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Psychology is the science of mind and behaviour; how we think and how we act. As a subject, it enables learners to understand that all human behaviour is driven by a complex combination of factors. The study of Psychology is invaluable for future progression and careers. Through exploration of the causes of human behaviour, for example, genetics, brain deficits, cognitive processing, and learning, pupils will recognise the complexity of explanations of behaviour, and from this come to understand that Psychology is everywhere and applicable to all experiences in life*. The study of psychology involves sensitive issues and debates.  Students are encouraged via teacher modelling to engage with these in a mature and thoughtful way, developing and demonstrating manners, respect and tolerance both inside and outside of the classroom.

The purpose of the Psychology curriculum at St. Mary’s is to:

  • offer students an engaging, stimulating, and coherent introduction to Psychology by fostering their interest in the subject and developing their psychological knowledge and literacy, enabling them to fully understand and effectively discuss psychological issues with confidence.
  • promote and stimulate intellectual, social and emotional development, by providing a breadth and depth of skills and knowledge within each selected topic area, thereby enabling learners to grasp a foundation awareness of psychological theory, studies, scientific research and mathematical application, and alleviating many of the misconceptions derived from ignorance and stereotyping of the subject area by the non-specialist. 
  • equip all of our students with the life skills of critical thinking and analysis, research skills, and above all, the willingness to question and investigate previously accepted ideas*

“Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status...and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.”  (APA Code of Ethics: 2018)

Key Stage 5

The Psychology syllabus provides an introduction to the main approaches in psychology. We also look at a brief history of the development of Psychology.


In Year 1, students will look at topics including cognitive psychology (how we process and organise information from the world around us through our senses), social influence (how the presence, real or implied, of others influences the behaviour of both groups and individuals) biopsychology, the development of attachment, mental illness and psychopathology, and research methodology, including practical research.

In Year 2, we look at applied psychology in areas such as gender, mental illness, and criminal behaviour. We consider major issues within Psychology, such as the extent to which behaviour and development is influenced by heredity or environment, ethnocentrism in research, and the philosophy of science and whether Psychology can be regarded as a science.

Essays and report writing are key features of the course, as are the use of statistical methods and interpretation of results.

 There are three examinations taken at the end of Year 2:

  • Paper 1 Introductory Topics in Psychology (2 hours; 33.3% of A level)
  • Paper 2 Psychology in Context (2 hours; 33.3% of A level)

·         Paper 3 Issues and Options in Psychology (2hours; 33.3% of A level)    

The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

  • AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures.
  • AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures:
    • in a theoretical context
    • in a practical context
    • when handling qualitative data
    • when handling quantitative data.
  • AO3: Analyse, interpret and evaluate scientific information, ideas and evidence, including in relation to issues, to:
    • make judgements and reach conclusions
    • develop and refine practical design and procedures.

  Exam Board: AQA

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