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VCE Science

Psychology Unit 3 - How Does Experience affect behaviour and Mental Processes?


Due to an increased emphasis on scientific research and inquiry skills, students are strongly advised to complete Psychology Units 1 and 2 before undertaking Psychology Unit 3.

Course Description

In this unit students examine the 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. Students 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.

Areas of Study

How does the nervous system enable psychological functioning?

In this area of study, students explore the role of different branches of the nervous system in enabling a person to integrate, co-ordinate and respond to internal and external sensory stimuli. They explore the specialised structures and functioning of neurons that allow the nervous system to transmit neural information. Students evaluate how biological, psychological and social factors can influence a person’s nervous system functioning. In particular, they consider the ways in which stress can affect the mind and body, the role that the nervous system plays in these processes and how stress can be managed.

How do people learn and remember?

Memory and learning are core components of human identity; they connect past experiences to the present and shape futures by enabling adaption to daily changes in the environment. In this area of study students study the neural basis of memory and learning and examine factors that influence the learning of new behaviours and the storage and retention of information in memory. They consider the influence of biological, psychological and social factors on the fallibility of memory.


Outcomes Assessment Tasks Marks Allocated
(school-assessed coursework)
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.

At least one task selected from the following (approximately 50 minutes or not exceeding 1000 words for each task):

  • Annotations of at least two practical activities from a practical logbook.
  • Evaluation of research.
  • A report of a student investigation.
  • An analysis of data including generalisations and conclusions.
  • A visual presentation.
  • Media analysis/response.
  • A response to a set of structured questions.
  • A reflective blog/learning journal related to selected activities or in response to an issue.
  • A test.
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 inability to remember information.​ At least one task (which is different from the type of task/s for Outcome 1) from the list above. 50
Total Marks 100

Overall Final Assessment

Graded Assessment Title Assessment Exam Duration Contribution to Study Score (%)
1 Unit 3 Coursework School-assessed   16
2 Unit 4 Coursework School-assessed   24
3 Written Examination November 2.5 hours 60


Reproduced by permission of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victoria, Australia: