The course will provide students with a sound understanding of the various methods and approaches in psychology at an introductory level. This will provide a basis for those students who are considering studying Psychology at a higher level. The course will give students an awareness of research into human behaviour and motivation and will develop both scientific and analytical skills.

Students will be introduced to key methods and approaches in Psychology through the core areas of social, cognitive, developmental, biological and individual differences. The purpose of this is to give students a basic general understanding of what this discipline involves and why psychological research is important in society today.

AQA state “The topic areas have been chosen because of their importance and prominence within the core area and their relevance to everyday life. The specification requires candidates to understand ethical issues that must be considered when conducting research in psychology.”


  • Engage in the process of psychological enquiry.
  • Develop as effective and independent learners, and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds.
  • Develop an awareness of why psychology matters.
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of how psychology works and its essential role in society.
  • Develop an understanding of the relationship between psychology and social, cultural, scientific and contemporary issues, and its impact on everyday life.
  • Develop an understanding of ethical issues in psychology.
  • Develop an understanding of the contribution of psychology to individual, social and cultural diversity.
  • Develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and methods.

Areas of Study

Year 9

Memory – Students investigate different explanations of how our memory works, the reasons that we forget and the reliability of eye-witness testimony as used within the context of the criminal justice system. Alongside this, students will develop practical uses for this research such as revision tips to aid memory.

Non-Verbal Communication - We communicate with each other every day but rarely stop to think about how or why we do this. This unit looks at the side of communication that is often ignored. With only 7% of our communication through words why is it that we don’t spend more time thinking about the other aspects of our communication? This unit examines areas such as body language, eye-contact, and social norms.

Development of Personality - This unit examines different types of personality such as neuroticism, introversion and extraversion. The main focus is on anti-social personality disorder, its causes symptoms and solutions. Why is it that we all have such different personalities, how do these develop, and what are the consequences for us?

Stereotyping, Prejudice and Discrimination - This unit reflects on us as social animals. Are stereotypes a necessary aspect to how we function? Do we need stereotypes within a society? We go on to question why some people are prejudiced and discriminate and where these traits might come from. Finally there is an exploration of research into ways this can be reduced within society.

Year 10

Learning - How do human beings learn? We can train dogs but can we do the same with human beings? This unit looks at research into how behaviour can be taught or ‘conditioned’ in animals and whether this can be applied to humans. Do we learn in the same way or are the processes more complex? This will also include the treatment of phobias, behaviour shaping and aversion therapy as practical applications of the research.

Social Influence - Why is it that people follow instructions from authority figures without question? Why is it that so few bystanders will offer help to others? This unit looks at questions of obedience, authority, peer pressure and conformity. It examines the way individuals behave on their own and in groups, and the factors that influence this behaviour.

Sex and Gender - This unit looks at the differences between sex and gender identification. It will look at how our gender identity develops and the effects of various external factors, including role models, family, and society, on this development. Finally we will look at the role and the effect of the media on gender development and the theories of Freud and other psychologists.

Aggression - Aggression is used as the focus to gain an understanding of different approaches to psychology. It will be examined from a biological, psychodynamic and social learning perspective. We will look at theories for the development of aggressive behaviour and research into factors that can increase and reduce aggressive behaviour in individuals and society.

Year 11

Research Methods - This unit includes how psychological research is conducted and how to evaluate the results provided. Students will carry out a piece of psychological research to gain a practical insight into these questions. They will follow the steps used in carrying out research and will consider the pros and cons of different methods and styles of study.

Revision - Students will have the chance to reflect on the topics from year 9 and 10 in light of what they have learnt through their research methods unit. They will look at practical ways of applying this and develop their own study and revision techniques based on their learning.

Note: Year 9 students will be following the new G.C.S.E specification. Details to be confirmed.