Examination Board: The WJEC (The Welsh Joint Examinations Committee)

A level GCE in Psychology


This specification is divided into a total of four units, 2 units to gain an AS level and a further 2 units for A level.

AS (2 units)

PY 1 20% 1 hour 15 minutes Written Paper 60 marks (80 UMS)
Approaches in Psychology

Candidates answer five compulsory questions based on Approaches in Psychology.

PY 2 30% 1¾ hours Written Paper 90 marks (120 UMS)
Psychology: Core Studies and Applied Research Methods

Section A and Section B questions are based on the Core Studies and candidates answer three compulsory questions in each section. Section C is based on Research Methods and candidates answer one question from a choice of two.


Four major psychological approaches form the basis of this Unit:

The Biological (Physiological/Medical) approach, the Psychodynamic approach, the Behaviourist approach, and the Cognitive approach.

For each of these approaches it will be necessary to focus upon:

  • the main assumptions of each approach
  • how each approach can be applied in one form of therapy;
  • how each approach can be applied to one theory;
  • the strengths and weaknesses of each approach;
  • the four approaches in terms of similarities and/or differences (compare and contrast);
  • an explanation and evaluation of the methodology of each approach.

Students will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how each approach has been applied to a theory and a therapy. Students should also be able to assess critically each approach in terms of its strengths and weaknesses and in terms of similarities and/or differences with other approaches. In addition, it will be necessary to explain and evaluate the methodology of each approach.

The theories and therapies relevant to each approach are set out in the table below:

Theory Approach Therapy
Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome BIOLOGICAL Psychosurgery or Chemotherapy
Social Learning Theory of Aggression BEHAVIOURIST Aversion Therapy or Systematic Desensitisation
Freud’s theory of personality development PSYCHODYNAMIC Dream analysis or free association
Attribution theory COGNITIVE



Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy or Rational emotive therapy 




The core theme for this unit is psychological research. It is designed to encourage students to explore the nature and practice of psychological enquiry. The unit comprises two parts: the Core Studies and Applied Research Methods.


Core Studies

The ten Core Studies cover research drawn from the main areas of Psychology. The focus for the Core Studies is for students to be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological research, reflecting the diversity of psychological enquiry.


Students will also be expected to be able to assess critically each of the Core Studies in terms of its methodology and in terms of complementary/alternative research findings.





The following table illustrates how the Core Studies cover the main areas of Psychology: Social, Physiological, Cognitive, Developmental Psychology and Individual Differences





Asch (1955) Rahe et al (1970) Gardner & Gardner (1969)



Langer and Rodin (1976) Buss (1989)
Milgram (1963) Bennett-Levy and Marteau (1984) Loftus & Palmer (1974) Gibson & Walk (1960) Rosenhan (1973)



Within the department, students will have access to a range of text books and the internet. In addition to text books available in the department. There will be additional reading sources available on the school website, as well as class notes and resources aimed to support students through the course.


Full Specification –

Past Papers –

Specimen paper and Mark Scheme-