Does A Level Psychology Have Coursework

This course will prepare you for the AQA Psychology A Level specification (7182) exams.

A Level Psychology is structured into 10 individual units which relate to three themes. All three themes have externally examined assessments.


  1. Introductory topics in Psychology
  2. Psychology in context
  3. Issues and options in Psychology

Unit 1: Approaching Psychology

You'll learn about the origins of psychology, including Wundt, introspection and the emergence of psychology as a science.

You'll study:

  1. Learning approaches: the behaviourist approach, including classical conditioning and Pavlov’s research, operant conditioning, types of reinforcement and Skinner’s research; social learning theory including imitation, identification, modelling, vicarious reinforcement, the role of mediational processes and Bandura’s research.
  2. The cognitive approach: the study of internal mental processes, the role of schema, the use of theoretical and computer models to explain and make inferences about mental processes. The emergence of cognitive neuroscience.
  3. The biological approach: the influence of genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour. Genotype and phenotype,  basis of behaviour, evolution and behaviour.
  4. The psychodynamic approach: the role of the unconscious, the structure of personality, that is Id, Ego and Superego, defence mechanisms including repression, denial and displacement, psychosexual stages.
  5. Humanistic Psychology: free will, self-actualisation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, focus on the self, congruence, the role of conditions of worth. The influence on counselling Psychology.
  6. Comparison of approaches.

Unit 2: Memory

You'll learn about:

  1. The multi-store model of memory: sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory. Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration.
  2. Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural.
  3. The working memory model: central executive, phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity.
  4. Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to  of cues.
  5. Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: misleading information, including leading questions and post-event discussion; anxiety.
  6. Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.

Unit 3: Social Influence: Conformity and Obedience

You'll learn about:

  1. Types of conformity: internalisation, identification and compliance. Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence, and variables affecting conformity including group size, unanimity and task difficulty as investigated by Asch.
  2. Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo.
  3. Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram.
  4.  explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality.
  5. Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.
  6. Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility.
  7. The role of social influence processes in social change.

Unit 4: Developmental Psychology: Attachment

You'll learn about:

  1. Demographic change and the family
  2. Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father.
  3. Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow.
  4. Explanations of attachment: learning theory and Bowlby’s monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model.
  5. Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’. Types of attachment: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure resistant. Cultural variations in attachment, including van Ijzendoorn.
  6. Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation.
  7. The influence of early attachment  childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.

Unit 5: Individual Differences: Psychopathology

You'll learn about:

  1. Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health.
  2. The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and  disorder (OCD).
  3. The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias: the two-process model, including classical and operant conditioning; systematic desensitisation, including relaxation and use of hierarchy; flooding.
  4. The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression: Beck’s negative  and Ellis’s ABC model; cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), including challenging irrational thoughts.
  5. The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.

Unit 6: Research Methods

You'll learn about the uses, strengths and limitations of the following research methods, scientific processes and techniques of data handling:

  1. Experimental method. Types of , laboratory and field experiments; natural and quasi-experiments.
  2. Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation.
  3. Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured.
  4. Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments.
  5. Content analysis.
  6. Case studies.

Unit 7: Approaches and Debates in Psychology

You'll learn about:

  1. Gender and culture in Psychology – universality and bias. Gender bias including androcentrism and alpha and beta bias; cultural bias, including ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.
  2. Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations.
  3. The nature-nurture debate: the relative importance of heredity and environment in determining behaviour; the interactionist approach.
  4. Holism and reductionism: levels of explanation in Psychology. Biological reductionism and environmental (stimulus-response) reductionism.
  5. Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation.
  6. Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity.

Unit 8: Schizophrenia

 You'll learn about:

  1. Psychological explanations for schizophrenia: family dysfunction and cognitive explanations, including dysfunctional thought processing.
  2. Biological explanations for schizophrenia: genetics, the dopamine hypothesis and neural correlates.
  3. Classification of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucination and delusions. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including speech poverty and avolition. Reliability and validity in diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia, including reference to co-morbidity, culture and gender bias and symptom overlap.
  4. Drug therapy: typical and atypical antipsychotics.
  5. Cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy as used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Token economies as used in the management of schizophrenia.
  6. The importance of an interactionist approach in explaining and treating schizophrenia; the  model.

Unit 9: Cognition and development

You'll learn about:

  1. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development: schemas, assimilation, accommodation, equilibration, stages of intellectual development. Characteristics of these stages, including object permanence, conservation, egocentrism and class inclusion.
  2. Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development, including the zone of proximal development and scaffolding.
  3. Baillargeon’s explanation of early infant abilities, including knowledge of the physical world; violation of expectation research.
  4. The development of social cognition: Selman’s levels of perspective-taking; theory of mind, including  of mind as an explanation for autism; the Sally-Anne study. The role of the mirror  system in social cognition.

Unit 10: Aggression

You'll learn about:

  1. Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression, including the roles of the limbic system, serotonin and testosterone. Genetic factors in aggression, including the MAOA gene.
  2. The  explanation of aggression, including reference to innate releasing mechanisms and fixed action patterns. Evolutionary explanations of human aggression.
  3. Social psychological explanations of human aggression, including the frustration-aggression hypothesis, social learning theory as applied to human aggression, and de-individuation.
  4. Institutional aggression in the context of prisons: dispositional and situational explanations.
  5. Media influences on aggression, including the effects of computer games. The role of desensitisation, disinhibition and cognitive priming.

Commonly referred to as “relateds,” all CLAS students are required to take at least 12 credits of 2000-level or above courses related to but outside of their major (non-PSYC courses).

Prohibited Related Courses

Due to substantial overlap with existing psychological sciences courses, the following courses may not be used as related courses:

  • COMM 3100 (Persuasion)
  • EPSY 3010 (Educational Psychology)
  • HDFS 2100 (Human Development: Infancy through Adolescence)

Additionally, courses cross-listed with PSYC may not be used as related coursesincluding:

  • AFRA 3106/W (Black Psychology)
  • COMM 3103 (Motivation and Emotion)
  • EEB 3201 (Animal Behavior)
  • WGSS 3102/W (Psychology of Women)

Lastly, independent study courses may not be used as related courses without special approval; these courses are not preapproved even if the entire subject area is on the list.

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Related Course Approval

Any 2000-level or above course (except for the prohibited courses noted above) that is listed below may be used as a related course. Examples include coursework for a minor, double major, or additional degree. Use of non-preapproved courses on the final plan of study requires a psychological sciences faculty advisor’s approval/signature.  Students seeking approval for a course that is not listed on our pre-approved list, should email  For students who have transfer credit, the course must be given direct equivalency in order for it to be used on teh plan of study as a related.  For example, HDFS 92000 cannot be used as a related course.

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Preapproved Related Courses

The subject areas and courses listed below are preapproved for use as related coursework for any psychological sciences major plan of study. The list is comprised of entire subject areas (bolded) from which any 2000+ course (except where specifically prohibited) can be used, including cross-listed courses. Any graduate level course will be counted as a related course as well.

Individual courses (not bolded) are also listed. Note that for these subjects areas (i.e., ECON, EDLR, ENGL, EPSY, MGMT), only specific courses are preapproved; use of other courses from these subject areas requires additional approval. Given the breadth of options, please see the Selecting Courses section below for guidance.

  • AH. Allied Health
  • ANTH. Anthropology
  • CHEM. Chemistry
  • COGS. Cognitive Science
  • COMM. Communication*
  • ECE. Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • ECON 2127/W. Beyond Self Interest
  • ECON 2441/W. Labor Economics
  • ECON 2444. Women & Minorities in the Labor Market
  • ECON 2446. Labor Legislation
  • ECON 2456. Economics of Poverty
  • EDLR 3251. Introduction to Organizations & Human Resources Education
  • EDLR 3252. Introduction to Management & Human Resources Education
  • EDLR 3253. Introduction to Planning & Evaluation & Human Resources Education
  • EDLR 3255. Contemporary Labor Issues
  • EEB. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology*
  • EGEN. Education
  • ENGL 3420. Children’s Literature
  • ENGL 3422. Young Adult Literature
  • ENGR. Engineering
  • EPSY 3110. Exceptionality
  • HDFS. Human Development & Family Studies*
  • LING. Linguistics
  • MATH. Mathematics
  • MCB. Molecular & Cell Biology
  • MGMT 3101. Managerial & Interpersonal Behavior
  • MGMT 3239. Managing a Diverse Workforce
  • MGMT 3245. Managerial Behavior in Cross-Cultural Settings
  • PHAR. Pharmacy
  • PHIL. Philosophy
  • PHYS. Physics
  • PNB. Physiology & Neurobiology
  • POLS. Political Science
  • SLHS. Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences(formerly CDIS)
  • SOCI. Sociology
  • STAT. Statistics
  • URBN. Urban & Community Studies
  • WGSS. Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies* (formerly WS)

*Except courses explicitly prohibited, including: COMM 3100, COMM 3103, EEB 3201, HDFS 2100, and WGSS 3102/W.

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Selecting Courses

The field of psychological sciences is broad, encompassing study and research ranging from the composition of neural circuits that support perception, behavior, and cognition to the influence of cultural and organizational influences on thought and action. The psychological sciences department at UConn is organized into distinct graduate programs that conduct research and train Ph.D. students in sub-fields within psychological sciences:

Faculty from each division have identified related coursework that best reflect career and professional interests in different sub-fields of psychological sciences. It may be helpful for undergraduate students to identify sub-fields that best reflect their current or future academic and professional interests, realizing that their interests may span one or more divisions, and select related coursework appropriately. Courses do not have to be from the same sub-field.

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