AQA Psychology is taught at A level only and Mrs Sagoo is the subject leader. Psychology is currently taught by Miss K. Berick. Miss Berick joined HGS in the summer term of 2024 and is Mrs Sagoo’s maternity cover until summer 2025.


The course is designed to ensure students understand psychological explanations of human behaviour and the research that underpins these explanations. Students learn to critically evaluate psychological explanations and research.

Psychology is an important subject because it enables us to make sense of the world around us and to consider reasons beyond our current thinking. This helps us to explain certain patterns of behaviour in ourselves and in others. The Psychology curriculum at Handsworth Grammar School aims to develop a lifelong love of learning and a scientific curiosity. As a result of our curriculum, students are able to upskill their community as they develop a wider personal and social awareness which enables them to reflect on the actions and behaviours of themselves and that of others.

The Psychology curriculum is structured to enable students to learn and build upon skills as they progress through the different modules within their psychology journey. For example, for each unit, students start with a foundation of knowledge as they learn different psychological theories, studies and concepts. This is then built upon in their application of this knowledge to the real world around them. Student then eventually, develop their understanding by evaluating the findings of psychological research. This cyclical structure allows knowledge to become embedded and built upon so that students learn more and remember more.

Each unit encourages students to be inquisitive and question the validity and reliability of information presented to them. This develops students’ ability to challenge ideas and not accept things at face value. These skills are vital for success in higher education. Therefore the subject of psychology helps to support each student to encourage independent thought and promoting critical thinking.

We believe that it is very important for students to discuss ideas and be able to articulate their thoughts in depth and at length to help them to remember more. We have very high expectations concerning how students respond verbally and in written form. We have developed a clear sequence in every lesson, in which there is a balance between teacher expertise and student independence. We always provide students with the time to write in a way that is well planned, clearly expressed and carefully executed. This allows students to embed knowledge through routinised regular practice.

Throughout the students’ two years of studying psychology, students will encounter eleven units. These have been sequenced within the students’ learning journey to increase in complexity as students build upon their pre-existing knowledge. Each of these units teach the same skills meaning that students keep returning to ideas of reliability and validity within research, for example, helping students to see psychological research as a body of work rather than studies that have been completed in isolation.

Course Calendar

Please click here to view the Key Stage 5 Course Calendar

Please click here to view the 2023 Psychology A Level Exam Dates


A level (New Specification)

Click here for the information below in a narrated PowerPoint format

There is no course work at A level and the course is 100% exam based.
There are three exams to be taken in June.

Students complete exam questions in every lesson. They also complete exam questions for homework and have regular end of unit mock tests.

Students will learn through a variety of activities including class lectures, note-taking from a variety of sources, essay writing, independent research, group work, presentations, card sorts and student led interactive activities.

Paper 1: Introductory topics in Psychology

a) Social influence

  • Obedience- factors which cause an individual to obey orders
  • Compliance- factors which causes individuals to change their behaviour in the presence of other people
  • Psychological explanations of social change

b) Memory

  • Psychological theories which explain how our memory works
  • Factors which effect the accuracy of eye witness testimony
  • Explanations of forgetting

c) Developmental psychology

  • Psychological theories of attachment
  • The effects of deprivation
  • Ainsworth’s strange situation – how to assess attachment

d) Psychopathology

  • Definitions of abnormality
  • Symptoms of phobias, depression and OCD
  • Behavioural explanations and treatments of phobias
  • Cognitive explanations and treatments of depression
  • Biological explanations and treatment of OCD

Paper 2: psychology in context

a) Approaches in psychology

  • Origins of psychology
  • Cognitive approach to psychology
  • Biological approach to psychology
  • Learning approach to psychology

b) Biopsychology

  • The nervous system
  • The endocrine system
  • Biological rhythms
  • Studying the brain in psychology

c) Research methods

  • Methods used to conduct psychological research
  • The strengths and weaknesses of these methods
  • How to analyse and present research findings
  • Statistical analysis

Paper 3: Issues and options in psychology

a) Relationships

  • Evolutionary explanations for partner preferences
  • Factors affecting attraction
  • Theories of romantic relationships
  • Virtual and parasocial relationships

b) Schizophrenia

  • Classification and diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Biological explanations and treatments of schizophrenia
  • Psychological explanations and treatments of schizophrenia
  • Interactionist approach to schizophrenia

c) Aggression

  • Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression
  • Social psychological explanations of aggression
  • Institutional aggression
  • Media influence on aggression

d) Issues and debates in psychology

  • Gender and culture bias
  • Free will vs determinism
  • Nature vs nurture
  • Holism vs reductionism
  • Ethical issues

Paper 1: One written paper of 2 hours (33.3% of A Level marks)
Paper 2: One written paper of 2 hours (33.3% of A Level marks)
Paper 3: One written paper of 2 hours (33.3% of A Level marks)

Entry requirements for A Level Psychology

Students are required to achieve a level 6 or better in GCSE English, Maths and Science.


Students have the opportunity to attend trips and masterclasses to extend their learning outside of the classroom, as well as hosting other schools for revision days lead by ex-senior examiners and authors.

The department currently runs a ‘catch up club’, in room SF4, in order to support students who might have missed lessons or are finding that they are performing below their target minimum grade.

The department also uploads all of its resources and weblinks to interesting articles and videos on to the class TEAMS page and SharePoint.

For any further questions please email using the enquiry contact form with the message subject of FAO: Psychology.