Introducing A levels

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WHAT ARE A LEVELS?

A levels are level 3 qualifications the majority of which are studied in two halves: AS (Advanced Subsidiary) and A2. The AS is a qualification in its own right. A levels take place over two years. In the first year you will normally be asked to choose four subjects at AS level from those listed in this course directory. In the second year you will usually follow three of those subjects at A level. You may also take additional subjects such as GCSEs or enhancement courses.

For entrance to a university degree course a minimum of two A level passes at E or above is usually required. In practice, however, three A levels are often needed. Two AS levels are generally accepted as the equivalent of one A level. For many courses the pass grades need to be very high. For example, entry to courses in Medicine and Veterinary Science often requires passes at grade A or A* in three subjects as well as very good passes at GCSE level. For many careers a minimum of two good advanced level passes is required. Some A levels (Applied A levels) are offered as double awards as well as single awards. Double awards are the equivalent of two A levels and so occupy twice the teaching time of a single A level, so students on these courses will only be able to take one or two additional subjects at A level or GCSE.

Please note: there is no guarantee that a particular course will run if demand is small or the course cannot be staffed. Nor can a place be guaranteed on an oversubscribed course. Similarly, no guarantee can be made that all combinations of subjects will be possible, though every effort will be made to meet individual requirements. This course directory has been prepared on the basis of the latest information available. Some of the information contained may be subject to change due to factors beyond the College’s control.

BTEC LEVEL 3 NATIONAL DIPLOMA QUALIFICATIONS

National Diploma courses are equivalent to 2 A levels and are two-year full time courses, though it is possible to study an additional A level alongside a BTEC level 3 National Diploma. Subjects offered are Applied Science, IT and Sport. Entry requirements for these courses are four passes in GCSE at grade C or above or a Merit in an appropriate Level 2/Intermediate course. BTEC course are changing from September 2016. The majority of BTEC courses will still be assessed through internal assessments but there will also be an element of external assessment in the mandatory units.

ENTRY QUALIFICATIONS

The minimum general requirement for entry to a full time two year Advanced Level course is:

  • seven passes in GCSE at grade C or above (including Maths and English Language) for students wishing to study four AS levels
  • five passes in GCSE at grade C or above (preferably including Maths and English Language) for students wishing to study three AS levels
  • four passes in GCSE at grade C or above (preferably including Maths and English Language) for students wishing to study two AS levels or Applied AS Double Award.

Passes at level 2 in OCR and BTEC qualifications will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE, where appropriate, for entry to Applied A level or BTEC level 3 courses. Subjects may only be studied at A2 level if a grade E or above has been achieved at AS level. Please note: many Advanced level subjects require particular entry qualifications in addition to the above. Please see the individual subject entries in this course directory.

NEW AS AND A LEVEL SPECIFICATIONS

Which AS and A levels are changing?

AS and A level specifications are changing over the next few years. From September 2016 we will be offering new specifications in the following subjects:

French

Geography

Music

Physical Education

Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Studies

Spanish

Theatre Studies

The following subjects changed to new specifications in September 2015:

Art

Biology

Business Studies

Chemistry

Computer Science

Economics

English Language

English Literature

History

Physics

Psychology

Sociology

What are the main changes?

  • A Level qualifications are changing from modular to linear assessment, with exams taking place at the end of the course.
  • The AS is a stand-alone qualification, which doesn’t contribute to the A level grade.
  • In Science subjects, practical coursework will no longer contribute to your AS or A level grade. There will be 12 practical activities across the two-year A level, leading to a separate certificate to endorse practical skills. Exams will test practical knowledge and understanding, with practical-based questions forming 15% of the total A level assessment.
  • We are expecting the remaining AS and A level specifications to be reformed for first teaching in September 2017.