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Teaching of psychology in Scotland

Psychology education at pre-university level in Scotland

Scotland has its own education system, which is historically different from the rest of the UK. Most students aged 15-18 years in high schools and colleges study a broad range of subjects. The qualification for university entrance is the Scottish "NQ Higher", and 3 - 5 Highers are normally required. Higher Psychology is widely taught, mainly to students aged 16-18 years, and younger students (14-16 years) can also study psychology for national qualifications. Around 3,500 students take Higher Psychology each year, and there has been consistent growth in popularity of the subject since it started in 1999.

In colleges, "HN" courses are also provided, which are popular with mature students and have a more applied, vocational emphasis; these also enable progression to university, or to further professional training or employment. The HN in Social Science includes a strong element of Psychology.

Association for the Teaching of Psychology, Scotland (ATPS)

Web: https://www.theatp.uk/atp-scotland

The ATPS is the Scottish branch of the UK Association for the Teaching of Psychology (ATP). Scotland has a long and illustrious history of the study of human behaviour and experience, including most notably David Hume's "Treatise of Human Nature" in the 1730s. Following the introduction of Psychology courses in Scottish high schools and colleges, the ATPS was established in 2001 as a branch of the ATP.

In Scotland we have approximately 40 members, who are school teachers and college lecturers from as far afield as the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, the south-west and Borders, as well as from the main centres of population - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

ATPS holds a one-day CPD event every year, usually in February, and all EFPTA association members are welcome to attend  It is organised by the ATPS team which has a representative on the ATP (UK) committee. The last in-person CPD event was held in February 2020 just before the covid pandemic; events in 2021 and 2022 were held online. These events are usually held in collaboration with the British Psychological Society (Scotland), which is the psychologists' professional association in the UK. 


Mairi Rice
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Useful Websites

Scottish Government website

Scottish Qualifications Authority

The awarding body (exam board) for Scotland