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What is Psychology?

Most people when they hear the word ‘psychology’ think of mental disorders and crazy abnormal behaviour. BUT – psychologists are not just interested in such behavioural extremes; many are interested in investigating very ordinary, everyday behaviour such as memory, aggression, thinking, obeying others and sleeping, to name just a few research areas.

So, psychology is ‘the scientific study of human behaviour and experience’.

It aims to describe and explain behaviour which, in turn, allows us to predict and modify behaviour.

GCSE Psychology:


Including monocular and binocular depth cues, visual illusions and constancies, theories of perception and sensation, and the effects of motivation, expectation, emotion and culture on perceptual set.


Including early brain development, theories of cognitive and social development, how learning affects development, and the importance of mindset for development.


In this introduction to cognitive psychology, students will learn the structure and processes of memory and information processing, active processes of memory, and the factors affecting accuracy of memory.

Research methods

This topic enables students to form a clear understanding of the scientific research procedures involved in psychological research (design, procedure, analysis of results, evaluation) within the context of the core topic areas.

In the second year of the course, the following topics are studied:

Social influence

Students will learn about factors affecting conformity, obedience, and bystander behaviour; crowd behaviour, and ways to prevent blind obedience.

Language, thought and communication

Including the relationship between language and thought, differences between human and animal communication, non-verbal communication and explanations for non-verbal behaviour.

Psychological problems (mental health issues)

Students will learn about symptoms and diagnosis of depression and addiction, genetic explanations, cognitive theory and learning theory explanations, treatment including drug therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, and issues and debates surrounding nature and nurture.


Including the structure and function of the brain, hemispheric lateralisation, the role of the central nervous system, the emergence of cognitive neuroscience, and the impact of neurological damage on behaviour. 

At both GCSE and A level, students must demonstrate the following assessment objectives within their writing:

AO1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological ideas, processes and procedures.

AO2 Apply knowledge and understanding of psychological ideas, processes and procedures.

AO3 Analyse and evaluate psychological information, ideas, processes and procedures to make judgements and draw conclusions.

What skills will be developed through the course?

Students will learn skills of critical reading and writing, argument and counter argument, the ability to be analytical, an awareness of the assumptions of different approaches and perspectives in psychology and how they impact on the conclusions drawn.

Where can Psychology lead in the future?

The great thing about psychology is that it doesn’t close any doors. It is the first step into a career as a chartered psychologist in a field such as clinical, neuroscience, forensic, occupational, sports, or environmental psychology, as well as teaching or research.

Psychology is a highly regarded qualification by higher education institutions and employers alike; especially in fields that are ‘people-oriented’ – such as law, marketing, HR, policing, teaching, PR, nursing, counselling… the list goes on!

Further information about our GSCE and A Level Psychology courses content is available here.