Drouin Secondary College - Course Selection

12 VCE Psychology (12SPS1)

The Course

Unit 3: How does experience effect mental process?

In this unit students examine both macro-level and micro-level functioning of the nervous system to explain how the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the world around them. They explore how stress may affect a person’s psychological functioning and consider the causes and management of stress. They investigate how mechanisms of memory and learning lead to the acquisition of knowledge, the development of new capacities and changed behaviours. They consider the limitations and fallibility of memory and how memory can be improved. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system, and to the understanding of biological, psychological and social factors that influence learning and memory.


Unit 4: How is wellbeing developed and maintained?

In this unit students examine the nature of consciousness and how changes in levels of consciousness can affect mental processes and behaviour. They consider the role of sleep and the impact that sleep disturbances may have on a person’s functioning. Students explore the concept of a mental health continuum and apply a biopsychosocial approach, as a scientific model, to analyse mental health and disorder. They use specific phobia to illustrate how the development and management of a mental disorder can be considered as an interaction between biological, psychological and social factors. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of consciousness, including sleep, and the development of an individual’s mental functioning and wellbeing.

Unit 3 Topics

How the nervous system enables psychological functioning.
How people learn and remember.
Research methods and key science skills.

Unit 4 Topics

How levels of consciousness affect mental processes and behaviour.
What influences mental wellbeing. 
Practical Investigation
Research methods and key science skills.  

Learning and Assessment Activities

Unit 3:
Outcome 1
Explain how the structure and function of the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the external world and analyse the different ways in which stress can affect nervous system functioning.

Outcome 2
Apply biological and psychological explanations for how new information can be learnt and stored in memory, and provide biological, psychological and social explanations of a person’s ability to remember information.


Unit 4:
Outcome 1
Explain consciousness as a continuum, compare theories about the purpose and nature of sleep, and elaborate on the effects of sleep disruption on a person’s functioning.

Outcome 2
Explain the concepts of mental health and mental illness, including influences of risk and protective factors, apply a biopsychosocial approach to explain the development and management of specific phobia, and explain the psychological basis of strategies that contribute to mental wellbeing.

Outcome 3
Design and undertake a practical investigation related to mental processes and psychological functioning, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.

These units lead to

VCE Psychology provides for continuing study pathways within the discipline and leads to a range of careers. Opportunities may involve working with children, adults, families and communities in a variety of settings such as academic and research institutions, management and human resources, and government, corporate and private enterprises. Fields of applied psychology include educational, environmental, forensic, health, sport and organisational psychology. Specialist fields of psychology include counselling and clinical contexts, as well as neuropsychology, social psychology and developmental psychology. Psychologists also work in cross-disciplinary areas such as medical research or as part of on-going or emergency support services in educational, institutional and industrial settings.

Special considerations

There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4. It is highly recommended that students complete units 1 and 2 before undertaking Unit 3& 4. 

Costs involved

Edrolo online required software $30 per year (for two units)

Excursion costs approximately $20.00

Materials required

VCE Psychology Textbook, Unit 3 & 4, exercise book, USB and netbook. 

For further information see...

See Mrs Rieschieck or Ms Davies.

Study design link

VCAA Study Design: