Why do some people suffer from mental illness?  Why do some people fear snakes whilst others keep them as pets? How do children learn? How does memory work? What causes criminality? Why do some criminal get away with a crime and some do not? These are some of the questions that A level Psychology addresses.

Students enrich their understanding of Psychology with lectures from UK, international and global psychology experts, such as the London Psychology Conference with renowned memory expert Professor Elizabeth Loftus and expert criminologist, author and commentator Professor David Wilson. Brain Day, with guest speaker Dr Guy Sutton, enriches student understanding of neuroanatomy and includes a real life brain dissection.

The Psychology Department benefits from in-depth subject expertise, with a former Chief Examiner and course textbook author as its Head of Department.

An increasingly popular subject, Psychology aligns with all disciplines in light of the broad spectrum of skills.  Scientific analysis, essay writing and mathematics are included, making it an ideal choice no matter what combination of A level subjects is chosen.

Why study Psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of human mind and behaviour; uncovering what makes humans think and behave the way we do, and what makes us unique. Psychology involves understanding many psychological approaches which explain a diverse range of everyday behaviour, and how these different approaches contrast with one another. This makes psychology one of the most relevant subjects you are likely to study at A level.

During the course you will explore topics such as aggression, phobias and criminality, as well as conduct your own research practicals in these areas. You will study how psychological knowledge has changed over time and how the rise of technology has encouraged more rigorous scientific research.

Psychology presents a range of topics that complement both science, literature and arts; from cognitive neuroscience to the consideration of ethical and moral issues in psychology. The first year of study builds the foundations of your knowledge of psychology and the second year of the course encourages application of your knowledge to investigating clinical and criminological psychology; understanding abnormal and criminal behaviour, and the ways we go about treating these.

Throughout the course you will develop methodological skills that enable you to critically unpick psychological research, and gain essential mathematical skills involving data analysis and probability which help guide the interpretation of research findings.

We aim to encourage critical thinking skills, statistical numeracy, and essay writing skills that enable psychology students to write cogently and analytically. These skills are desirable for further study in university and increase employability.

Psychology is currently taught at Monmouth School for Girls.

Head of Department: Mrs K Smith


Course content

Board: Edexcel   A level Syllabus Code: 9PS0

Foundations of psychology (Year 1):

  • Social psychology – how others influence our behaviour
  • Cognitive psychology – the human memory system
  • Learning theories – the acquisition of phobias
  • Biological psychology – neuroscience and cause of aggression

Applications of psychology (Year 2):

  • Clinical psychology – schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa
  • Criminological psychology – criminality and the psychology of the courtroom
  • Psychological skills
Method of assessment

Paper 1 – Foundations in psychology: 2 hours

  • 90 marks (33% of A level)
  • Asking a range of short answer and essay questions (8-12 marks)
  • Calculator paper

Paper 2 –Applications of psychology: 2 hours

  • 90 marks (33% of A level)
  • Asking a range of short answer and essay questions (8-20 marks)
  • Calculator paper

Paper 3 – Psychological skills: 2 hours

  • 80 marks (33% of A level)
  • Asking a range of short answer and essay questions (8-20 marks)
  • Calculator paper