Coastal Academy Trust

IB Psychology

Course Outline

Psychology is the scientific study of humans and their behaviour. At the core of the course are the three approaches to understanding behaviour: Biological, Cognitive and Sociocultural. 


Year 12

The biological approach examines the role of biology in human behaviour. Biological factors include the brain and behaviour, neurotransmission, hormones and their effect on behaviour and genetics. In the Abnormal topic, this is studied through Major Depressive Disorder. 

The Cognitive Approach examines how we think and behave. We look at memory and cognitive processing as well as decision making. We examine the various cognitive processes and how these play a key role in our behaviour. In the Abnormal topic, this is studied through irrational thinking and treatments such as CBT. 

The Sociocultural Approach examines the effect of environment and culture on behaviour. This approach evaluates influences on our behaviour and how this can change in socialism groups and in different contexts. In the Abnormal topic, this is linked to culture and how this can influence diagnosis and treatment. 


Year 13

Internal Assessment: This is an experiment carried out by students and a report is written. This is teacher assessed and is 25% of the final grade. 

Abnormal Topic: 

This unit looks at psychological disorders, namely Major Depressive Disorder. It explores how diagnosis is made, factors that influence diagnosis such as clinician biases and etiologies. Treatment and its effectiveness forms a key part of this unit as we assess the impact of the different approaches to MDD.


Why study Psychology?

There are many reasons to study psychology from career opportunities through to a personal interest. Psychology appears in so many different areas and contexts of life that it is applicable to almost every career. Because it is a study of human behaviour, it allows you to better understand the world around you, the complex mental processes that people undertake and why we behave the way we do. Careers range from jobs in a clinical setting to sports psychology. Psychology is adapting and changing in a world that moves ever at a faster pace. Psychology as a subject aims to explain changes in behaviour in a wide range of contexts and global settings. 


Assessment: When and how are students formally assessed? What is the percentage of exam vs IA?

Internal Assessment = 25% of final grade. 

Internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB. 

A report on an experimental study undertaken by the student. (22 marks)


Paper 1 = 50% of final grade (2 hours) 

Section A: Three short answer questions on the core approaches (27 marks)

Section B: One essay question from a choice of three on biological, cognitive abd sociocultural approaches to behaviour. (22 marks)


Paper 2 = 25% of final grade (1 hour)

One question from a choice of three on one option (Abnormal) (22 marks)

Contact details/email for lead teacher:

Miss M Young

Lead Teacher in Psychology