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A Level Psychology Home Study Course - Online

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  • Entry requirements
    Basic English reading and writing skills are required.
  • Academic Title
    AS +A2 = A level in Psychology. Both AS and A2 level courses and examinations must be successfully completed to gain a full A level.
  • Course description
    Course summary
    This course has been designed to provide a broad introduction to the scope and nature of psychology as a science.

    The emphasis is on applying knowledge and understanding rather than just acquiring knowledge, thereby developing students’ transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking.

    At AS, the specification offers a broad range of topics, with research methods in context.

    At A2, there is a range of topic-based options which bring together explanations from different approaches and engage students in issues and debates in contemporary psychology.

    This course allows you to study at your own pace. This course is suitable to be studied by all students irrespective of age, creed, religion or gender.

    Read on to find out more about our A Level Psychology distance learning course and how you can learn with our amazing materials and online support.

    Course Content
    An outline of what is offered in our A Level Psychology course:

    AS Level

    Unit 1: PSYA1 – Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods

    Cognitive Psychology – Memory

    1. Models of memory
    The multi-store model, including the concepts of encoding, capacity and duration. Strengths and weaknesses of the model

    The working memory model, including its strengths and weaknesses

    2. Memory in everyday lifeEyewitness testimony (EWT) and factors affecting the accuracy of EWT, including anxiety, age of witness

    Misleading information and the use of the cognitive interview

    Strategies for memory improvement

    3. Developmental Psychology - Early Social DevelopmentExplanations of attachment, including learning theory, and evolutionary perspective, including Bowlby

    Types of attachment, including insecure and secure attachment and studies by Ainsworth

    Cultural variations in attachment

    Disruption of attachment, failure to form attachment (privation) and the effects of institutionalisation

    4. Attachment in everyday lifeThe impact of different forms of day care on children’s social development, including the effects on aggression and peer relations

    Implications of research into attachment and day care for child care practices

    5. Methods and techniques
    Candidates will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following research methods, their advantages and weaknesses:

    Experimental method, including laboratory, field and natural experiments

    Studies using a correlational analysis

    Observational techniques

    Self-report techniques including questionnaire and interview

    Case studies

    6. Investigation design

     Candidates should be familiar with the following features of investigation design:

    Hypotheses, including directional and non-directional
    Experimental design (independent groups, repeated measures and matched pairs)
    Design of questionnaires and interviews
    Pilot studies
    Control of extraneous variables
    Reliability and validity
    Ethical issues and ways in which psychologists deal with them
    Demand characteristics and investigator effects

    7. Data analysis and presentation
    Candidates should be familiar with the following features of data analysis, presentation and interpretation:
    Presentation and interpretation of quantitative data including graphs, scattergrams and tables

    Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data. Measures of central tendency including median, mean, mode. Measures of dispersion including ranges and standard deviation

    Analysis and interpretation of correlational data. Positive and negative correlations and the interpretation of correlation coefficients

    Presentation of qualitative data

    Processes involved in content analysis

    Unit 2: PSYA2 – Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences

    Biological Psychology – Stress
    1. Stress as a bodily response
    The body’s response to stress, including the pituitary-adrenal system and the sympathomedullary pathway in outline

    Stress-related illness and the immune system

    2. Stress in everyday life
    Life changes and daily hassles

    Workplace stress

    Personality factors, including Type A behaviour

    Distinction between emotion-focused and problem-focused approaches to coping with stress

    Psychological and physiological methods of stress management, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and drugs

    Social Psychology - Social Influence

    3. Social influence
    Types of conformity, including internalisation and compliance

    Explanations of why people conform, including informational social influence and normative social influence

    Obedience, including Milgram’s work and explanations of why people obey

    4. Social influence in everyday life
    Explanations of independent behaviour, including how people resist pressures to conform and pressures to obey authority

    The influence of individual differences on independent behaviour, including locus of control

    Implications for social change of research into social influence

    Individual Differences - Psychopathology (Abnormality)

    5. Defining and explaining psychological abnormality
    Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health, and limitations associated with these definitions of psychological abnormality

    Key features of the biological approach to psychopathology

    Key features of psychological approaches to psychopathology including the psychodynamic, behavioural and cognitive approaches

    6. Treating abnormality
    Biological therapies, including drugs and ECT

    Psychological therapies, including psychoanalysis, systematic desensitisation and Cognitive Behavioural therapy

    A2 Level
    Unit 3: PSYA3 – Topics in Psychology

    Biological Rhythms and Sleep

    1. Biological rhythmsCircadian, infradian and ultradian rhythms, including the role of endogenous pacemakers and of exogenous zeitgebers

    Consequences of disrupting biological rhythms, for example shift work, jet lag

    2. Sleep states
    The nature of sleep

    Functions of sleep, including evolutionary explanations and restoration theory

    Lifespan changes in sleep

    3. Disorders of sleep
    Explanations for insomnia, including primary and secondary insomnia and factors influencing insomnia, for example, apnoea, personality

    Explanations for other sleep disorders, including sleep walking and narcolepsy


    1. Social psychological approaches to explaining aggressionSocial psychological theories of aggression, for example, social learning theory, deindividuation

    Explanations of institutional aggression

    2. Biological explanations of aggressionThe role of neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression

    The role of genetic factors in aggressive behaviour

    3. Aggression as an adaptive responseEvolutionary explanations of human aggression, including infidelity and jealousy

    Explanations of group display in humans, for example sports events and lynch mobs

    Cognition and Development

    1. Development of thinking
    Theories of cognitive development, including Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner

    Applications of these theories to education

    2. Development of moral understanding
    Theories of moral understanding (Kohlberg) and/or prosocial reasoning (Eisenberg)

    3. Development of social cognition
    Development of the child’s sense of self, including Theory of Mind (Baron-Cohen)

    Development of children’s understanding of others, including perspective taking (Selman)

    Biological explanations of social cognition, including the role of the mirror neuron system

    Unit 4: PSYA4 – Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods

    You are required to study one disorder

    Clinical characteristics

    Issues surrounding the classification and diagnosis of schizophrenia, including reliability and validity

    Biological explanations of schizophrenia, for example, genetics, biochemistry

    Psychological explanations of schizophrenia, for example, behavioural, cognitive, psychodynamic and socio-cultural

    Biological therapies for schizophrenia, including their evaluation in terms of appropriateness and effectiveness

    Psychological therapies for schizophrenia, for example, behavioural, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioural, including their evaluation in terms of appropriateness and effectiveness

    Psychology in Action
    You are required to study one contemporary application

    Media Psychology

    1. Media influences on social behaviourExplanations of media influences on pro- and anti-social behaviour

    The effects of video games and computers on young people

    2. Persuasion, attitude and change
    Persuasion and attitude change, including Hovland-Yale and Elaboration Likelihood models

    The influence of attitudes on decision making, including roles of cognitive consistency/dissonance and self-perception

    Explanations for the effectiveness of television in persuasion

    3. The psychology of ‘celebrity’

    The attraction of ‘celebrity’, including social psychological and evolutionary explanations

    Research into intense fandom, for example, celebrity worship, stalking

    Psychological Research and Scientific Method
    You are required to study all of the following

    1. The application of scientific method in psychologyThe major features of science, for example replicability, objectivity

    The scientific process, including theory construction, hypothesis testing, use of empirical methods, generation of laws/principles (eg Popper, Kuhn)

    Validating new knowledge and the role of peer review

    2. Designing psychological investigations
    Selection and application of appropriate research methods

    Implications of sampling strategies, for example, bias and generalising

    Issues of reliability, including types of reliability, assessment of reliability, improving reliability

    Assessing and improving validity (internal and external)

    Ethical considerations in design and conduct of psychological research

    3. Data analysis and reporting on investigationsAppropriate selection of graphical representations

    Probability and significance, including the interpretation of significance and type1/type2 errors

    Factors affecting choice of statistical test, including levels of measurement

    The use of inferential analysis, including Spearman’s Rho, Mann-Whitney, Wilcoxon, Chi-squared

    Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data

    Conventions of reporting on psychological investigations

    Summary of Assessments
    Unit 1: PSYA1 – Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods
    • 50% of AS Level
    • 25% of A2 Level
    • Examination: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Structured compulsory questions based on Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods.

    Questions include short answer, stimulus material and one 12-mark question requiring extended writing in which QWC will be assessed.

    Unit 2: PSYA2 – Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences• 50% of AS Level
    • 25% of A2 Level
    • Examination: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Three compulsory structured questions, one based on the Biological Psychology content, one based on the Social Psychology content and one based on the Individual Differences content.

    Questions include short answer, stimulus material and one or more 12-mark questions requiring extended writing in which QWC will be assessed.

    Unit 3: PSYA3 – Topics in Psychology• 25% of A Level
    • Examination: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Three essay-style questions chosen from eight topics:
    •  Biological rhythms and sleep
    • Perception
    • Relationships
    • Aggression
    • Eating behaviour
    • Gender
    • Intelligence and learning
    • Cognition and development
    • QWC will be assessed in each essay

    Unit 4: PSYA4 – Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods
    • 25 % of total A Level
    • Examination: 2 hours
    • Three sections:
    Psychopathology: One essay-style question chosen from three. QWC will be assessed in this essay.
    Psychology in Action: One question chosen from three.
    Research Methods: One compulsory structured question.

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