Psychology and Sociology


“The greatest and noblest pleasure we have in this world is to discover new truths, and the next is to shake off old prejudices”.  – Frederick the Great.

Welcome to the fascinating world of Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour!

To some extent, we are all psychologists.  We all try to understand, predict and even sometimes control the behaviour of other people.  The study of Psychology differs in the sense that rather than make general observations of why people behave the way they do, psychologists systematically study the factors that influence behaviour using a range of scientific and non-scientific methods.  This allows them to make generalisations about human behaviour and understand the causes of it across different situations.

In line with curriculum changes, all pupils studying A level Psychology will study a two year qualification and will be assessed via three two-hour exam papers at the end of the two years. Following the OCR specification for Psychology, the course is broadly divided into three units:
• Research methods (30% of the overall grade) —introduces psychological research methods where students are required to conduct their own practical work using a range of experimental and non-experimental methods. The exam involves a multiple choice section assessing knowledge and understanding of methodology, a design section and a section on data analysis.
• Psychological themes through core studies (35% of the overall grade) —introduces key themes and core studies in psychology. Twenty studies are studied over the two year period. The inclusion of both classic and contemporary studies enable students to see the way that psychological knowledge and understanding changes over time. The exam is made up of short answer questions about the 20 studies, an essay based question on approaches or issues in Psychology and a question on application where students are asked to apply their knowledge to a real life piece of research, newspaper story or similar.
• Applied psychology (35% of the overall grade) —introduces a new and engaging compulsory section on issues in mental health and an exciting range of options including child psychology and criminal psychology. This allows students to gain an insight into how theory can be applied in real world situations. The exam involves a structured question on mental health and essay based responses for crime and child psychology.

Typically, students studying Psychology go on to Higher Education courses such as Geography, Nursing, Primary Education, English Literature and Language, Mathematics, Sociology, Law, Business Studies and many more. A significant number of students go on to study Psychology at university. For more information on careers in Psychology, follow the link Careers in psychology


All pupils studying A level Sociology will study a two year qualification which follows the OCR specification. They will be assessed via three exam papers (see table below). The course is broadly divided into three components:

  • Socialisation, culture and identity— This component introduces learners to the key themes of socialisation, culture and identity and develops these themes through the context of youth subcultures. It focuses on youth as an important period in the socialisation process when individuals are developing a sense of identity within their peer groups. It allows learners to explore different types of youth subcultures and the roles they may play in society.
  • Researching and understanding social inequalities— This component explores the methods of sociological enquiry and develops knowledge and understanding of contemporary social processes and social change in the context of social inequality and difference. It aims to foster the development of critical and reflective thinking with a respect for social diversity in terms of social class, gender, ethnicity and age. It develops links between the nature of sociological thought and methods of sociological enquiry.
  • Debates in contemporary society— This component engages learners in theoretical debates and how these relate to a contemporary global society. It develops links between the topics studied in this component, the nature of sociological thought, contemporary social policy and core sociological themes. Contemporary and global debates are introduced through ‘Globalisation and the digital social world’ in Section A, and more in depth studied of ‘Crime and Deviance’ in Section B.



Total Marks


% of Total A Level

Paper 1

Socialisation, culture and identity

90 Marks

1 hour 30 minutes

30% of total A level

Paper 2

Researching and understanding social inequalities

105 Marks

2 hour 15 minutes

35% of total A level

Paper 3

Debates in contemporary society

105 Marks

2 hours 15 minutes

35% of total A level