The Psychology Department at Gresham’s School offers pupils the choice of studying psychology at A-level or as part of the IB Diploma Course. Both courses are examined at the end of  two years study.

The majority of students give one of three reasons for choosing to study psychology: it as an interesting subject; it is a new subject that they have not studied before; and about a fifth of students choose it because they want a career in psychology. Both courses enable the student to study behaviour, emotions and thoughts at a biological, cognitive and social level. Topics include the study of memory, social influence and research methods. Students of psychology also have the option to write an extended essay in the subject which provides the opportunity to explore a specific topic in depth


The aims of the Psychology Department are to:

  • Provide students with stimulating lessons and resources that will inspire them to explore IB Psychology topics both within and beyond the syllabus
  • Help and support students in the process of learning and applying new knowledge
  • Encourage students to work collaboratively with their peers
  • Facilitate each student’s ability to reflect on their progress and make adjustments when necessary
  • Enable students to achieve their highest potential in the IB Psychology exams

The aims of IB Psychology are to:

  • Develop an awareness of how psychological research can be applied for the benefit of human beings
  • Ensure that ethical practices are upheld in psychological inquiry
  • Develop an understanding of the biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour
  • Develop an understanding of alternative explanations of behaviour
  • Understand and use diverse methods of psychological inquiry


Psychology is defined as the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes. It has its roots in both the natural and social sciences, leading to a range of research designs and applications, and providing a unique approach to understanding modern society and cultures.

Students studying IB psychology will examine the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour. Learning how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied will enable students to achieve a greater understanding of themselves as well as appreciating the diversity of human behaviour. The consideration of ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research is essential to the study of IB Psychology.

Prior learning

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

The syllabus

Exams are mainly essay based and so students will develop their essay writing and critical thinking skills throughout the two years of study.

During the first year of study students will learn about the biological, cognitive (mental processes such as memory and perception) and sociocultural (societies and cultures) influences on behaviour.

In the second year students will:

  • Replicate a simple psychological experiment and write a report on their work. The marks for this work will go towards the final IB Psychology grade
  • Standard Level students will study one option from a choice of five: Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Health Psychology, Sports Psychology and the Psychology of Relationships
  • Higher Level students will study two options from a choice of five: Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Health Psychology, Sports Psychology and the Psychology of Relationships
  • Higher Level students will also study Qualitative Research Methods (interviews, case studies, observations)