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BTEC Applied Psychology

What’s it about?

BTEC Applied Psychology provides the knowledge, understanding and skills that will prepare you for further study or training. Everyone taking this qualification will study three mandatory units, covering the following content areas:  

  • Applications of Psychological Approaches 
  • Conducting Psychological Research 
  • Health Psychology. 

The mandatory content allows you to concentrate on the development of your knowledge and understanding of psychology, as well as the application of skills that are important in psychology, over an extended period. You will also study one optional unit, which has been designed to support progression to more specialist applied psychology courses in higher education and to link with relevant occupational areas, this is criminal and forensic psychology.  

Entry Requirements:

GCSE English and maths grade 5. 




Mrs. S. Osborne – Director of Teaching and Learning 

    The Canterbury Academy Sixth Form

    Course Content:

    Learners taking this qualification will study three mandatory units and one optional unit. 

    Unit 1: Psychological Approaches and Applications- externally assessed.

    Psychology is the scientific study of minds and behaviour. As such, it is a part of our everyday lives. An understanding of human behaviour is fundamental to many jobs in society and the study of psychology at degree level and beyond remains a very popular choice. In this unit, you will be introduced to some basic ideas from different approaches in psychology. You will develop an understanding of how psychological research and concepts can explain gender, aggression and consumer behaviour. Social psychology explains how human behaviour occurs in a social context and how people, society and culture can affect behaviour. Cognitive psychology focuses on human information processing and how it can influence and be influenced by, perception and memory. The learning approach in psychology explains how behaviour is learned from the world around us – through association, the consequent rewards and punishments or through the imitation of role models. The biological approach to psychology takes the opposite view to the learning approach and explains how internal biological processes, such as genetic inheritance, brain structure and chemistry, can affect human behaviour and how these processes can be explained by evolution. In this unit, you will investigate the various ways in which psychologists explain human behaviour. 

    Unit 2: Conducting Psychological Research- internally assessed.

    Human behaviour is unpredictable and diverse, making it particularly difficult to measure. It is, therefore, crucial that the methods used to investigate key questions are appropriate and thorough. Exploring theories in psychology requires sound, scientific research principles that can involve a range of methods, including experiments, interviews, case studies and observations. Results from these studies can then be analysed using statistical techniques and in-depth qualitative procedures to verify their significance and enable researchers to explain or predict behaviour or phenomena. In this unit, you will learn about the importance of research in psychological inquiry and about the types of research that takes place. You will gain an understanding of the research process and the key methods used extensively by researchers to test theories and provide information about the ways in which people think and behave. You learn how to plan a pilot study exploring a current psychological topic, using qualitative and quantitative methods, and taking account of issues, such as ethics, that researchers need to consider when conducting research on human individuals. You will conduct your planned pilot study, selecting and applying knowledge gained in this unit to a chosen area, drawing on key psychological approaches. You will gather and analyse your research findings in order to present them to an audience. Finally, you will reflect on your own learning of the research process as well as drawing on feedback from others and consider implications on practice and provision and your own future professional development.  

    Unit 3: Health Psychology- externally assessed.

    How is stress linked to illness? Why do people become addicted to behaviours or substances? Which factors influence whether people engage in healthy or unhealthy behaviours? These are the questions addressed by health psychologists, who are interested in how psychological and physiological factors affect health and ill health. Health psychology explores the motivation behind healthy and unhealthy behaviours, and the factors that might persuade individuals to finally change a behaviour or to follow the advice given by medical professionals. In this unit, you will learn about approaches, theories and studies that explore or explain the reasons why an individual may engage in specific behaviours. You will develop the skills to critically evaluate these approaches, theories and studies, enabling you to reach informed judgements about how useful they are at explaining healthy and unhealthy behaviours. You will use psychological approaches to examine specific behavioural and physiological addictions and to explain the reasons why it can be difficult to overcome these addictions. You will also study psychological theories that explain why individuals may experience high levels of stress, together with the physiological effects of stress and the impact on health. You will explore how health psychologists can help improve health behaviours using psychological theories of persuasion and learn about specific physiological and behavioural treatments, making judgements about their effectiveness. You will examine the ways in which psychologists can improve adherence to make sure that changes in health behaviours are maintained in the long term. 

    Unit 4: Criminal and Forensic Psychology- internally assessed

    Criminal and forensic psychology is a specialist branch of psychology that uses psychological theories to explain criminal behaviour, and examines the research generated by these theories. In this unit, you will explore psychological approaches to criminal behaviour and learn how offender profiles are created using different techniques. You will examine different psychological methods for modifying and punishing criminal behaviour, and investigate their effectiveness. This will include their impact on both the rate of reoffending and on the individual and society.  


    Jobs that are available in these areas include: 

    • Mental Health Nursing. 
    • Teaching. 
    • Nursing. 
    • Psychologist. 
    • The Police Service. 
    • The Prison Service. 

    The qualification attracts UCAS tariff points and is recognised by higher education providers as contributing to entry requirements for many related courses.  

    When combined in a two-year, full-time study programme with other qualifications, such as A Levels or a relevant BTEC Level 3 National Diploma, learners can progress to higher education degree programmes, such as a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, a BSc (Hons) in Forensic Psychology or other related degree programmes. 

    The Canterbury Academy Sixth Form Course List