Senior school > Curriculum > Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour. Studying Psychology at Gresham’s can have a positive impact on pupils as they gain greater insight into their own behaviour, thoughts, feelings and attitudes. They are learning not just about a fascinating subject but also about themselves.

Psychology is the study of human behaviour, so if a pupil is interested in what makes a person ‘tick’, they are curious about what makes people similar and yet unique, then Psychology is the subject for them.  Psychology can lead onto a variety of careers, including training to be a Forensic, Occupational, Sports or Educational Psychologist. It is also highly relevant to those wishing to study medicine or law or who are a budding entrepreneur. Ultimately, Psychology is a versatile subject which fits with a wide variety of subject combinations. Combined with English Literature it allows an understanding of the motivations of a character in a Bronte novel; with Economics it is understanding why consumers will buy a product even though there are cheaper alternatives on the market; with Biology it encourages the exploration of alternative arguments for human behaviour with more emphasis on the role of the environment.

“Studying Psychology is fun because you’re always looking for the same things I think a writer should be looking for, which is the story behind the story.”


Who is the course suited to?

Both the IB Diploma and AQA A level courses have a strong emphasis on scientific methods, including maths/statistics and it should be noted that most university courses regard Psychology as a science.  Thus, we recommend that pupils have achieved at least a Grade 6 in a Science and Mathematics at GCSE level.

The method of assessment does include essay writing and it is expected that pupils will read widely to consolidate classroom teaching, thus, a Level 6 or higher in English would also be recommended.

What is essential is enthusiasm, commitment, curiosity, and a genuine interest in the subject.

What skills will be learnt or developed?

Transferable skills including the ability to analyse and evaluate information; complete academic research using the internet with discretion; communicate effectively and reflect on their own performance.


Entry requirements: No prior study of psychology or other specific subjects are required of pupils. The skills needed for the psychology course are developed during the course itself.

Paper 1 – Introductory topics in Psychology: Social Influence, Memory, Attachment, Psychopathology.  Four topics, all studied in Year 1.

Paper 2 – Psychology in context: Approaches, Biopsychology, Research Methods.  Three topics studied in Year 1 & 2.

Paper 3 – Issues and options in Psychology: Gender, Schizophrenia, Forensic Psychology, Issues and Debates.  Four topics studied in Year 1 & 2.

Issues and debates: Nature v Nurture, Gender and Culture Bias, Determinism v Free will. Studied in Year 1 & 2.


Entry Requirements Grade B in IGCSE Mathematics or equivalent, B in IGCSE English Language or equivalent.

Paper 1 (Higher and Standard Level)

The Core – three ways to explaining behaviour are studied: Biological Approach, Cognitive Approach and Sociocultural Approach.

Plus, Research Methods and Ethics.

Paper 2 (Higher and Standard Level)


  • Health Psychology (HL & SL)
  • In addition, HL choose one more Option from: Developmental, Abnormality, Human relationships

Paper 3 (Higher Level only)

Research Methodology – An unseen stimulus piece is provided which the pupils read and then answer three pre-set questions on.

Assessed by Examination and Internal Assessment

HL pupils will have three examinations and complete an Internal Assessment worth 20% of their final grade.

SL pupils will have two examinations and will complete an Internal Assessment worth 25% of their final grade.

Click here for the IB Diploma Psychology Subject Brief.


Y9 Enrichment Programme

Psychology is introduced to Year 9 as part of the Year 9 Enrichment slot on a Friday afternoon.  Many of our current Sixth Form students remember these lessons and refer to them fondly.  The aim is to clear up myths and misunderstandings about Psychology so that students are better informed and can make sound choices when choosing their Sixth Form options in Year 11.

Step-up to Sixth Form Programme

This programme was introduced in 2020 and has proved very successful.  The aim is to introduce Year 11 pupils to the subject and give them a taste of what is to come in Sixth Form.  It is an ideal opportunity to cover topics that will not be examined and encourage a love of learning.  We cover diverse and interesting topics such as Positive Psychology, the Bystander Effect and the Halo Effect.

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A level
IB Diploma