Support for PSYCHOLOGY


Psychology courses have significant mathematical and statistical content. Students studying Psychology must develop knowledge and understanding related to the collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data including the use of inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics (including measures of central tendency, dispersion and graphical presentation of results) are required.For Psychology students not studying mathematics at A-Level, the new Core Maths course provides an essential background of mathematical experience and confidence.

Core Maths is a Level 3 mathematics course for students in post-16 education who have GCSE Mathematics at Grade C or above but are not taking A-level Mathematics. Core Maths qualifications are offered by various awarding bodies, with a variety of content and assessment styles to suit all needs. All of the courses are designed to help students retain, deepen and extend their mathematical understanding, using mathematics to solve meaningful and relevant problems, and better preparing them for further study, employment and life.

Core Maths is recognised by UCAS, equivalent to an AS level course. Its focus on using and applying mathematics and statistics in the world of work and further study makes it especially useful and relevant for students of A or AS Level Psychology. Topics that can be covered in Core Maths courses include:

  • Numerical Computation, including standard form, estimation, ratios and percentages;
  • Statistics, including correlation, averages, variation, statistical tests and levels of significance;
  • Probability, including using and understanding simulations, theoretical calculations and sampling;
  • Algebra, including using formulae and solving algebraic equations;
  • Graphs, including plotting variables from experimental data, constructing bar charts and sketching scatter diagrams.

You can find further information about Core Maths on our website, You may also wish to discuss the possibility of following a Core Maths course with mathematics staff at your school or college.

Information sourced from

Reference: DFE-00356-2014

Psychology Resource Overview

In this activity students design an experiment and collect data themselves to assess the impact listening to music can have on short term memory. Students analyse the data using a Mann-Whitney U Test on Excel. Ideally it is carried out across psychology and core maths lessons for efficient use of time and to create a real need for students to convey information. 

Mathematical strand:


Prior knowledge


Students will have already encountered the principles of research design, including ethical considerations, sampling, concepts of independent and dependent variables.


Students will need to be familiar with the concept of normal distribution, and conducting statistical tests to compare samples/populations, eg t-test. Students also need to be comfortable using Excel. If not, a paper based version is also available.

Suggested approach

The activity is carried out in three stages (suggested lesson in bracket): experiment design (in psychology lesson), data collection, statistical analysis and draft report (core maths lesson), reporting back and review (psychology lesson). 


In addition to this overview there are:

  • Lesson plan, with useful links
  • Research design writing frame + completed example
  • Excel spreadsheet template for conducting test + completed example
  • Paper-based guide for completing test + worked example