A teacher's guide to the new QCAA Senior Psychology syllabus changes

A teacher’s guide to the new QCAA Psychology General Senior Syllabus changes

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A change is coming for Queensland senior secondary schooling.

From 2019, Psychology will be introduced in Queensland as a senior subject, to help students develop 21st-century skills and knowledge for success in their future work and life. You can trust our expert Queensland authors and award-winning publishing team to support you with the tools and resources you need to help you implement the new Queensland Senior Psychology syllabus.

The new Queensland Senior Psychology Syllabus presents an exciting opportunity for teachers and students – new teaching content and assessment will encourage a wider range of students to study science in the senior years.

What does the new QCAA Psychology General Senior Syllabus look like?

Unit Syllabus content Assessment Assessment method
Unit 1 Individual development
  • Topic 1: Psychological science A
  • Topic 2: The role of the brain
  • Topic 3: Cognitive development
  • Topic 4: Human consciousness and sleep
Formative internal assessment/s Schools should develop at least one assessment per unit, with a maximum of four assessments across Units 1 and 2.
Unit 2 Individual behaviour
  • Topic 1: Psychological science B
  • Topic 2: Intelligence
  • Topic 3: Diagnosis
  • Topic 4: Psychological disorders and treatments
  • Topic 5: Emotion and motivation
Formative internal assessment/s Schools should develop at least one assessment per unit, with a maximum of four assessments across Units 1 and 2.
Unit 3 Individual thinking
  • Topic 1: Localisation of function in the brain
  • Topic 2: Visual perception
  • Topic 3: Memory
  • Topic 4: Learning
Summative internal assessment
  1. Data test (10%) Summative internal assessment
  2. Student experiment (20%)
Summative external assessment: Examination (50%)
Unit 4 The influence of others
  • Topic 1: Social psychology
  • Topic 2: Interpersonal processes
  • Topic 3: Attitudes
  • Topic 4: Cross-cultural psychology
Summative internal assessment
  1. Research investigation (20%)
Summative external assessment: Examination (50%)

Source: Psychology 2019 v1.1, QCAA General Senior Syllabus, Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority August 2017

Students studying the Senior Psychology syllabus from 2019 will:

understand how complex interactions continually influence human behaviour

develop an appreciation for psychology and how it can be used to understand contemporary issues

understand how psychology has developed over time and is applied and informed by social, cultural and ethical considerations

be able to conduct field research and laboratory investigations including collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data and interpretation of evidence

critically evaluate psychological concepts, claims and conclusions with reference to evidence

develop an ability to communicate psychological understandings and findings.

The basics

To successfully implement the new Senior Psychology syllabus, there are three basic points to be aware of:


The new course is made up of four units of study to be taught over two years (i.e. Units 1 and 2 to be taught in Year 11 and Units 3 and 4 to be taught in Year 12). Students should complete Units 1 and 2 before beginning Unit 3. It is recommended that Unit 3 be completed before Unit 4.


Units 1 and 2 have students working across all syllabus objectives and beginning to engage with the course subject matter. The teaching of Units 3 and 4 consolidates students’ learning. Subject matter, learning experiences and assessment increase in complexity from Units 1 through to 4 as students develop independent learning.


Only the results from Units 3 and 4 will contribute to ATAR calculations. Each unit has been developed to a notional time of 55 hours of teaching and learning, including assessment.

Meet our expert author team for Psychology for Queensland

Lorelle Burton

Series Editor

Lorelle Burton is a Professor of Psychology in the School of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). She is currently Associate Dean (Students) in the Faculty of Health, Engineering & Sciences at USQ and leads the Community Futures research program in the Institute for Resilient Regions at USQ. Lorelle has received multinational awards, her most recent being the 2016 Australian Psychological Society’s Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Education Award. As a ‘critical friend’ of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), Lorelle has provided feedback on the new Queensland syllabus for Psychology.

Lorelle has authored multiple psychology textbooks, including market-leading Australian psychology textbooks used in first year studies at universities across Australia and New Zealand. She has led national research projects in learning and teaching, has served on national learning and teaching committees and boards, and has been an invited assessor for national teaching excellence awards and grants. Lorelle currently leads community capacity building programs that involve working collaboratively with marginalised groups in community, examining the challenges they face and identifying the key factors that contribute to these social issues. The Community Futures research seeks people’s own stories as a powerful way to strengthen communities and find new paths to support them into the future.

Karen Marangio


Karen Marangio has extensive experience teaching Psychology in secondary schools. Karen currently works in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, lecturing in Psychology and Science Education Methods. Her research interests include the progression of student learning in psychology and developing the pedagogy of pre-service teachers.

Roger Edwards


Roger Edwards has been teaching Psychology at both a secondary and tertiary level for over 15 years. Roger is a member of the Australian Psychological Society and a psychologist in private practice. He is currently Supervising Psychologist at the Krongold Clinic, Monash University.

Elizabeth Blaher-Lucas


Elizabeth Blaher-Lucas has taught VCE Psychology for the past 14 years in both state and independent schools. She currently teaches at St Michael’s Grammar and recently completed further postgraduate studies in psychology.

Vicki Moore


Vicki Moore taught senior Humanities and Psychology for 20 years at St Catherine’s School. She has also been Psychology Methods Lecturer at Monash University and is a Member of the Australian Psychological Society. Vicki currently works with children and adolescents in a private practice.

Fiona Ganino-Day


Fiona Ganino-Day is passionate about teaching Psychology at a secondary level. She has taught at both state and independent schools.

What is Oxford publishing for the new QCAA Psychology General Senior Syllabus?

The publishing team at Oxford is currently working with expert Queensland authors to deliver high-quality resources directly mapped to the new syllabus. These include:

Psychology for Queensland
Units 1 & 2

Psychology for Queensland Units 1 & 2 Student book + obook assess

  • Print student book with digital access

Psychology for Queensland Units 1 & 2 obook assess

  • Digital student access (12 months access)

Psychology for Queensland Units 1 & 2 obook assess MULTI

  • Digital student access (3 x 12 months access)

Psychology for Queensland Units 1 & 2 Teacher obook assess

  • Digital teacher access

All Unit 1 & 2 titles coming in 2018!

Psychology for Queensland
Units 3 & 4

Psychology for Queensland Units 3 & 4 Student book + obook assess

  • Print student book with digital access

Psychology for Queensland Units 3 & 4 obook assess

  • Digital student access (12 months access)

Psychology for Queensland Units 3 & 4 obook assess MULTI

  • Digital student access (3 x 12 months access)

Psychology for Queensland Units 3 & 4 Teacher obook assess

  • Digital teacher access

All Unit 3 & 4 titles coming in 2019!

Why choose Oxford QLD Senior Science resources?

Our Senior Science resources are designed to work for you in the classroom. They will:

provide learning pathways that ensure complete coverage of the syllabus

clearly model approaches to inquiry learning and critical thinking

provide detailed support and resources for assessment (including exam preparation and practice)

suggest methodologies for mandatory and suggested practicals outlined in the syllabus.

All these features are designed to save you time when lesson planning, reduce the stress of syllabus implementation and ensure the best learning outcomes for your students.

From January 2019, senior secondary syllabuses in Queensland will change to support the introduction of new assessment and tertiary entrance systems. As teachers across Queensland prepare for this significant change, the Secondary team at Oxford will be busy collaborating with local teachers and educators to create a range of world-class teaching and learning materials. Our goal is to make implementation of the new systems as smooth and stress-free as possible for you.

–The Secondary Publishing Team at Oxford University Press

As Secondary Publisher of the Year 2017, Oxford University Press is committed to helping teachers and students in Queensland reach their full potential.

Register for QLD Senior Syllabus updates from Oxford and receive:

Invites to our free webinar series

Invites to Professional Development events in Queensland

Advanced access to sample chapters and page proofs

Relevant QCAA syllabus updates where applicable

Access to teaching and learning resources

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