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The RIC Psychology department feels that Psychology is the most important subject that students can study. But we are a little biased... 

Having a deeper understanding of human behaviour at a time when there is so much divisiveness in the world enables students to develop empathy for others and understand the reasons why they may think differently to themselves. In the department we pride ourselves on connecting the academic study of the subject to real world issues, be it elections, the pandemic, or even why some TikTok videos go viral. We find that when students see purpose in what they are learning and connect it to the real world,  they are more engaged with the content and achieve better results. We do not expect students to join the subject with any previous experience, only an open mind and a willingness to be challenged. 

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries between the natural and social sciences

Topics studied include: Memory; Social Influence; Attachment; Psychopathology; Research Methods; Biopsychology; Approaches; Aggression; Issues and Debates; Eating Behaviour; Cognition and Development.


Exam Specification

Assessment methods

100% Examination Length of exams: 3 x 2 hour papers

1. Introductory topics in Psychology

Social influence: Types and explanations of conformity as researched by Asch and Zimbardo. Explanations for obedience and situational variables affecting obedience. Explanations of resistance to social influence and minority influence with reference to social change.

Memory: The Multi-Store and Working Memory models. Types of long-term memory, and explanations for forgetting. Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including leading questions and anxiety.

Attachment: Caregiver-infant interactions and the stages of attachment. Explanations as to why we form attachment and the use of animal research in studying attachment.
Psychopathology: Definitions of psychological abnormality. The behavioural, cognitive and biological approaches to explaining phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.

2. Psychology in context

Approaches in psychology: The use of various approaches to describe human behaviour, along with their relative strengths and limitations: biological; cognitive; humanistic; psychodynamic; and humanistic.

Biopsychology: The divisions of the nervous system; including the structure and function of sensory, relay, and motor neurons. Localisation of function in the brain, including ways of studying the brain, and functional recovery of the brain after trauma. Biological rhythms – circadian, ultradian and infradian, and the effect of internal and external factors on these.

Research Methods: Methods used by psychologists to study human behaviour, including experimental and observational methods. The main features of science, and the appreciation of ethical issues when studying human and non-human animals. The use of quantitative and qualitative data to analysis behaviour scientifically.

3. Issues and debates in Psychology

Gender and culture bias within research. Free will and determinism; nature-nurture debate; and holism-reductionism. Idiographic and nomothetic approaches and ethical implications of research studies and theory.

Cognition and development: Theories of cognitive development, including the work of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Baillargeon. The development of social cognition and role of Theory of Mind with reference to autism.

Eating behaviour: Evolutionary and cultural food preferences. Neural and hormonal mechanisms involved in the control of eating behaviour. Biological and psychological explanations for the development of anorexia nervous and obesity.

Aggression: Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression and the evolutionary explanation of aggression. Institutional aggression in the context of prisons & media influences on aggression.

Curious about Psychology?


What is conformity? Why do people conform?

A Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (book extract) – case studies of neurological disorders

Teenage brain explained…

RIC Psychology reading list


Is Psychology a Science?

Memory: How Reliable is Your Memory (Eyewitness Testimony)

Phobias: phobia of germs

Memory: A man with 6-second memory

This could be why you're depressed or anxious | Johann Hari


All in the Mind - BBC Radio 4

You Are Not So Smart

60-second Mind – Minute-long commentaries on the latest research

Neuro-curious – podcasts about brain, body, mind and culture