Psychology Curriculum Overview, 2019-2020

Why do we teach Psychology at Ark BDA?

Psychology offers an insight into the complex nature of the human mind and behaviour, with often multiple explanations for one 'simple' behaviour. It equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to understand individual and group behaviours, and the different factors which may influence these. This not only helps to create empathy, but also Psychology creates critical thinkers through extensive development of analytical and evaluative skills, helping students become inquisitive about human nature, society and their own behaviour. Through developing such skills, students are empowered to be critical of society, for example, by knowing data must not be taken at face value, and to be responsible citizens with empathy, an understanding of mental health and a toolkit for interpreting and considering different behaviours and their causes.  It helps students to understand people – and almost all future careers and courses of study require an element of this understanding. It also gives learners the skills they need to carry out research, examine one concept from a variety of perspectives, and to interpret and analyse data. Overall, it is an incredibly relevant social science, which prepares students well for future


How do we deliver our Christian values in Psychology?

In studying Psychology, students develop empathy, and an ability to understand the behaviour of others. This embodies the core values of love and compassion which help students to be respectful, tolerant individuals, who refrain from making judgements, but instead aim to understand different scenarios and situations, to consider how best they can help others. In addition, students are encouraged to develop courage by tackling complex concepts and considering how to act with integrity in the face of challenging behaviours and situations. Furthermore, students develop resilience and commitment through receiving regular feedback, and working hard to understand complex, abstract ideas.


How do we build core skills and knowledge over time?

Students first develop a grounding in key approaches to studying Psychology, which are crucial in understanding the human mind: learning, cognitive and biological approaches. They then develop the skills to apply these approaches to understanding a variety of contemporary and relevant issues, such as relationships, schizophrenia and forensic Psychology. The course is rooted in the study of classical psychological research, and students are challenged through the use of original texts and wider reading. In addition, in the study of Biopsychology and Psychopathology, students learn about the structure of the brain, and gain a scientific grounding in how the mind functions, and how mental health problems can emerge and affect both the mind and human behaviour. Furthermore, through the study of research methods, students develop a thorough understanding of how to plan and carry out Psychological research, using a variety of methods, such as experiments and observations. They also gain a sound understanding of ethical issues which must be considered – a crucial skill for any social scientist. Finally, students also develop the ability to analyse and interpret complex data – using mathematical knowledge to consider correlations, for example, which is a skill essential to becoming a critical consumer of information in our data-rich society.


How does the study of Psychology prepare students for life beyond Ark BDA?

The skills developed in Psychology are complementary to many other subjects, and prepare students well for life beyond BDA. Students become critical thinkers, who can analyse and evaluate different perspectives, as well as developing crucial skills in research methods and data analysis. This prepares students well for studying Psychology or any other social science at university level, and for the wide variety of jobs which require individuals to analyse data. It also gives students an in-depth understanding of human behaviour, which is beneficial for any and all jobs and roles which involve working with other people.


Throughout year 12, students learn the methodology and processes of experimental scientific studies. The biopsychology unit examines synaptic transmission, neural structure and the purpose and structure of neurons, for example. Furthermore, within psychopathology the role of neurotransmitters are careful examined within the cause and treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. In year 13 the link between Biology and Psychology is deepened further skill by the study of schizophrenia. A large amount of content in the biological areas of Psychology cross over with AQA Biology. In addition, Psychology also compliments Maths and Further Maths by further developing skills such as basic math skills, sampling, correlations and statistical testing in year 12 and the Chi-Squared test and parametric testing of difference in year 13. Psychology also has transferable skills for English Literature. Within units such as approaches and schizophrenia students are encouraged to analysis and evaluate a given issue from multiple perspectives; moreover, analytical and evaluative skills are rigorously practiced and consistently established throughout the course, which can be helpful for the deeper thinking skills required of A-level English Literature.



Our lessons are split equally between the different topics we study in each year group, with content sequenced from foundational to more abstract and advanced. Our topics are grounded in key questions about the nature of the mind (such as nature vs nurture), which are explicitly linked to current and relevant issues affecting our students. The structuring of topics reflects the demands of the specification, which is rooted in classic psychological studies as opposed to recent research, but this is complemented by the use of contemporary examples in lessons. Core knowledge is explicitly planned and clear, and homework focuses on learning key concepts and ideas and practising examination technique. Regular retrieval is built into lessons to revisit and consolidate prior learning.








Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Spring 1

Spring 2

Summer 1

Summer 2


Year 12


Approaches to Psychology


Research methods (plus A2)



Social influence


Research Methods







Biopsychology  (plus A2)


Revision and assessment


Key question

What different approaches do psychologists use to understand behaviour?


How do psychologists carry out research?

Why do individuals tend to conform or obey? Why do some exhibit individualistic behaviour?

What skills do psychologists need to carry out research?


How does memory work, and to what extent is it reliable?


Why do different individuals form different types of attachment and how does this affect their relationship patterns?

How is the brain structured and what systems occur within the brain?

What are the characteristics of psychological abnormalities, why do they exist and how are they treated?



Learning approaches

- Cognitive approaches

- Biological approaches

- Psychodynamic approach

- Humanistic psychology

- Comparison of approaches


Experimental method. Types of experiment,

• Observational techniques.

• Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured.

• Correlations

Self-report techniques

Content analysis

Case studies


Types of conformity

Explanations for conformity

• Explanations for obedience

• Explanations of resistance to social influence,

• Minority influence

• The role of social influence processes in social change



The Scientific method

Data handling and analysis

Inferential testing

The multi-store model of memory:

• Types of long-term memory

• The working memory model:

• Explanations for forgetting

• Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony

• Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony  


Caregiver-infant interactions

• Animal studies of attachment

• Explanations of attachment:

• Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’.

• Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation

• The influence of early attachment



The divisions of the nervous system

• The structure and function of sensory, relay and motor neurons. The process of synaptic


• The function of the endocrine system

• The fight or flight response

Localisation of function in the brain and hemispheric lateralisation

• Ways of studying the brain

• Biological rhythms


Definitions of abnormality,

• The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

• The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias:

• The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression:


• The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD



Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes

Assessment: Paper 1 (on content covered) – introductory topics in Psychology; Research Methods Assessment

Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes

Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes

Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes

Assessment: Complete Paper 1; complete paper 2


Year 13


Issues and debates













Key question

What are the key contemporary debates which influence Psychology and psychological research?


Why does schizophrenia occur, how does it affect behaviour and how is it treated?


Why do we fall in love? What different types of relationship are emerging today?

Why do people offend? How effective are different punishments?




Gender and culture in Psychology –

• Free will and determinism

• The nature-nurture debate

• Holism and reductionism

• Idiographic and nomothetic approaches

• Ethical implications of research studies and theory, including reference to social sensitivity.

Classification of schizophrenia.

• Biological explanations for schizophrenia

• Psychological explanations for schizophrenia

• Drug therapy

• Cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy

Token economies

• The importance of an interactionist approach


• The evolutionary explanations for partner preferences,

• Factors affecting attraction in romantic relationships

• Theories of romantic relationships

• Virtual relationships in social media

• Parasocial relationships



Offender profiling

• Biological explanations of offending behaviour

• Psychological explanations of offending behaviour

• Dealing with offending behaviour





Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes

Assessment: Paper 1 and Paper 2

Formal assessment: paper 1, paper 2, Paper 3

Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes

Assessment: In class exam practice; knowledge quizzes