Head of Department: Angus MacDonald


Angus Head, Emma Webdale

Read the Psychology Department blog.

Welcome to the Psychology Department. We are proud to be one of the most popular and successful subjects available to Sixth Formers at Haileybury. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour and therefore offers pupils amazing scientific insights into many big questions about the human experience. As a student of psychology, you should be curious and interested, wanting to find answers to complex and puzzling qualities that underlie human thought, feeling and action. Are we products of nature or nurture? Can human experience be realistically measured in a laboratory? Does our childhood impact on our adulthood? Why are some people different from others?

Because psychology is a science, pupils approach the discipline from a rigorous research methods angle and develop a critical eye for “good” and “bad” science. The psychology course encourages pupils to become critical thinkers who can question established ideas both within the subject and society. Psychology enables pupils better to understand the many diverse ways that people think, feel and act because these processes can be influenced by a complex pattern of environmental, biological and mental determinants.

Psychology continues to grow as a subject; there are currently three specialist members of staff teaching it to seven sets across the Sixth Form. It is offered either as part of the AS/A2 of the IB Diploma programme.

Why Psychology?

As the Psychology course progresses, pupils will appreciate the diversity and richness of the different approaches and areas of psychology and realise that the human being is a very complex animal indeed. There isn't an aspect of human experience and behaviour that is irrelevant to psychology. It is a subject that, like life, is changing all the time in exciting ways. Above all, it is about us and for us as people.

The course aims to give knowledge and understanding of psychological concepts and principles and the ability to apply these concepts to explain familiar and unfamiliar phenomena and information. It will also enable pupils to develop skills invaluable in the rest of their lives, such as the ability to select and use information from a variety of sources, to collect and analyse information and to communicate ideas logically and concisely. Pupils will be encouraged to formulate and contribute their ideas and to evaluate what they hear being said both in the classroom and outside. In recent years, results have been 80%+ A/B grade at A2 level - one of the most successful A level subject options in the School.


Psychology is recognised as being a rigorous scientific subject by universities, and is not to be confused with so-called “soft options” that were blacklisted by the Russell Group. Indeed, most top universities are now demanding at least AAB to study psychology.

Career prospects

Psychology is an increasingly popular subject and pupils recognise the benefits of studying this topic within varying career choices, including education, medicine, law, business, social work, advertising, counselling, sports and exercise, not to mention of course psychology itself!

The course and its structure


AS/A2 students study the AQA modular syllabus (Specification B). The subject content is divided into four modules; two in the AS year and two in the A2 year. The IB course is studied over a two-year period and is examined through three papers and a piece of coursework completed during term-time.

A Level

Module 1 (AS) Introducing psychology: key approaches (psychodynamic, biological, behaviourist, social learning and humanistic)

Explaining gender

Research methods in psychology

Module 2 (AS)

Social psychology (conformity and obedience)

Cognitive psychology (memory)

Abnormal psychology (phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder)

Module 3 (A2)

Child development

Psychology of atypical behaviours such as schizophrenia and depression

Stress and/or substance abuse

Module 4 (A2)

Approaches, debates and methods in psychology

International Baccalaureate

Paper 1

Biological perspective, social perspective and cognitive perspective

Paper 2

Psychology of atypical behaviour

Developmental psychology or relationships

Paper 3

Research methods


For more details, please refer to the IB Handbook.

      © Haileybury | Haileybury, Hertford SG13 7NU | 01992 706200 | A registered charity: number 310013 | Links | Site map | Privacy & cookies     Follow us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter