Sedbergh Psychology

introducing psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and experience with a focus on how we can explain and treat the whole range of human behaviours, from schizophrenia to offending behaviour.

Psychology is an extremely popular A level choice at Sedbergh and the department has grown over the past four years with two classes in both the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth. There are two Psychology teachers in the department, both Psychology graduates and with a combined total of 47 years teaching the subject at A level! The Head of Department is a senior examiner for a major exam board.

No previous knowledge of Psychology is required to study the subject at A level.


Topic 1: Social Influence

  • Conformity & Obedience
  • Resisting social influence
  • Social influence processes and social change

Topic 2: Memory

  • Theoretical models of human memory
  • Explanations of forgetting
  • Accuracy of eyewitness testimony

Topic 3: Attachment

  • Caregiver-infant interactions
  • Explanations of attachment, including cultural variations in attachment
  • Deprivation and institutionalisation
  • Influence of early attachment on future relationships

Topic 4: Psychopathology

  • Definitions of abnormality
  • Explanations for, and treatment of, phobias, depression & OCD

Topic 5: Approaches in Psychology

  • Origins of Psychology
  • Basic assumptions of six key approaches to explaining behaviour

Topic 6: Biopsychology

  • Nervous system & endocrine systems
  • Localisation & lateralisation of brain function, including brain plasticity
  • Methods of studying the brain
  • Biological rhythms

Topic 7: Research Methods

  • Designing research
  • Scientific processes
  • Data handling & analysis

Topic 8: Issues & Debates in Psychology

  • Nature-nurture; free will vs determinism; reductionism;
  • Gender & culture bias; ethical implications of research

Specialist Topics 9-11:

  • Relationships OR Gender OR Cognition and Development
  • Schizophrenia OR Stress OR Eating Behaviour
  • Forensic Psychology OR Aggression OR Addiction


Research methods skills will be developed over the course through mini-practical work (eg a chimpanzee observation at Chester Zoo). There will be three 2-hour exams at the end of the Upper Sixth.

Brain Day 2019


Many of our pupils go on to study Psychology or related courses (eg Criminology) at university. Psychology is largely unique in that it allows you to develop a range of skills including critical reasoning skills; how to plan scientific research; data handling and interpretation; how to assess the quality of scientific evidence; how to construct a coherent and effective discussion.

This range of academic skills makes it a highly desirable A level for the majority of degree courses including Medicine.


There is a huge range of psychology-specific careers including educational psychologist, clinical psychologist, occupational psychologist, forensic psychologist, sports psychologist and health psychologist. See the British Psychological Society’s website for more details:

In addition, Psychology is highly sort after for a career in teaching, business, law, health professions and the growing world of artificial intelligence amongst many others.