Note: This course is for Edexcel Psychology A Level (and AS level), specification (9PS0 – taught from 2015). Also, in the A level, there are a total of 4 topics, but only two are compulsory. Everybody must study clinical psychology, but one must be chosen from the other three. This website will only cover criminological psychology – not health psychology or child psychology.

Psychology is the science of the mind, mental states, processes and behaviours.


In Psychology there isn’t a single, universally-accepted way to explain behaviours, instead, there are many approaches which explain various behaviours. No one approach is correct, and most Psychologists would agree that the true explanation for behaviours is a result of multiple approaches.

Approach Explanation Methods of Research
Social Approach Social Psychology is the study of how groups of people interact and why they do so. The key behaviours this specification covers are obedience and prejudice. Self-report (Questionairres and interviews), and to some extent experiments, observations and correlations
Cognitive Approach Cognitive Psychology explains human behaviours using mental processes, especially cognition (Our awareness and understanding). Cognitive Psychology involves memory and learning. Lab expermients and case studies
Biological Approach The explanation of behaviour due to biology, for example hormones and neurotransmission. This specification focuses on how biology affects aggression. Brain scans, correlations, twin studies
Learning Theories (Behaviourism) The explanation of behaviour as a result of how the behaviour is learnt. This specification focuses on learning phobis and aggression. Animal/Human lab experiments
Psychodynamic Approach The explanation of behaviour as a result of different parts of our personality being expressed, along with the unconcious mind. Case studies

Key Definitions

Word Definition
Theory A theory is a set of ideas which tries to explain how a behaviour or aspect of the mind works. As with any science, these theories cannot be considered as facts, but instead can become ‘accepted’ theories with supporting evidence.
Study A study is a piece of supporting evidence for a theory, this could be in the form of a lab experiment, a survey, an observation, etc.