Psychology

There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3.

Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4.

Psychology is a broad discipline that incorporates both the scientific study of human behaviour through biological, psychological and social perspectives and the systematic application of this knowledge to personal and social circumstances in everyday life. VCE Psychology enables students to explore how people think, feel and behave through the use of a biopsychosocial approach.

Students explore the connection between the brain and behaviour by focusing on several key interelated aspects of the discipline: the interplay between genetics and the environment, individual differences and group dynamics, sensory perception and awareness, memory and learning, and mental health.

This course allows students to examine classical and contemporary research and the use of imaging technologies, models and theories to understand how knowledge in psychology has evolved in response to new evidence and discoveries.

An important feature is the opportunity for students to engage in a range of inquiry tasks that may be self-designed, develop key science skills and interrogate the links between theory, knowledge and practice.

Unit 1 How are behaviour and mental processes shaped?

Human development involves changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In this unit students investigate the structure and functioning of the human brain and the role it plays in the overall functioning of the human nervous system. Students explore brain plasticity and the influence that brain damage may have on a person’s psychological functioning. They consider the complex nature of psychological development, including situations where psychological development may not occur as expected. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary studies have made to an understanding of the human brain and its functions, and to the development of different psychological models and theories used to predict and explain the development of thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

A student-directed research investigation related to brain function and/or development is undertaken in this unit. The research investigation draws on content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.

Outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • describe how understanding brain structure and function has changed over time, explain how different areas of the brain coordinate different functions, and explain how brain plasticity and brain damage can change psychological function
  • identify the various influences of nature and nurture on a persons psychological development, and explain different factors that may lead to typical or atypical psychological development
  • investigate a question related to brain function and/or psychological development

Unit 2 How do external factors influence behaviour and mental processes?

A person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by a variety of biological, psychological and social factors. In this unit students investigate how perception of stimuli enables a person to interact with the world around them and how their perception of stimuli can be distorted. They evaluate the role social cognition plays in a person’s attitudes, perception of themselves and relationships with others. Students explore a variety of factors and contexts that can influence the behaviour of an individual and groups. They examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of human perception and why individuals and groups behave in specific ways.

A student practical investigation related to internal and external influences on behaviour is undertaken in this unit. The investigation draws on content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.

Outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • compare the sensations and perceptions of vision and taste, and analyse factors that may lead to the occurrence of perceptual distortions
  • identify factors that influence individuals to behave in specific ways, and analyse ways in which others can influence individuals to behave differently
  • design and undertake an investigation related to external influences on behaviour, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data 

Unit 3 How does experience affect behaviour and mental processes?

The nervous system influences behaviour and the way people experience the world. In this unit students examine both macro-level and micro-level functioning of the nervous system to explain how the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the world around them. They explore how stress may affect a person’s psychological functioning and consider the causes and management of stress. Students investigate how mechanisms of memory and learning lead to the acquisition of knowledge, the development of new capacities and changed behaviours. They consider the limitations and fallibility of memory and how memory can be improved. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system, and to the understanding of biological, psychological and social factors that influence learning and memory.

Outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • explain how the strucutre and function of the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the external world and analyse the different ways in which stress can affect nervous system function
  • apply biological and psychological explanations for how new information can be learnt and stored in memory, and provide biological, psychological and social explanations of a a persons inability to remember information

Unit 4 How is wellbeing developed and maintained?

Consciousness and mental health are two of many psychological constructs that can be explored by studying the relationship between the mind, brain and behaviour. In this unit students examine the nature of consciousness and how changes in levels of consciousness can affect mental processes and behaviour. They consider the role of sleep and the impact that sleep disturbances may have on a person’s functioning. Students explore the concept of a mental health continuum and apply a biopsychosocial approach, as a scientific model, to analyse mental health and disorder. They use specific phobia to illustrate how the development and management of a mental disorder can be considered as an interaction between biological, psychological and social factors. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of consciousness, including sleep, and the development of an individual’s mental functioning and wellbeing.

A student practical investigation related to mental processes and psychological functioning is undertaken in either Unit 3 or Unit 4, or across both Units 3 and 4, and is assessed in Unit 4, Outcome 3.

Outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • explain conciousness, compare theories about the purpose and nature of sleep, and elaborate on the effects of sleep disruption on a persons functioning
  • explain concepts of mental health and mental illness, including influences of risk and protective factors, apply a biopsychosocial approach to explain the development and amanagement of specific phobias, and explain the psychological basis of strategies that contributes to mental wellness
  • design and undertake a practical investigation related to mental processes and psychological function, and present methodology, finding and conclusions in a scientific poster

Assessment

Units 1 and 2

Procedures for the assessment of Unit 1 and 2 are a school decision.

Assessment may come from tests, exams, investigations and practical reports or a combination of these. 

Units 3 and 4

School assessed coursework and examination

  • Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework: 16%
  • Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework: 24%
  • End-of-year examination: 60%

Contact Teacher - Jess Ferry, Melissa Omell,