The IB Diploma Programme psychology course is the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes.

Since the psychology course examines the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour, it is well placed in group 3, individuals and societies. Students undertaking the course can expect to develop an understanding of how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied. This will allow them to have a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behaviour. 

The holistic approach reflected in the curriculum, which sees biological, cognitive and sociocultural analysis being taught in an integrated way ensures that students are able to develop an understanding of what all humans share, as well as the immense diversity of influences on human behaviour and mental processes. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are also key considerations of the IB psychology course.

Psychology syllabus outline

The Diploma Programme psychology course is designed to allow for in-depth analysis, evaluation and consolidation of learning. The overall aim of the course is to give students a deeper understanding of the nature and scope of psychology. Teachers are encouraged to find ways of delivering the course that are most relevant to their students’ interests and to the school’s resources. This course should be taught in an integrated way, as the different parts of the syllabus complement each other. This will allow students to make comparisons and evaluate different psychological theories and arguments. 

Syllabus component

Teaching hours




Part one: Core

SL and HL

  • The biological level of analysis
  • The cognitive level of analysis
  • The sociocultural level of analysis



Part Two: Options

SL and HL

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Psychology of human relationships
  • Sport psychology



Part Three: Qualitative research methodology

HL only

  • Qualitative research in psychology


Part Four: Simple experimental study

SL and HL

  • Introduction to experimental research methodology



Total teaching hours





Standard level
  • All three compulsory levels of analysis
  • One option from a choice of five
  • One simple experimental study.
Higher level
  • All three compulsory levels of analysis
  • Two options from a choice of five
  • Qualitative research methodology
  • One simple experimental study.

 Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • The course is available at higher level (HL) and standard level (SL).
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 240 for HL and 150 for SL.
  • Students are assessed both internally and externally.
  • External assessment for SL students consists of two written papers. For HL students there are three written papers.
  • Internal assessment for SL and HL students is to write a report of a simple experimental study conducted by the student. This is internally marked by subject teachers and then externally moderated by IB examiners.

av Lauritsen, Vibeke, publisert 15. oktober 2018 | Skriv ut siden