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Psychology at school and college
Studying psychology at schoolor college is the first step towards a wide range of fulfilling careers.
Tell me about studying psychology
Psychology is the study of people, the mind and behaviour. Studying psychology at GCSE, A Level or equivalent gives you a good basic knowledge and provides an insight into what it might be like to be a professional psychologist. Even if you decide to work in a non-psychology related field, the skills and knowledge that you develop studying psychology will be helpful. It is a good way of keeping your options open.
What will I learn?
You can study psychology at GCSE, AS, A2 in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or as Scottish NQ Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 or Higher Level in Scotland.
GCSE and equivalents
GCSE and equivalent courses are designed to give students an introduction to the science behind people's behaviour and how it can be used to improve quality of life.
Course content varies depending on the exam board, but all courses include simple practical work and an opportunity to explore some of the main areas of psychology such as memory, stress, prejudice, phobias, gender and social influence.
By the end of your course, you should have developed a critical approach to scientific methods and evidence, and a knowledge and understanding of how psychology works and its role in society.
You will also develop skills including:
- oral, visual and written communication problem solving
- numeracy and statistics
- critical and creative thinking
- decision making
- organisational skills
- IT and data analysis skills
A Level and Scottish Higher
In A Level and Scottish Higher courses you will look at how ideas and theories in psychology have developed, learn how to critically analyse evidence, and undertake some practical research. You may also get the opportunity to create your own experimental project.
By the end of the course you should be able to understand, analyse and form opinions on theories, and present and communicate your knowledge in a clear way.
The exact content of courses varies depending on the exam board but you can expect to study subjects such as social psychology (e.g. conformity), how we process information (cognition), memory, stress and the processes of development for children and adolescents.
Contact your local school or college to find out exactly what courses they offer.
"I'm really glad I studied Psychology Higher. It was such an interesting subject and I definitely think it has helped me better understand myself and others, and my role in society. I'm sure that my background in psychology will really benefit me while I study towards my degree in law."
If I want to study a psychology degree what will I need?
Entry requirements for accredited psychology degree courses will often vary from one institution to another. Psychology, Biology, Mathematics, English, History, Economics and similar arts and social science subjects are all useful preparation for an accredited psychology degree course.
Minimum entry requirements
|Undergraduate degree||Two A Levels and four GCSE grades A-C (incl. Maths and English)|
|Diploma in Higher Education||Two A Levels and four GCSEs|
|BTEC National Diploma||One A Level and four GCSEs|
Some universities will require at least one science A Level. We recommend that you contact individual institutions or check their prospectuses to find out about specific entry requirements.
Is GCSE, A Level or equivalent a requirement to become a psychologist?
No you don’t have to take GCSE or A Level Psychology to be accepted on to an accredited psychology degree. However, if you have the opportunity to do so it will give you an idea of what psychologists do and knowledge of the subject.
I want to be a psychologist, how can I get a head start?
Anyone interested in psychology can take advantage of the many benefits of belonging by subscribing to the Society. If you haven't already, create a free web account and apply online. Alternatively, you can simply complete and return an application form.
While you are doing your GCSE's, A Levels or equivalent, it can also be helpful to get work experience by volunteering. This will be a useful addition to your CV and will help you get a better idea of whether psychology is the career for you.
You could try contacting psychologists in your local area by searching our Directory of Chartered Psychologists. Unfortunately we can’t help you directly in finding work placements.
Please be aware that it may be difficult to find experience with a psychologist because of the confidential nature of their work. If you can’t find a work placement, why not ask for suggestions about a related placement.
First you need to think about the area of psychology that you want to eventually work in (for example, clinical, educational, or sport and exercise) and then contact local organisations and charities associated with those areas. To help your search the following links should take you to some useful websites: