Subject Leader: Mrs E. Rivière-Price

Key Stage 4

Psychology GCSE

Exam Board: AQA
Level: 2

Course Overview

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of psychology, developing critical analysis, independent thinking and research skills.
The students sit two external examinations (each worth 50%) at the end of Year 11. Both exams are 1 hour 45 minutes and are compiled from short and longer style exam questions.

Course Content

Paper 1: Cognition and Behaviour

  • Memory (what are the processes and structures of memory?)

  • Perception (how do we perceive? What factors affect our perception?)

  • Development (how does the brain develop? What are the effects of learning on development?)

  • Research Methods (what is the experimental method? What are ethics in psychology?)

Paper 2: Social Context and Behaviour

  • Social Influence (what is conformity? What is obedience?)

  • Language, Thought and Communication (how are human and animal communication different? What is non-verbal communication?)

  • The Brain and Neuropsychology (what is the brain like? What is neuropsychology?)

  • Psychological Problems (what is depression/addiction? What causes depression/addiction?)

Assessment: 100% Examination


Key Stage 4 Curriculum Content

Year 10

Term 1:

  • Research Methods: hypotheses, variables, types of experiments, experimental designs, sampling, ethical considerations, interviews

  • Development: early brain development, Piaget's theory of cognitive development, MC Garrigle and Donaldson's Naughty Teddy study


Term 2:

  • Research Methods: questionnaires, observation studies, correlations, case studies,reliability, validity, types of data, descriptive statistics, computation

  • Development: Hughes 'policeman doll study, stages of cognitive development, Piaget's theory: application in education, Dweck's mindset theory of learning, the role of praise and self-efficacy, learning styles, Willingham's learning theory

Term 3:

  • Memory: processes of memory, types of long term memory, the multi-store model of memory, primacy and recency effect, Bartlett War of Ghosts study.

  • Social Influence: Conformity: Asch's study, social and dispositional factors affecting conformity, obedience: Milgram's study, Milgram's agency theory


Term 4:

  • Memory: the theory of reconstructive memory, factors affecting the accuracy of memory: interference, context and false memories.

  • Social Influence: Obedience: Adorno's theory, Piliavin's subway study, social and dispositional factors affecting prosocial behaviour, deindividuation, crowd and collective behaviour.

Term 5:

  • Perception: sensation and perception, visual cues and constancies, visual illusions, Gibson's theory of perception

  • Perception: Gregory's constructivist theory of perception, factors affecting perception: culture, motivation, emotion, expectations

Term 6:

  • Brain and Neuropsychology: structure and function of the nervous system, the autonomic nervous system.

  • Consolidation of past topics

Year 11

Term 1: 

  • Brain and Neuropsychology: fight or flight, James-Lange theory of emotion, neuron structure and function, Hebb's theory of learning and growth, structure and localisation of function in the brain, Penfield's study of the interpretive cortex, an introduction to neuropsychology, scanning techniques to identify brain functioning, Tulving's "gold" memory

Term 2:

  • Language, thought and communication: Piaget's theory, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, our view of the world, Von Frisch's bee study, human versus animal communication, non-verbal communication: eye contact, body language, personal space, non-verbal behaviour: Darwin's evolutionary theory, non-verbal behaviour: innate or learned? Yuki's study of emoticons

Term 3: 

  • Psychological Problems: an introduction to mental health, effects of mental health problems, depression, theories of depression: biological explanation, Psychological Problems: theories of depression: psychological explanation, therapies for depression: antidepressant medication, CBT, Wiles's study, addiction, theories of addiction: biological explanation, psychological explanation,  therapies for addiction: aversion therapy, self-management

Term 4:

  • Consolidation and revision of topics

  • Examination preparation

Term 5:

  • Examination preparation

  • Paper 1 and Paper 2 consolidation and revisions

Term 6:

  • Revision of all topics in preparation for final examination


Key Stage 5

Psychology A-Level

Exam Board: AQA
Level: 3

Course Overview

This course has been designed to provide a broad introduction to the scope and nature of psychology as a science, while including a large amount of topics from different psychological fields such as health psychology, biopsychology and developmental psychology.

The course is examined with students sitting three external examinations (each worth 33.3% of the A level) at the end of the second year. All exams are two hours and are compiled from short and longer style exam answers.

Course Content

Paper 1: Introductory Topics in Psychology

  • Social Influence (why people obey or conform, why others resist social influence)

  • Memory (the two models of memory, why do we forget, factors affecting eye witness testimony)

  • Attachment (why attachment is necessary for later relationship, cultural variations of attachment)

  • Psychopathology (depression, phobia, OCD and their treatments)

Paper 2: Psychology in Context

  • Approaches in Psychology (biological, behavioural, psychodynamic, cognitive, humanistic)

  • Biopsychology (the nervous system, brain studies, biological rhythms)

  • Research Methods (how to conduct and design a research, different types of methods used, ethical issues)

Paper 3: Issues and Options in Psychology

  • Issues and Debates in Psychology (is Psychology a science? Nature versus Nurture, Ethics)

  • One Topic selected from the following list: Relationships, Gender, Cognition and Development

  • One Topic selected from the following list: Schizophrenia, Eating Behaviours or Stress

  • One Topic selected from the following list: Aggression, Forensic Psychology, Addiction

Key Stage 5 Curriculum Content

A-Level Psychology (Year 1) Yr13

Term 1:

  • Approaches in Psychology: origins of psychology, behaviourist approach, social learning theory, biological approach, cognitive approach

  • Research Methods: types of hypothesis, concept of operationalisation, variables, control of variables, experimental designs, sampling

  • Memory: coding/capacity/duration, multi-store model of memory, types of long term memory, the working memory model

Term 2:

  • Memory: explanation for forgetting: interference, retrieval failure, eye witness testimony: misleading information, anxiety the cognitive interview

  • Biopsychology: the nervous system, the endocrine system, neurons, synapses, fight or flight

  • Research Methods: ethical issues, types of experiment, validity, descriptive statistics, Sign test, observational methods, pilot studies

Term 3:

  • Research Methods: types of data, reliability, study design

  • Psychopathology: definitions of abnormality, phobia, depression, OCD

  • Attachment: infant-caregiver interactions, Schaffer and Emerson stages, roles of the father, animal studies, learning theory, Bowlby's monotropic theory, cultural variations in attachment, Romanian orphans, influences of early attachment on later relationships

Term 4:

  • Social Influence: conformity (Asch, Zimbardo), obedience (Milgram, Adorno), resistance to social influence, minority influence, social change

  • Psychopathology: biological explanation and treatment for OCD, cognitive explanation and treatments for depression, behavioural explanation and treatments for phobia

Term 5:

  • Consolidation of all topics studied

  • Preparation for Examination

Term 6:

  • Mock examination

  • Biopsychology: brain localisation and functions, brain plasticity, brain lateralisation and split brain study, ways to study the brain, biological rhythms (circadian, ultradian, infradian)

  • Research Methods: inferential statistics, levels of measurement

  • Approaches in Psychology: psychodynamic approach, humanistic approach, comparison of approaches

A-Level Psychology (Year 2) Yr13

Term 1:

  • Issues and Debates: holism/reductionism, ethical implications

  • Social Influence: conformity, obedience

  • Biopsychology: nervous system, structure/function neurons, synaptic transmission, endocrine system, fight or flight

Term 2:

  • Social Influence: resistance to social influence, minority influence, social change

  • Biopsychology: localisation function, lateralisation/split brain, ways of studying the brain, circadian rhythms, ultradian/infradian rhythms, exogenous zeitgebers/endogenous pacemakers

  • Psychopathology: definitions of abnormality, phobia, depression, OCD

Term 3:

  • Psychopathology: biological explanation and treatment for OCD

  • Psychopathology: behavioural explanation and treatment for phobia, cognitive explanation and treatment for depression

  • Relationships: evolutionary explanation, physical attractiveness, self-disclosure, filter theory, social exchange theory

Term 4:

  • Schizophrenia: classification, reliability and validity in diagnosis and classification, biological explanation, psychological explanations

  • Schizophrenia: drug therapy, CBT, family therapy, token economy, interactionist approach

  • Relationships: equity theory, investment model of commitment, Duck: breakdown of relationship, virtual relationships, parasocial relationships

  • Topics consolidation and revision

Term 5:

Topics consolidation and revision for final examinations

Useful Information

OSL and Extra-Curricular Activities

Support is offered to the students during lunch and after school sessions.

Suggested Revision Guides and Books

Key Stage 4

  • AQA Psychology for GCSE: Revision guide C. Flanagan, D. Berry,R.Jones, M. Jones,  R. Liddle, Illuminate Publishing - ISBN: 978-1-91-120806-8

  • My Revision Notes: AQA GCSE (9-1) Psychology, M. Marshall, S.Firth, Hodder Education- ISBN: 978-1510425941

Key Stage 5

  • AQA A Level Psychology revision guide, Cara Flanagan, Dave Berry, Michael Griffin, Rob Liddle: AQA A - ISBN: 978-1908682406

  • A Level Year 2 Psychology: The Mini Companion, M. Cardwell, R. Geillis, R. Moody, A. Wadeley, OUP, Oxford - ISBN: 978-0198375296

Useful Website Links