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Mission Statement

Psychology teaches students to value scientific research and respect individual and cultural differences in human behaviour.  On leaving the A-Level Psychology course, students will have a greater understanding and appreciation of human behaviour.  They will be able to use their knowledge of psychological and biological explanations to assess cause and effect of behaviour and evaluate drug treatments vs psychological therapies.  Students are further challenged to engage with their social, cultural and religious values in order to form an empathetic and holistic understanding of human behaviour and students nurture curiosity beyond the scope of the A-Level course. Psychology students are encouraged to develop a growth mindset, confidence and resilience to strive for academic excellence.  Gaining skills typically required as part of higher education courses, students are engaged and motivated to strive for the next steps of their academic and professional journey

Exam board: AQA

Curriculum Map

The link below allows you to see when topics may be covered; this is a guide for information only and has the potential to change as the year progresses.

Curriculum Intent

Subject: Psychology

Key Stage 5 only

As part of the whole


Psychology builds on logical reasoning and procedural solving students will have learnt in GCSE Maths; it builds on critical textual analysis and fluent written expression students will have developed in GCSE English; it also builds on scientific research skills practised during GSCE Science.  Apart from these skills, content from History, Geography and Biology will be relevant to provide context for many of the theories and studies.

Academic – Curriculum Aims

The AQA specification offers an engaging and effective introduction to Psychology. Students will learn the fundamentals of the subject and develop skills valued by Higher Education (HE) and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research.

The modules across the three papers are based on the fundamentals of the HE Psychology-related degrees and the British Psychological Society to produce an up-to-date, stimulating and ethically sound curriculum. This therefore, prepares students to study a psychology-related degree at university.



The teacher respects, supports and promotes the gospel values of St Mary’s. In controversial and socially sensitive topics like Gender development, the teacher reminds students of their Christian values.  The teacher reminds students they don’t have to agree with the theories but rather to engage with them from an academic perspective.



Within in lesson planning and lesson delivery, the teacher models strong moral integrity that has its grounding in the Christian values of the St Mary’s.  The teacher knows her students well and can offer challenge and guidance where appropriate in class discussions and when critically evaluating Psychological theories.



Many of the modules have a topic titled: ‘Cultural variations in….’  This allows students to explore, understand and respect the differences in culture. In lesson planning and delivery, the teacher ensures that a variety of examples and images are used to reflect a range of cultures; furthermore, the teacher encourages students to apply psychological theories to their own experiences and cultural identity.



Students are encouraged to respect themselves and other students and staff. The teacher models this respect. Part of this is to value and respond to teacher feedback; to be a reflective learner, to look for opportunities to contribute thoughtfully to lessons and to feel safe in the learning environment to take learning risks like answering a question or asking one.

Psychology is a fascinating and popular subject, which looks at the scientific study of the human mind, behaviour and experience. Students will gain an insight into this scientific process, looking closely at theories, studies and research methods through studying a number of exciting topics, through which they will be able to apply their knowledge to a wide range of everyday experiences and phenomena.


The two-year A Level qualification sees students studying 3 equally weighted papers, each assessed through a two-hour written examination. The examinations include multiple choice, short answer and longer essay questions.


Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology

  • Social influence provides explanations of why people conform and obey and includes famous research such as that conducted by Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram.
  • Memory, including the functions of short and long-term memory, how memory can affect the legal system with eyewitness testimony and explanations of forgetting.
  • Attachment, including how infant attachments are formed with our parents and what can happen if this attachment is disrupted.
  • Psychopathology takes a biological viewpoint, considering how we define abnormality and investigating the causes of and therapies for mental illnesses such as depression, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder.

 Paper 2: Psychology in context 

  • Approaches in psychology provides an insight into the origins of psychology and the very different perspectives psychologists take in explaining the same behaviour.
  • Biopsychology focusses on the structure and of nervous system and endocrine system, brain neurons and brain structure and function, scanning techniques and biological rhythms, including sleep.
  • Research Methods looks at how we conduct research in psychology, how we select our participants, ethical issues when carrying out experiments and how to analyse results, including the use of descriptive and inferential statistics.

 Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology:

  • Section A: Compulsory study of the issues and debates that run through all the theories in Psychology
  • Section B: Gender development: students study biological, cognitive and social theories for how humans develop their gender identity.
  • Section C: Schizophrenia: students study biological and cognitive explanations and treatment of this psychological disorder
  • Section D: Aggression: Students study biological, cognitive and social theories for why humans show aggressive behaviour; with a specific focus on aggression in prisons and the negative effect of violent video games on aggression 


For further information please click on the link below:

St Mary’s will provide students with free access to online versions of the textbooks for Year 1 and year 2 published by Illuminate.

Our first topic was all about memory and since then I have continued to enjoy the content and learning about the way humans think and behave. Through taking psychology I have also learnt a little bit about myself! I find it interesting and intriguing.

- Cynthia, Year 12

  • For more information surrounding Psychology at A Level please email