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subject overview

Studying Psychology has become a very valuable tool in the world we currently live in with mental health being more acceptable in society and more people wanting to seek help to overcome mental health issues. With much more media material nowadays on mindfulness and improving your mental state readily available, the psychology course has been designed to allow for our young minds to understand treatments available and causes around mental health. Learners will be given opportunities to extend their literacy and numeracy skills by studying research methodology and mathematical testing within this discipline. The scientific status of psychology has now fully been enveloped within the new specification and learners will get to see how it transpires within the real world.

unit overview - autumn term 1

Topic 1: Developmental Psychology


Interviewing techniques when interviewing their own parents

Observational skills when watching and analysing video clips

Essay writing skills when completing extended answers

Correlation, interpreting and drawing scatter graphs

Using self-report to assess self-esteem


1 Developmental stages

2 Early brain development.

3 Piaget’s developmental theory including evaluation of theory

Ethical issues of research including working with children

4 Observation as a research method

Study: Piaget and Inhelder (1956)

5 Dweck’s mindset theory

6 Study: Gunderson et al. (2013)

Correlation, drawing and interpreting scatterplots

7 Willingham’s learning theory of development

8 Evaluation of Willingham’s theory

Issues and debates: moral development


Students will explore the concept of development, why most focus is placed on child development and why understanding change is important.

Students will have a chance to interview their parents about when some key developmental milestones happened in their lives – e.g. first tooth, first steps – to emphasise variability. Therefore teaching interviews as research method fits in well.

Learners will also be able to understand their siblings development better and be more sympathetic to their needs.

Students will be watching Piaget’s conservation tasks so teaching observation as a research method applies here.

Before teaching studies on children (Piaget and Gunderson), teach the BPS ethical guidelines that researchers must follow when working with children.

Using data from Gunderson et al. paper is a good way to explore correlations and what they show. Learners will be able to apply this to scenario based questions and produce a class correlation using self-report data, e.g. estimated self-esteem and a self-esteem score generated by responses to questions or from observation. This skill on using correlation is taught before this study so that learners will be able to easily evaluate and assess the type of correlation shown in the study.

unit overview - autumn term 2

Topic 2: Memory


Interpreting of bar graphs and histograms

Data analysis skills such as working out percentages, ratios and fractions

Essay writing skills

Interpreting normal and skewed distribution graphs

Designing and conducting experiments


1 The information processing approach

2 Multi-Store model of memory

3 Peterson and Peterson’s study

4 Theory of reconstructive memory

4 Bartlett’s study

5 Amnesia retrograde and anterograde

6 Designing studies

7 Issues and Debates- Reductionism vs holism


Students will have to interpret memory experiments that contain bar graphs and percentages therefore teaching the mathematically content on data analysis is best suited then.

Two key studies on memory use experiments as a research method so students will need to be able to describe and evaluate experiments as a research method beforehand.

Students have to design and conduct an experiment therefore teaching elements of variables and sampling applies here.

This topic also provides a very valuable foundation to the cognitive unit at AS level which comprises entirely on memory.

unit overview - spring term

Topic 3: Psychological problems


Interpreting frequency graphs

Writing up hypothesis and deciding between aims and one-tailed and two-tailed hypothesis

Essay writing skills

Evaluative and analytical skills of classic studies


1 Introduction to mental health issues (depression and addiction)

2 Issues of reliability and primary and secondary data analysis

3 Genetic and cognitive explanations of depression

4 Genetic and learning explanations of addiction

5 Cognitive behavioural therapy for treatment depression and addiction

6 Young’s study

7 Caspi’s study

8 Issues and Debates- Nature vs Nurture 


Students will be collecting data about themselves therefore teaching primary and secondary data here applies well as they will be conducting interviews and using hospital records.

Students will be learning about genetic and non-biological explanations for both disorders hence teaching the nature vs nurture debate applies to this topic.

This topic is relevant to the age group (GCSE) as many suffer from depression or addiction at such an age so teaching them strategies of how to cope or seek treatment is of significance.

This topic will provide a good foundation to both the biological and clinical approaches at AS and A Level which focuses on mental health.

unit overview - summer term 1

Topic 5: Social Influence


Descriptive statistics interpretation of this as well as calculations of the mean, mode, range and median

Converting data between tables and graphs

Essay writing skills

Designing questionnaires and evaluating the use of the survey method


1 Bystander behaviour

2 Factors affecting bystander behaviour

3 Piliavin’s study

4 Factors affecting conformity

5 Zimbardo’s study

6 Obedience

7 Behaviour of crowds

8 Blind obedience and how to prevent it

9 Issues and Debates- The role of social and cultural issues in psychology


Students will have to use data from studies to interpret descriptive statistics and conduct conversions between tables and graphs so teaching these skills beforehand applies well.

Students will have to design a questionnaire hence teaching descriptive and evaluative points around the survey method is appropriate to teach here.

Students will develop an understanding of how to potentially reduce prejudice and discrimination from occurring in society.

Students are taught to appreciate cultural differences which in turn reduces elements of prejudice.

This topic forms the foundation for the first topic taught at AS level which is social psychology and focuses particularly on obedience and prejudice in society.

unit overview - summer term 2

Topic 4: The brain and neuropsychology


Interpreting and labelling functions of the brain

Essay writing skills

Evaluative and analytical skills of case studies

Using scientific data to interpret findings from studies.


  1. Anatomy of the brain
  2. Synapses and neurotransmitters
  3. Brain lateralisation
  4. Sperry’s study
  5. Damasio’s study
  6. Neurological damage and its effects
  7. Issues and Debates- historical perspectives and psychology over time


To understand gender differences in a more biological way, teaching lateralisation and the anatomy of the brain help to give a better perspective on gender.

Learning about brain damaged patients help to understand the various functions of the brain and may help students with revision strategies for exams.

Learning about historical treatments and explanations help students to see how psychology has developed over time. This particular topic will make it easier when studying Issues and Debates at A Level as one of the debates studied specifically looks at how psychology has changed over time.

In addition this section forms the basis for studying the biological approach at AS level where the focus is directly on the brain and it’s functions.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.