Ysgol Stanwell School

Archer Road, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, CF64 2XL


Head of Department
Mrs K Cox
Mr M Furnish
Ms C Patterson

Have you ever wondered:

  • What makes people follow the crowd?
  • Why people develop phobias of spiders?
  • Why people obey those of authority?
  • What causes mental illness?
  • If eye witness testimony can be relied upon in court?

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. It encompasses a variety of approaches to try to fully explain the causes of human (and animal) behaviour. Topics can range from the social causes of aggression to the biochemical basis of depression. It is impossible to give a straightforward definition of Psychology since the interests of science are growing rapidly within our ever-changing society. The more we discover about human behaviour, the more it seems there is to discover. Psychology is scientific in nature but, as a subject, Psychology also makes a practical contribution to the lives of individuals. It can help us understand human memory, the development of human relationships and why people conform and obey. Further to this Psychology helps us to understand and alleviate mental illnesses including schizophrenia and depression.

Why choose Psychology?

thoughts-551263_1280Psychology is a fascinating subject as it teaches us so much about ourselves and the world around us. Students of Psychology will acquire a wide knowledge and understanding of the subject whilst also developing skills of communication, numeracy, teamwork, critical thinking and independent learning. All these skills are highly valued by employers.

Psychology A Level goes well with the natural science subjects (Chemistry, Physics and Biology) as well as Maths due to its foundations in research and analysis. Equally Psychology also complements arts subjects including English, History and Languages as it involves interpreting evidence and extended writing.

Leading to specific careers such as Clinical or Forensic Psychologist and supporting many other career routes through Medicine, Business, Industry and Public Services, Psychology is rarely an essential A Level for university entrance but is always an excellent subject to have in your portfolio. The A Level will tell you what to expect in a Psychology degree although some students do commence degree level study without the A Level.

AS Level


WJEC Psychology Unit 1: Psychology: Past to Present

Different groups of Psychologists have different ways of explaining behaviour and in this unit we will study 5 of them – the Biological, Behavioural, Psychodynamic, Positive and Cognitive Approaches. Students will learn how each approach explains behaviour along with a classic piece of research from the approach. They will also consider how each approach has been applied to a form of therapy as well as discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the approach and how they compare with each other.

Worth 20% of the full A Level.

Assessment: 1hr 30mins, mixture of short and longer answer essay questions.

WJEC Psychology Unit 2: Using Psychological Concepts

In the Contemporary Debates section, students will apply their knowledge of the 5 Approaches from Unit 1 to a contemporary issue for example the use of conditioning techniques with children or the reliability of eye witness testimony. In Principles of Research, students will learn the principles involved in good experimental design as well as other methods of investigating psychological ideas such as observations and case studies. They will also study 2 more classic pieces of research.

Worth 20% of the full A Level.

Assessment: 1hr 30mins, mixture of short and longer answer essay questions.

A Level Psychology

The A Level course builds on what has been learnt at AS but offers the opportunity to study specific aspects of behaviour in more depth. It also consists of 2 modules. Students continue to develop a range of skills and at this level will be expected to write extended essays as an opportunity to develop their skills of critical evaluation and the use of evidence to support an argument. As part of their continuing study of Research Methods students will design and carry out their own psychological investigations.

WJEC Psychology Unit 3: Psychology: Implications in the Real World

In the Controversies section students will consolidate knowledge drawn from earlier study and apply it to wider controversies and issues such as gender and culture bias and the scientific nature of Psychology. Students will also learn about 3 behaviours; addiction, criminal behaviour and stress. They will consider a range of explanations for the behaviour as well as learning about ways in which the behaviour can be treated or modified.

Worth 40% of the full A Level.

Assessment: 2hrs 30mins, longer essay style questions.

WJEC Psychology Unit 4: Applied Research Methods

As part of their studies, students will design and carry out two pieces of research (titles set by WJEC). In this paper they will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the processes used as well as considering how the investigation could have been improved. In addition, they will further develop their understanding of research methods and continue to apply this to a range of scenarios.

Worth 20% of the full A Level.

Assessment: 1hr 30mins, mixture of short and longer answer essay questions

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