A Level Psychology Distance Learning CourseAL614

Are you curious about how and why people behave in the way they do? Then an A Level in Psychology may be the perfect course for you. Psychology is an exciting subject exploring aspects of both the mind and behaviour.  Not only does it cover the workings of the mind but how this impacts on intelligence or even mental illness.

You will also learn about yourself and gain new self awareness and knowledge. An A Level in Psychology can lead to a number of fulfilling and worthwhile careers, including becoming a counsellor, occupational psychologist or conducting research. This course focuses on the application of knowledge so will develop your critical thinking, analysis and evaluation skills which will be useful in almost every career.

Our course is designed in bite sized sections so it is easy to learn step by step and don’t forget our Tutors are here to support you throughout your A Level in Psychology. Start Learning today!

Course Info

Distance Learning Support


At Start Learning we pride ourselves on our friendly andsupportive tutors. Your tutor support will start as soon as you receive yourcourse and will be valid for 18 months. All our tutors are highly qualifiedwith extensive experience in supporting distance learning students.You contact your tutor via email and they are responsible for markingassignments answering your questions and guiding you through the course.

Entry Requirements


Basic English reading and writing skills are required. We recommend you have general skills and knowledge associated with a GCSE course or equivalent.

At Start Learning we believe that everyone should have theopportunity to expand their knowledge and study further, so we try to keep ourentry requirements to a minimum.

Recommended Hours of Study


It is recommended that 200 hours of your time should be allocated towards study for the AS and A2 examinations.

Course Contents


A Level Psychology consists of AS Level and A2 Level

AS Level
Unit 1 – PSYA1 – Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods
• Cognitive Psychology – Memory
• Models of memory
• Memory in everyday life
• Developmental Psychology - Early Social Development
• Attachment in everyday life
• Methods and techniques
• Investigation design
• Data analysis and presentation

Unit 2 – PSYA2 – Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences
• Biological Psychology – Stress
• Stress as a bodily response
• Stress in everyday life
• Social influence
• Social influence in everyday life
• Defining and explaining psychological abnormality
• Treating abnormality

A2 Level
Unit 3 – PSYA3 – Topics in Psychology
• Biological Rhythms and Sleep
• Biological rhythms
• Sleep states
• Disorders of sleep
• Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression
• Biological explanations of aggression
• Aggression as an adaptive response
• Development of thinking
• Development of moral understanding
• Development of social cognition

Unit 4: PSYA4 – Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods
• Psychopathology
• Schizophrenia
• Psychology in Action
• Media Psychology
• Psychological Research and Scientific Method

AS Level + A2 Level = A Level in Psychology

Recommended Reading:

AS: AQA Psychology A AS: Student's Book. Jane Wilson (2008) Nelson
ISBN-13: 978-0748798230

Psychology A2 - The Complete Companion for AQA 'A' (2nd edition)
Mike Cardwell and Cara Flanagan (2009): Folens.
ISBN-13: 978-1850082897

Easy Payment Plan


Full Price is £395

6 Monthly Instalments of £65.83

The first installment is paid at time of enrolment with a fee for postage and packaging.

For postage costs click here: Postage & Packaging

Call us on 0800 074 1222 if you would like to set up a payment plan 

Learning Objectives

Unit 1: PSYA1 – Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods

Cognitive Psychology – Memory

1. Models of memory

The multi-store model, including the concepts of encoding, capacity and duration. Strengths and weaknesses of the model

The working memory model, including its strengths and weaknesses

2. Memory in everyday life

Eyewitness testimony (EWT) and factors affecting the accuracy of EWT, including anxiety, age of witness

Misleading information and the use of the cognitive interview

Strategies for memory improvement

3. Developmental Psychology - Early Social Development

Explanations of attachment, including learning theory, and evolutionary perspective, including Bowlby

Types of attachment, including insecure and secure attachment and studies by Ainsworth

Cultural variations in attachment

Disruption of attachment, failure to form attachment (privation) and the effects of institutionalisation

4. Attachment in everyday life

The impact of different forms of day care on children’s social development, including the effects on aggression and peer relations

Implications of research into attachment and day care for child care practices

5. Methods and techniques

Candidates will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following research methods, their advantages and weaknesses:

Experimental method, including laboratory, field and natural experiments

Studies using a correlational analysis

Observational techniques

Self-report techniques including questionnaire and interview

Case studies

6. Investigation design

 Candidates should be familiar with the following features of investigation design:


Hypotheses, including directional and non-directional

Experimental design (independent groups, repeated measures and matched pairs)

Design of questionnaires and interviews

Pilot studies

Control of extraneous variables

Reliability and validity

Ethical issues and ways in which psychologists deal with them

Demand characteristics and investigator effects

7. Data analysis and presentation

Candidates should be familiar with the following features of data analysis, presentation and interpretation:

Presentation and interpretation of quantitative data including graphs, scattergrams and tables

Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data. Measures of central tendency including median, mean, mode. Measures of dispersion including ranges and standard deviation

Analysis and interpretation of correlational data. Positive and negative correlations and the interpretation of correlation coefficients

Presentation of qualitative data

Processes involved in content analysis

Unit 2: PSYA2 – Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences

Biological Psychology – Stress

1. Stress as a bodily response

The body’s response to stress, including the pituitary-adrenal system and the sympathomedullary pathway in outline

Stress-related illness and the immune system

2. Stress in everyday life

Life changes and daily hassles

Workplace stress

Personality factors, including Type A behaviour

Distinction between emotion-focused and problem-focused approaches to coping with stress

Psychological and physiological methods of stress management, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and drugs

Social Psychology - Social Influence

3. Social influence

Types of conformity, including internalisation and compliance

Explanations of why people conform, including informational social influence and normative social influence

Obedience, including Milgram’s work and explanations of why people obey

4. Social influence in everyday life

Explanations of independent behaviour, including how people resist pressures to conform and pressures to obey authority

The influence of individual differences on independent behaviour, including locus of control

Implications for social change of research into social influence

Individual Differences - Psychopathology (Abnormality)

5. Defining and explaining psychological abnormality

Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health, and limitations associated with these definitions of psychological abnormality

Key features of the biological approach to psychopathology

Key features of psychological approaches to psychopathology including the psychodynamic, behavioural and cognitive approaches

6. Treating abnormality

Biological therapies, including drugs and ECT

Psychological therapies, including psychoanalysis, systematic desensitisation and Cognitive Behavioural therapy

Unit 3: PSYA3 – Topics in Psychology

Biological Rhythms and Sleep

1. Biological rhythms

Circadian, infradian and ultradian rhythms, including the role of endogenous pacemakers and of exogenous zeitgebers

Consequences of disrupting biological rhythms, for example shift work, jet lag

2. Sleep states

The nature of sleep

Functions of sleep, including evolutionary explanations and restoration theory

Lifespan changes in sleep

3. Disorders of sleep

Explanations for insomnia, including primary and secondary insomnia and factors influencing insomnia, for example, apnoea, personality

Explanations for other sleep disorders, including sleep walking and narcolepsy


1. Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression

Social psychological theories of aggression, for example, social learning theory, deindividuation

Explanations of institutional aggression

2. Biological explanations of aggression

The role of neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression

The role of genetic factors in aggressive behaviour

3. Aggression as an adaptive response

Evolutionary explanations of human aggression, including infidelity and jealousy

Explanations of group display in humans, for example sports events and lynch mobs

Cognition and Development

1. Development of thinking

Theories of cognitive development, including Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner

Applications of these theories to education

2. Development of moral understanding

Theories of moral understanding (Kohlberg) and/or prosocial reasoning (Eisenberg)

3. Development of social cognition

Development of the child’s sense of self, including Theory of Mind (Baron-Cohen)

Development of children’s understanding of others, including perspective taking (Selman)

Biological explanations of social cognition, including the role of the mirror neuron system

Unit 4: PSYA4 – Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods


You are required to study one disorder


Clinical characteristics

Issues surrounding the classification and diagnosis of schizophrenia, including reliability and validity

Biological explanations of schizophrenia, for example, genetics, biochemistry

Psychological explanations of schizophrenia, for example, behavioural, cognitive, psychodynamic and socio-cultural

Biological therapies for schizophrenia, including their evaluation in terms of appropriateness and effectiveness

Psychological therapies for schizophrenia, for example, behavioural, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioural, including their evaluation in terms of appropriateness and effectiveness

Psychology in Action

You are required to study one contemporary application

Media Psychology

1. Media influences on social behaviour

Explanations of media influences on pro- and anti-social behaviour

The effects of video games and computers on young people

2. Persuasion, attitude and change

Persuasion and attitude change, including Hovland-Yale and Elaboration Likelihood models

The influence of attitudes on decision making, including roles of cognitive consistency/dissonance and self-perception

Explanations for the effectiveness of television in persuasion

3. The psychology of ‘celebrity’

The attraction of ‘celebrity’, including social psychological and evolutionary explanations

Research into intense fandom, for example, celebrity worship, stalking

Psychological Research and Scientific Method

You are required to study all of the following

1. The application of scientific method in psychology

The major features of science, for example replicability, objectivity

The scientific process, including theory construction, hypothesis testing, use of empirical methods, generation of laws/principles (eg Popper, Kuhn)

Validating new knowledge and the role of peer review

2. Designing psychological investigations

Selection and application of appropriate research methods

Implications of sampling strategies, for example, bias and generalising

Issues of reliability, including types of reliability, assessment of reliability, improving reliability

Assessing and improving validity (internal and external)

Ethical considerations in design and conduct of psychological research

3. Data analysis and reporting on investigations

Appropriate selection of graphical representations

Probability and significance, including the interpretation of significance and type1/type2 errors

Factors affecting choice of statistical test, including levels of measurement

The use of inferential analysis, including Spearman’s Rho, Mann-Whitney, Wilcoxon, Chi-squared

Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data

Conventions of reporting on psychological investigations





AS +A2 = A level in Psychology. 

Both AS and A2 level courses and examinations must be successfully completed to gain a full A level.

Language of Examination



Examination Centre


You can find a full list of Private Candidate Exam Centres here: Exam Centres 

Start Learning will provide you with a list of examination centres but it is entirely your responsibility to find a centre which will accept you as an external candidate.
In some cases you should be prepared to travel to another town or city to take your exams.

Start Learning provides expertise support and advice for students in their studies through their comprehensive course packs and tutoring system. However, we do stress that it is the student’s responsibility to find a centre to register and take their exams with. We are aware that sometimes this is difficult or even impossible to arrange.

Now we have come to an arrangement with a centrally located centre where Start Learning students will be able to take their exams. It is the English Maths Science Tuition & Educational Centre, located in Birmingham, right in the centre of England.

We realise this may still involve a good deal of travelling for some students but the long-term benefits of being able to gain A Levels far outweigh the short-term  expense and inconvenience.

For further information, please go to:

or: English Maths Science Tuition Centre Ltd.
40 Showell Green lane
B11 4JP
United Kingdom

Tel: 0121-771-1298

The contract for sitting exams is between you and the centre and we will provide you with comprehensive instructions on when and how to deal with the examination centre.



Summary of Examinations 

Unit 1 – PSYA1 – Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods
Percentage: 50% of AS Level, 25% of A Level
Examination Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Format: Structured compulsory questions

Unit 2 – PSYA2 – Biological Psychology, Social Psychology and Individual Differences
Percentage: 50% of AS Level, 25% of A Level
Examination Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Format: Three compulsory structured questions

Unit 3 – PSYA3 – Topics in Psychology
Percentage: 25% of A Level
Examination Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Format: Three essay-style questions chosen from eight topics

Unit 4: PSYA4 – Psychopathology, Psychology in Action and Research Methods
Percentage: 25 % of A Level
Examination Time: 2 hours
Format: One essay-style question chosen from three. QWC will be assessed in this essay.


Q: What are the qualifications required to enrol onto this course?
Basic English reading and writing skills are required.  We recommend you have general skills and knowledge associated with a GCSE course or equivalent.

Q: Do I have to sit an exam?
Yes, to gain your full A Level Qualification, you are required to sit an exam.  Exams are held at test centres which can be found in major towns and cities throughout the UK.  Please contact Start Learning for a list of test centres.  Exams can be taken in January and June, please visit the AQA website for further details and exam timetables.   

Q: How long do I have access to the personal tutor service?
The personal tutor service is available for 18 months from when the study materials are received.  At Start Learning we aim help our students to the best of our ability; therefore we are always delighted to answer questions and queries out with the 18 month period.

Q: Do your courses meet the latest syllabus changes?
yes, all our course materials meet any changes and will be updated free of charge if further changes are made.

Q: How much are exam fees?
These vary from centre to centre so please check with your local centre.

Q: Is this A Level Psychology course paper based or on-line?
Our A Level Psychology course is paper based and comes in an attractive folder.

Q: I want to take my exams but there are only a few months to study, is this possible?
Depending on the time of year, it is sometimes impossible to complete your studies in a short space of time as your work has to be marked and checked. More importantly the examination boards have cut off times which are not flexible. See the AQA website for further information.

Q: Will I receive UCAS points on completion of this course?
Yes all of our A Levels carry UCAS points. The number of points awarded will depend on the grade you achieve.

Q: I still have questions? / I would like more information?
  If you require more information please do not hesitate to contact Start Learning via email: info@start-learning.co.uk or call us on 0800 074 1222 or 0141 218 4424.

We look forward to hearing from you.