The Ultimate Guide to A-Levels for Psychology

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Written By Dr Shane McKeown


As a prospective psychology student, you are about to embark on an exciting and rewarding journey into the world of human behavior and mental processes. Choosing the right A-levels is an essential step in ensuring your success in the field. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to make the best A-level choices to prepare for a psychology degree and a fulfilling career in this fascinating discipline.

Core A-levels for Psychology: The Foundations

1. Psychology

Studying psychology at the A-level stage provides you with a strong foundation in the subject, acquainting you with key concepts, theories, and research methods. A-level psychology covers topics such as cognitive psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, and biological psychology. This comprehensive understanding will provide you with a head start in your university studies.

2. Mathematics

Mathematics is a crucial component of psychological research, as it allows you to develop skills in statistical analysis and data interpretation. A strong foundation in mathematics will enable you to understand and conduct psychological research, and to critically evaluate the research of others. In addition, many psychology degree programs require applicants to have at least a grade C or above in GCSE Mathematics.

3. Biology

Biology is particularly relevant for those interested in pursuing biological or neuropsychology. A-level biology introduces you to concepts such as genetics, the nervous system, and the structure and function of cells. This knowledge is invaluable when studying the biological aspects of psychology at the university level.

Complementary A-levels: Broadening Your Horizons

4. Sociology

Sociology provides you with a broader understanding of human society and social behavior, which complements the study of individual behavior in psychology. A-level sociology covers topics such as culture, socialization, and social inequality, which can deepen your understanding of the social context of human behavior.

5. Philosophy and Ethics

The study of philosophy and ethics can enhance your critical thinking and analytical skills, both of which are essential in the field of psychology. These subjects also allow you to explore important ethical issues that arise in psychological research and practice.

6. History

History provides you with valuable insights into the historical context of psychological theories and ideas. By understanding the development of psychology as a discipline, you can better appreciate the evolution of thought and practice in the field.

Additional Considerations: Extracurricular Activities and Volunteering

In addition to your A-level choices, engaging in relevant extracurricular activities and volunteering opportunities can help strengthen your university application and demonstrate your commitment to the field of psychology. Consider joining a

psychology club, participating in relevant workshops, or volunteering at mental health organizations. These experiences not only enrich your understanding of the field but also help you stand out in the competitive application process.

Selecting the Right A-Level Combination: Tailoring Your Choices to Your Goals

Each aspiring psychology student will have unique interests and goals, so it is essential to select A-levels that align with your specific aspirations. Below, we offer some suggested A-level combinations based on different career paths within psychology:

Clinical Psychology

  • Core A-levels: Psychology, Mathematics, Biology
  • Complementary A-levels: Sociology, Philosophy and Ethics, History

Educational Psychology

  • Core A-levels: Psychology, Mathematics, Biology
  • Complementary A-levels: Sociology, Philosophy and Ethics, English Literature

Occupational Psychology

  • Core A-levels: Psychology, Mathematics, Biology
  • Complementary A-levels: Sociology, Business Studies, Economics

Sports Psychology

  • Core A-levels: Psychology, Mathematics, Biology
  • Complementary A-levels: Sociology, Physical Education, Human Biology

Forensic Psychology

  • Core A-levels: Psychology, Mathematics, Biology
  • Complementary A-levels: Sociology, Criminology, Law

Preparing for University Application: Showcasing Your Passion for Psychology

To strengthen your university application and showcase your passion for psychology, consider the following tips:

  1. Write a compelling personal statement: Use your personal statement to explain why you are passionate about psychology, what you have done to pursue this interest, and how your chosen A-levels have prepared you for a psychology degree.
  2. Demonstrate relevant experience: Highlight any relevant extracurricular activities, volunteering, or work experience in your application to show your dedication to the field of psychology.
  3. Seek strong academic references: Request references from teachers who can speak to your abilities in your chosen A-level subjects and your potential for success in a psychology degree program.
  4. Prepare for interviews: If your chosen university requires interviews, make sure to research the program, be prepared to discuss your A-level choices, and demonstrate enthusiasm for the field of psychology.

Investing in Your Future Success

By carefully selecting your A-level subjects and engaging in relevant extracurricular activities, you are investing in your future success in the field of psychology. Be sure to choose subjects that align with your specific interests and career goals, and use your university application to showcase your passion and commitment to the study of psychology. With the right A-level choices, you will be well-prepared for a rewarding and fulfilling psychology degree and career.

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