Psychology GCSE

Why study Psychology? A Subject for Life

Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behaviour, and psychologists are interested in trying to discover why people behave the way they do, whether these behaviours are normal or abnormal. By using scientific methods, we attempt to explain how the mind works and why people behave in the way that they do.
Psychology is the study of thought and behaviour, a wide field of study which investigates the backgrounds of human behaviour. Psychology is a science and as such it balances scientific rigour with a flexibility and creativity of approach not found in older sciences.
Psychology at GCSE provides students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and understanding of how psychology works; its essential role in society and through this, an awareness of why psychology matters. Students develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and methods and as a result become critical reflective lateral thinkers.
It is an ideal subject to take if you are planning on any career which involves extensive interaction with other people. Psychology is not just an academic subject, but a life skill – what could be more important than understanding other people?

Entry Requirements

You must have good literacy skills and should have a curiosity about the subject and the ability to think for yourself.

Course Content

The specification we follow is the OCR Syllabus. In accordance with the school’s policy, ALL students will be entered for the Unit One exam and Unit Two exam (both sat at the end of Year 11), regardless of whether or not they intend to progress onto the A Level.

All students receive a copy of their entire GCSE syllabus during their first psychology lesson.

What will I learn on this course?

Introduces students to 6 main areas of study:

• Social
• Biological
• Developmental
• Cognitive
• Individual Differences
• Ethics and Research

Students learn about scientific methodologies which achieve empirical results as with any of the sciences. Psychology can lead to deeper insights as there is scope for hypothesis as well as philosophical debate. Students never lose sight of scientific methodology. Evidence must always be presented; think about CSI and Criminal Minds, developing young scientists with inquisitive minds. Students need to present ideas concisely accurately and neatly. Above all they must be able to think objectively in a critical manner.

Unit One (covered in Year 10) and Unit Two (covered in Year 11) content:

Unit One (content covered in Year 10):
Studies and Applications in Psychology 1

>Criminal Psychology
> Developmental Psychology
> Psychological Problems
>Research Methods

Unit Two (content covered in Year 11):
Studies and Applications in Psychology 2

> Social Influence
> Memory
> Sleep and Dreaming
> Research Methods

Practical Assessment:

There will be no internal assessment that leads to marks that contribute towards the GCSE Grade.


GCSE Psychology Unit One exam  (sat at the end of Year 11):

Unit 1: Studies and Applications in Psychology 1

The examination will be a written paper lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes and will consist of short and medium tariff questions, as well as one extended essay question worth 13 marks.

90 marks (1 hour 30 minutes written exam) 50% of GCSE

GCSE Psychology Unit Two exam (sat at the end of Year 11):

Unit 2: Studies and Applications in Psychology 2 The examination will be a written paper lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes and will consist of short and medium tariff questions, as well as one extended essay question worth 13 marks. 90 marks (1 hours 30 written exam) 50% of GCSE

Where does it lead?

Past students have gone onto study many different degree courses; these include Psychology, Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Law, Clinical Psychology, Criminology, Forensic Science, Criminal Psychology, Health and Social Care, Nursing, Education, Counselling, Occupational Health, Sport Psychology, Armed Forces, Mental Health and much more! The list is very varied and reflects the fact that Psychology is a valued A-level that leads to the development of a critical, analytical approach to information by students who can present their conclusions coherently. Psychology is considered a science by many of the leading Universities and is recommended as a supporting subject for those studying medicine.

Reading List

Criminal Psychology (Unit One)
*Cooper, J. & Mackie, D. (1986) Video Games and Aggression in Children. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, (8), 726-744. *Heaven, P. C. L. (1996) Personality and Self-Reported Delinquency: A Longitudinal Analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Vol 37 (6) 747-751.

Developmental Psychology (Unit One)
*Piaget, J. (1952) The Child’s Conception of Number. London: Routledge ch.4 *Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., Dweck, C. S. (2007) Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention. Child Development, Vol. 78 (1) 246-263.

Psychological Problems (Unit One)
*Daniel, Weinberger, Jones et al. (1991): The Effect of Amphetamine on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow during Cognitive Activation in Schizophrenia. The Journal of Neuroscience, 17 (7), 1907- 1917. *Tandoc Jr., E. C., Ferrucci, P., & Duffy, M. (2015) Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: Is facebooking depressing? Computers in Human Behaviour, 43, 139-146.

Social Influence (Unit Two)
*Bickman, L. (1974) The Social Power of a Uniform. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 4 (1) 47- 61. *Morrell, G. et al. (2011) The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen): The August Riots in England – Understanding the involvement of young people.

Memory (Unit Two)
*Wilson, B.A., Kopelman, M. and Kapur, N (2008) Prominent and persistent loss of past awareness in amnesia: delusion, impaired consciousness or coping strategy? Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 18 (5/6), 527-540 DOI: 10.1080/09602010802141889 *Braun, K.A., Ellis, R., & Loftus, E. (2002) Make My Memory: How Advertising Can Change Our Memories of the Past. Psychology & Marketing, 19(1), 1-23.

Sleep and Dreaming (Unit Two)
*Freud, S. (1918) History of an Infantile Neurosis (The Wolfman) *Williams, J. M., Rittenhouse, C., & Hobson, J.A. (1992) Bizarreness in Dreams and Fantasies: Implications for the Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis. Consciousness and Cognition, 1 (2) 172-185.

Psychology Review.
Philip Allan Updates. (4 issues each year), edited by an expert team of leading Psychologists will stretch and challenge students’ knowledge with:

  • Specially written articles on recent research in Psychology, central to GCSE and A-level topics
  • Grade-boosting advice from examiners
  • Additional online support, with tailored resources to support articles in the magazine

Useful websites:
There are many, the following is a short selection:

Take me back to the subject list >>