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AS Level Psychology 7181 (2015 Specification)


  • 200h - 1 Year
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Oxford College offers this full ‘AS’ level course in Psychology and the AS award has now been redefined as a final qualification which no longer constitutes the first half of an Advanced Level qualification, so no marks can be carried forward to that qualification.


This specification has been designed to provide a broad introduction to the scope and nature of psychology as a science, bringing the content up to date. The emphasis is on applying knowledge and understanding rather than just acquiring knowledge, thereby developing your transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking.

The course also aims to help you:

  • Develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other
  • Develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods
  • Develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem-solving skills
  • Develop interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject
  • Understand how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.

    The 2015 Psychology specification has a number of changes from the 2008 specification. One of the new requirements is that the 2015 includes a minimum of 10% of at least Level 2 (GCSE) mathematical skills as part of the overall marks.

    You will be expected to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological concepts, theories, research studies, research methods and ethical issues
  • Apply psychological knowledge and understanding content in a range of contexts
  • Analyse, interpret and evaluate psychological concepts, theories, research studies and research methods
  • Evaluate therapies and treatments including in terms of their appropriateness and effectiveness.
  • Knowledge and understanding of research methods, practical research skills and mathematical skills (you can download the Mathematical requirements and exemplifications guide from )

    These skills should be developed through study of the specification content and through ethical practical research activities, involving:
  • Designing research
  • Conducting research
  • Analysing and interpreting data.
    In carrying out practical research activities, students will manage associated risks and use information and communication technology (ICT).

    Completion time

    You should expect to spend approximately 180 hours of study on the AS course and therefore time management skills are essential and a personal study timetable should be implemented to ensure you are fully prepared for your chosen exam date.

    Previous Knowledge
    There is no requirement to have studied psychology previously, although there is a smooth transition from GCSE psychology for those who have studied at this lower level. A pass at A-C GCSE in English is desirable, and it is suggested that students embarking on this course have achieved a GCSE in maths at the higher tier.
    Psychology Specification
    AQA Psychology AS (7181)
    The AS specification is examined for the first time in June 2016


    The course is assessed via written exams. However, assignments are included at the end of each unit to assess your progress and provide feedback. The following information contains details of all the exams for AQA ‘AS’ level.

    Paper 1: Introductory topics in psychology

    1 hour 30 minutes written exam
    Compulsory content assessed (units 1 to 3)
    50% of AS level
    Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
    Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
    Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

    Paper 2 : Psychology in content

    1 hour 30 minutes written exam
    Compulsory content assessed (units 4 to 6)
    50% of AS level
    72 marks

    Section A: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
    Section B: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks
    Section C: multiple choice, short answer and extended writing, 24 marks

    Assessment objectives

    Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all AS and A-level Psychology specifications and all exam boards.

    The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

    AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures.
    AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures:

  • In a theoretical context
  • In a practical context
  • When handling qualitative data
  • When handling quantitative data.
    AO3: Analyse, interpret and evaluate scientific information, ideas and evidence, including in relation to issues, to:
  • Make judgements and reach conclusions
  • Develop and refine practical design and procedures
    You can read and download the full specification at:

    Tutor marked assignments (TMAs)

    As you progress through the course, you will be asked to complete assignments, which must be sent to your tutor for marking. The assignments in the course are designed to help you become familiar with the types of questions you will encounter in the exam. However, assignments do not need to be completed under exam conditions; you will have your notes and the course guide to help you. Be prepared to produce several drafts, examiners are not looking for literary classics, rather they are looking for well-supported logical arguments backed up by evidence from the course, which move from an introduction, to hypotheses/evidence, to a reasoned conclusion. You may be asked to: describe, discuss, criticise, compare, contrast, analyse, or consider. However, do not be tempted to answer the question you wish was there, answer the question set, and not merely write everything you know about the topic.

    Completing the assignments is a very important part of your work, and you should not view it as something separate from the rest of your course. The comments you receive from your tutor are a valuable indication of how you are progressing, and help to build up a relationship with your tutor so that they can tailor advice individually for your circumstances. In an assignment remember to include references to any work you have used in addition to the course materials. Although it is not necessary to look at materials outside the course to obtain excellent grades, it is good practice for higher-level studies.

    Throughout this course, there are a large number of studies and theories discussed, it is important that you are able to recall the facts of these studies and what theorists propose, and you will gain credit if you can recall, who and when they were carried out and what was proposed. However, marks will be gained for a sensible discussion of a range of research and theories, rather than a list of names of researchers and dates with no details of the actual studies and theories. Each unit also has a maths element which you will need to be confident with and for each unit the maths requirements are identified for you.

    AS unit content

    Unit 1: Social influence

    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.

    Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo.

    Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram.
    Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality.

    Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.

    Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility. The role of social influence processes in social change.

    End of unit TMA

    Unit 2: Memory

    The multi-store model of memory: sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory.
    Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration.
    Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural.
    The working memory model: central executive, phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity.

    Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to absence of cues.

    Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: misleading information, including leading questions and post-event discussion; anxiety. Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.

    End of unit TMA

    Unit 3: Attachment

    Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father.

    Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow.
    Explanations of attachment: learning theory and Bowlby’s monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model.
    Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’. Types of attachment: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure resistant.
    Cultural variations in attachment, including van Ljzendoorn.

    Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation.

    The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.

    End of unit TMA

    Unit 4: Approaches in psychology and biopsychology

    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 meditational processes and Bandura’s research.

    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.

    The biological approach: the influence of genes, biological structures and neurochemistry on behaviour. Genotype and phenotype, genetic basis of behaviour, evolution and behaviour.

    The divisions of the nervous system: central and peripheral (somatic and autonomic).
    The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic transmission, including reference to neurotransmitters, excitation and inhibition.
    The function of the endocrine system: glands and hormones.
    The fight or flight response including the role of adrenaline.
    The divisions of the nervous system: central and peripheral (somatic and autonomic).
    The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic transmission, including reference to neurotransmitters, excitation and inhibition.

    Localisation of function in the brain and hemispheric lateralisation: motor, somatosensory, visual, auditory and language centres; Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, split brain research. Plasticity and functional recovery of the brain after trauma.

    Ways of studying the brain: scanning techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); electroencephalogram (EEGs) and event-related potentials (ERPs); post-mortem examinations.

    Biological rhythms: circadian, infradian and ultradian and the difference between these rhythms. The effect of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle.

    End of unit TMA

    Unit 5: Psychopathology

    Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health.

    The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
    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.

    The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression: Beck’s negative triad and Ellis’s ABC model; cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), including challenging irrational thoughts.

    The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.

    End of unit TMA

    Unit 6: Research methods

    Experimental method. Types of experiment, laboratory and field experiments; natural and quasi experiments.

    Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation.

    Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured. Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments.

    Aims: stating aims, the difference between aims and hypotheses.
    Hypotheses: directional and non-directional.
    Sampling: the difference between population and sample; sampling techniques including: random, systematic, stratified, opportunity and volunteer; implications of sampling techniques, including bias and generalisation.

    Pilot studies and the aims of piloting.
    Experimental designs: repeated measures, independent groups, matched pairs.
    Observational design: behavioural categories; event sampling; time sampling.
    Questionnaire construction, including use of open and closed questions; design of interviews.

    Variables: manipulation and control of variables, including independent, dependent, extraneous, confounding; operationalisation of variables.
    Control: random allocation and counterbalancing, randomisation and standardisation.

    Demand characteristics and investigator effects.

    Ethics, including the role of the British Psychological Society’s code of ethics; ethical issues in the design and conduct of psychological studies; dealing with ethical issues in research.

    The role of peer review in the scientific process.

    The implications of psychological research for the economy.


    Reliability across all methods of investigation. Ways of assessing reliability: test-retest and inter observer; improving reliability.
    Types of validity across all methods of investigation: face validity, concurrent validity, ecological validity and temporal validity. Assessment of validity. Improving validity.
    Features of science: objectivity and the empirical method; replicability and falsifiability; theory construction and hypothesis testing; paradigms and paradigm shifts.
    Reporting psychological investigations. Sections of a scientific report: abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion and referencing.

    Quantitative and qualitative data; the distinction between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques.

    Primary and secondary data, including meta-analysis.

    Descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency – mean, median, mode; calculation of mean, median and mode; measures of dispersion; range and standard deviation; calculation of range; calculation of percentages; positive, negative and zero correlations.
    Presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scattergrams, bar charts.
    Distributions: normal and skewed distributions; characteristics of normal and skewed distributions.
    Introduction to statistical testing; the sign test

    End of unit TMA


Thanks to this offer, valid exclusively for one person, you will obtain an AS Level Psychology 7181 (2015 Specification) Online Course.

How to register

By buying the course in Emagister Express, you will obtain an access coupon. We will send you the codes and keys to the coupon. Send the coupon code and the key to contact@oxfordcollege.ac. The training provider will then give you access to the course.

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