Our aim is to bridge the gap between the guided study of GCSEs and the self-discipline that is necessary to succeed at higher levels. The support and co-operation of tutors and subject teachers ensures that this is a smooth transition.
Students are also encouraged to consider undertaking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), a research-based one year project that involves the preparation of a mini-thesis and a presentation on any chosen topic. We believe that the EPQ provides both a good introduction to university-style academic work as well as the opportunity to differentiate on university or job applications.
The minimum academic standard required for entry into the Sixth Form at St Joseph's is 4 grade B GCSEs for A-level study or 5 grade Cs for BTEC study, in addition to grade 4 GCSEs in both English and Maths.
For an overview of our courses please see below under each subject heading. For full details, please consult our Sixth Form Options booklet.
At St Joseph’s College we study both the AS and A-level courses in Biology. Each is a one year course and is assessed independently – the AS mark does not contribute towards the A-level mark.
The AS course consists of four modules and two exam papers which develop understanding of the foundations of biology, exchange and transport, biodiversity and practical skills.
The A-level builds on that understanding to discover through two modules in greater depth the subjects of communication, homeostasis and energy, and genetics, evolution and ecosystems.
Biology is an excellent A-level if you wish to pursue a career in medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, nursing, psychology, medical sciences, human biology, biological sciences, sport science, agriculture, horticulture, and forestry, or any associated undergraduate courses.
The Business Studies A-level is a useful complement to other A-levels, particularly Mathematics or Economics, and you should have at least a GCSE grade B in English and Mathematics to consider this course.
It consists of one year each of AS and A-level courses in which you will learn about marketing and people, managing business activities, business decision-making and strategy, and the nature of global business.
It is a useful introduction to key concepts in business finance, in entrepreneurship and how businesses are structured and operate in competitive environments.
The course could lead to a degree in general business management, or specialisation in a discipline such as finance, accounting, marketing or HR. It is common for Business Studies to accompany another subject in a combined degree.
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma Sport Science and Coaching
Equivalent to three A-levels, this course is preparation for a career in the sports industry or for entry to a university degree.
Designed for potential athletes in any discipline, the course provides full-time, tailored training in your chosen sport. This will include access to the gym with a personalised strength and conditioning programme.
In addition to developing your competition potential, the course teaches a wide range of sports theory and science, including anatomy, sports psychology, fitness testing and biomechanics.
After successful completion of the course, you may progress to relevant employment, either as a professional sportsperson, sports coach or fitness instructor, or go on to Higher Education.
Level 3 BTEC Applied Science
This provides a progression for those students who wish to carry on studying Science but for whom A-levels are less appropriate. It may be because you prefer a portfolio type of course, you have studied Applied Science at GCSE, you wish to have a more 'hands-on' approach, or you are considering seeking employment within a laboratory setting straight from school rather than going to university.
The course reflects aspects of employment within professional science organisations such as quality control laboratories, research and development, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. Units include Fundamentals of science; Working in the science industry; Science practical techniques; Perceptions of science; Mathematical calculations for science; Using science in the work place; Physiology of human body systems; Medical physics; Chemical laboratory techniques. Students can opt to take the one A-level or two A-level equivalent course.
It will gain you entry to university for a science-based degree but some courses will demand traditional A-levels (e.g. medicine). Applied Science will combine well with Sports Studies and is ideal for students considering the nursing profession.
Level 3 BTEC Business
This course is designed to offer a more practical approach to the study of business. You can opt to take the one A-level or two A-level equivalent course. It is largely coursework-based but there are some examinations. Units will include; Understanding business resources; The principles of marketing; Communications in business; Business accounting; and Starting a small business.
The assignments are based on business scenarios and students are asked to investigate business activities, going on to analyse the success of the activities and in some instances make recommendations. Links are made throughout the course with real-life business situations.
This qualification is designed to prepare a student for entering a business workplace at the age of 18 or to allow a student to go onto to a degree course in Business at university.
The creative industries are an important growth area in the UK, bringing significant cultural and economic benefits. The Level 3 Cambridge Technical in Media offers a wide range of units to reflect the range of opportunities available within the media sector. It is an ideal foundation for students, providing them with understanding of media through engagement with media products, production processes and technologies. You will understand how to plan an advertising campaign for a product, and how to produce print-based advertisements for this product. You will also present your ideas for a print-based advertisement, having the opportunity to make refinements to it from the feedback you receive. This course will combine well with Business Studies, ICT and English Literature.
The course leads to the application of practical and creative skills that transfer easily into the workplace. Equally, however, you will be well equipped to go on to media-based degree courses at university.
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Information Technology
This course is designed for learners who are interested in an introduction to the study of creating IT systems to manage and share information. You will develop a common core of IT knowledge and study areas such as the relationship between hardware and software that form an IT system, managing and processing data to support business, and using IT to communicate and share information.
This course is very practical with plenty of opportunities to implement the theory that you will learn. It is mainly coursework-based, which means that you will have a very clear understanding of your progress throughout the course to help you plan and achieve your next steps. It will combine particularly well with the Creative Media and Business Studies courses.
Students who follow this course progress onto a wide range of courses and careers. These include digital media, information systems, network support, business, accountancy, advertising, TV and film production.
Through AS and A-level courses you will learn foundations of Chemistry, delve further into the periodic table, explore organic and physical chemistry and develop your practical skills.
There are four modules in the AS course and two in the A-level course. Each is assessed through examination, although the A-level includes a practical element which is assessed separately.
Although the coursework is structured, it is advantageous to do some independent research through extra-curricular activities such as science master classes or personal projects.
Chemistry is essential if you are considering a career in medicine, dentistry and physiotherapy and it is useful for nursing, psychology, medical sciences, human biology, biological sciences, sport science, agriculture, horticulture, forestry and associated undergraduate courses. Many of our students go on to study Chemical Engineering having first experienced the wealth of application that a sound knowledge of Chemistry gives.
This course establishes a balance between practical theatre-making and the theoretical understanding of Drama and Theatre. Stimulating and engaging, it encourages you to make connections between dramatic theory and your own practice.
You will study five performance works representing a range of social, historical and cultural contexts. You will also study two influential theatre practitioners (individuals or companies) and produce three performances; one text performance, one devised performance and one performance based on a creative reinterpretation of an extract from a text.
You can follow your own talent or interests in either performance, design or technical aspects of theatre production using the range of facilities available in our performing arts centre. You will produce a final performance and a creative process log both of which are internally assessed and externally moderated.
The course can lead to a place at a dedicated Drama school or a degree course in Drama or Performing Arts at university. The academic aspects of the course make it a valuable qualification towards any degree application for the Humanities. Apart from the entertainments industry, communication and teamwork skills that are developed in Drama are highly valued in people-related careers such as the police, teaching, public relations and social work.
Economics discovers how markets operate, based on the behaviour of companies and consumers. We discuss the strengths and the weaknesses of the market, national and international economies and look at issues such as growth, inflation, unemployment and government policy.
There are many links between economic theories and important news on economic issues and, during the course, we relate much of the syllabus to the news. We also discuss government policies to manage the economy including action to reduce the budget deficit in the United Kingdom. These discussions enable students to make sense of national and international economies.
With its strength of academic content, Economics is an excellent core subject for any student. It forms part of many courses at university, or could open doors to careers in business, the Civil Service, insurance, management and finance.
The two year course of AS and A-levels contains two components, drama and poetry before and after 1900, and comparative and contextual study. A wide range of classic texts from Shakespeare to Bram Stoker explore the scope of literature enabling you to develop your capacity of critical study and expression.
You will learn to read texts in a variety of ways, learning how to respond creatively and critically. You will explore comparisons between texts and different authors and periods, establishing the links and relationships between them, and examining how attitudes and values are expressed through them.
English Literature is a core subject for any further degree study, particularly in the Humanities, primarily due to its development of critical thinking and expression, research discipline and the understanding of how to use quotations and to build and communicate an argument effectively.
A-level Fine Art develops your aesthetic and intellectual capabilities using a range of media and techniques, exploring your talent for self-expression as an artist.
You will produce a coursework portfolio during the course and be assessed on practical work and supporting study. An important component is the personal investigation, which gives you an opportunity to generate and develop ideas, undertake primary and contextual research, experiment with media and processes and to record your observations and reflections.
You will also develop a capacity for critical judgement, learning how to justify ideas and communicate to others your understanding of the context of your work.
Fine Art A-level can lead to further Art and Design courses including degrees and diplomas, or careers in architecture, fashion, advertising, film and TV, graphic design, specialised police professions, specialised insurance, or curation.
The A-level French course develops your GCSE study of the language, concentrating on skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing in French. It also provides further insight into the culture of other countries and encourages you to reflect on various aspects of contemporary society.
The majority of teaching is done in French with a wide range of authentic materials including press and media, literature and film.
An A-level in French can open a wide range of employment prospects and can facilitate foreign travel. As well as being personally rewarding, the qualification is highly regarded by universities and higher education colleges. It can form the basis of a language degree course or is highly compatible with other subjects as part of a modular or joint honours degree.
Geography is an enjoyable subject that enables you to be inspired by your understanding, to engage critically with real world issues and places, and to apply your knowledge, theory and skills to the world around you. It develops independent thinking and understanding of the world’s changing peoples, places and environments.
A mix of fieldwork and theory, research and analysis will engage you from the start in a subject that is enjoyable as well as informative. Course content includes water and carbon cycles, landscape systems, global systems and governance, and forces for change.
Geography is particularly compatible with Science, Mathematics, English, History, Economics and Business Studies. Geography qualifications are valuable in that they have wide scale applications; geographers are broad-based, employable people in industry and administration n sectors including environmental science, ecology, surveying, conservation, geology, tourism, landscape, architecture, meteorology, oceanography, town-planning and transport.
A-level history is both the study of broad themes or timeframes, and the in-depth study of specific issues. Study in breadth includes such sweeping subjects as democracy and empire, or the World Wars and their legacies. The in-depth study is of the Cold War from 1945-1991.
In addition to these important subjects – vital background to developing your understanding of the world today – you will also embark upon your own historical investigation. This personal study will develop your research and analysis skills as you discover the birth and early development of the USA.
History A-level provides the skills and intellectual grounding that will open doors to any arts degree or arts-based career, particularly law, journalism, research, public relations, management, teaching, Civil Service, museum and archive work.
As many as half of the Sixth Form choose to study Mathematics. You will have met, at GCSE, many of the topics to be studied at AS and A-level but these will be extended and studied in greater depth. Exciting and powerful new techniques such as calculus are developed in Core Mathematics and applied to the real world through the study of Mechanics, the study of moving and stationary objects, and Statistics, the study of probability and relationships between quantities. Emphasis is placed on applying knowledge to problem solving, both in Mathematics and in other A-level subjects.
If you are considering taking Mathematics at A-level, you will be expected to gain a GCSE grade A or above in the GCSE Mathematics higher tier or equivalent. If you obtain a grade A* you might be encouraged to consider Further Mathematics.
An AS in Mathematics is very valuable as a supporting subject to many courses at Advanced GCE and degree level, especially in Science, Geography, Sociology and medical courses. There are few areas of employment where Mathematics is anything but an important qualification.
Studying Music at A-level demands a combination of skills and techniques, broadening the subject beyond your mastery of an instrument.
You will begin to learn composition to develop your understanding of the process and your ability to express ideas. Composition subjects might include the traditional, such as chorale and counterpoint, or the contemporary – arrangement and remixing.
You will also develop your capacity for appraisal, in which you will analyse important works. You will learn to evaluate music of different styles and must use specific musical vocabulary to assess and reflect upon the work. Your familiarity with all musical traditions will be an advantage here.
The performance aspect of Music A-level is worth 30% of the overall mark and a high standard is expected. You will be required to perform (either playing, singing, or using music technology) for a total time of eight minutes in the exam, with a repertoire of ABRSM Grade 8.
Music A-level is a flexible subject recognising the diversity of musical styles and traditions right up to contemporary music. It can lead on to further study, a career in teaching or performance, in arts administration, retail or journalism.
Photography records, documents and presents examples of everyday life in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. Through studying Photography you will learn how to convey personal identity more widely than in other art forms, looking at social, commercial and scientific contexts.
You will develop your own talent for Photography in its purest form, whilst also considering the application and implications of new and emerging technologies that can be used in conjunction with traditional and digital photography materials.
Photography complements other A-level courses and could lead to an Art or Design degree or diploma, or a future in architecture, fashion, specialised police professions, specialised insurance, curation, graphic design, ICT-graphics, forensic science, or journalism.
Studying Physics is an attractive option for the adventurous, offering fascinating challenges and many opportunities to engage in problem-solving both during the course and outside school.
You will begin with foundation study of essential concepts then develop your knowledge through further modular study, including: forces and motion; work, energy and power; materials; electrons, waves and photons; astrophysics; particles; and medial physics.
Physics is a vital subject for further science study and for many careers including engineering, theoretical physics, aeronautics, forensic science, medicine and related areas as well as computing, communications and any subject where solid, mathematical analysis is required, for example in accountancy and banking.
This course is designed to provide opportunities for you to develop your creative, technological and entrepreneurial skills. You will produce high quality products, establish a critical understanding of the influences of products and processes and learn to recognise the social, moral and cultural values inherent in any design and technological activity.
This A-level Product Design qualification offers excellent progression from GCSE Product Design. The course structure comprises four units: Advanced Innovation Challenge; Product Study; Design, Make and Evaluate; and Product Design.
This qualification would lead naturally to a wide range of design courses including product design, industrial design, advertising and fashion, but with its broad consideration of communication methods and the impact of technology on society and the environment, it can complement almost any further study or employment. The knowledge and problem-solving skills developed in this course will also give a huge advantage to those going on to take science and engineering qualifications.
Psychology studies the human mind and behaviour. It is a science with cutting edge research that has direct applications to issues in everyday life. If you are fascinated by the idea of understanding the brain, if you want to grasp the complexities of human behaviour, then Psychology A-level is for you.
To study the subject you should be able to learn and memorise terminology, analyse and evaluate scenarios as well as apply the knowledge gained to various aspects of life. There needs to be a high level of commitment and the willingness to work on an ongoing basis. You must learn to express your knowledge effectively in writing using evidence that can be found in theories or studies in Psychology. The subject requires you to master all relevant theories and studies - the crucial elements in Psychology.
Psychology complements all areas and subjects. Its focus on the human mind, behaviour and thinking is of value in many careers, including law, management and human resources. The subject also instils skills in research, data-handling, analysis, communication and organisation that go well beyond the value of the material covered. It is, of course, relevant to those interested in Psychology at degree level, but also popular amongst students who plan to follow other paths. As a university subject, Psychology is popular and graduates enter a wide range of employment sectors, with only a minority pursuing careers in Psychology.
There can be few better subjects to get a thorough understanding of the world around you. Sociology encompasses so much of life that it is hard to conceive of anything it ignores. Key concepts in the operation of society will be discussed during the course including, the family, education, crime, social class, inequality and diversity.
You will encounter and discuss the many Sociology research methods – themselves often the subject of independent study – as well as analysing in-depth the important themes in sociological research.
Sociology is an excellent course that combines well with any other AS or A-level subject. It is useful for a wide range of university degree courses and is of specific use for careers in teaching, civil service, law, management, police, and social work.
Spanish is a language that opens doors around the world as it is the second most widely spoken language after Chinese. The course, which is mostly taught in Spanish, develops your ability in speaking, listening, reading and writing the language.
In addition to coursework texts you will use native language materials to explore the culture as well as the language, broadening your understanding of society and different contexts of the language.
In the final paper for the A-level you will write an extended essay either in a discursive or an imaginative style, displaying your flair for the language acquired during the course.
An A-level in Spanish can form the basis of a language degree course or is highly compatible with other subjects as part of a modular or joint honours degree course, such as Engineering, Law, Science, Business, Teaching, Journalism, Leisure and Tourism, Art and Design and Media subjects. Having an additional language is highly likely to enhance your earnings capability.