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SCQF Level 6 (24 SCQF credit points)

Highers are the main route into higher education courses at university or college, including Degree, Higher National Diploma (HND) and Higher National Certificate (HNC) level courses.

Most candidates sit Highers in S5 or S6, although it is possible to sit them in S4.

Psychology: Higher

Why Psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. Psychology is a research-based subject, and provides the opportunity to conduct practical research. This includes working with human participants in accordance with ethical standards.

This course develops your ability to analyse psychological explanations for individual and social behaviour. You will learn about about some of the ways that thoughts and emotions can affect how we feel and behave.

Knowledge of human behaviour is a useful subject for your personal development as well as being relevant to many career paths, including education, medicine and law.

Entry to the course

Entry is at the discretion of the school or college, but you would normally be expected to have achieved:

Course Outline

This course enables you to develop an understanding of the psychological study of the human mind and behaviour in a range of contexts, and to enhance their ability to use evidence to explain behaviour.

The course consists of three compulsory units and the course assessment unit.

Psychology: Research (6 SCQF credit points)

In this unit you will:

  • understand the research process and research methods used in psychology
  • develop the skills required to conduct and evaluate psychological research
  • develop numerical skills and an understanding of psychological terminology.

Psychology: Individual Behaviour (6 SCQF credit points)

In this unit you will:

  • analyse individual behaviour
  • investigate topics and learn how these topics can be explained, using psychological approaches and theories
  • evaluate approaches and theories and apply psychological knowledge to show how an understanding of psychology can support individual wellbeing.

Psychology: Social Behaviour (6 SCQF credit points)

In this unit you will:

  • analyse how interaction with others shapes social behaviour
  • investigate psychological explanations for social behaviour
  • use research evidence to analyse how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by their social environment
  • apply psychological knowledge and understanding to explain examples of everyday social behaviour.

Course Assessment (6 SCQF credit points)

The course assessment has two components:

  • a question paper (70% of total marks)
  • an assignment (30% of total marks).

The question paper will assess your skills, knowledge and understanding of psychological approaches, theories, concepts and topics. You will use psychological explanations and research evidence to respond to questions. The question paper will be set and marked by SQA.

The assignment will assess your research and communication skills appropriate to psychology.


Your work will be assessed by your teacher on an ongoing basis throughout the course. You must pass all three units and the course assessment to gain the course qualification.

The course assessment is graded A-D. Your grade will depend on the total mark for all the units in your course.


If you complete the course successfully, it may lead to:

  • other qualifications in Psychology, social sciences, social studies or related areas.

Further study, training or employment in: