Year 12 Transition: Psychology

Our Psychology A-Level is 50% biological science and 50% social science in terms of broad content. Scientific thinking and methods are real fundamentals when it comes to understanding how Psychology works as a subject.

A-level Psychology is a scientific discipline. As a curriculum area we come under the Social Sciences. AQA (our exam board and specification) list the subject along with Physics, Chemistry and Biology – but it has more shared with Biology in terms of concepts and content than Physics and Chemistry. So, if the functioning of the human body and brain, as well as social situations and unusual behaviour are of interest to you, then this could be the subject for you.

Psychology uses several ‘theoretical approaches’ to explain human behaviour. In much the same way a Physicist might use theories of ‘gravity’ or the ‘big bang’ to explain the behaviour of the universe Psychologists use ‘Psychodynamic’ theory or ‘Behaviourist’ theory (amongst others) to explain human behaviour. You will learn how to describe, apply and evaluate the key theoretical approaches as you progress through the subject.

Our Topics in Year 12 are Social Influence, Memory, Attachment, Theoretical Approaches, Psychopathology (Disorders of the Mind) and Research Methods.

In Y13 we cover Relationships, Biopsychology, Issues and Debates, Schizophrenia, Forensic Psychology and Research Methods.

The textbooks we use are both published by ‘Illuminate Publishing’ and are called “AQA Psychology For A-level Year 1 and AS” and “AQA Psychology For A-level Year 2” – these are easy to recognize as they have a picture of a girl with Green hair on the year 1 and Pink hair on the Year 2 book – you should buy the 2nd Editions of these for use in class.

Background Reading/Research in preparation for the A-Level

The websites below will be useful to have a look at for background reading around the topics:-

These will give you some idea about the A-level content and the types of assessment questions you are likely to tackle in class and in formal exam settings throughout Year 12 and Year 13.

There are also plenty of books, films and TV shows that you could have a look at which deal with various aspects of Psychological topics and approaches – ‘treatments for psychological disorders’ for example.

Film and TV

Films I’d suggest are

  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Girl, interrupted
  • The Experiment” (Netflix)
  • “The Mind, Explained” (Netflix)


Book-wise, I’d suggest a couple of novels, no doubt also available in Audiobook–

  • “The Reader” by Bernhard Schlink
  • “Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
  • “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins (my favourite for gym motivation!)
  • “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks (actually anythingby Sacks is fascinating).

These should pass some time and be thought provoking to say the least.


A psychology degree is a great starting point for a career in both science and the arts, as it equips you with a range of skills and opens up opportunities with a range of employers

Subject specific careers can include Forensic Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Sport Psychologist, Educational Psychologist, Counselling Psychologist, Business Psychologist, Psycho-Therapist and many other performance and health related fields.