Level 3 National Extended Certificate

Psychology (Applied)

The study of human behaviour and the mind.

Course overview

The Pearson BTEC National Applied Psychology course has been developed in collaboration with employers and representatives from higher education and relevant professional bodies to provide you with the content and skills to become employed in, or study further in, the psychology sector.

This course is a Level 3 National Extended Certificate equivalent to one A-Level and can be studied as part of an A-Level programme. UCAS points are equal to the A-Level equivalent.

What will I study?

The course covers two mandatory units in the first year:

  • Applications of psychological approaches
  • Conducting psychological research

In the second year:

Mandatory unit:

  • Health psychology

One additional unit:

  • Criminology and Forensic Psychology
  • Promoting Children's Psychology Development
  • Introduction to Psychopathology

You will learn about the four key approaches in psychology – social, cognitive, learning and biological – and will apply these approaches to issues relevant to contemporary society. You will develop an understanding of how psychological research and concepts can explain gender identity, aggression and consumer behaviour. In the unit you will investigate the various ways in which psychologists explain human interactions and you will gain a clear insight into how and why some behaviour occurs.

In unit two you will learn about the importance of research in psychological inquiry, and about the types of research that take 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 way 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.

In unit three 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.

How will I be taught and assessed?

This course combines internal and external assessments, using examinations and coursework to ascertain ability.

Entry requirements

  • Five GCSEs at grade 4 or above including English Language and Maths.
  • Grade C/4 or above in a Humanities/Social Science GCSE subject.

We recommend that you take Core Maths alongside this course.

What could I do next?

The qualification carries UCAS points and is recognised by higher education providers as
contributing to admission requirements to many relevant courses, if taken as part of a programme of learning alongside other level 3 qualifications. It will help in preparing you for degree programmes for which some knowledge of psychology may be an advantage. Examples are:

  • BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching if taken alongside, for example, the Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Sport
  • BA (Hons) in Early Years Education if taken alongside, for example, the Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development.

Indeed, it will be beneficial to you if you would like to become a teacher of any subject area. You will be able to choose a wide range of degree programmes to progress to, but these will depend on the other qualifications you have taken. You should always check the entry requirements for degree programmes at specific higher education providers.

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