A-Level Curriculum and Exam Boards
To view the 2017/2018 option blocks please click here.
Option blocks change on a year-to-year basis as we try to balance timetable resources and students’ wishes.
The Creative Sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the UK economy and our department is passionate about promoting the importance of the Arts. We have an excellent track record in guiding a high number of students into Art foundation and University courses such as Fine Art, Illustration, Architecture, Set Design, Film and Animation, Photography, Fashion and Digital Visual Effects. Both AS and A Level ‘Fine Art’ is offered and students can work within a broad range of materials and techniques. Students have a choice of themes to develop and explore and we encourage each student to develop independence and personal expression. We offer both skills workshops and lessons, the latter run mostly as a 1-2-1 style tutorial. At least one trip to London is planned each year.
With two large A Level Art studios, there is more than an ‘Art College’ atmosphere
Both AS and A Level consist of two components: A Coursework Portfolio (60%) and Externally Set Assignment (40%).
For A Level Biology, we follow the rigorous OCR A course with modules that cover molecular biology, both human and plant biology, as well as evolutionary, ecological and environmental biology.
The 5 modules are entitled: Foundations in Biology; Exchange & Transport; Biodiversity, Evolution & Disease; Communication, Homeostasis & Energy; Genetics and Ecosystems. Practical skills and activities are embedded throughout the course. The Practical Endorsement is a separate certification that is required by most Universities, it is awarded to students who can demonstrate competence in a number of skill areas. Evidence of their practical experience and progress is kept within dedicated portfolios. Assessment takes the form of 3 exams at the end of Year 13. There is a significant mathematical component.
This AS/A-level Business AQA course introduces students to all they need to know about working in business, providing a solid foundation for further study. With a focus on helping them to become effective decision makers, students will learn essential managerial skills, alongside techniques to help them to become analytical problem solvers. These skills are all highly sought after and valued in a wide range of careers. Year 12 provides an introduction to key business areas: marketing, operations, finance and human resource management. This includes a special focus on decision making – particularly how decisions made in one area can affect the rest of the business. In Year 13, the focus is on an investigation of the strategic decisions that all businesses have to make.
OCR A Level Chemistry is divided over the two years: AS Modules cover Elements of Life, Developing Fuels, The ozone story, Elements from the sea and What’s in a Medicine Assessment: Two 1 hr 30 min exams (50 % of the AS Level each). A2 Modules covers Elements of Life, Developing Fuels, The ozone story, Elements from the sea, What’s in a Medicine, The chemical industry, Polymers and life, Oceans, Developing metals and Colour by design. Sixth form Chemistry subject ambassadors enjoy supporting younger scientists and promoting Science, e.g. during Chemistry week and during open evenings by running hands-on practical-based activities. Chemists are encouraged to stretch and challenge themselves by completing the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge (AS) and Chemistry Olympiad Competition (A2).
At Key Stage 5, we offer OCR’s Computer Science A level. This course provides students with the opportunity to fine tune their programming skills, perhaps by learning an additional programming language, to produce a full programming solution for a client. The course also covers a broad spectrum of current and relevant topics including cyber security, hashing, computational thinking and the impact of emerging technologies. Students taking this course will be well prepared to study a computer science or IT related course at university or they could apply for one of the many and exciting IT or Computer Science apprenticeships offered by a wide range of organisations including GCHQ, Armed Services, Fujitsu, Google. Alternatively, students with a more application-bias can choose to study the ICT A level alternative.
Studying A-level Product Design enables students to take a broad view of design issues in society and to develop their capacity to design and make products and appreciate the complex relations between design, materials, manufacture, and marketing.
AS Product Design students – AQA AS level Design and Technology: Product Design – New specification
A2 Product Design students – AQA specification D+T: Product Design (3D Design).
Studying Drama in the Sixth Form provides some excellent life experiences and produces highly disciplined students with a strong sense of fun. We follow the Eduqas A Level Drama and Theatre course. This is a very practical A Level but with an academic core running through it. Over the course of AS and A Level, students complete four exam performances: a reinterpreted text performance; faithful text performance; devised performance and scripted performance. Students also study three texts over the two years. They explore the context and original performance conditions of the plays, as well as working on them from a practical point of view as actors, directors and designers. Students can choose to be assessed in design, rather than acting and we have had students successful in set design and costume design.
Seeing live theatre is a vital part of the course and trips are run throughout the year to continue to inspire our students. Lessons are predominately practical but they encourage a high level of academic rigour. We also think it’s great fun and brilliant life experience as students have to constantly evaluate their own performances, as well as analyse how effectively they work with others.
AS/A Level Economics – Pearson Edexcel
Economics is about choice and the impact of our choices on each other. It relates to every aspect of our lives, from the decisions we make as individuals or families to the structures created by governments and firms.
In Theme 1 and Theme 2 you will be introduced to the nature of economics, how markets work and why they fail. You will also consider the role of government and the UK economy.
In Theme 3 and Theme 4 you will explore how businesses grow and compete for the labour market and how the government intervenes to make markets work better. You will also explore the international trade, inequality within and between countries, emerging and developing economies, and the public finances. You will also have an opportunity to consider the role and impact of the financial sector.
Economics allows students to engage with the world by:
• debating economic issues such as inequality, immigration and how we should pay for healthcare
• using and interpreting data to analyse economic problems
• discussing alternative courses of action
• keeping up to date with national and international trends
The A-level assessment consists of three two hour written exams taken at the end of the two-year course. Paper 1 questions draw on Theme 1 and Theme 3, Paper 2 focuses on Theme 2 and Theme 4 and Paper 3 will features questions based all themes.
English Language at Advanced level is ideal for those who wish to develop their knowledge and understanding of exactly how language works in a whole range of contexts. We study written, spoken and mixed mode (computer generated) texts such as articles, transcripts, blog posts; investigate how different social groups use language and study how language had evolved since 1600 as well as how children develop their spoken and literacy skills. We produce analyses of texts, original articles, evaluative essays and an independent study of language in use.
The examination board is AQA for both AS and A level.
AS & A Level English Literature offer a challenging and exciting approach to literary study through the lens of genre and theory, exploring texts within the shared literary contexts of ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Political & Social Protest’. Students become independent, critical readers, analysing a range of taught and unseen drama, poetry and prose. Current texts include Othello, Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby, the poetry of Keats and Blake, The Kite Runner and The Handmaid’s Tale.
The focus is on textual themes, where meaning is built or challenged by considering historical, social, political & literary contexts, and the varying ways in which readers have responded over time. This is a rigorous course, preparing students to understand and organise complex ideas, find patterns and interpret information. It offers an ideal opportunity for students to develop planning and research skills along with vital skills of discussion and evaluation, both verbal and written.
Exam board: AQA
At A-Level, we offer German, Spanish and French. Students study a range of topics, for example, Immigration, politics, film, literature, media, multiculturalism, family and culture in the relevant countries.
Students learn important language skills such as translation, summarising, film and book analysis and general conversation skills. Students complete an Independent Research Project on a topic of their choice, which allows them to develop research techniques and explore an area of interest relating to the target language country.
All students will benefit from a weekly speaking lesson with our language assistants, and will be expected to keen up to date with current affairs in the target language countries by watching and listening to news bulletins and reading online newspapers.
A-level Further Mathematics is designed to broaden and deepen mathematical knowledge and the skills developed while studying A-level Mathematics. Further Maths is studied alongside A-level Mathematics and provides a challenging, stimulating experience for those who enjoy the subject.
A Level Further Mathematics prepares students for further study and employment in highly mathematical disciplines that require knowledge and understanding of sophisticated mathematical ideas and techniques. An A Level in Further Mathematics is evidence of excellent evaluation skills, whatever career or degree you are embarking upon. Further Mathematics qualifications are highly regarded by universities, particularly as students who take Further Mathematics demonstrate a strong commitment to their studies, as well as learning mathematics that is very useful for any mathematically–rich degree or STEM subject. Depending upon the type of degree you are considering, some of the Russell Group universities may require you to have a Further Mathematics qualification and others may adjust their grade requirements more favourably to students with a Further Mathematics A Level.
Geography at Key Stage 5 (AS and A-Level) also follows the AQA exam board with topics such as the Water-Carbon Cycle, Hazards, Coastal Landscapes and ‘Changing Places’ followed over the two year course. A-Level Geography develops the independence of each pupil, especially through the Non-Examined Assessment started at the end of year 12 and carried on into year 13 but also requires a greater level of teamwork through analysing topics and the relationship between people and the environment. Key Stage 5 Geography entails a number of fieldwork days with visiting Dorset and either Gloucester or Greystones Reserve at AS-Level then followed by a residential to Aberystwyth in the final year. It is undeniable that studying geography at A-Level provides a distinct level of problem-solving and cooperation essential not only to the course but later through university and the workplace.
OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma in Health and Social Care
The Health & Social Care industry is one in which millions of people have some involvement in every day. It is a course which allows you to identify the many issues relevant to everyday life including looking at the opportunities and careers available to participants in health & social care settings. This course is for learners studying in preparation for employment in Health and Social Care. It is a coursework based subject which examines psychological and sociological perspectives, while developing effective communication in a Health and Social Care environment and developing a deeper understanding of human development.
In Year 13 students will complete a further 6 Units which will give them the Diploma at Pass , Merit ,Distinction, Distinction* the 6 units are added to year 12 to make 12 units which is equivalent to 2 A levels overall.
In the Sixth Form was study the OCR History course. In Year 12 students study British History from 1783-1850 (Pitt to Peel) which builds their understanding of the development of our modern state, political concepts and ideas. The second Year 12 course studies the Cold War in Europe, understanding the reasons for the division of Europe, life during the Cold War and eventual fall of Communism and its consequences. In Year 13, we study in depth a thematic topic looking at Russia from 1855-1964, comparing and contrasting various trends in both the Tsarist and Communist time periods. Students also complete a piece of coursework on any topic of their choice. This really gives them the opportunity to develop their independent learning skills ahead of University.
The replacement of ICT A level with a vocational course provides an opportunity for students to build and develop their practical computing and IT skills which will make them invaluable in a wide range of organisations including the NHS, charities, businesses, manufacturing, tourism and catering industries, etc., The course requires students to build and upgrade computer systems as well as acquire the knowledge and communications skills to resolve computer-related problems.
Knowledgeable and practical ICT skills are in high demand making this course suitable for students who want to support businesses in IT, networks or cyber security.
The course is challenging with 2 theory examinations and 2 practical exercises; it suits students who are organised and able to work consistently throughout the 2-year course. The units are awarded Pass, Merit and Distinction and earn UCAS points in line with A levels E, C and A respectively.
A-level Mathematics provides a thorough grounding in the mathematical tools and techniques often needed in the workplace. It provides a foundation for further studies in a variety of subjects including science and engineering.
The logic and reasoning skills developed by studying A-level Mathematics makes sure the qualification is widely respected even in non-mathematical arenas.
A Level Mathematics prepares students for further study and employment in all mathematical and scientific disciplines that require knowledge and understanding of mathematical modelling ideas and techniques.
In Higher Education, a Mathematics degree complements Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Economics, Business, I.T. and Biology but it can also involve the Arts and Humanities. Mathematics studied alongside History, English, Music or Modern Foreign Languages are some of the increasingly broad range of Mathematics-based courses available. Mathematicians pursue careers in fields such as: accounting, medicine, engineering, forensic pathology, finance, business, consultancy, teaching, IT, games development, scientific research, programming, civil service, design, construction and astrophysics, to name a few.
We study the Eduqas syllabus.
AS – Performance: 30% Practical exam to an external examiner. Students must perform between 6 – 8 minutes at grade 5 standard or above.
Composition: 30% Coursework. 2 compositions totalling over 4 and a half minutes. One is a free composition and the other is to one of four set briefs from the exam board.
Listening and Appraising exam (1hour 30 mins): 40% We study two areas of study:
Area of study 1: The history and development of the symphony from 1750 – 1830. Our set work is Haydn’s symphony No. 104 (mov.1 and 2)
Area of Study 2: Rock and Pop focusing on Pop, Rock, Soul and Funk from 1960 – 1990.
A2 – This is the linear continuation of the AS.
Please note you must take the same option for both Composition and Performance. If suitable composition and performance pieces may be re-used from the AS.
Performance: EITHER: Option A: 35% minimum of 3 pieces to total 10 – 12 minutes, Grade 6 or above.
OR: 25% minimum 2 pieces to total 6 – 8 minutes, Grade 6 or above.
Composition: EITHER: Option B: 35% Three compositions, one to a set brief by the exam board and two free.
OR: Option A: 25% Two compositions, one to a set brief by the exam board and one free.
Listening and Appraising exam: 40%: 2 hours 15 mins
- Movements 1 – 4 of Haydn’s Symphony no. 104.
- Movements 1 – 4 of Mendelssohn Symphony no. 4
- The development of the symphony 1750 – 1900
- Rock and Pop 1960 – 2000 (Including Pop, Rock, Soul, Funk, Disco, Folk and Country)
Additionally we also look at a third area of study:
Into the 20th Century where we look at:
- Expressionism including Serialism
- Poulenc: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Mov. 2
- Debussy: Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages
Students will participate once per week in a range of activities (please refer to attached Curriculum_Map_2017-18).
Physical Education – (OCR Syllabus H155, H555)
Component 01: Physiological factors affecting performance 1.1 Applied anatomy and physiology 1.2 Exercise physiology 1.3 Biomechanics, including technology in sport. 35%
Component 02: Psychological and socio-cultural themes in physical education 2.1 Skill acquisition 2.2 Sports psychology 2.3 Sport and society. 35%
Component 03: Performance in physical education (NEA) 4.1 Performance or coaching of an activity taken from the approved lists*. *The approved lists can be found in section 2e of the ‘OCR AS and GCE guide to NEA in Physical Education’. 4.2 Evaluation of Performance for Improvement (EPI). 30
We follow OCR A, a traditional Physics Course with 5 modules:
- Foundations of Physics
- Forces and Motion
- Electrons Waves and Photons
- Newtonian World and Astrophysics
- Particles and Medical Physics
Practical skills endorsement – non-exam assessment (Pass/Fail) reported separately to the full A-Level at the end of the A2 course. PAG activities take place throughout the course and students keep a record of their practical work in a dedicated log book.
The assessment takes the form of 3 exams at the end of Year 13.
The maths content of the course is very high, and we expect all students studying Physics to also be studying AS maths.
Psychology is classed as the fourth science. It is concerned with understanding the mind and behaviour of humans. Students really enjoy Psychology as it enables them to better understand themselves and the actions and motivations of those around them.
Students follow the AQA specification and cover topics such as memory, the effects of attachment and deprivation in childhood, the role of conformity and obedience in explaining behaviours, ways of defining and treating mental illness, processes involved in forming and maintaining relationships and explanations for individual and group aggression.
We hold an annual ‘Brain Day’, hosted by a medical sciences professor, which includes a closer look at neurosciences including the dissection of a sheep brain. Studying Psychology helps students build many key skills such as critical thinking, essay writing and how to analyse sources.
Exam Board Eduqas
Component 1: A Study of Religion (most probable choice: Buddhism)
Written examination: 2 hours
33⅓% of qualification
• religious figures and sacred texts;
• religious concepts and religious life;
• significant social and historical developments in religious thought;
• religious practices
• religious identity
Component 2: Philosophy of Religion
Written examination: 2 hours
33⅓% of qualification
• arguments for the existence of God (cosmological, design, ontological)
• challenges to religious belief (problem of evil, Freud and Jung)
• religious experience (encounters with God, mystical and challenges)
• religious language (cognitive, non cognitive, symbolic)
Component 3: Religion and Ethics
Written examination: 2 hours
33⅓% of qualification
• ethical thought (divine command theory, virtue theory, ethical egoism, naturism, emotivism, intuitionism)
• deontological ethics (natural law and proportionalism)
• teleological ethics (situation ethics and utilitarianism);
• determinism (predestination, determinism – hard, scientific, psychological and soft);
• free will (free will, libertarianism)
The fascination with Sociology lies in the fact that its perspective makes us see in a new light, the very world in which we have lived our whole lives” (Peter Berger)
Sociology considers the development, structure, and functioning of society. Its subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from the divisions of race and class to the shared beliefs of a common culture. Students often find it fascinating as it enables them to study and understand the very issues they face in their daily lives.
Throughout their studies of the EDUQAS specification students are encouraged to ask questions such as “How does the media influence us”, “Why are ethnic minorities more likely to be stopped and searched by police?” and “Why so girls achieve better in school than boys”.
Studying Sociology enables students to build up a range of key skills, and opens doors to a wide range of university courses and careers.
Studying A-Level Art and Design (Textiles) enables students to take a broad view of design issues in society and to develop their capacity to design and make products and appreciate the complex relations between design, materials, manufacture, and marketing.
AS Art and Design (Textiles) students – AQA AS Level Art & Design (Textiles).
A2 Art and Design (Textiles) students – AQA A Level specification in Art & Design Textiles.