picture 1.gifWhat is Psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context. It is derived from the Greek words psyche meaning mind, soul or spirit and logos meaning discourse or study.

Why study Psychology?
Psychology bridges the gap between arts and sciences and so integrates well alongside a wide combination of subjects from the traditional three sciences of Biology, Chemistry and Physics through to the arts and humanities.
Many students choose Psychology in order to study a new subject and to try something different from the subjects they have taken at GCSE. At Queen Mary’s High School, it is assumed that nobody has studied psychology before and so students are given a full grounding and preparation in the subject to enable them to achieve their best in the examinations. The OCR A Level specification is followed.

Psychology is a science subject that is concerned with the study of the mind and behaviour. It has links with a variety of other scientific disciplines such as Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Sciences, etc and it can be successfully used as a science qualification in applications for courses such as Medicine and Dentistry. It also fits very well with the humanities subjects such as Geography, History, English, etc due to the development of communication and analytical skills. Psychology covers a wide range of topics and will provide a useful qualification for all applications to University. The common factor linking people who study Psychology is curiosity and the desire for knowledge.

Psychology is interesting
What makes a criminal? Why do people commit inhumane acts? Why do some people develop psychological disorders? How have attitudes towards mental health changed?

Psychology is challenging
How can we measure intelligence? Is imprisonment an effective punishment? How do we develop morals? How can we identify a psychopath?

Psychology is useful
Psychology has a broad range of real-world applications, ranging from health, mental illness, artificial intelligence and criminal attributes, to personal development, social interaction and the environment to name but a few.

Psychology offers good career prospects, but the skills you learn will also readily transfer to many other roles. These skills include oral and written communication, computer literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, evaluative and analytical skills as well as the ability to carry out independent research.

Why study Psychology at QMHS?

Many students choose Psychology in order to study a new subject and to try something different from the subjects they have taken at GCSE. At QMHS, it is assumed that nobody has studied psychology before and so students are given a full grounding and preparation in the subject to enable them to achieve their best in the examinations.

The Psychology department at QMHS is staffed by two fully qualified Psychology teachers, who both hold a BSc Honours Degree in Psychology as well as having undertaken specific Psychology Teacher Training at Post Graduate level. Combined, we have been teaching Psychology very successfully for over 20 years at QMHS and our excellent results reflect this. We have both the subject knowledge and teaching experience to ensure you have the best chance possible of achieving your potential when studying Psychology.

The A Level qualification 

3 x 2 hour examinations – Psychology is assessed by examination with a mixture of multiple choice, short and long answer questions.

  • Paper 1: Research Methods (2 hours) 30% of total A-level
  • Paper 2: Psychological themes through core studies (2 hours) 35% of total A-level
  • Paper 3: Applied Psychology (2 hours) 35% of total A-level

Paper 1: Research Methods

  • Evaluate research methods used in core studies
  • Apply knowledge to new scenarios
  • Plan, conduct and analyse your own small scale investigations.

Paper 2: Psychological themes through core studies

  • Social: Responses to people in authority and people in need. E.g. Obedience and Disobedience.
  • Cognitive: Memory and Attention. E.g. Eyewitness testimony.
  • Developmental: External influences on children’s behaviour and moral development. E.g. Evaluations of lying and truth-telling.
  • Biological: Regions of the brain and brain plasticity. E.g. Split brain research.
  • Individual Differences: Understanding disorders and measuring differences. E.g. The language of psychopaths.

Paper 3: Applied Psychology

Issues in Mental Health:

  • The historical context of mental health
  • The medical model of mental health
  • Alternatives to the medical model of mental health

Criminal Psychology:

  • What makes a criminal?
  • The collection and processing of forensic evidence
  • Psychology and the courtroom
  • Crime prevention
  • Effects of imprisonment

Child Psychology:

  • Intelligence
  • Pre-adult brain development
  • Perceptual development
  • Cognitive development and education
  • Development of attachments
  • Impact of advertising

Career Options

Psychology opens the door to many career options both within and outside of Psychology itself. The wide range of topics covered means it can link to many different degree courses and careers. It can be used as a science subject for applications to degree courses that have this requirement. Our Psychology students have successfully gone in to a wide range of careers after 6th form study, including: –

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Social Work
  • Law
  • Nursing
  • Teaching
  • Counselling
  • Art Therapy
  • Law Enforcement
  • The Prison Service
  • Speech Therapy
  • Etc

 Further Psychology study can lead to a career as a:-

  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Health Psychologist
  • Occupational Psychologist
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Sports Psychologist

If you want to know more and


Read ‘Our Psychology Teacher’s Perspective’ here…

For me, the attraction of studying Psychology was that it’s such a wide and varied subject – when I was at school I enjoyed an eclectic selection of subjects; from Science through to English. I wanted a subject at University that didn’t limit me and allowed me to pursue all of these areas I enjoyed. For me, that subject was Psychology.

At university my interest in Psychology crystallised into three main areas of focus, Social Psychology, Occupational Psychology and Criminal Psychology. Although I’m pleased to say that, aside from informing my teaching of it, my knowledge of Criminal Psychology has not proven itself particularly useful during my career in teaching!

Now that I’m teaching Psychology the personal enjoyment for me is still the same – the sheer variety of subject areas and skills it encompasses. I also find it very enjoyable that for most students their first experience of Psychology as a subject will be with me.

I gain great satisfaction from the fact I’m responsible for shaping their knowledge of Psychology and for introducing them to some of the stranger sides of the subject – Freud’s Oedipus and Elektra complexes always raise a few eyebrows!