GCSE Psychology – OCR


OCR’s GCSE (9–1) specification in Psychology is designed to inspire and engage learners by providing a broad, coherent, satisfying and worthwhile course of study which develops an understanding of the ideas and values that characterise ‘self’ and others. Learners will be equipped with a psychological literacy that enables them to apply their knowledge and skills in their everyday lives, including making informed decisions about further study and career choices.

OCR are enriching and supporting our qualification by working with Time to Change, England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Time to Change explain: “Time to Change is pleased to be working with OCR to update their GCSE (9–1) Psychology qualification. One in ten young people experience a mental health problem; that’s three in an average classroom - so striving to improve young people’s mental health knowledge is crucial. Improved knowledge helps to reduce stigma and discrimination, which we know have a profound impact on the lives of young people affected by mental health problems; preventing them from fulfilling their potential or seeking help, and leading to loneliness, worse recovery outcomes and loss of confidence. 50% of all adult mental illness starts before the age of 15, and 75% by age 18. We hope this GCSE (9–1) Psychology qualification will inspire this generation to know more about mental health and find out what they can do to support their own mental health and that of their peers and help to create a future free from stigma and discrimination.”


Aims and learning outcomes


OCR’s GCSE (9–1) in Psychology will encourage learners to:

• use specialist vocabulary, psychological concepts, terminology and conventions to engage in the process of psychological enquiry

• acquire knowledge and understanding of psychology, developing an understanding of self and others, and how psychological understanding can help to explain everyday social phenomena

• understand how psychological research is conducted, including the role of scientific method and data analysis

• present information, develop arguments and draw conclusions through a critical approach to psychological evidence, developing as reflective thinkers

• develop an understanding of the relationship between psychology and personal, moral, social and cultural issues, and develop an understanding of ethical issues in psychology

• develop an understanding of psychological issues, the contribution of psychology to individual, social and cultural diversity, and how psychology contributes to society.


How will I be assessed?



Learners will be required to study psychological ideas, processes, techniques and procedures, through the following topics:

• Development (Term 1 and 2 of Y10)

• Memory (Term 1 and 2 of Y10)

• Psychological problems (Term 3 of Y10)

• Social influence (Term 3 of Y10)

• The brain and neuropsychology (Term 1 of Y11)

• Criminal psychology (Term 1 of Y11)

• sleep and dreaming (Term 2 of Y11)

• Research methods (Term 2 of Y11)


Each component will consist of three topics, with research methods included in both. For each of the topics, content will relate to:


• Key concepts

• Theories/explanations

• Research studies

• Applications.


For each topic, learners will be required to study two core studies.


For each core study, learners should ‘tell the story’ of the study by considering the following:

• Background

• Method

• Design

• Sample

• Materials/apparatus

• Procedure

• Results

• Conclusions

• Criticisms



As part of their study, learners will be required to develop knowledge and understanding of the five core areas of psychology identified as:

• Biological – an understanding of biological concepts within psychology, including neuroscience and genetics as contributors to behaviour

• Cognitive – an understanding of thought, information and mental processing as contributors to behaviour

• Social – an understanding of the social area of psychology, the impact of social and environmental factors on behaviour and the influence of groups

• Developmental – an understanding of how individuals change throughout their lives, with a particular focus on childhood and how both nature and nurture can affect individuals

• Individual differences – an understanding of the complex nature of human behaviour and experiences and why and how people are different.



Learners will also be required to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of:

• Debates within psychology, including ‘reductionism/holism’, ‘nature/nurture’ and ‘freewill/determinism’

• How psychological knowledge and ideas change over time and how these inform our understanding of behaviour

The contribution of psychology to an understanding of individual, social and cultural diversity

• The interrelationships between the core areas of psychology

• How the studies for topics relate to the associated theory

• Research methods as outlined in the content below.



There will also be a research methods section within each component. For component 01, the focus will be on designing an investigation and for component 02, the assessment will relate to a novel source. Specific research methods content may also be assessed within the topic areas. It is recommended that learners carry out ethical, investigative practical activities in order to support their understanding of research methods.


The following research methods content will be assessed throughout the whole qualification.

• Planning Research:

• Hypotheses

• Variables

• Experimental Designs

• Populations and Sampling

• Ethical Guidelines.

• Doing Research:

• Experiments

• Interviews

• Questionnaires

• Observations

• Case studies

• Correlations.

• Analysing Research:

• Types of data

• Descriptive data

• Tables, charts and graphs

• Reliability and validity

• Sources of bias.



How do I find out more?

St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic CfL Psychology Teacher – Mr G Harrison -  gharrison@seaonline.org.uk

OCR Exam Board - psychology@ocr.org.uk