stages.
  5. Humanistic Psychology: free will, self-actualisation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, focus on the self, congruence, the role of conditions of worth. The influence on counselling Psychology.
  6. Comparison of approaches.

Unit 2: Research Methods

You'll learn about the uses, strengths and limitations of the following research methods, scientific processes and techniques of data handling:

  1. Experimental method. Types of experiment, laboratory and field experiments; natural and quasi-experiments.
  2. Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation.
  3. Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured.
  4. Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments.
  5. Content analysis.
  6. Case studies.

Unit 3: Memory

You'll learn about:

  1. The multi-store model of memory: sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory. Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration.
  2. Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural.
  3. The working memory model: central executive, phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity.
  4. Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to absence of cues.
  5. Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: misleading information, including leading questions and post-event discussion; anxiety.
  6. Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.

Unit 4: Social Influence

You'll learn about:

  1. 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.
  2. Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo.
  3. Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram.
  4. Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality.
  5. Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.
  6. Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility.
  7. The role of social influence processes in social change.

Unit 5: Attachment

You'll learn about:

  1. Demographic change and the family
  2. Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father.
  3. Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow.
  4. Explanations of attachment: learning theory and Bowlby’s monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model.
  5. Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’. Types of attachment: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure resistant. Cultural variations in attachment, including van Ijzendoorn.
  6. Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation.
  7. The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.

Unit 6: Psychopathology

You'll learn about:

  1. Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health.
  2. The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.

Unit 7: Issues and Debates on Psychology

You'll learn about:

  1. Gender and culture in Psychology – universality and bias. Gender bias including androcentrism and alpha and beta bias; cultural bias, including ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.
  2. Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations.
  3. The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach.
  4. Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in Psychology. Biological reductionism and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism.
  5. Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation.
  6. Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity.

Unit 8: Psychological and social explanations of gender development

You'll learn about:

  1. Sex and gender. Sex-role stereotypes. Androgyny and measuring androgyny including the Bem Sex Role Inventory.
  2. The role of chromosomes and hormones (testosterone, oestrogen and oxytocin) in sex and gender.
  3. Atypical sex chromosome patterns: Klinefelter’s syndrome and Turner’s syndrome.
  4. Cognitive explanations of gender development, Kohlberg’s theory, gender identity, gender stability and gender constancy; gender schema theory.
  5. Psychodynamic explanation of gender development, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, Oedipus
  6. Complex; Electra complex; identification and internalisation.
  7. Social learning theory as applied to gender development. The influence of culture and media on gender roles.
  8. Atypical gender development: gender identity disorder; biological and social explanations for gender identity disorder.

Unit 9: Schizophrenia

You'll learn about:

  1. Classification of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including speech poverty and avolition. Reliability and validity in diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia, including reference to co-morbidity, culture and gender bias and symptom overlap.
  2. Biological explanations for schizophrenia: genetics, the dopamine hypothesis and neural correlates.
  3. Psychological explanations for schizophrenia: family dysfunction and cognitive explanations, including dysfunctional thought processing.
  4. Drug therapy: typical and atypical antipsychotics.
  5. Cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy as used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Token economies as used in the management of schizophrenia.
  6. The importance of an interactionist approach in explaining and treating schizophrenia; the diathesis stress model.

Unit 10: Addiction

You'll learn about:

  1. Describing addiction: physical and psychological dependence, tolerance and withdrawal syndrome.
  2. Risk factors in the development of addiction, including genetic vulnerability, stress, personality, family influences and peers.
  3. Explanations for nicotine addiction: brain neurochemistry, including the role of dopamine, and learning theory as applied to smoking behaviour, including reference to cue reactivity.
  4. Explanations for gambling addiction: learning theory as applied to gambling, including reference to partial and variable reinforcement; cognitive theory as applied to gambling, including reference to cognitive bias.
  5. Reducing addiction: drug therapy; behavioural interventions, including aversion therapy and covert sensitisation; cognitive behaviour therapy.
  6. The application of the following theories of behaviour change to addictive behaviour; the theory of planned behaviour and Prochaska’s six-stage model of behaviour change.

The A Level Psychology course is suitable for you if you're looking to fill gaps in your school education or prepare for college or university. It's the perfect foundation if you're thinking about studying Psychology at a higher level.

A Level Psychology is invaluable if you want to work as a psychologist, and will be useful if you want to work in fields such as health, education, counselling or HR.

You don't need any previous experience or qualifications to enrol on our A Level Psychology online course. That's because we believe in making learning - and a rewarding future - as accessible as possible.

A Level Psychology can be the first step towards college or degree-level study of psychology and many other subjects.

Degree-level study of psychology could lead to jobs such as:

  1. Clinical psychologist
  2. Counselling psychologist
  3. Educational psychologist
  4. Forensic psychologist
  5. Further education teacher
  6. Health psychologist
  7. Occupational psychologist
  8. Primary care graduate mental health worker
  9. Sport and exercise psychologist
  10. Careers adviser
  11. Psychotherapist

The study of psychology is also valuable in fields such as education, health, HR, marketing and media.

In the workplace, you'll find your A Level Psychology will demonstrate to employers that you have the ability to commit to learning, and have acquired good reasoning and analytical skills and an understanding of people - essential in practically every walk of life.

Your A Level in Psychology can count towards entry to college or university for many subjects. You should contact the institution you're interested in attending to find out their entry requirements.

Students who complete this course often go on to study a Psychology, Biology, Sociology or English Literature degree. 

We believe in making learning accessible and affordable for all, so you'll have the option to pay for your course through an interest-free payment plan. You'll be able to get started right away with a small deposit and pay the rest by monthly direct debit. Our plans are flexible, so you can pay your balance off sooner if you choose.

If your company will fund your course, we can help you arrange this.

Speak to our course advisors for more information on our payment plans.

Extensive Resources

Once you enrol, you’ll have access to our Student Community, which will allow you to see your course materials, contact your tutor, submit your assignments and connect with your fellow students. 

Your course materials have been specially designed for online learning by experts in the field. You'll work through step-by-step modules so you can easily keep track of your progress.

You'll have the opportunity to join a live induction webinar when you start your course. It's designed to help you navigate your way around the student community, to offer you help and support, and most importantly to give you a warm and friendly welcome to ICS Learn. We usually hold one a week, and you can attend any one that suits you.

You’ll have access to a huge range of resources that will aid your studies, including:

  1. Interactive Quizzes
  2. Progress Checks
  3. Peer Discussions
  4. Personal Journal
  5. Awarding Body Resources

Supporting textbooks are not provided with this course. However, we strongly recommend you source the following ebooks due to the additional resources they provide:

  1. AQA A-level Psychology Book 1, Jean-Marc Lawton, Eleanor Willard. Publisher: Hodder
  2. AQA A-level Psychology Book 2, Jean-Marc Lawton, Eleanor Willard. Publisher: Hodder

Unlimited Support

You’ll be assigned an expert academic tutor who'll be with you from enrolment to graduation. Their support is unlimited and you can contact them by phone, email or via the Student Community. They’ll answer any questions you have about coursework, study materials, assessments and exams, and help you work through any part of the course you’re stuck with.

They’ll also give you test papers and mock exams to ensure you’re ready to pass your exams. All your papers will be marked and given constructive feedback so you know exactly what your strengths are and what you can improve.

Our dedicated student support team will be on hand to assist you with administrative tasks, using the Student Community, and any other non-academic queries you may have.

There are three exams for the AQA A Level Psychology specification (7182):

  1. Paper 1: Introductory topics in Psychology
  2. Paper 2: Psychology in context
  3. Paper 3: Issues and options in Psychology

Exams are set nationally by AQA and are held in summer each year. You must complete all 3 exams during the same exam diet.

Important Exam Information

Please note that you're responsible for making your own exam arrangements. We'll remind you when it's time to do this, and give you all the information you need to find a suitable exam centre. You'll need to pay a fee to the centre.

Find out more about arranging your exams here, or speak to one of our course advisors.

Exam centre and registration fees aren't included in your course fees, as they'll be paid directly to your exam centre. The cost will vary depending on which centre you choose, with private schools and colleges generally being more expensive than state schools.

Find out more about arranging your exams here, or contact our A Level course advisors by phone, email or web chat. We're happy to help!

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