Biology, chemistry and physics are also available as AS and A level courses. By choosing an A level pathway, all three sciences can be taken together or individually as desired.
Biology is a demanding scientific course with considerable factual content, developing biological concepts from GCSE and introducing new topics from the cutting edge of applied science. Each section builds on those that preceded it, effecting spiral learning, and applies the biology to relevant situations, contextualising theory. The exam emphasis is on the application of knowledge and understanding to unfamiliar scenarios and drawing together the various strands of the subject. Key practicals need to be undertaken during the program of study and knowledge of these is assessed in a written paper at the end of the course.
In AS the three main branches of chemistry, physical, inorganic and organic are introduced and examined in June of the first year. The course develops basic practical skills in each area through a series of core practicals, which are integrated into the course and examined through questions in both written papers.
The A2 course builds upon the topic themes introduced in AS as well as introducing new topics and areas for investigation, and increasing experience of problem solving, logical thought and the use of IT.
This broad and coherent course encourages pupils to develop confidence in physics and to recognise its importance in their own lives and to society. In the first year of study topics covered include motion, forces, energy, materials, stars, particle and nuclear physics, electricity, waves and quantum physics. These topics are then developed in the second year and linked to the further topics explored, including circular motion and vibrations, kinetic theory and thermal physics, fields and electromagnetic induction, astrophysics and nuclear energy. A level physics pupils also study an option topic designed to link closely with the world of work. The available options will be agreed on in department.
Throughout the course, pupils will complete a range of practical work as it is an intrinsic part of physics to develop the practical techniques required for the Practical Endorsement.
In all sciences Practical Endorsement is a new feature, which replaces the coursework, investigations and assessed practicals that had been a part of A level science for many years. Written examination papers contain questions to test understanding of practical science. In addition, the assessment of practical skills will appear on all pupils’ certificates as a separately reported result alongside the overall grade for the qualification. A minimum of 12 practical activities are carried out by each pupil which, together, meet the requirements for practical skills and the use of apparatus and techniques developed through teaching and learning. There is no separate assessment of practical skills for AS qualifications.