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"The scientific study of mind and behaviour"

HumanitiesPsychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. While you might understand what psychology is, many people are not quite so sure about what psychology does. What purpose does psychology serve? What are its goals?

Key goals of Psychology

The four key goals of psychology are:

To Describe

One of the first goals of psychology is simply to describe behaviour. Through describing the behaviour of humans and other animals, we are better able to understand it and gain a better perspective on what is considered normal and abnormal. Psychology researchers utilize a range of research methods to help describe behaviour including naturalistic observation, case studies, correlational studies, surveys, and self-report inventories.

To Explain

As you might imagine, psychologists are also interested in explaining behaviour in addition to merely describing it. Why do people do the things they do? What factors contribute to development, personality, social behaviour, and mental health problems? Throughout psychology's history, many different theories have emerged to help explain various aspects of human behaviour. A few examples of such approaches including classical conditioning and attachment theories. Some theories focus on just a small aspect of human behaviour while others serve as all-encompassing theories designed to explain all of human psychology.

To Predict

Not surprisingly, another primary goal of psychology is to make predictions about how we think and act. Once we understand more about what happens and why it happens, we can use that information to make predictions about when, why, and how it might happen again in the future. Successfully predicting behaviour is also one of the best ways to know if we understand the underlying causes of our actions. Prediction can also allow psychologists to make guesses about human behaviour without necessarily understanding the mechanisms underlying the phenomena.

To Change

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, psychology strives to change, influence, or control behaviour to make constructive and lasting changes in people's lives. From treating mental illness to enhancing human well-being, changing human behaviour is a huge focus of psychology. Psychologists and other social scientists ask many of the same types of questions. The big difference is that psychologists utilize the scientific method to test rigorously and systematically understand both human and animal behaviour.




Psychology is taught in a lecture theatre style room and also in rooms with computers. You will have access to a wide range of psychology books and the psychology area of the VLE will provide you with many extra resources.


Key Stage 4

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  • Year 10

    Students learn about 'How do we see the world' which includes a study of the eye and its relationship to the brain, as well as psychological theories of perception such as gestalt theory and Gregory's theory. We also consider how perception affects memory and eye witness memory. We also ask 'Why do we dream' which includes a study of Freud and his psychodynamic approach, as well as Hobson and McCarley's Activation Synthesis theory. We learn about the role of a psychotherapist in this topic. All theories are underpinned by scientific experiments which are carefully evaluated from a practical and ethical perspective.

    In Year 10, the content includes:

    Research Methods

    • Week 1: What is psychology? A general introduction to the subject; Ethical issues of research; Designing studies: independent groups, repeated measures, matched pairs
    • Week 2: Experiments; Variables in research and controlling them
    • Week 3: Writing hypotheses; Mean, median, mode and range; Normal distribution, percentages and fractions; Bar charts, histograms and frequency graphs;
    • Week 4: Questionnaires and interviews; Qualitative and quantitative data
    • Week 5: Observations, case studies, primary and secondary data
    • Week 6: Reliability and validity Sampling
    • Week 7: A recap of arithmetic and numerical computation Convert data between tables and graphs


    • Week 8: What is meant by developmental psychology?
    • Week 9: Developmental stages; Development of the brain; Piaget’s developmental theory;
    • Week 10: Evaluation of Piaget’s theory; Study: Piaget and Inhelder (1956)
    • Week 11: Dweck's mindset theory; Study: Gunderson et al. (2013)
    • Week 12: Willingham's learning theory of development
    • Week 13: Issues and debates: moral development
    • Week 14: End-of-topic test


    • Week 15: Memory: the information processing approach, stages of memory including short-term and long-term memory; The Multi-store Model of Memory
    • Week 16: Study: Peterson and Peterson (1959)
    • Week 17: Bartlett's Theory of Reconstructive Memory
    • Week 18: Study: Bartlett's (1932) War of the Ghosts
    • Week 19: Amnesia
    • Week 20: Issues and debates: Reductionism and holism
    • Week 21: End-of-topic test

    Psychological problems

    • Week 22: Psychological problems: introduction to mental health issues
    • Week 23: Depression and addiction: description of symptoms; Diagnosis and International Classification of Diseases (ICD)
    • Week 24: Depression: genetic and cognitive explanations
    • Week 25: Study: Caspi et al. (2003); Addiction: genetic explanation
    • Week 26: Addiction: learning explanations; Drug therapies
    • Week 27: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a therapy for both disorders; Study: Young (2007)
    • Week 28: Nature / nurture issues; End-of-topic test

    Social Influence

    • Week 29: Social influence: bystander behaviour
    • Week 30: Factors affecting bystander behaviour including personal and situational; Study: Piliavin et al. (1969)
    • Week 31: Conformity Factors affecting conformity including personal and situational
    • Week 32: Study: Zimbardo’s prison experiment (1973); Obedience Factors affecting obedience including personal and situational
    • Week 33: Behaviour of crowds and individuals within crowds. Effect of collective behaviour
    • Week 34: Blind obedience and how to prevent it
    • Week 35: Cultural, social, personal and situational factors round-up; End-of-topic test

    For further information, please download the specification booklet below;

  • Year 11

    Students will study aggression, and consider whether or not TV and video games can make children aggressive. We investigate biological and social explanations of aggression, research methods and the work of educational psychologists. We also study phobias, and consider whether they are explained effectively from a biological as well as a social perspective. We look at how phobias are treated and also the work of a clinical psychologist. The final topic before the written exams at the end of year 11 covers criminality. We again explore the different explanations of criminal behaviour and study the different factors that can affect jury decision making. The work of a forensic psychologist is considered.

    In Year 11, the content includes:

    The brain and neuropsychology

    • Week 1: Anatomy of the brain
    • Week 2: Synapses and neurotransmitters
    • Week 3: Brain lateralisation
    • Week 4: Neurological damage and its effects
    • Week 5: Study: Sperry (1968); Study: Damasio et al. (1994)
    • Week 6: Historical perspectives and psychology
    • Week 7: End-of-topic test


    • Week 8: Operant conditioning
    • Week 9: Social Learning Theory
    • Week 10: Study: Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961); Study: Charlton et al. (2000)
    • Week 11: Biological explanation of criminality (Eysenck)
    • Week 12: Punishment and recidivism
    • Week 13: Treating offenders
    • Week 14: End-of-topic test

    Sleep and dreaming

    • Week 15: Function of sleep
    • Week 16: Internal and external factors affecting sleep Study: Siffre (1975)
    • Week 17: Sleep disorders
    • Week 18: Freud's theory of dreaming
    • Week 19: Study: Freud's Little Hans (1909)
    • Week 20: Hobson and McCarley's theory
    • Week 21: End-of-topic test
    • Week 22-28: Revision

    For further information, please download the specification booklet below;


Key Stage 5

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  • Year 12

    AS Level

    During the first year of the course, students will study:

    • Memory - how memory works and the reliability of eyewitness testimony.
    • Social influence – understanding why we conform and obey in certain social situations
    • Attachment – how our early infant attachments to our parents affect our adult relationships
    • Psychopathology – understanding disorders such as phobias, OCD and depression
    • Research methods – understanding how to conduct scientific research
    • Approaches in psychology – understanding how different approaches to psychology can explain human behaviour.
  • Year 13

    A Level

    During the second year of the course, students will study:

    • Biopsychology – understanding the structure of the nervous system, brain scanning techniques and how the brain works
    • Issues and debates – this includes looking at how psychologists deal with ethical issues
    • Relationships – understanding the factors affecting attraction and online relationships
    • Stress – understanding the relationship between stress and illness and ways of managing stress in real life.
    • Addiction – understanding how addiction can be explained and who is at greatest risk in the development of addictions.


Extra curricular activities

We endeavour to provide at least one trip for each year group every year. Examples of past trips are visits to Psychology conferences, and also having guest speakers come into school including Dr Guy Sutton, an Honorary Assistant professor in the Division of Psychiatry at Nottingham University Medical School, and a senior AQA Psychology examiner.


Teaching staff

  • Ashton, Lauren
  • Burgoyne, Rachael
  • Burks, Jennifer
  • Ellis, Kim
  • Lomas, Luke
  • Powell, Catherine


Subjects covered by Humanities

Humanities collectively includes many subject areas. Please follow the links below to find out more about each subject.