Guide to Courses
This Guide lists all the subjects studied and a brief synopsis of the courses available. The PDF is bookmarked for your convenience - simply click on the bookmark logo on the left hand side to reveal the index and click on the subject required to go to that page.
Guide to Courses - for entry September 2013 (147KB)
The Sixth Form Curriculum
In 2010 the A Level curriculum was up-dated in line with government policy. A Level courses are now offered in two parts with the first part, consisting of two units (called an AS) forming the basis of study in Year 12. The second part (called an A2) also consists of two units, studied in Year 13. A full A Level in a particular subject therefore consists of four units, taken over two years. In a small number of subjects the old model of three units in each year still continues. For the first time in 2010, an A* Grade was awarded at A Level for candidates who scored an A overall and over 90% in the A2 course (NB: A* Grades are not awarded at AS level).
You have the opportunity to study either three or four AS courses in Year 12, and continue with either three or four of these subjects as A2 courses in Year 13. If you choose to study Further Maths as one of your options, this will be as a fifth option. This increases the range of options open to you, and gives you more flexibility in your approach. Maths and Further Maths occupy eight periods whereas all other AS and A2 courses will be taught for five periods per week.
The External Candidate Application Form (see Sixth Form/Admissions) includes the Subject Choice Blocks and demonstrates the wide combination of subjects available to you.
General Points about choosing Courses that are right for you
Making a choice between subjects often proves difficult and you may find these points useful in helping you to decide:
- Interest in the subject is of prime importance. Many hours will be devoted to an A Level Course and there is a much better chance of success if you enjoy the subject. This is particularly important when choosing between the subjects where you find you have a roughly equal ability.
- The level of ability you have already shown in the subject over the previous two years is very significant. You should discuss this with our subject teachers.
- You may be considering plans for Higher Education. There may be required subjects at A Level or even GCSE for such courses. You are advised to check in university prospectuses, which can be found via the UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website: www.ucas.com. For example, Medical Schools require at least an AS Level in Chemistry. Current Dame Alice Owen's students can also browse the University information in the Careers Library, suited in the SALC (Self Access Learning Centre).
- You may feel uncertain about career plans and it is, therefore, advisable to plan subject combinations which keep as many opportunities open as possible.
- Even where you feel reasonably certain about career plans at this stage, it must be recognised that you might change your mind during the next two years. Entry to some courses is highly competitive and progress in the Sixth Form may not match expectation and the original career choice then becomes unrealistic. It is, therefore, unwise to restrict subject choices to one career choice only.
- You are advised to think twice about choosing an A Level subject simply because it is an essential requirement for a certain career. This is particularly true if you do not regard the required subject as very interesting, or if subject teachers predict that the subject is likely to be difficult for you.
- It is normally better to choose three related A Level subjects, e.g. Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, or English, History and French, rather than unrelated ones. However, it is possible to choose subjects from both Arts and Science if career plans are undecided. A choice of a mixture of Arts and Sciences does not usually rule out an Arts Degree, but it may rule out a Science Degree. Geography, Economics and Business Studies are subjects which mix well both Arts and Sciences.
- Now that you are able to choose an extra AS subject, you may like to demonstrate the breadth of your ability, or continue with a subject that has been a particular favourite. You should not feel that all four subjects have to be related.
- Older universities will expect students to have studied four AS's and have at least three A Level passes in today's strong competition for places. For the new universities, either two or three subjects at A Level are required for Degree Courses. One or two A Level passes or their equivalent can qualify students for entry to an HND (Higher National Diploma) course at such institutions. To enter the Sixth Form, however, you have to choose the equivalent of at least three A Level subjects because this improves the likelihood of obtaining the required number of passes.
- Finally, please discuss the choice of A Level subjects with your parents and subject teachers. If you wish to have further advice, please contact our Sixth Form team who will be very happy to guide you through the various options available.
- When considering to study three or four A's we recommend you follow the benchmarks:
- If you are likely to achieve mainly A*, A and B Grades at GCSE, you should think of studying four subjects at A Level (five if one is Further Maths)
- If you are likely to achieve mainly B or C Grades at GCSE, you should start studying three subjects at A Level.
- Make your decision based on the predicted GCSE Grades you are given following your Mock exams.
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