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A Level

Applied Psychology Extended Certificate Level 3

Subject Area
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
September 2023
Study Mode
2 years
Level 3

The Applied Psychology BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate offers you a thorough understanding in applying the principles and theories of psychology. It is equivalent to 1 A Level. To be successful in this course you should be able to work independently and be interested in people and the reasons why they behave the way they do.

You should also have an interest in research. You will develop a deep understanding of human behaviour whilst applying this knowledge to relevant fields such as business and law.

Entry requirements

A minimum of 4 subjects at grade 5 or above at GCSE plus English, Maths and Science at grade 4 or above. You must also have achieved a grade 5 in either English Language, History or Religious Studies.

What will I study?

If you choose to study Applied Psychology you will study three mandatory units, covering the following content areas:

Year One

Applications of Psychological Approaches
You will study four different approaches in psychology. You will then apply them to real life issues linked to gender, aggression and consumer behaviour. Social psychology explains how human behaviour occurs in a social context and how people, society and culture can affect behaviour. The learning approach in psychology explains how behaviour is learned from the world around us – through association, the consequent rewards and punishments or through the imitation of role models. The biological approach to psychology takes the opposite view to the learning approach and explains how internal biological processes, such as genetic inheritance, brain structure and chemistry, can affect human behaviour and how these processes can be explained by evolution. The other two approaches are the cognitive approach and the social approach.

Conducting Psychological Research
Sound scientific research principles are needed to explore theories in psychology. Results from these studies can be analysed using statistical techniques to verify their significance and enable researchers to explain or predict behaviour. You will conduct a pilot study in a chosen area, drawing on key psychological approaches. You will gather and analyse your research findings and present them to an audience.

Year Two

Health Psychology
This unit explores the motivation behind healthy and unhealthy behaviours and the factors that might persuade individuals to finally change behaviour or to follow the advice given by medical practitioners. You will explore how health psychologists can help improve behaviours using psychological theories of persuasion and learn about specific physiological and behavioural treatments, making judgments about their effectiveness.

Criminal and Forensic Psychology
Criminal and Forensic Psychology is a specialist branch of psychology that uses psychological theories to explain criminal behaviour, and examines the research generated by these theories. In this unit, you will explore psychological approaches to criminal behaviour and learn how offender profiles are created using different techniques. You will examine different psychological methods for modifying and punishing criminal behaviour, and investigate their effectiveness. This will include their impact on both the rate of reoffending and on the individual and society.

Preliminary reading
Psychology is all around us and the research into the different areas is used to predict and influence your behaviour. Pick up a magazine and look at the adverts that are being used. How has the business used people and messages to get you to buy the product? Pick up a healthcare leaflet and look again at what has been done to get you to behave in a certain way. Are they effective at getting you to change your behaviour? Why?

Method of delivery

You will attend three lessons per week which will cover course material. There is scope for discussion of psychological theory and ideas, however focus will be on learning material and practicing essays and exam technique as the exam is in January.

You will also have some lessons focused on coursework but this is also mostly an independent task, and time must be dedicated to Psychology outside of lesson in order to pass.

You will typically be in College four days per week and in-College delivery is supported by online resources, enabling students to develop strong independent learning skills to equip them for their next steps.

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed through a combination of external and internal assessments.

Year One

  • Application of Psychological Approaches: External examination in January, 1.5 hours.
  • Conducting Psychological Research: Internal assessment of a pilot study.

Year Two

  • Health Psychology: External examination in May/June, 2 hours.
  • Criminal and Forensic Psychology: Internal assessment.

Good course combinations

Applied Psychology goes well with Sociology, Biology, Law and English Language.

Your next steps

The qualification carries UCAS points and is recognised by higher education providers as contributing to admission requirements to many relevant applied psychology courses. 95% of universities and colleges in the UK accept BTEC students, including competitive universities from the Russell Group. When combined with other qualifications within a two-year study programme, you can progress to higher education to qualifications such as:

  • BSc in Forensic and Criminal Psychology
  • BSc in Occupational Health
  • BSc in Education and Child Psychology
  • BSc in Sport Psychology

Careers - this course is ideal if you are interested in a career as a Therapist, Teacher or a Nurse.

Natalie, Applied Psychology student

"I chose this course as I enjoy psychology and it is suited to what I would like to do in the future, which is forensic psychology. I like how friendly the tutors and students are on the course."

Applied Psychology Extended Certificate
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