Progress Leader: Mr Blackledge (Deputy Head Teacher)
Teaching Staff: Mr Blackledge, Mr Betney & Mrs Merritt


Studying GCSE psychology is an excellent way for students to learn of how the human mind works, understand social behaviour and human development. GCSE psychology also provides students the opportunity to build deeper knowledge in the form of A Level psychology and an undergraduate degree. Psychology is one of the most interesting and dynamic fields in the world currently. In part due to the growing awareness of mental health issues.

Our approach supports skills development for progression to a range of subjects and develops an awareness of Psychology beyond the classroom. It complements subjects such as GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology, English Language, and opens the door to a variety of careers – from primary school teaching to forensic science. The subject also dovetails with sociology and other similar subjects. Students who decide to combine the two at post 16 level, can give them a real insight into society as well as the individual as well, potentially, a rewarding career.


Students follow the Pearson Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9–1) in Psychology specification. Click here to view the specification.


Qualification aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of this qualification are to enable students to:

  • use specialist vocabulary, psychological concepts, terminology and convention to engage in the process of psychological enquiry
  • acquire knowledge and understanding of psychology, developing an understanding of self and others, and how psychological understanding can help to explain everyday social phenomena
  • understand how psychological research is conducted, including the role of scientific method and data analysis
  • present information, develop arguments and draw conclusions through a critical approach to psychological evidence, developing as reflective thinkers
  • develop an understanding of the relationship between psychology and personal, moral, social and cultural issues, and develop an understanding of ethical issues in psychology
  • develop an understanding of psychological issues, the contribution of psychology to individual, social and cultural diversity, and how psychology contributes to society.


Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain knowledge and understanding of key features of the following core areas of psychology through the study of the compulsory and optional topics in this specification, including research methods:

  • biological – an understanding of biological concepts in psychology, including neuroscience and genetics as contributors to behaviour
  • cognitive – an understanding of thought, information and mental processing as contributors to behaviour
  • social – an understanding of the social area of psychology, the impact of social and environmental factors on behaviour and the influence of groups
  • developmental – an understanding of how individuals change throughout their lives, with a particular focus on childhood and how both nature and nurture can affect individuals
  • individual differences – an understanding of the complex nature of human behaviour and experiences and why and how people are different.



Students will also gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • debates in psychology, including ‘reductionism/holism’ and ‘nature/nurture’
  • how psychological knowledge and ideas change over time and how they inform our understanding of behaviour
  • the contribution of psychology to an understanding of individual, social and cultural diversity
  • the interrelationships of the core areas of psychology
  • how the studies for topics relate to the associated theory
  • research methods.



Paper 1 (Paper code: 1PS0/01)

  • The assessment is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • The assessment is out of 98 marks.
  • The paper consists of six sections. Students must answer all questions in each section.
  • The first five sections will contain multiple-choice, short-open and open-response questions.
  • The sixth section will contain two extended open-response questions. These questions will focus on debates within psychology and the interrelationships between the core areas of psychology.


Content assessed

These topics are in Section A of the content. This paper may also draw on knowledge and understanding of investigations from Section C.

  • Topic 1: Development – How did you develop?
  • Topic 2: Memory – How does your memory work?
  • Topic 3: Psychological problems – How would psychological problems affect you?
  • Topic 4: The brain and neuropsychology – How does your brain affect you?
  • Topic 5: Social influence – How do others affect you?


Paper 2 (Paper code: 1PS0/02)

  • The assessment is 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  • The assessment is out of 79 marks.
  • This paper contains six sections.
  • The paper will include calculations, multiple-choice, short-open, open-response and extended-writing questions.
  • The paper will include questions that target mathematics at Key Stage 3.
  • Calculators may be used in the examination. Information on the use of calculators during the examinations for this qualification can be found in Appendix 2: Calculators.


Assessment overview

Students must answer:

  • All questions from Section A.
  • All questions from two sections – B to F.


Section A: How do you carry out psychological research?

This section will focus primarily on Topic 11: Research methods – How do you carry out psychological research? although it can draw on material from Topics 1 to 5 from Paper 1.

It will contain question types that include calculations, multiple-choice, short-open and open response questions, and one extended open-response question.


Sections B to F: Optional topics

Each of these sections covers one of the optional Topics 6 to 10. These sections will include multiple-choice, short-open and open-response questions, and one extended open-response question. Students will cover the optional topics below:

  • Topic 6: Criminal psychology – Why do people become criminals?
  • Topic 9: Sleep and dreaming – Why do you need to sleep and dream?


Assessment Objectives

Breakdown of Assessment Objectives




Unit of Study (Questions)

Learning Themes and Order of Sequence


Topic 1: Development – How did you develop?

Carol Dweck Mindset theory

Early Brain Development

Piaget’s stages of development

Piaget’s (1956) 3 Mountains Task Study

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development

Willingham’s learning theory

Gunderson et al (2013) development study

Morality debate

Topic 2: Memory – How does your memory work?

Information processing & structure

Amnesia (Retrograde and Anterograde)

Bartlett’s Reconstructive memory theory

Bartlett’s War of the Ghost (1932) study

Atkinson and Shiffrin’s (1968) Multi-store model of memory study

Peterson & Peterson (1959) memory study

Reductionism and Holism debate


Topic 4: The brain and neuropsychology – How does your brain affect you?  

The structure and function of the brain

Lateralisation of the brain

Neurological study by Sperry (1968)

The role of the central nervous system

The impact of neurological damage

Neurological study by Damasio (1994)

How Psychology has changed over time debate

Topic 3: Psychological problems -  How would psychological problems affect you?


(Part summer term when 3 lessons per week)









Unipolar depression – symptoms and features

Unipolar depression – genetic & cognitive theory explanations

Treatments of unipolar depression

Caspi et al (2003) study investigating mental health

Addiction - symptoms and features

Addiction - Learning theory explanation

CBT as a treatment for addiction

Young et al (2007) study investigating mental health

Genetic theory explanation of addiction

Drug therapy as a treatment for addiction

Nature vs. Nurture debate


Topic 5: Social Influence – How do other affect you?









Bystander effect

Social Influence study by Piliavin et al (1969)

Key terms used in social influence


Obedience to an authority figure

Social Influence study by Zimbardo et al (1973)

Behaviour of crowds

Social and cultural issues in Psychology debate





Unit of Study (Questions)

Learning Themes and Order of Sequence


Topic 9: Sleeping and dreaming  – Why do you need to sleep and dream?

Features, functions and benefits of sleep

Internal and external influences of sleep

Symptoms and explanations of sleep disorders

Freud (1900) theory of dreaming

Freud (1909) study of Little Hans

Hobson and McCarley (1977) activation-synthesis theory of dreaming

Siffre (1975) Six months left alone in a cave study

Topic 6: Criminal Psychology – Why do people become criminals?  

Learning theories as an explanation of criminality

Biological explanations of criminality

Bandura, Ross and Ross study (1961) study on the transmission of aggression through the imitation of aggressive models.

Charlton et al (2000) study based upon children’s playground behaviour across 5 years of television broadcast – A naturalistic study in a remote community.  

Understanding the effects of punishment on recidivism

Treatments to rehabilitate and reduce criminal and anti-social behaviour and increase prosocial behaviour.

Spring & Summer

Topic 11: Research methods – How do you carry out Psychological research?















Designing Psychological research to set up variables under an investigation.

Identifying and controlling extraneous variables

Types of hypothesis and how to write them

Sampling methods

Different types of research and experimental designs

Analysing research – the issues of reliability and/or validity

Ethical issues

Different research methods used by Psychologists

Data analysis

Descriptive statistics

Illustrating data through graphs

Differences between primary and secondary data

Differences between quantitative and qualitative data

Ethical issues associated with Psychological research


  • Project work – practical experience of how to carry out Psychological research in a real-world context.
  • Post 16 collaboration work with John Rigby College



Students are usually required to have a 9 - 4 passes at GCSE to study A level or A/S Psychology in most colleges. St. John Rigby request in addition to any individual subject specific requirements, students will be expected to have the following qualifications to be guaranteed a place on an A level programme: 

+ 2 GCSE grades at 6 or above and 4 GCSE grades at 4 or above. GCSE English Language must be included in this grade profile.




Look at newspaper articles, and discuss how psychological could be applied to the stories.

Discuss topical news, and historical examples of where human behaviour can be debated and questioned.

Purchase texts and books to supplement home learning and post 16 reading.

Discuss real life graphs on the news or in papers




Freud Museum: London, England

Down House: London, England

Museum of the History of Psychological Instrumentation: Virtual

Bethlem Royal Hospital, London

The Wellcome Museum, London

The Science museum, London




28 Days (2000)

A beautiful mind (2001)

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Enough (2002)

Good Will hunting (1997)]

The Hurricane (1991)

Memento (2000)

One flew over the cuckoo nest (1975)

Rain Man (1998)

Black Swan (2010)







Pearson Edexcel GCSE Psychology Website:

Seneca Learning:

Brain Scape:


Psych central:

Psychology Today:

Psych Blog:

National Institute for National Health:

Medical News Today:




Students may progress from this qualification to:

  • GCEs, for example in psychology, biology and geography
  • Level 3 vocational qualifications, for example the BTEC Level 3 in Health and Social Care, Applied Science and Children's Care, Learning and Development
  • employment in a wide range of careers (with further training), for example product
  • Management and general management, or a science-based apprenticeship.
  • Public services – Fire, police, ambulance services.
  • Health and wellness –


Employment directly related to a Psychology degree include:


Jobs where a Psychology degree would be useful include: