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England and Wales

Teaching of psychology in England and Wales

In England and Wales, Psychology is one of the most popular subjects at A-level (16-19 year-olds): nearly 50,000 students per year have gained A-level Psychology in recent years. Psychology is becoming more commonly taught at GCSE level too (14-16 year-olds).


A-levels are required for admission to university, and normally consist of two years’ study: AS (Advanced Subsidiary) is a one-year course, designed to give students a broad introduction to the main approaches and topics in psychology. Students who are successful at this level can progress to A-level in their second year, when they have the opportunity to specialise a little more, and gain the full A-level award. Students have the opportunity to carry out their own research investigations but at present the external assessment for A-level does not include assessed research reports.

In England and Wales psychology is classified as a science subject and this has raised implications for staffing in many schools and colleges. There is a serious shortage of qualified teachers of psychology throughout the UK. At the Association for the Teaching of Psychology (ATP) we are pursuing this issue with great urgency, supported by the British Psychological Society, but as things stand it means that many psychology teaching posts are often filled with non-specialists. Some are highly skilled teachers with more than adequate subject knowledge, and ATP supports all psychology teachers, regardless of qualifications, however there is understandable concern among psychologists about the teaching of psychology by those without psychology training. Other European countries appear to be experiencing similar problems, so perhaps this is one important issue that EFPTA might address.


Further information on 16-19 education and qualifications in England and Wales, see the 'Useful websites' below. 

Association for the Teaching of Psychology, UK

Web: http://www.theatp.uk/

The ATP has around 600 members. Our annual conference is held in the first week of July, and all members of EFPTA associations are welcome to attend (see https://www.theatp.uk/)

ATP Scotland is represented separately in EFPTA because the system of education is different from that in England and Wales (see “Scotland” on the links).


Harriet Ennis
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Useful Websites

Department for Education

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation