Year 12
Year 12
Kids working

Psychology units 3 & 4

Unit 3: The conscious self

This unit focuses on the study of the relationship between the brain and the mind through examining the basis of consciousness, behaviour, cognition and memory.
Advances in brain research methods have opened new ways to understanding the relationship between mind, brain and behaviour. Students study the structure and functioning of the human brain and nervous system, and explore the nature of consciousness and altered states of consciousness including sleep.
The brain continually receives and processes vast amounts of information from its internal and external environment. Memory involves the selective retention and retrieval of this information and it plays an important role in determining behaviour. Students consider the function of the nervous system in memory and investigate the ways in which information is processed, stored and utilised. They apply different theories of memory and forgetting to their everyday learning experiences.
Students analyse research methodologies associated with classic and contemporary theories, studies and models, consider ethical issues associated with the conduct of research and the use of findings, and apply appropriate research methods when undertaking their own investigations.

AREA OF STUDY 1: Mind, brain and body
Why do I think and feel the way I do? How does my brain work? What is consciousness? What happens when I sleep?
This area of study focuses on the role of the functioning brain and nervous system in relation to awareness of self, the environment and behaviour. Students explore the relationships between consciousness and thoughts, feelings and behaviour by comparing the characteristics of normal waking consciousness with altered states of consciousness including sleep. Students explore the contribution that classic and contemporary research has made to this area of study and interpret behaviours and states of mind from psychological perspectives. They consider the ethical principles associated with the techniques used to investigate brain function and to measure states of consciousness. Students apply appropriate methods of psychological research and ethical principles to their own investigations.

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the relationship between the brain, states of consciousness including sleep, and behaviour, and describe the contribution of selected studies to the investigation of brain function.

AREA OF STUDY 2: Memory
Why do I remember some things and forget others? How are memories formed? Can I improve my memory? These questions highlight the characteristics of memory as a cognitive process. Memory is essential to our identity: it connects our past experiences to the present and shapes our future by enabling us to adapt to daily changes in our environment. Students investigate the retention of experiences and learning as memory and the factors that affect retention and recall of information. They study the neural basis of memory and the connectivity between brain areas to explain the complexity of memory, factors that affect memory and its decline over time, and the cause of forgetfulness. Students examine models that explain processes and types of memory, consider how to measure retention of
memory and investigate techniques for improving and manipulating memory. As they analyse and evaluate the contribution that classic and contemporary studies have made to this field of study, students consider the techniques used to gather data and the associated ethical implications. Students apply appropriate methods of psychological research and ethical principles when undertaking their own research investigations related to memory.

Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to compare theories that explain the neural basis of memory and factors that affect its retention, and evaluate the effectiveness of techniques for improving and manipulating memory.

Assessment of levels of achievement
The student’s level of achievement in Unit 3 will be determined by School-assessed Coursework and an end-of-year examination.

Contribution to final assessment
•    School-assessed Coursework for Unit 3 will contribute 20 per cent.
•    The level of achievement for Units 3 and 4 is also assessed by an end-of-year examination, which will contribute 60 per cent

Unit 4: Brain, behaviour and experience

This unit focuses on the interrelationship between learning, the brain and its response to experiences, and behaviour. The overall quality of functioning of the brain depends on experience, and its plasticity means that different kinds of experience change and configure the brain in different ways. Students investigate learning as a mental process that leads to the acquisition of knowledge, development of new capacities and changed behaviours. Understanding the mechanisms of learning, the cognitive processes that affect readiness for learning, and how people learn informs both personal and social issues. Students build on their conceptual understanding of learning to consider it as one of several important facets involved in a biopsychosocial approach to the analysis of mental health and illness. They consider different concepts of normality, and learn to differentiate between normal responses such as stress to external stimuli, and mental disorders. Students use a biopsychosocial framework – a conceptual model which includes psychological and social factors in addition to biological factors in understanding a person’s mental state – to explore the nature of stress and a selected mental disorder. The intent of the study is not that of diagnosis and treatment but to explore causes of mental illness, avenues of assistance and factors that promote mental wellbeing.

Students analyse research methodologies associated with classic and contemporary theories, studies and models, consider ethical issues associated with the conduct of research and the use of findings, and apply appropriate research methods when undertaking their own investigations.

AREA OF STUDY  1: Learning
How do we learn? Why do some people learn faster than others? How important are role models in shaping behaviour?
This area of study explores the characteristics of learning as a process that plays a part in determining behaviour. Students study the neural basis of learning, and examine different types of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, observational learning and trial-and-error learning. Behaviour not dependent on learning is also explored. As students analyse and evaluate the contribution that classic and contemporary studies have made to this field of study, they consider the techniques used to gather data and the associated ethical implications. Students apply appropriate methods of psychological research and ethical principles when undertaking their own research investigations.

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the neural basis of learning, and compare and contrast different theories of learning and their applications.

AREA OF STUDY 2: Mental health
What does mental health mean? How can ‘normality’ be defined? Is feeling stressed ‘normal’? What is the relationship between mental health and illness? How can mental wellbeing be enhanced? Students use a biopsychosocial framework to investigate how biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors interact to contribute to the development of an individual’s mental functioning and mental health. They identify the mechanisms underpinning the range of usual human emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, sadness and happiness. Students learn to distinguish between normal or universal experiences such as stress, anxiety and moodiness, and chronic conditions such as addiction, depression, anxiety and phobias which fall into the category of mental illness or psychological disorder. The relationship between stress and mental health is investigated together with the strategies for coping with stress.
Students apply a biopsychosocial framework to the study of a selected mental disorder. They identify protective and risk factors, coping mechanisms and the principles of how treatments work. Students analyse how biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors interact to contribute to the development and treatment of these disorders. As students examine classic and contemporary studies, they evaluate the research methodologies used and consider associated ethical issues.

Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to differentiate between mental health and mental
illness, and use a biopsychosocial framework to explain the causes and management of stress and a
selected mental disorder.

Assessment
The student’s level of achievement for Unit 4 will be determined by School-assessed Coursework and an end-of-year examination.

Contribution to final assessment
•    School-assessed Coursework for Unit 4 will contribute 20 per cent.
•    The level of achievement for Units 3 and 4 is also assessed by an end-of-year examination, which will contribute 60 per cent.