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Academic Options

what's in this section

 

We offer a wide range of subjects and qualifications in Sixth Form, including A-Levels, BTECs, Leiths, the EPQ and more. We aim to be as flexible as possible with regard to your subject choices; allowing you to build a programme of study that is right for you. 

You can learn more about each subject option and meet the teacher delivering each course from the expandable option boxes below. 

Every student in our 2020 Year 13 cohort was accepted by their first choice university, going on to study a huge variety of subjects including Medicine, Sports Science, Law, Architecture and much more.

Biology - A-Level

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject?

We live in a world driven by science. Biology is a constantly evolving subject, endeavouring to stay up-to-date with modern developments and applications.

In the two- year course topics on cell biology, including structure and functioning along with biological molecules, membranes and cell division are covered in the first year, as well as exchange and transport, ecology, biodiversity and communicable diseases. The second year looks at homeostasis, cell communication and energy, to include photosynthesis and respiration, nervous and hormonal communication and plant and animal responses as well as genetics and ecosystems.

The A-Level qualification consists of three papers. Students also complete designated practicals which are assessed in the written papers, leading to a practical endorsement at the end of the course.

What can I do to prepare for this course?

  • Read relevant scientific articles over the summer.
  • Study the “head start” material as preparation for A-Level Biology.

What will my next steps be?

Biology is a useful area of study for those considering careers in medicine, veterinary science, pharmacology, physiotherapy or teaching. Careers in conservation, land management and research are also pertinent.

The possession of any science A-Level says something about a student’s ability to handle information, process and analyse it and draw conclusions. There are many professional fields such as law, media, health care and business that see these as invaluable skills.                           

Business - BTEC

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject? 

An aspiration for many young people is to be self-employed and start their own business. The skills required for this, such as being able to work collaboratively and creatively, solve problems and have awareness of businesses and customers, are also those requested by employers.

Level 3 Business allows students to get to grips with key aspects of running small businesses with a focus on enterprise and marketing.

The course is designed with the workplace and progression to higher education in mind and provide a high-quality alternative to A Levels at level 3.

This course is 100% coursework.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

In order to be prepared to take Level 3 Business having an interest in the wider world will help. Keep up to date with changing products and understand the motivations behind consumer choice and corporate social responsibility by reading newspapers and listening to the news. Undertaking work experience during the summer holidays once GCSE exams have finished will give you a really good insight into the world of work and the pressures businesses face. 

What will my next steps be? 

In addition to the business sector knowledge, the requirements of the qualification mean that students develop transferable and higher-order skills that are highly regarded by both higher education institutions and employers. This qualification, when studied with other Level 3 qualifications, is designed primarily to support progression to employment after further study at university. However, it can also support students progressing to employment directly, or via an apprenticeship. It will give the successful student the transferable knowledge, understanding and skills that will be an advantage in applying for a range of industry linked training programmes or apprenticeships in a sector of their choice. 

Chemistry - A-Level

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject?

This course will try to give you the skills and understanding to make decisions about the way chemistry affects your everyday life by applying concepts into contemporary areas of chemistry including climate change, green chemistry and pharmaceuticals to name but a few. During the two year course you will also carry out 16 Core Experiments which will lead to a Practical Endorsement in Chemistry.

A-Level You will complete three written exams:

  • Paper 1: Advanced Inorganic and Physical Chemistry
  • Paper 2: Advanced Organic and Physical Chemistry
  • Paper 3: General and Practical Principles in Chemistry

What can I do to prepare for this course?

The qualification builds on the knowledge, understanding and process skills that you achieved in GCSE Combined Science or GCSE Chemistry. In chemistry, you will need to be able to communicate effectively, be able to carry out research, work independently and critically think about problems. Good practical skills are also important as chemistry is a very practical subject.

What will my next steps be?

An A-Level in Chemistry allows you to develop a range of generic skills requested by both employers and universities. For instance, a successful A-Level chemist will be an effective problem-solver and be able to communicate efficiently both orally and with the written word. Handling data will be a key part of your work, allowing you to demonstrate information retrieval skills as well as use of numeracy. Chemistry A-Level is a requirement for a number of higher education courses such at medicine and veterinary science, but it is also a facilitating subject preferred by universities for the majority of degrees. Speak to your chemistry teacher and to find out more about careers involving GCE Chemistry visit websites such as: successatschool.org/advicedetails/331/Five-Exciting-Career-Choices-For-Chemistry-Students

Children's Play, Learning and Development - BTEC

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject? 

Students taking this qualification will study the following three mandatory units:

• Children’s Development

• Development of Children’s Communication, Literacy and Numeracy Skills

• Play and Learning. Students will complete 50 hours of work experience in the sector.

Students are able to select one optional unit, which supports their progression to specialised degree programmes within the sector and covers areas such as:

  • Keeping Children Safe
  • Children’s Physical Development, Care and Health Needs
  • Working with Parents and Others in Early Years
  • The Early Years Foundation Stage

The course is broken down into two internally and two externally assessed units. The external exams can either be taken in the January or June of either year. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

In order to be prepared to take BTEC Children’s Learning, Play and Development having an interest in working with children is important. Undertaking work experience during the summer holidays once GCSE exams have finished, actively getting involved with Westonbirt Prep School during term time or even babysitting will give you a really good insight into working with young children.

What will my next steps be? 

This qualification is designed primarily to support progression to employment via higher education; however, this qualification will also be relevant for those choosing to progress directly to employment through an Early Years Educator Apprenticeship.

Classical Civilisation - A-Level

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject?

Classical Civilisation at A-Level offers students the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the roots of our own Western culture. Even today we are surrounded by the continuing traditions, which emerged from the extraordinary social, literary, scientific and political experiments sparked off by the Greeks, then picked up and disseminated by the Romans.

Students doing this subject will be willing to engage with the literature and ideas of this Classical world, as well as being open to wider reading and exploring all manner of strands of investigation.

Topics studied are: The World of the Hero, in other words, a study of Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid – and a choice from: Greek theatre, Imperial image, Greek art, Politics of the Late Republic, Democracy and the Athenians.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Be prepared to do some serious holiday reading on all sorts of subjects from the Classical world, watch some documentaries, and immerse yourself in anything Greek or Roman.

What will my next steps be?

Although the opportunities that arise directly from Classical Civilisation A-Level are not obvious, the subject is well recognised as a solid grounding for a number of other academic studies, including, of course, ancient history and archaeology, but also feeding into journalism and careers in the arts generally.

Computing - BTEC

Exam Board - EDEXCEL/PEARSON

What can I expect from this subject? 

The course is designed for students who are interested in learning about the more fundamental areas of computing, such as programming and network security, alongside other more practical and creative units.

The modules covered during the course are:

  • Principles of Computer Science
  • Fundamentals of Computer Systems
  • IT Systems Security and Encryption
  • Website Development*

Assessment is through a combination of external exams and internally set assignments.

*This unit has been the most popular option in the past, but other units may be chosen such as Computer Game Development, Digital Graphics and Animation or Mobile Apps Development.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Having a genuine interest in computing and a desire to learn more about it is really important. It is not a requirement to have studied the subject at GCSE, but you are expected to have achieved grade 5 (or equivalent) in both GCSE Maths and English. You could update your knowledge by reading computing magazines and online news (e.g. Computing, Computer active, WebUser and others) and watching technology related programmes (e.g. BBC Click). Working through tutorials at the W3 schools website for Python, HTML/CSS and Java will help to develop your coding skills. www.w3schools.com

What will my next steps be? 

On successful completion, you could progress onto full-time higher education for a Degree/Foundation Degree/HND including Computer Science, Information Systems, Cyber Security, Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence or Health Informatics.

Employment and apprenticeship possibilities include Business or Data Analyst, Network Security Analyst, Web Developer, Software Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst.

Alternatives 

If students wish to follow a more traditional A-Level, then OCR A-Level computer science is an alternative option for the appropriate candidates.

Dance and Performing Arts - Cambridge Technical

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject? 

Cambridge Technicals are vocational qualifications at Level 3 for students aged 16+. The Dance pathway will prepare students for the demands and exhilaration of showcasing live dance performance. They will focus on building a strong foundation in dance techniques and gaining a real insight into the realities of life as a dancer. They will also have the opportunities to develop choreography skills and immerse themselves in professional dance works in order to understand how they are structured. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Dance regularly! This is a vocational course, so you need to be actively dancing and enjoying movement.

What will my next steps be? 

A Level 3 Award in Dance can lead onto many next steps; Teacher Training in Performing Arts, Dance and Physical Education, a Performer, Dance Psychologist, Movement Therapy, Health & Fitness Instructor, Music Teacher and much more.

Drama and Theatre Studies - A-Level

An Introduction to A-Level Drama & Theatre Studies from Westonbirt School on Vimeo.

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject?

This course assesses your engagement with play texts and your practical skills as an actor, designer or director. You will also experience opportunities of live theatre. The theoretical and practical elements of A-Level Drama and Theatre make it both a challenging and a very rewarding subject. It is by no means a soft option. We want you to have an inspiring experience of A-Level Drama and Theatre. This qualification, with AQA, emphasises practical creativity alongside research and theoretical understanding. The best way to learn is through experience; seeing theatre and making theatre for yourself. This is a subject that will provide challenge, but enormous amounts of enjoyment. A-Level Drama and Theatre is assessed through a written examination and a series of practical performances supported by a working notebook and a reflective report.

What can I do to prepare for this course?

Drama GCSE gives a starting point but is not essential. However, an interest in live theatre is vital. Grade 7 or better in English GCSE is a good foundation for A-Level Drama and Theatre: you will have studied drama texts from a literary perspective and developed essay writing skills that will prove fundamental to success at A-Level. Opportunities for theatre and costume design is a real plus if you have done well in Art at GCSE.

What will my next steps be?

If aiming at drama school, this course is incredibly useful, and good preparation for drama or creative writing at university. Those considering joint courses in English and drama should consider studying both subjects at A-Level. Science students find this A-Level an attractive option as a fourth subject to be jettisoned or retained into the second year of A-Level. It provides breadth when it comes to university applications and offers variety to an A-Level programme.

 

English Language - A-Level

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject?

English Language changes the way you think, speak and write – the A-Level will help you become a more global citizen and prepare you for the realities of the word. The course includes the study of the origin of language and how it has changed through time – from cave drawings to tweeting; how gender, race and class shape language use; how we learn to speak and develop our language from infancy to adulthood and how biology, evolution, psychology and history have all shaped communication and the way we think. It teaches you to consider the meanings, origins and purpose of language in all its forms and helps you create new ways to communicate for every context. The A-Level also includes opportunities for creating a diverse portfolio, such as articles, short stories, reviews and even children books.

The course has 2 exams and 2 pieces of coursework across the 2 years.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Wider reading is highly recommended – honing the skill of close reading and understanding a variety of texts is key to success in Language. We recommend students purchase a copy of David Crystal’s ‘The Story of English in 100 Words’ and ‘A Little Book of Language’ for summer reading to develop their GCSE foundation knowledge of terminology and the history of language.

 Furthermore, reading non-fiction and fiction texts are equally beneficial and some students really enjoy, and make excellent progress, due to subscriptions such as the New Yorker, the White Review and the Paris Review

What will my next steps be?

English Language at A-Level is a prestigious award that can build intellect, communication and literacy skills and language manipulation required for nearly all career paths. As such it is highly valuable across the board. However, some students follow a specific path into degrees and careers such as law, psychology, history, linguistics, language therapy, journalism in all its forms, teaching, writing, editing, marketing, advertising, publishing, scriptwriting and media production.

FAQs for English Language:

Grades at GCSE - what will I need? 

  • Grade 6 and above in English Language are required for this A level. Grade 5 in English Literature is also required.

What is the A level workload - what are the prep expectations and revision hours required?

  • You will receive 2 pieces of prep a week - one will be extensive, such as research or an essay, and the other will be briefer, such as annotating or short wider reading. Deadlines are fair and in accordance with time required for the task. You should always spend at least 2 hours a week revising class notes.

What skills are necessary for this A level?

  • A passion for discussion and an open mind are both vital in developing your critical thinking skills. You should enjoy and be capable of analysing texts in detail; looking at etymology and techniques and how they impact readers' responses. An interest in the modern world, history and media is also key!

English Literature - A-Level

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject?

English Literature is a subject that is set to challenge your conceptions about society, history, and yourself. It is a subject that often brings out deeply personal responses and affects the way we view our own experiences as well as the world around us. A-Level Literature seeks to expose you to authors from the canon of English Literature, like Shakespeare, to more global and inclusive texts which can challenge your views on what art and literature and life can be like. There is an emphasis on the subject of developing a personal relationship with the texts and genres we study. The course requires that you study eight texts over two years – 2 selections of poetry, 4 novels and 2 drama texts – and consists of 3 exams and 1 piece of coursework

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Wider reading is highly recommended – honing the skill of reading and understanding a variety of texts is key to success in Literature. Reading non-fiction and fiction texts are equally beneficial and some students really enjoy and make excellent progress, due to subscriptions such as the New Yorker, the White Review and the Paris Review. Please see or email Miss T Sheehan (Head of English) for your year’s specific reading list as we do change units and set texts per year group: tabatha.sheehan@westonbirtschool.uk

What will my next steps be? 

English Literature at A-Level is a prestigious award that can build literary and literacy skills required for nearly all career paths. As such it is highly valued across the board. However, some students follow a specific Literary path into degrees and careers such as law, journalism in all its forms, teaching, writing, editing, marketing, advertising, publishing, scriptwriting and media production.

FAQs for English Literature:

Grades at GCSE - what will I need? 

  • Grade 6 and above in English Literature are required for this A level. Grade 5 in English Language is also required.

What is the A level workload - what are the prep expectations and revision hours required?

  • You will receive 2 pieces of prep a week - one will be extensive, such as research or an essay, and the other will be briefer, such as annotating or short wider reading. Deadlines are fair and in accordance with time required for the task. You should always spend at least 2 hours a week revising class notes.

What skills are necessary for this A level?

  • A passion for discussion and an open mind are both vital in developing your critical thinking skills. You should enjoy and be capable of reading and analysing texts in detail, as well as considering meanings and techniques in various manners. An interest in compassion and our global society; the literary canon and philosophy is also key! 

 

Fine Art - A-Level

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject?

The fine art course at A-Level provides students with the opportunity to learn and develop a range of skills in relation to drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media. Students’ studio-based practice is contextualised with educational visits to exhibitions of historical and contemporary art. Visiting artists and tutors will expand student experience and skills.

The course aims to develop strong independent points of view and a mature grasp of the range of critical debate surrounding contemporary art and its many international histories. The course will help equip students to become motivated and resourceful learners with a good sense of how to organise their time. The fine art programme provides students with the opportunity to express themselves imaginatively and creatively using a range of media. It is a demanding course but very enjoyable and rewarding.

The course consists of one coursework project 60% and one exam project 40%

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Visit galleries and see as much artwork in the flesh as possible.
  • Read books about art and artists and articles discussing current themes in art or current artists work.
  • Follow art galleries on social media e.g. Tate, National Gallery etc.
  • Practice your skills: draw/paint/sculpt as much as possible

What will my next steps be? 

In our increasingly visual world, strong skills in visual literacy and communication are highly prized in a wide range of fields. In addition, seemingly unrelated areas of study have valued the many transferable skills you will learn, for example it has often benefitted those as far removed as future medical students.

For those interested in a creative career having this qualification enables students to progress to a more specialist area within Art and Design such as Animation, Advertising, Architecture, Fashion Design, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Special Effects for Film and TV, Photography, 3D Design, Sculpture, Textiles and many more.

FAQs for Fine Art:

Grades at GCSE - what will I need?

  • You will need a grade 5 or higher in GCSE Art and Design.

What skills are necessary for this A level?

  • A good eye for detail
  • Good visual communication skills
  • A creative and curious mind
  • A willingness to experiment
  • A strong interest in the subject

Geography - A-Level

Exam Board - EDUQAS

What can I expect from this subject?

Geography is an absolutely vital subject to help us understand the rapidly evolving world of the 21st century and the social, economic and environmental challenges which face us. In this two-year, A-Level course you can expect to study academic and contemporary geography. Geography ranges from the traditional physical geography of glaciers and volcanoes to the more modern study of changing places and global systems. All of this study is underpinned by an understanding of the different skills both mathematical and literary, which underpin the subject, as well as a theoretical analysis of the understanding of place and how it affects our lives and wellbeing. This course is composed of 20% coursework and 80% examination.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Maximise your geographical knowledge and understanding literacy by reading a variety of novels and non-fiction texts
  • Always keep a constant watch on the news, both print and TV.
  • If possible, travel as much as you can, explore your local area and new places and be inquisitive.
  • Always be asking questions of the places you go and landscapes you see – who, where, why, what and how?
  • Take part in the annual Young Geographer of the Year competition run by the RGS. This year’s theme is ‘The geography beyond my window?’

What will my next steps be?

Many students go on to study at higher education institutes using their Geography A-Level, reading subjects such as geography, international development, as well as a healthy combination of joint honours courses. Many Westonbirt students have gone on to have very successful careers in a variety of geography-related jobs. Geography is a useful course for those who want to keep their options open for a wide range of professional careers but also lends itself to planning, event management, law, environmental engineering and journalism.

History - A-Level

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject?

Other subjects teach you the answers, but history teaches you to ask the questions. During the course, students learn how to evaluate evidence, assess the significance of events & individuals, produce informed arguments and plan a comprehensive historical investigation. Our two-year A-Level History course helps you to develop a range of skills that will enable you to understand past issues in terms of their causation, significance and how events piece together. We start by looking at the system of apartheid in South Africa and how this unjust practice came into being as well as what life was like in this regime and how it broke down. The breadth of your study is then widened with a study of the later Tudor monarchs and their rule. Year 13 builds upon these units with a study of the Middle East between 1908 and 2011.

Examination: 80%

Coursework: 20%

What can I do to prepare for this course?

  • Keep an eye on the news, especially concerning events in the Middle East and South Africa.
  • Have a look on YouTube for any interesting lectures (by people such as Avi Shlaim or Ilan Pappe).
  • There are lots of podcasts on a range of historical topics.
  • Read some historical fiction, such as ‘Wolf Hall’, any by Robert Harris, The Kite Runner etc.

What will my next steps be?

Many of our students have gone on to read straight history, international relations, law, international development and journalism at university. History equips you especially well to challenge evidence, form logical and well-reasoned arguments, which makes it a well-suited subject for a broad range of subjects. 

 

Hospitality - BTEC

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject? 

You can expect to learn a great deal about all aspects of the hospitality business. We need to complete six units, all of which are assessed through assignments – there are NO EXAMS on this course. You will need to carry out work experience and keep a diary of your progress, so you need to be prepared to go out to a hotel, restaurant or guesthouse and get involved in the organisation and running of a commercial operation. You will need to plan and run your own event here in school so will need, as a team, to work to a client ‘brief’ and budget to create a good event. You will have your own area of responsibility within the event team. We will visit and assess a range of hospitality premises to get a feel for what is needed to run a successful hospitality business

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Be aware of your interaction with the hospitality industry. Every time you buy a coffee you are interacting with the business! Look at service, quality of products and efficiency of systems. Be aware of news stories linked to hospitality – both good and bad. If you go to a hotel, coffee shop or restaurant, look at its reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor. Do you agree with the reviews posted? Next time you are at a function or event, look at what is going on around you – think – is it going well? Or, could it be done better?

What will my next steps be? 

A BTEC in Hospitality could lead you into a career in event management or many other aspects of the hospitality industry. It could open doors to travelling and working abroad – after all, hospitality is a worldwide business. You could study hospitality or event management as degree level subjects. If you make a good impression at your work experience placement, that could even lead to a job.

 

Latin - A-Level

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject?

Latin is a stimulating and challenging subject for students who wish to build on the knowledge they gained at GCSE. At A-Level, Latin pushes students into a deeper understanding of a language and a culture that continues to be the cornerstone of our culture, our language and even our political discourse. Students who take Latin beyond GCSE will be keen to explore this ancient and beautiful language in much more detail, as well as willing to engage with the literature and ideas of the Classical world. A-Level Latin have recently undergone some minor reforms, though the areas of competence are in essence similar to those tested in earlier curricula. There are four exams, two for the literature studied (prose and verse) and two for language.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Be prepared to go over all the grammar already encountered at GCSE, which serves as the basis for everything that occurs at A-Level. And do some holiday reading into the Classical world, watch some documentaries, immerse yourself in anything Greek or Roman.

What will my steps be? 

Although the opportunities which arise directly from Latin A-Level are not obvious, the subject is well recognised as a superb grounding for a number of other academic studies, including, of course, Languages, but also feeding into journalism, law and careers in the arts generally.

Leiths Certificate in Food and Wine

What can I expect from this subject? 

In this 5-term course, you can expect to be introduced to a wealth of ingredients and given the confidence and knowledge to use them with care to create great food, whether working independently or collaboratively. You will cook a wide variety of dishes, learning and practising a wide range of skills. You will get very good at organising your time, planning ahead, multi-tasking and prioritising. You will be expected to meet high professional standards in the finish, taste and presentation of your food. You will have a full set of chef’s kit and your own set of professional knives. You will also complete written assignments, tests and coursework to underpin your practical skills. You can expect to achieve your Leiths certificate and earn up to 36 UCAS points with a Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

So long as you cook, I don’t really mind what you cook. Cook what you like to eat – take photographs of what you cook and assess your dishes; the failures are almost more important than the successes. Try to make more than 1 thing at a time – try to organise your order so they are ready to serve together. Try new foods and new recipes; be aware of what foods are in season and think about where foods come from. Think of your ‘food-miles’ and start with what is produced closest to home. Care about food.

What will my next steps be? 

If you can cook, you can earn money! With your Leiths certificate, you can access the ‘Leiths List’ which is a job agency solely for those who hold Leiths qualifications and posts job opportunities both short and long-term, in the UK and abroad. It is a great way to earn money during university holidays or your gap year. Or you may decide to take it further. You could go on to Leiths in London and study for 2 further terms (full-time) to complete the full Leiths Diploma. Whatever else you do in your life, you need to know how to cook!

Mathematics and Further Mathematics - A-Level

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject?

By studying A-Level Mathematics, you will:

  • Learn to apply rules and concepts to solve practical problems;
  • Analyse situations and learn to discern efficient strategies for finding effective solutions;
  • Use calculators and technology to manipulate and interpret large data sets.

The subject is rigorous, but it is also rewarding on many levels. The content is largely pure maths based (Trigonometry, Algebra, Calculus), but there are also compulsory Statistics as well as Mechanics modules. The course is examined by the completion of three papers at the end of Year 13.

What can I do to prepare for this course?

Being fluent and confident in the higher end GCSE Algebra and Numbers is key. Know how to manipulate and rationalise surds and work with the index laws. Be confident in using the quadratic formula, factorising, completing the square and sketching graphs. Keep practising over the summer and use the Westonbirt summer transition pack to prepare. All candidates with be expected to have a Casio FXCG50 graphical calculator. These can be ordered through the school – usually at a discounted price.

What will my next steps be? 

Mathematics is a highly regarded subject and will be valued by any future employer or further educator. Typical career paths include engineering, finance, business, pure maths and actuarial sciences, medicine, natural sciences as well as IT. Of course, there is also the option to teach this essential subject.

Media Studies - A-Level

Exam Board - EDUQAS

What can I expect from this subject?

The world around us is changing faster than anyone could imagine, and it is near impossible to keep up with. Media studies is an investigation of that world and the way it has been represented to us. In this two-year, A-Level course you can expect to study the way in which different media products and forms are created, the industries behind those creations, as well as the audiences they are intended for. Media forms range from more traditional industries, such as newspapers and radio, to the more modern forms of online media and video games. All of this study is underpinned by an understanding of the different theories that exist on the production and consumption of media, as well as a theoretical analysis of gender, culture and race. This course is composed of 30% coursework and 70% examination.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Maximise your media literacy by accessing a huge variety of media forms.
  • Keep a constant watch on the news.
  • If possible, purchase/borrow a digital SLR camera and practise taking both stills and video. This will be an important tool for your coursework.
  • Download a free trial of Photoshop and have a play; YouTube has many great tutorials for this. You would benefit from buying this software when completing your coursework

What will my next steps be? 

Many students go on to study at higher education institutes using their Media Studies A-Level, reading subjects such as media and communication, business studies, or even wildlife media production. Some attend Further Education institutes and work with the subject in more practical terms such as filmmaking, production, editing or even camera work. Media studies is a useful course for those who want a career within a media industry, but also lends itself to marketing, sales, advertising, publishing and journalism. While building up a bank of skills including high-level evaluation and more practical production skills, candidates maximise their employability. 

 

Modern Foreign Languages - A-Level

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject?

Why study modern foreign languages? Well, the answer is simple, because you will grow in independence, in resilience and tolerance. You may catch the travel bug or decide at a later stage in your life to work abroad for a while. With one or even two modern foreign languages in your personal bag, you will find yourself well prepared for any form of short or long-term adventure.

The current French and Spanish A-Levels offer a vast specification based on the study of either French or Spanish speaking countries. Your vocabulary will widen considerably, you will become almost fluent and will understand and communicate effectively with native speakers: by the end of the course you will not need a translator! The topics are relevant to today’s societies and will give you insights into their social and artistic world as well as into the problems they face currently in politics, the environment, or the economy. You will learn about their leaders, their role-models, their heroes, their history and famous literary figures.

On a more mundane level, your four traditional skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing will be tested, but this time they will be integrated. There are three papers in which you will have to showcase your higher-level analytical and translation skills.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Immerse yourself in your chosen language in the summer holidays prior to starting the course.

  • Read your set texts over the summer holidays.
  • Go on a grammar course in your chosen foreign country and practise.
  • When abroad, don’t be shy. Get involved and ask how to say things, insist on speaking the native language.
  • Go to the cinema, or access Netflix and watch foreign films in the original language

What will my next steps be? 

You will find that one or two modern foreign languages form a very good base for almost every university course. Modern languages A-Level courses are very much valued because of the high-level analytical skills required. Pure language courses are, of course, available and you can become a specialist who will cascade your knowledge and passion to the next generations, but you could also be tempted by combined courses with business studies, economics, law or journalism. So, you could look forward to careers in law, medicine, teaching, cinema and theatre. Careers such as reporters, foreign/war correspondents and politicians may hold some appeal for you too.

Music - A-Level

Exam Board - AQA 

What can I expect from this subject?

Music is constantly evolving; inspiring creativity and expression in a way that no other subject can. A-Level Music is a course that brings listening, performing and composition to life in a new and engaging way, linking to the world around us like never before. Over the two-year course pupils will develop transferable skills such as:

  • Independent learning; having to be disciplined about practice and wider listening.
  • Team work; having to contribute to weekly ensembles, concerts and performances.
  • Performance and presentation skills which are useful for any job/career.
  • Analytical and essay-writing skills.
  • Confidence and self-esteem; which has a knock-on effect in all areas of life.

A-Level Music is a practical course split into three components: Appraising Music, Performance and Composition. Students will study Western Classical Music and two of the following topics: Pop music, Music for Media, Music for Theatre, Jazz, Contemporary Traditional Music and Art Music since 1910. Students will prepare a 10-minute performance as either a soloist or as part of an ensemble and submit two compositions.

What can I do to prepare for this course?

In order to study A-Level Music, students must be working towards Grade 5 on their principle instrument (including voice) and be equivalent to Grade 4 music theory. Students can prepare for the course by taking theory lessons and/or use theory books to revise to this level. Listening to a wide range of repertoire and seeing an array of live music will also be of benefit.

What will my next steps be? 

Students who study A-Level Music can go on to study a Music degree or joint honours at university which can lead to a future career in music and teaching. Other options include: training as a music therapist or private tutor and there are a range of careers in arts administration, the music industry or in music venues. Other popular destinations for music graduates include: broadcasting, publishing, law, politics and arts and the creative industries.

Philosophy Ethics & Religion - A-Level

Exam Board - EDUQAS

What can I expect from this subject? 

How does society decide what is right and wrong? Are there moral absolutes – e.g. is murder always wrong? Or does it depend on the situation you are in what decision you should make? Does religion have any right to influence the laws in areas such as euthanasia, abortion or capital punishment? These are just some of the issues which we will study in this A-Level. You will need to be prepared to read around the topic areas studied in this qualification and to prepare for three exams at the end of the A-Level (there is no coursework). Engaging in critical thinking, essay writing and debating these issues are key parts of this course.

What can I do to prepare for this course?

A GCSE in Religious Studies is helpful, but not an absolute requirement. To prepare for the course, you can engage in current issues revolving around religion. For example, what impact is the structured secularisation which is occurring in France having on society as a whole? You can also read the book Sophie’s World which is an excellent introduction to philosophy.

What will my next steps be? 

This qualification is excellent for anyone wishing to study philosophy at undergraduate level and beyond. It also supports those wishing to move on and study other humanities subjects at university, and also subjects such as politics. The critical thinking skills which are integral to this course are valuable for all undergraduate study.

Psychology - A-Level

Exam Board - EDUQAS/WJEC

What can I expect from this subject? 

Why do some people develop conditions like schizophrenia when other people don’t? What makes us feel disgust or love? Do we have a mind separate to our brain? With Psychology A-Level you will explore these kinds of questions, examining different ways in which research is conducted to discover why and how we think, feel and behave. You’ll look at psychological studies and therapies from the past to present day and focus in on several behaviours, including addiction and crime. Assessment is by three exams.

What can I do to prepare this course? 

Watch the top 20 TED talks of all time - most are related to psychology! Explore the British Psychological Society website for recent articles. Check out news websites every day and make sure you find the original piece of research linked to the headlines, read the abstract to understand the new research in more depth.

What will my next steps be?

At university, you could go on to study psychology or specialise in a particular field of Psychology, e.g. Forensics. Study of Psychology could be combined with other subjects and lead onto a wide range of careers, such as sports psychologist, educational psychologist in schools, drama therapist, prison wardens, a range of jobs in health care related areas, or even marketing.

Photography - A-Level

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject? 

Photography provides you with an opportunity to engage with the world and the people in it through expressing yourself and your ideas. You will be taught a variety of creative techniques and processes in art, design and photography. Coursework will include the use of camera equipment, studio work and computer software presentation skills, and building a portfolio and sketchbook of creative ideas and personal project work.

The course aims to develop strong independent points of view and a mature grasp of the range of critical debate surrounding contemporary art and photography. The course will help equip students to become motivated and resourceful learners with a good sense of how to organise their time. The photography programme provides students with the opportunity to express themselves imaginatively and creatively. Studio coursework and personal practice is contextualised with regular visits to exhibitions of contemporary work.

The course consists of one coursework project 60% and one exam project 40%.

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Visit galleries and see as much printed photography in the flesh as possible.
  • Read books about artists and photographers. Read articles discussing current themes in art/photography or current photographers work.
  • Follow galleries on social media e.g. Tate, The Photographer’s Gallery etc.
  • Practice your photography.
  • Download a free trial of Photoshop and have a play; YouTube has many great tutorials for this. 

What will my next steps be? 

Having an A-Level in a creative subject is an essential starting point if students want to pursue art and design. Having this qualification enables students to progress to a more specialist area within Art and Design such as animation, advertising, fashion communication, fine art, graphic design, special effects for film and TV, photography and more.

FAQs for Photography:

Grades at GCSE - what will I need?

  • You will need a grade 5 or higher in GCSE Art and Design or Photography.

What skills are necessary for this A level?

  • A good eye for detail
  • Good visual communication skills
  • A creative and curious mind
  • A willingness to experiment
  • A strong interest in the subject

 

Physics - A-Level

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject?

Physics has no limits – physics seeks to explain everything in your life, from quarks to quasars; on this planet, other planets, to the far reaches of the universe and beyond. You will already be familiar with many of the topics that you will study, including forces, waves, radioactivity, electricity and magnetism. At A-Level, you’ll look at these areas in more detail and find out how they are interconnected. You will also learn how to apply Maths to real-world problems and explore new areas such as Particle Physics, and Cosmology. Perhaps more importantly, you will develop skills that can be transferred to just about any other area of work, from setting up a business to saving the planet. Learning to think like a physicist will help you get to the root of any problem and draw connections that aren’t obvious to others. Physics won’t give you all the answers, but it will teach you how to ask the right questions. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

You will need to have good prior knowledge of maths and hhysics; this will usually mean you have excellent grades in GCSE Physics or Combined Science, and in GCSE Mathematics as well. Prior to Year 12 we will send you a Headstart Guide to Physics and you will be expected to have a good understanding of the content in this book. Watching YouTube videos on physics, for example on the channel ‘minutephysics’, will help you build your general physics knowledge. To be successful at A-Level Physics you will have to be organised, proactive, resilient and willing to ask questions.

What will my next steps be? 

If you study physics you can go on to follow a wide variety of careers and Higher Education courses, including: medicine, astrophysics, law, media and TV, renewable energy, mechanical engineer, architecture, accountant, particle physicist, publishing, environment and climate scientist, computer games development, sound engineering, music producing, satellite engineer, and a wide variety of other areas and roles. In recent years students at Westonbirt who have studied A-Level Physics have gone on to read medicine, biological engineering, architecture, actuarial studies, pharmacy, veterinary science, maths and physics, geography and electrical engineering.

 

Sport - BTEC

Exam Board - PEARSON

What can I expect from this subject? 

Sport BTEC provides the equivalent UCAS points of one full A-Level. Students will be graded as Pass, Merit or Distinction throughout the course. During the two-year period, students are required to complete two examinations and a series of report type assignments.

You will learn essential skills such as:

  • Training for personal fitness.
  • Designing, executing and evaluating a variety of training programmes.
  • Encouraging sports participation.
  • Organising and leading events.
  • Developing an understanding of anatomy and physiology.
  • Developing knowledge of nutrition and dietetics

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Prior to starting the course, you will be issued with a comprehensive text book and are required to prepare a foundation level presentation ready for the start of the course. This requires background reading but guidance is given.

What will my next steps be?

Most students who undertake BTEC Sport are considering a variety of careers which they can access

through university or training programmes.

  • Sports Medicine
  • Sport Management
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports Science
  • Physical Education Teaching
  • Personal Health and Fitness
  • Sports and Leisure
  • Sports Therapy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Sports Psychology
  • Sports Official
  • Media and Public Relations
  • Sports Marketing
  • Sports Research
  • Sports Journalism
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