A-Level Curriculum and Examination Boards

The Cotswold School Sixth Form


Students in our Sixth Form are able to study a wide range of Level 3 courses.  Entry requirements vary from course to course with consideration of the individual student’s strengths, interests and aspirations helping to inform any decision.

Applications are welcome to the Head of Sixth Form following the Sixth Form Open Evening which is held in November, with interviews with a senior leader carried out in the weeks following this. External applicants will be interviewed by the Head or Deputy Head of Sixth Form. Application forms are available with the Sixth Form prospectus or online via the Sixth Form section of the School website.

AS and A Level Subjects:

Art; Biology; Business; Chemistry; Computer Science; Design & Technology (Product Design); Drama and Theatre; Economics; English Literature; English Language; French; Geography; German; History; Italian; Mathematics; Further Mathematics; Music; Physics; Psychology; Religious Studies; Sociology; Spanish.

Other Level 3 Subjects:

Business (Double Award); Health & Social Care (Double Award); I.C.T.; Sport (Double Award; Extended Project

Applicants’ options are built into the option block system. Option blocks do change on a year-to-year basis as we try to balance timetable resources and students’ wishes. Please find below the Option Blocks for the 2019-2020 academic year.

2020-2021 Option Blocks

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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 of 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.

At Key Stage 5, we teach AQA Chemistry A level. This course leads on from GCSE and provides students with an opportunity to develop both their practical and theoretical understanding of chemical phenomena.  Although highly challenging, most pupils find A Level Chemistry highly rewarding and interesting, as it explains the world in which we live, on a molecular level.  A Level Chemistry develops pupils’ problem solving capabilities, both numerically and within a written context.  For those considering an applied science degree such as medicine or veterinary, Chemistry A Level lays the ground work for future study and is required by most universities.  Closely allied with maths, biology and physics, Chemistry compliments the study of other science A Levels, especially for those looking to continue study of STEM subjects either at university or through an apprenticeship.

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.

Year 12
AS Product Design students – AQA AS level Design and Technology: Product Design

Year 13
A Level Product Design students – AQA specification Design and Technology: Product Design

TCS 18 – 6th Form – Drama 003

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.

6th Form English Lindis Colour

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.


A Level English Literature offers 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 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 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 keep 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) we have chosen to deliver the AQA specification with topics such as the Global Governance, Population and environment, Water and Carbon Cycles, Hazards, Coastal Landscapes and ‘Changing Places’. The course is varied and required students to develop their independent learning skills and think broadly; This is particularly tested via our fieldwork opportunities and the Non-Examined Assessment (coursework) task. We offer a wide range of fieldwork opportunities including visits to Chesil Beach and the Dorset coastline to a residential to field visit Aberystwyth. Students are expected to not just learn but to think, identifying connections within and between units. Geography requires students to utiliste a wide skills set that is 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 60 credits which will give them the Diploma at Pass, Merit, Distinction, Distinction* the 60 credits are added to year 12 to make 12 units which are equivalent to 2 A levels overall.

Final History – question

The History department follows the AQA History A level syllabus. Students have to take two papers at the end of years 12 and 13 respectively. The course consists of two strands -a breadth and depth study. For the breadth study, year 12s study the early Tudors 1485-1547, looking at how Henry VII consolidated his reign and the dramatic impact Henry VIII had on England at the time. The depth study in Year 12 focuses on The Russian Revolution 1917-24, looking at its causes as well as detailed study of the 1917 itself and Lenin’s subsequent changes to the country. Year 13 builds upon the work completed in year 12 by studying the mid Tudors and Elizabeth I including religious conflicts, rebellions and the Golden Age. Whilst The ‘Russia’ side of the course focuses on Stalin’s ruthless repression, rapid industrialisation and his devastating agricultural policies (to name but a few topics!). Students also complete a piece of coursework on Germany 1871-1991, which is self-studied and has a variety of thematic options. This really gives students the opportunity to develop their independent learning skills ahead of University. We do allow some students to undertake a piece of coursework on an alternative time period of their choice.

6th Form ICT crop

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:

  • Impressionism
  • Expressionism including Serialism
  • Neo-Classicism
  • Poulenc: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Mov. 2
  • Debussy: Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages

We follow OCR A, a traditional Physics Course with 5 modules:

  1. Foundations of Physics
  2. Forces and Motion
  3. Electrons Waves and Photons
  4. Newtonian World and Astrophysics
  5. 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 AQA 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 do 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.

Year 12
AS Art and Design (Textiles) students – AQA AS Level Art & Design (Textile Design).

Year 13
A Level Art and Design (Textiles) students – AQA A Level specification in Art & Design (Textile Design).


Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural


British Values


International Status