Psychology Curriculum2022-02-03T13:46:56+00:00

The Psychology Curriculum

Subject aim

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences our behaviour, from communication and memory to thought and emotion. It’s about understanding what makes people tick and how this understanding can help us address many of the problems and issues in our society today. The GCSE and A-Level Psychology curriculums aim to give students a strong foundation to pursue a career in the field to Psychology or to study a related subject at degree level. In addition, the study of Psychology aims to establish proficiency in critical writing and an understanding of the scientific process which will equip students with these highly sought after academic skills.

Details about the curriculum structure

Psychology is only taught at Key Stages 4 and 5 as an optional GCSE or A-Level subject. The curriculum is designed to utilise the literacy, numeracy and scientific skills acquired by students in other subjects lower down the school. We promote intellectual curiosity by encouraging students to ask their own questions about human behaviour. Our students subsequently have confidence in thinking critically which can be used in many contexts to understand human behaviour and to evaluate the validity of ‘truth’ within their education and wider society. The curriculum is highly applied to the real world and students are able to apply their knowledge of theories and research within the subject to their own life experiences, therefore using psychological knowledge to acquire a strong sense of self and an understanding of the behaviour of others. In our subject, students develop skills which enable them to effectively analyse arguments and think critically about new knowledge they are exposed to.

Key Stage 4

We offer two different GCSE programmes for Psychology. A three-year GCSE which starts in Year 9 and a two-year GCSE which starts in Year 10.

Key Stage 5

As with all A Levels, students are taught Psychology over 8 hours per fortnight. Students can study A Level Psychology whether they have completed the GCSE course or not, it is completely accessible for students who did not study the GCSE.

What will students study?

Key Stage 4

As students study this subject for the first time they are introduced to Psychology through a range of introductory topics, they learn about the process of research and a range of core studies in the subject. They then study their first topics – criminal psychology and developmental psychology. In each topic they learn concepts related to the topic, two theories, two core studies and the real-world applications of the topic. Alongside their knowledge rich curriculum, students also learn scientific research skills and have experience of conducting and being participants in psychological research.

As the course progresses, students study more fascinating topics in a range of psychological fields, including psychological problems (mental health), social influence, sleep, and memory. The topics continue to be structured into concepts, theories, studies, and applications with an emphasis on research methods in every topic. Research methods continues to be an important theme and as the course processes students gain more knowledge and experience of planning, doing and evaluating psychological research. They use this vast experience of research methods to design their own research studies later in the course. In each topic there is also an emphasis on neuroscience, which teaches students about how the brain and nervous system is linked to our behaviour, thoughts, and emotions.

Key Stage 5

Year 12

As this is a new subject for students, we start by teaching the strong foundational knowledge required for students to access the curriculum. We raise student awareness of psychology as a science and the scientific process and the various approaches which can be taken to explain human behaviour. Within the first year of study, students are then taught a knowledge rich curriculum including topics areas such as memory, social influence, psychopathology and attachment. Alongside this knowledge base, key psychological skills of evaluation and application are developed through essay writing. Finally, Year 12 students will study the scientific process within the subject and discover the ways in which psychologists design, implement and evaluate psychological research.

Year 13

In the second year, students are much more proficient in the skills required to study psychology and as a result can study more complex subject matters in their year 2 topics; we cover biopsychology, schizophrenia, gender development and forensic psychology. This rich knowledge base is enriched by the study of psychological research methods in more depth, encountering complex new challenges such as inferential testing and designing psychological research. A final element of the Y13 curriculum involves the study of the wider issues and debates which underpin the subject, which encourages students to use their entire psychological knowledge base to support or challenge key perspectives.

Qualifications which we offer

Where could this subject ultimately take you?

Psychology is one of the most popular subjects to study because it has a big impact on all areas of life, from education and health to the economy and crime! It is considered to be a demanding subject offering a range of valuable academic skills such as written communication, data analysis, research skills, and the ability to form an argument based on considered evidence.

It’s important to know that many universities request science A Level’s to complete certain courses and that Psychology is accepted as a science by many universities. Regardless of your aspirations, A Level Psychology is highly respected by all universities and for a wide range of courses.

Contact details to find out more about our curriculum

Miss L Hudson, Lead Teacher of Psychology   hudsonl@tmhs.rklt.co.uk