Topics in Psychology HL are divided into 3 sections: Part 1, 2 and 3. Both SL and HL students study all Part 1 topics. For Part 2, SL students choose one and HL students choose two topics to study. Only HL students study all topics in Part 3. Below is a summary of each topic:
Part 1 Topics: Core (both SL and HL)
- The biological level of analysis
- The brain and behaviour
- Hormones and behaviour
- Genetics and behaviour
- The role of animal research in understanding human behaviour (HL only)
- The cognitive level of analysis
- Cognitive processing
- Reliability of cognitive processes
- Emotion and cognition
- Cognitive processing in the digital world (HL only)
- The sociocultural level of analysis
- The individual and the group
- Cultural origins of behaviour and cognition
- Cultural influences on individual attitudes, identity and behaviours
- The influence of globalization on individual attitudes, identities and behaviour (HL only)
Part 2 Topics: Options (both SL and HL)
- Abnormal psychology
- Factors influencing diagnosis
- Etiology of abnormal psychology
- Treatment of disorders
- Developmental psychology
- Influences on cognitive and social development
- Developing an identity
- Developing as a learner
- Health psychology
- Determinants of health
- Health problems
- Promoting health
- Psychology of human relationships
- Personal relationships
- Group dynamics
- Social responsibility
Part 3 Topics: Approaches to researching behaviour (HL only)
- Research methods
- Elements of researching behaviour
- Analyzing data
- Evaluating research
- Drawing conclusions
All SL and HL students are required to write Paper 1 and 2. The HL paper 3 is longer and tests students on topics in Part 3. Sample specimen papers can be found here.
This paper consists of four questions out of 49 marks. Section A requires all three questions to be answered testing knowledge from topics in Part 1. Section B requires only one question to be answered testing knowledge from any topics found in Part 1 or 2. Students are given 2 hours to complete this paper.
SL: This paper consists of one question out of 22 marks. One topic from Part 2 is being tested on and students choose one question from that topic to answer. Students are given 1 hour to complete this paper.
HL: This paper consists of two questions of 44 marks. Two topics in Part 2 are being tested on and students choose one question from each topic to answer. Students are given 2 hours to complete this paper.
Paper 3 (HL only)
This paper is out of 24 marks. Knowledge from topics in Part 3 is being tested on and students must complete all questions. Students are given 1 hour to complete this paper.
The IA in Psychology SL / HL is a replication of a lab study studied in the course. Each year, the IBO releases the studies that are to be completed by students for the IA. In groups of 4 to 5, students complete these experimental studies, analyze the data obtained and report the findings for the formal assessment of the IA. The IA is out of 22 marks.