Psychology is the study of the human mind and how it can influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.  It is often described as “the science of mind and behaviour”, but human beings have been fascinated by the hidden motivations, secrets and biology of our brains since the dawn of civilisation – from the ancient Greek intellectuals, the Victorian experimental scientists, Freudian psychoanalysts, right through to modern-day cognitive neuroscientists.

Psychology therefore, has a very distinct history, tradition and experience that is ready to be discovered and understood by you!

Why is it important to study psychology?

Psychology is essentially about understanding how people tick.  By learning about people, either through in-depth case studies of individuals and groups, or through experiments, systematic questioning and interviewing or even scientific observations, we can use this information to try to solve many of the problems and issues that face individuals and society today.

Psychology is also a subject that overlaps with and compliments many other subjects and disciplines, such as: Sociology, Biology, Criminology, Law, Economics, Politics and Philosophy.  Essentially, this course offers an engaging and effective introduction to psychology. There are also many transferable skills that you can develop, which are looked upon favourably by both universities and employers. Students will learn

the fundamentals of the subject and develop skills including: critical analysis, independent thinking and research.

What do we study in Psychology?

Psychology is taught at Key Stage 5 and is a very popular choice with many students going on to study for a Psychology or a Psychology-related degree at university. Psychology is most accessible to student with a solid Science back-ground, but due to its intrinsically interesting subject matter based on the study of people, it appeals to students who are studying a range of other subjects including Arts and Humanities.

Psychology requires students to learn about the main approaches in studying human behaviour. It has an emphasis on students being able to apply their knowledge of these approaches to explain how and why people behave and think as they do. As a social science, there is a focus on research methodology which runs through both years of the course.  Students will develop an “evaluation tool kit” to enable them to analyse and give commentary on the approaches, theories, studies and also the investigations that they complete.

Psychology students will develop skills in literacy, academic report writing, critical analysis, problem solving, question interpretation and asking good questions. Through the course, students are often challenged by the diversity of human experience and their understanding and tolerance of individual differences will grow.

Useful Websites to explore this subject further:

Course Overview

Over the two years of study, students will be following the AQA Psychology course which comprises of:

Year 1 topics at a glance

  • Social influence                                                                      
  • Memory                                                                                 
  • Research Methods (year 1)                            
  • Attachment                                                                            
  • Biopsychology                                    
  • Psychopathology  (year 1)
  • Approaches in Psychology (year1)                                                                  

Year 2 topics at a glance

  • Biopsychology (year 2)
  • Issues and debates in Psychology
  • Research methods (year 2)
  • Approaches in Psychology (year 2)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Relationships
  • Addiction

Year 1 – a more detailed overview

Social influence – subtopics include:  obedience, conformity, explanations for obedience and for conformity, resistance to obedience and conformity and the role of social influence processes in social change.

Memory – subtopics include:  models of memory, explanations for forgetting, types of long-term memory, factors affecting the accuracy of eye-witness testimony and how it can be improved.

Research methods  – subtopics include:  types of research methods, different scientific processes and how data is handled and analysed.

Attachment – subtopics include:  explanations of attachment, types of attachment, animal studies of attachment, cultural variations in attachment and the influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships.

Biopsychology – subtopics include:  the divisions of the nervous system, the structure and function of different neurons, the function of the endocrine system and the fight or flight response.

Psychopathology – subtopics include:  definitions of abnormality, characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, explanations and ways of treating phobias, depression and OCD.

Approaches in Psychology – subtopics include:  the origins of psychology and the emergence of psychology as a science and the main assumptions of the cognitive, learning and biological approaches to psychology.

Year 2 – a more detailed overview

Issues and debates in psychology – subtopics include:  gender and culture in psychology, free will and determinism, the nature-nurture debate, holism and reductionism, idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological investigation, ethical implications of research studies and theory, .

Schizophrenia – subtopics include:  the classification of schizophrenia including its symptoms, biological and psychological explanations of schizophrenia, different treatments for schizophrenia such as drug therapy and C.B.T., and the diathesis-stress model.

Relationships – subtopics include:  evolutionary explanations for partner preferences, factors affecting attraction in romantic relationships, theories of romantic relationships, virtual relationships in social media and parasocial relationships.

Addiction – subtopics include:  describing addiction, risk factors in the development of addiction, explanations for nicotine and gambling addiction, how to reduce addiction and the application of theories of behaviour change to addictive behaviour.

Approaches in Psychology – subtopics include:  the main assumptions of the psychodynamic and humanistic approaches and comparison of approaches.

Biopsychology – subtopics include:  Localisation of function in the brain and hemispheric lateralisation, plasticity and functional recovery of the brain after trauma, ways of studying the brain and biological rhythms.

Research methods  – subtopics include:  further investigations of other types of research methods and scientific processes and inferential statistical testing.

How many written examinations are there?

Students will currently sit three exam papers at the end of Year 2 of their study.  Each paper represents 33% of their overall grade. 

Paper 1 – 2 hours in length (96 marks in total) – includes the topics: Social influence, Memory, Attachment, Psychopathology and Research methods.

Paper 2 – 2 hours in length (96 marks in total) – includes the topics: Approaches in Psychology, Research Methods, Biopsychology.

Paper 3 – 2 hours in length (96 marks in total) – includes the topics: Issues and debates in Psychology, Relationships, Schizophrenia, Addiction, Research Methods.

Students will be examined using a variety of multiple-choice, short answer and extended writing questions based on the three key skill areas that are developed throughout their study.

Please contact us at if you should need to speak to the Faculty Leader or to get a message to your child’s Psychology teacher.