The GCSE Psychology course is an engaging exploration of human behaviour. Students will develop an awareness of themselves, others and of how psychology can be used to explain everyday behaviour. Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of Psychology including core areas such as biological, cognitive and social theories of human behaviour. Each theory and study have been carefully selected based on their relevance to our students today. The course will provide an excellent base for progression to any higher-level Psychology course.

Students will build an understanding of how psychological research is conducted, including the role of the scientific method and data analysis. They will learn to present information, develop arguments, and draw conclusions through a critical approach to psychological evidence. Students will also explore psychological issues and debates and develop an understanding of ethical issues in psychology as well as the contributions of the discipline to understand individual, social and cultural diversity.


You will study the following units on this course:




Research Methods


Psychological Problems

Social Influences


AQA GCSE Psychology (9-1)

Paper 1

Cognition and Behaviour

Paper 2

Social context and behaviour

50% weighting

100 marks in total

1 hour 45 minutes examination

50% weighting

100 marks in total

1 hour 45 minutes examination


  • Studying Psychology can be beneficial to most careers, in particular, careers as a psychologist, therapist and mental health worker.
  • It is also very useful for careers in business, management and social work, as the course will help you to understand the mindset of your clients, customers and employees.

Please click on the arrow for a detailed breakdown:

Unit / Block of workKey Episodes / QuestionsAdditional DetailLength of time.Learner Attribute(s)
Cognition and Behaviour: Unit 1 MemoryProcesses of memory: encoding (input) storage and retrieval (output)Different types of memory: episodic memory, semantic memory, procedural memory.

How memories are encoded and stored. 
Week 1Inquirer
 Structures of Memory (1)The multi-store model of memory: sensory, short term and long term.

Features of each store: coding, capacity, duration.
Week 2Inquirer
 Structures of Memory (2)Primacy and recency effects in recall: the effects of serial position.

Murdock’s serial position curve study.
Research Methods: Formulation of testable hypotheses (null and alternative), types of variables (IV, DV and extraneous) & data handling (mean, median, mode and range)
Week 3Inquirer
 Memory as an active process (1)The theory of reconstructive memory, including the concept of ‘effort after meaning’.

Bartlett’s War of the Ghost Study
Research Methods: target populations, samples and extraneous variables.
Week 4-5Inquirer
 Memory as an active process (2)Factors affecting the accuracy of memory, including interference, context and false memories.

Research Methods: ethical considerations
Week 6Inquirer
Cognition and Behaviour: Unit 2 PerceptionSensation and perceptionThe difference between sensation and perceptionWeek 7Thinkers
 Visual cues and constanciesMonocular depth cues: height in plane, linear perspective, relative size and occlusion

Binocular depth cues: retinal disparity and convergence
Week 8-9Thinkers
 Gibson’s Direct Theory of Perception- the influence of natureThe real world presents sufficient information for direct perception without interference. The role of motion parallax in everyday perception. Week 10Thinkers
 Visual IllusionsExplanations for visual illusions: ambiguity, misinterpreted depth cues, fiction, size constancy.

Examples of visual illusions: The Ponzo, the Muller- Lyer, the Necker Cube, the Ames Room, Rubin’s Vase, the Kanizsa Triangle. 
Week 11Thinkers
 Gregory’s Constructivist Theory of Perception- the influence of nurturePerception uses inferences from visual cues and past experience to construct a model of reality. Week 12Thinkers
 Factors Affecting Perception (1)Bruner and Minturn study of perceptual set.
Research Methods: Reinforce formulating hypotheses & variables

Perceptual set and the effects of expectation on perception. 
Week 13-14Thinkers
 Factors Affecting Perception (2)The Gilchrist and Nesberg study of motivation.
Research Methods: Target populations & sampling methods (random, opportunity, systematic, stratified)

The effects of motivation, culture and emotion of perception. 
Week 15-16Thinkers
Cognition and Behavour: Unit 3 DevelopmentEarly Brain DevelopmentA basic knowledge of brain development, from simple neural structures in the womb, the brain stem, thalamus, creebellum and cortex. Structures reflect the development of autonomic functions, sensory processing, movement and cognition.

The roles of nature and nurture. 
Week 17Open-minded
 Piaget’s Stage Theory and the development of intelligence Piaget’s theory of cognitive development inluding the concepts of assimilation and accomodation.

The four stages of development: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, formal operational.

Reduction of egocentricity including Hughes’ ‘Policeman Doll Study’.
Research Methods: Experimental designs (independent groups, repeated measures, matched pairs)

Development of conservation including McGarrigle and Donaldson’s ‘Naughty Teddy Study’. 
Week 18-19Open- minded
 The role of Piaget’s Theory in EducationApplication of the four stages in education. Week 20Open-minded
 The effects of learning on developmentDweck’s mindset theory of learning: fixed mindset and growth mindset. The role of praise and self-efficacy beliefs in learning.

Learning styles include verbaliser and visualiser. Willingham’s learning theory and his criticism of learning styles. 
Week 21-22Reflective
Cognition and Behaviour: Unit 4 Research MethodsDesigning ResearchQuantitative and qualitative methods:

Lab experiments*
Field and natural experiments
Case studies
Observational studies (including categories of behaviour and inter-rater reliability)
Week 23-24Knowledgeable 
 Correlation An understanding of the association between two variables and the use of scatter diagrams to show possible correlational relationships. Week 25Knowledgeable 
 Planning and conducting researchHow research should be planned, taking into consideration the reliability and/or validity of:

Sampling methods
Experimental methods
Quantitative and qualitative research methods

Week 26-28Inquiry
Unit / Block of workKey Episodes / QuestionsAdditional DetailLength of timeLearner Attribute(s)
Social context and behaviour: Unit 5 Social InfluenceConformityKey Study: Asch’s study of conformity

Social factors affecting conformity: group size, anonymity, task difficulty.

Dispositional factors affecting conformity: personality, expertise 
Week 1-2Principled
 ObedienceMilgrams’ agency theory

social factors affecting obedience: agency, authority, culture and proximity.

Adorno’s Theory of the Authoritarian Personality

Dispositional factors affecting obedience
Week 3-4Principled
 Prosocial BehaviourSocial factors affecting prosocial behaviour: presence of others, cost of helping

Dispositional factors affecting bystander intervention: similarity to the victim and expertise

Key Study: Piliavin’s subway study
Week 5Principled
 Crowd and Collective BehaviourThe difference between prosocial and antisocial behaviour

social factors affecting collective behaviour: social loafing, deindividuation, culture

Dispositional factors: personality, morality
Week 6Principled
Social context and behaviour: Unit 7 Brain and NeuropsychologyStructure and function of the nervous system Week 7Knowledgeable
 Neuron structure and function Week 7Knowledgeable
 Structure and function of the brain Week 8-9Knowledgeable
 An introduction to neuropsychology Week 10-11Knowledgeable
Social context and behaviour: Unit 8 Psychological ProblemsAn introduction to mental health Week 12Caring
 How to incidence of significant mental health problems change over time Week 12Caring
 Effects of significant mental health problems on individuals and society  Week 13Caring
 Characteristics of clinical depression

Theories of depression

Interventions and therapies for depression

 Week 14-16Caring
 Characteristics of addition

Theories of addiction

Interventions and therapies for addiction
 Week 17-19Caring
Social context and behaviour: Unit 6 Language, thought and communicationThe possible relationship between language and thought

The effect of language and thought on our view of the world
 Week 20-21Open minded
 Differences between human and animal communication Week 22Open minded
 Non-verbal communication Week 23Open minded
 Explanations of non-verbal behaviour Week 24Open minded