Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and to their environments.


Course Outline:

1. Conformity & Obedience

This area of the course addresses why we go along with others and feel pressure to fit in. We also look into why we listen to what people tell us and do what we are told even if we do not agree. This topic aims to make pupils question their own behaviour and have confidence in the reasoning behind their choices. We explore classic studies of Psychology such as Milgram (1963) and Zimbardo (1973), questioning how far a human will go when they think someone else has the right to tell them what to do.

2. Sleep & Dreams

Within Sleep & Dreams we explore the need for sleep – is it to reorganise our thinking or repair our body? We look into the meaning and use of dreams – are they simply an extension of what we did during the day or have they got a hidden meaning that shows our repressed trauma from childhood. Sleep and Dreams looks into biological, cognitive and psychodynamic explanations of sleep and dreams and tries to determine which understanding fits best.

3. Depression

In the Depression topic, we look at what is normal sadness and what is unusual, where we should seek help. We learn the difference between major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder and again look through the lenses of the biological, cognitive and psychodynamic approaches to better understand why some people get depressed. Is it biological – in that it is a chemical imbalance that can be treated with medication, is it cognitive – where a person’s thinking is responsible for them feeling low, so they should receive cognitive-behavioural therapy to retrain their way of thinking? Or is it psychodynamic – in that their childhood and the trauma they have endured has led to them being depressed and to solve this their childhood must be revisited and addressed through therapy?

4. Prejudice

Prejudice is an area within Social Psychology that explores the reasons why some people show prejudiced attitudes, think stereotypical thoughts and/or exhibit discriminative behaviour. We discuss types of prejudice such as: racism, sexism, heterosexism and ageism amongst others. However, we go further into why certain people are prejudiced and how we can end this negative cycle with education as well as exposure to minority groups.


The final exam is 2 hours 40 minutes and holds 80 marks towards your final grade. The assignment is worth 40marks and is therefore 33.3% of your overall grade. For the assignment, you will research an area of Psychology and then conduct your own ethical research to write up a Psychology report using the data you have collected. Unlike other subjects, the assignment is completed throughout the year and perfected before being handed in to the SQA – you do not have to rewrite it in exam conditions.

Study support

To develop study and skills and enhance their chances of success, pupils should

  • Undertake regular revision​
  • Take pride in personal organisation
  • Achieve – a fantastic subscription exclusive to Dumfries Academy students – Higher Psychology materials can be accessed here and it is a brilliant study/revision resource
  • Engage with Teams and Satchel One​
  • Attend study classes with class teachers​
  • Engage with SQA past papers and marking instructions​