A Level and Sixth Form Subjects
The choice of A Level subjects (and the combination of subjects) needs to be considered in the light of potential university and career aspirations. Thus advice here covers both the selection of A levels and the impact of this on degree course selection. We consider A level to be the best preparation for entry to a university course or a career, as well as being most suited to our core principle: enabling each student to construct a personal academic profile that:
- offers proper intellectual challenge;
- suits individual aptitudes and goals.
We Offer a Wide Range of A Level Subjects
Please see the list of all of our Sixth Form subjects below, including subject by subject information. More detailed information and course content is available in the Sixth Form Subject Guide on this page.
In Considering Your Sixth Form Course, it is Important to:
- choose subjects which you really enjoy and want to study;
- choose subjects for which you have some aptitude;
- choose subjects which enable you to build an academic profile suited to your eventual university or career aspirations;
- think carefully about a subject which you have not taken for GCSE such as Psychology, Economics or Business Studies, to make sure that you understand what the course demands.
Think carefully about the combination of subjects. The flexibility of our A level structure enables you to select from 23 subjects. Thus you can construct an A level course that:
The Art Department is located within a new purpose built centre where drawing, painting, fashion, printmaking, ceramics, life drawing, photographs, graphics, film and sculpture are produced in class and activity times. Normally a good GCSE grade in Art is expected of a prospective A Level candidate. Most subjects combine well with Art and all but a very few university departments accept Art as an entry qualification.
The Art Department is well resourced with spacious studios, its own library, IT suite and a sculpture workshop. We go on regular trips to London and have our annual expedition to cities such as Paris, New York, Washington and Rome. Seeing art in galleries is a vital part of the A Level course.
What are the qualities required to study Art to A Level?
Added to some natural aptitude for visual thinking and pictorial problem-solving, an active interest in the fine arts in the widest sense should be a prerequisite for any study of Art and Design. An artist usually begins to come into his/her own at around the GCSE stage when the demands of objective drawing, the need for inventiveness and experimentation with different modes and in a variety of media are better appreciated. To continue Art studies to A Level and beyond requires a sense of vocation, well developed expressive and cognitive skills, an understanding of form, space and colour, ability to sustain a particular work over a long period and a love of the visual language.
Where can it lead?
Several of our students each year have gone on to universities/colleges/art colleges to study Art or Architecture to degree level. It is usual to embark on a degree course having successfully completed a foundation course on leaving school. A portfolio containing a broad selection of work in a variety of media is often asked for as an entry requirement at schools/colleges of architecture and is obligatory for any art college course. Indeed, the quality and range of your creative work are of the utmost importance at the interview stage.
Examples of Work
Upper Sixth Art student Bryn has been working with a number of advanced ceramic techniques to create some exquisite outcomes for his A Level Personal Investigation. He has used the 3D printer, in the Design and Technology Department, to create models of nuts and bolts which have then been used to create plaster moulds. These two-part moulds have subsequently been cast with slip to make hollow outcomes.
Bryn has been inspired by American artist, Curt Hammerly, who makes angular dynamic vessels. Bryn has plans to study 3D Design at university - you can see that he is already on the right track to excel!
Our Sixth Form students at present follow the AQA Biology syllabus and are able to obtain the qualification of the A Level.
Specification at a glance: Core content
- Biological molecules
- Organisms exchange substances with their environment
- Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
- Energy transfers in and between organisms
- Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
- Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
- The control of gene expression
A Level Course
Please take a look at our subject guide above for detailed information about the A Level Biology course or you can also click here to visit the AQA website.
In June, our Lower Sixth Form A Level Biology students undertake a two-day field course at the Field Study Centre in Epping Forest. Students study ecological techniques, designed to give students a feeling of satisfaction plus skills to observe the ecological habitat first hand. Whilst they are out in the field they undertake compulsory Practical 12.
Visit to Rye Meads for the Lower Sixth Induction
Rye Meads is a delightful wetland reserve beside the River Lee. It is a favourite site for walkers, birdwatchers and photographers too. There are 10 hides (with amazing murals!) from where we look out over the reed beds, wet meadows, open water and artificial sandbanks, which are a great place to spot the blue flash of a kingfisher. Common terns nest on specially-created rafts during the summer, and these days you are likely to hear the explosive song of the Cetti's warbler, a recent arrival at the Meads. It is an amazing place to see wildlife really close up, such as butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. The new Sixth Formers spend half a day at the RSPB site, giving plenty of time for students to enjoy identification of many of the native birds and insects as part of their induction into the Sixth Form.
Department Members ( Specialist A Level teachers)
- Dr Stuart McPeake (Head of Science)
- Mrs Beth Wheeler (Head of Biology)
- Mrs Hannah Ferguson (Deputy in Biology)
- Mrs Caroline Cottee
- Mrs Joanna Veron-Harcourt
- Mrs Cassie Kennedy
By studying Business to A Level, you are beginning the process of preparing yourself for the world of work. You will follow a course whose main aim is to teach the skills needed for making decisions. By doing this you are being encouraged to solve problems and explain how and why you made your recommendations.
As you move through the course you will cover such topics as:
• The management of people
• Operations management
• The external environment within which a business has to operate
• The developing and implementation of objectives and strategy
You will not only cover the knowledge required for understanding and interpreting this range of topics but you will also be shown how to set this in context and so move into real life situations.
Added to these skills will be those of analysis and evaluation, the latter being the ability to form opinions which can be supported from accepted best practice. We are totally information technology based, with our personal web based learning system.
For several years now, statistics issued by AQA showing a comparison of average Bishop’s Stortford College A2 student marks with, firstly, similar centres and secondly, all AQA centres shows that the College is in front of both, in some cases by a considerable margin.
The Chemistry Department at the College takes great pride in generating an atmosphere of enjoyable and effective study and in our ability to make what is sometimes considered to be one of the tougher A Level subjects accessible to all students. Resources are well provided for, both in terms of written support material, apparatus and chemicals. The three teaching laboratories have been refurbished recently to make them light, spacious and stimulating places to work for our ever increasing number of Chemistry students. There is also now a new laboratory shared by all three Science departments. The specifications encourage web-based resources to be used by the students and the College’s excellent computer provision helps to facilitate this.
The students are taught in two sets and great emphasis is placed on practical work to develop skills and a spirit of enquiry as well as study of the relevant theory. Throughout the course sets of questions are regularly set and marked and the department is well known by grateful (eventually!) past students for our policy of regular and rigorous testing of the topics taught.
It is desirable that students wishing to study Chemistry at A Level should have A* or A in GCSE Chemistry or Additional Science (but the minimum is B) plus a B in Mathematics (or their numerical equivalent), to get the most benefit from the A Level course. However, several students come to us from different backgrounds or countries and the Department is very experienced in helping these students fulfill their potential. In the end, different backgrounds should provide no barrier to effective learning and success at A Level.
Chemistry is well respected as a subject by all Universities and places of Higher Education. It is compulsory or strongly advised for courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Physiotherapy, Chemistry and all Applied Chemistry subjects, Environmental Sciences, Pharmacology and Forensic Science and it is welcomed for subjects such as Biology and Applied Biology, Zoology, some branches of Engineering, Materials Science and many others.
However, we also want students to study it as a subject they simply enjoy even though they might not want to go on to further education in Chemistry related subjects and previous Chemistry students have gone on to study subjects as diverse as Law, Economics, Mathematics, English, History, Languages, Psychology, Sports Therapy, Management, Actuarial Studies, Philosophy, Physics, Midwifery Studies, Computer Science, Nursing and Geography.
The OCR A-Level in Classical Civilisation offers students an opportunity to understand the immense impact ancient cultures have had upon the world we live in today. It develops analytical, interpretative and evaluative skills through an examination of the ideas and values of cultures which still heavily influence modern thinking and society. It embraces a wide range of sources from the ancient world – statues, coins, monuments and literature and explores fundamental questions of humanity about war and peace, human relationships of all types, multiculturalism, religion, self and state, Fate, responsibility, and power.
The A Level has been devised to credit the encouragement of students to make links between classical sources and how they have been received, analysed and appropriated over the centuries, drawing comparisons and contrasts with the world we live in today. Classical Civilisation is an excellent complement to the study of the arts, literature, history, philosophy, politics, and Latin. You do not need to have studied Classical Civilisation before to take this A Level.
Where can it lead?
Those who have studied Classics are very much in demand by all occupations because of the analytical skills they have developed in their study. The world is your oyster; there is no particular occupation you MUST enter. Areas of work that can be entered are journalism, banking, IT, communications, local government, museum work, teaching, the list is endless.
Remember, it is the skills you learn that shape your future career, not necessarily the subject content.
Design & Technology: Product Design
The course aims to integrate design and manufacturing skill with the application of theoretical knowledge of materials and the wider world of design. Design & Technology at A Level is a dynamic academic subject that demands a great deal from its students. The challenges of combining research technique, analysis, creativity and skill are tough and require dedication. This is a course for those interested in a career in design, engineering and manufacturing or for someone who wants to explore their creative talents in a structured manner using a range of materials to create real products.
Previous students have gone on to study design, architecture and engineering at top universities including Cambridge, Nottingham, Brunel, Loughborough, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield and Imperial College London.
During the A Level programme there are opportunities to gain experience of such diverse areas as computer-aided design, furniture, product and graphic design. Industrial visits are organised where students can gain knowledge and understanding of mass production, batch production, CAD/CAM, product design and precision engineering techniques.
Where Can It Lead?
An enormous variety of careers is open to those with a design interest. Every branch of engineering, from civil to electronic, involves design, and every aspect of production requires an appreciation of technology. Those who wish to study Design in Higher Education may go to university for specialised courses in product, furniture, graphic, industrial, interior and stage design as well as architecture and engineering. Students succeeding at Design & Technology will have a qualification that is acceptable at all British universities, including Oxbridge, as an academic A Level for degree course entrance requirements.
Drama & Theatre Studies
This WJEC Eduqas specification is designed to promote a balance between practical theatre making and the theoretical understanding of drama and theatre. This stimulating and engaging course of study encourages learners to make connections between dramatic theory and their own practice.
Learners study five performance texts (two complete texts and three key extracts from three different texts, studied in the context of the whole text) representing a range of social, historical and cultural contexts. The complete texts are studied for the written examination and the key extracts are divided between all three components. Learners 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. This content is divided as follows between the three components.
Component 1: Theatre Workshop
Learners participate in the creation, development and performance of:
• One reinterpretation of an extract from a text, using the working methods and techniques of either an influential theatre practitioner or a recognised theatre company.
Component 2: Text in Action
Learners participate in the creation, development and performance of:
• One devised piece using the working methods and techniques of a second different influential theatre practitioner or recognised theatre company
• One extract from a text in a contrasting style to the devised performance.
Component 3: Text in Performance Learners explore:
• Two complete performance texts from different historical periods
• One extract from a third contrasting text.
Learners are given the opportunity to develop performing and/or design skills as appropriate to their interests and the facilities available in the centre. Learners must choose one skill from the following list for each of Components 1 and 2. They may either choose the same skill for both Components 1 and 2, or a different skill for both Components 1 and 2:
• Sound design
• Lighting design
• Set design (including props)
• Costume design (including hair and make-up)
In addition to their own theatre making, learners also develop knowledge and understanding of the role of the director and participate in live theatre as an audience member.
It is difficult to envisage a career that does not include the need for at least an awareness of economics. This rich and stimulating subject attempts to explain just how the precious resources of the planet are allocated – put against the increased need to conserve resources and promote sustainable means of achieving economic development. It has a tendency to provoke discussion and will lead any participant to question the priorities of society and how decisions are made. As such many young people find the environment of the department an exciting one.
The subject encourages an interest in international affairs and the outcome of our colonial past and the relationships we share with both the US, EU, BRIC members and other major trading areas of the world. As a young economist, you will encounter basic theory and its application to the world of business, in the settings of the UK, the EU and beyond.
You will study the European Union and its workings before turning your attention to the wider issues raised by International Economics and will conclude by analysing the problems associated with the developing world.
As with Business, this section of the department is fully web-based in its system of learning support.
We are surrounded by language in our daily lives but so far, only a very small proportion of that language has appeared in your English classroom as the language you expect to study and analyse. This will all change if you choose A Level English because the course is based on the principle that language in any context and for any purpose is worthy of our analysis - be that a sports commentary, a 'vox pop' interview on the news, the nutrition adfvice on the side of a cereal packet or the latest exchange of Whatsapp messages on your phone.
A Level English is a course which offers you the opportunity to debate crucial ideas in our society and even to address and change assumptions and prejudices. What subconscious conclusions do we draw from how people speak, for example? Are those conclusions valid? The course offers you the chance to be highly analytical and technical alongside requiring you to engage independently in debate and discussion. Even if you don't realise it yet, all your own experiences of using language in daily life have already equipped you to have lots to offer to the study of this A Level.
Some Aspects Covered in the Course:
Language, the individual and society
- This topic will introduce you to language study, exploring textual variety and children's language development.
Methods of language analysis
- In order to study textual variations and representations, you will be required to identify and describe important features of language in the texts. This means that you will go into much more depth than ever before and learn technical terms and systems that are totally new! Before you know it, you will be an expert in grammar and morphology.
Language Diversity and Change
- Here you will explore language in its wider social, geographical and temporal contexts and the processes of language change. This part of the subject content also requires you to study social attitudes to, and debates about, language diversity and change.
- There is also plenty of opportunity to develop your creative and original writing and you could produce a piece of original writing based on the power of persuasion or storytelling, for example, and then this will be accompanied by a commentary on your choices.
- You can also choose to pursue an area of individual interest. For example, this might include studies of regional dialect, gendered talk, children's language use, the language of the media or historical changes in English over time.
We study texts in detail, developing an admiration for and love of sophisticated and subtle use of language. We also learn about the times and circumstances within which the texts were written, and consider the ways in which modern life influences us as readers and theatre-goers.
The primary concern is to nurture a love of literature for its own sake – our literary heritage is a priceless gift if properly appreciated. But the writing and analytical skills necessary for literary criticism will give you invaluable life skills too, for university and for the world of work.
There is a coursework element during the two-year study, the management of which allows students ample scope to explore their own areas of interest within the texts studied. Indeed, the department prides itself on encouraging students to think and work independently and the course is designed so as to encourage independence and allow flexibility with students even helping to choose their own texts.
The English Department is well stocked with video, multi-media, audio and DVD equipment, but most importantly we are brimming over with books and have a highly committed teaching staff who have a real passion for their subject . We also offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to enrich their studies outside the classroom. Activities include: regular theatre trips, visiting speakers, reading groups, revision conferences and literary tours.
While your teachers will seek to offer you insightful and sophisticated interpretations of the texts studied, they will also expect you to challenge these and to offer original and convincing responses of your own. We see our lessons as opportunities for the debate and exploration of texts, rather than a formulaic journey towards a pre-determined conclusion.
You will need to come armed with proven skills and fluency in English Language and Literature. What you do not know however, we will teach you.
Where can it lead?
The skills you develop in studying A Level English Literature will prove invaluable to your wider studies at A Level and beyond as well as in life more generally. The skills of analysis, communication and argument that you develop will be highly valued by both university admissions tutors and graduate employers alike.
Ethics, Philosophy & Theology
This subject will appeal to anyone who has an open mind and a desire to engage with deep questions and challenging issues! Religious Studies is for people who cannot be happy without asking why, and is for those who want not just to live, but to live well. You do not need to have studied GCSE RE or be religious. The course is open to all who are interested in asking deeper questions about the world they live in and for those who are willing to question the norms of society.
The great benefit of studying philosophy, ethics and religion is that it teaches not what to think, but how to think. It is the study of meaning, of the principles underlying conduct, thought and knowledge. Most importantly the course will give you the tools with which to evaluate concepts and ideas which are fundamental to our society.
Whether your focus is an individual search for meaning, or an exploration of the fundamental issues of freedom, justice and the influence of religion, this course is about the relentless pursuit of a deeper, truer understanding of the world we inhabit.
Where can it lead?
Many important professions find they have an increasing need for candidates who are less narrowly trained, who are able to look at issues from a variety of viewpoints, and have the ability to think questions through on the basis of sound reasoning and solid evidence.
The study of philosophy, ethics and religion provides a comprehensive foundation in reasoning and problem solving, allowing candidates the freedom to pursue a variety of attractive degrees and professions. Some examples include: Law, Finance, Business, Politics, Human Resources and Education.
Why choose Film Studies?
Students of Film Studies are the students of the future, gaining the skills needed to develop successful careers and great academic minds.
There is so much more to Film Studies than simply watching films. As well as gaining an appreciation of film as an art form in terms of its visual storytelling, studying film can enhance your understanding of the world in terms of competing values, attitudes and beliefs. This course also incorporates a creative production element where you will be able to put what you have learnt into practice by making a short film or writing a screenplay.
What skills will I develop?
Studying Film enables you to see the world in a different light and develop a wide range of transferable skills for further education, work and life:
- Creative Thinking
- Critical Thinking
- Emotional Intelligence
- Film Analysis
- Textual Analysis
- Research skills
- Technical competencies (i.e. film editing)
Where can it lead?
Film is one of the most relevant subjects today. Employment in the screen industries has grown by over 20% since 2009 and will substantially outpace the economy wide increase of 3% if the skills shortages in this area are fulfilled. Career paths for students of Film may, of course, include practical avenues such as Film-Making, Directing, Producing and Editing but a qualification in Film Studies also allows you to move into more theoretical pathways such as Film Criticism, Journalism, Advertising and Teaching.
What will I study?
You will study the key elements of film form including cinematography, mise en scène, editing, sound and performance. You will also study the contexts of your chosen films and what was happening when the film was made. What can the film tell us about history and society at that time? You will study the films in terms of the representations they present or challenge. You will engage in the study of Ideology, the Auteur and Critical Debates surrounding Film.
How will I be assessed?
- 70% of the marks derive from 2 exam papers (Component 1 and Component 2)
- 30% Non-Examination Assessment – Creative Production.
Whether you want to use French for work, for further study, training, or for leisure, this course will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge. This new specification gives candidates an excellent grounding in all aspects of the French language, with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in speaking, listening, reading and writing as well as to study social and cultural aspects of the French-speaking world. Furthermore this new French A Level will allow students to tackle a range of inspiring and engaging themes through the study of popular literary texts and films.
What are the benefits to students studying the new A Level in French?
• It supports breadth and depth of study by building on the strengths of the previous learning.
• It offers the opportunity for candidates to study a range of social and cultural topics related to countries where French is spoken; topics have been streamlined with only four areas of study.
• It reduces the assessment burden on students with only three assessments at the end of the second year of study.
• Straightforward assessment with no coursework required.
• Students will sit only one speaking assessment and a large proportion of this is students led.
• Literary texts and films have been chosen to compliment the areas of study and develop a better understanding of France whilst engaging the student.
• This new specification is excellent preparation for students intending to study French at degree level or who are interested in careers where French may be useful.
Where can it lead?
This course will allow students to truly enhance their linguistic skills. If you are interested in languages and communication, and you enjoy learning about other cultures and ways of life, then French A Level could be suitable for you. Similarly, if you are interested in the business world, in travel or tourism, in literature, or in journalism and the media, then you are also likely to find the course very appropriate. There are a number of options in the course where you can choose your topic or question to suit your interests. Whether you want to use French for work, for further study, training, or for leisure, this course will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge.
The role of Geography in society is perhaps more important than ever. Governments, organisations and individuals are having to grapple with increasingly complex social, economic and environmental problems. Population growth, global warming, poverty, dwindling energy resources, and the degradation of environments and habitats, are issues that touch the lives of all of us on the planet. An important dimension in all these issues is space. Recognising where events are happening and how processes vary spatially is a first step in trying to resolve many of the impacts associated with human activity. In this way Geography aims to provide a broadranging perspective on the nature of human activity and how this activity transforms the face of the earth. The search for this understanding involves investigating the nature of the physical earth, its habitation by humans, and the resulting diversity of regions and places.
Following these general themes Geography at A Level offers opportunities to:
• stimulate students’ interest in their surroundings and in the variety of human and physical conditions on the earth’s surface;
• foster students’ sense of wonder at the beauty of the world around them;
• help students to develop an informed concern about the quality of the environment and the future of the human habitat and thereby enhance students’ sense of responsibility for the care of the earth and its people.
The contemporary relevance of Geography makes its study both rewarding and enjoyable. Additionally, the discipline develops skills that are valued by both business and industry.
“Geography is the best subject in the world for getting on in industry.” Sam Toy – Geography graduate, former Managing Director of Ford UK.
“You can travel the seas, the poles, and deserts, and see nothing. To really understand the world you need to get under the skin of the people and places. In other words, learn about GEOGRAPHY... I can not imagine a subject more relevant to schools. We’d all be lost without it.” Michael Palin (2006)
The Geography Department provides an exciting and up-to-date A Level curriculum. We use the latest university research in our teaching, adapt topic content to reflect issues as they are happening in the news and conduct a large and varied range of fieldwork. We also strive to deliver the best possible teaching and members of the Department are aided in meeting this goal through their work with universities, subject organisations and businesses. Nationally, the Department is leading in the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Currently GIS technology is the most powerful set of tools that exists for the analysis and visualisation of spatial information. As a consequence, any student wishing to follow a career in Geography is very likely to use GIS.
The Department is therefore committed to the use of GIS in its teaching to ensure that all students gain skills of growing importance in the workplace.
Where can it lead?
Unemployment amongst Geography graduates is so low because the skills that they learn are highly marketable. Geography is also relevant to a number of specific careers, including management and environmental consultancy, surveying, agriculture, town planning, recreation management and conservation, cartography, meterology, oceanography, geology, researcher, international aid and development, teaching and geographical analysis.”
The new A Level German course (WJEC Eduqas A level German: A820QS) offers students an opportunity to enhance existing skills for a variety of possible futures in the spheres of Higher Education, employment and leisure. A key aim is to stimulate an appreciation of the cultural, historical, geographical and political background of the countries where German is spoken. This is complemented by the challenge and intellectual stimulation associated with the development of language skills.
Having already gained a good GCSE grade, students are prepared for examinations which test the ability to speak, listen, read and write German in various registers. As a matter of routine, emphasis is placed on an appreciation and understanding of grammar rules and speaking fluency is prioritised.
The German Department is exceptionally well resourced, and constantly updates its extensive collection of classic and modern feature films. Listening skills are honed in the digital language laboratory and subject specific classrooms are staffed by a team of dedicated and enthusiastic professionals, whose methodology seeks to combine the best of traditional and modern teaching practices. You will benefit from weekly conversation sessions with our German assistant on a one-to-one basis. Students usually participate in the annual exchange programme with a partner school in Kiel, North Germany, where they often find inspiration for their speaking topic presentations. The German Society also offers opportunities throughout the year to enhance cultural and linguistic awareness.
Where can it lead?
As a native speaker of English with German at your fingertips, you will be gold dust in the future employment market! There are openings in medicine, engineering, international law, tourism, politics, marketing and business, to name just a few. Furthermore, with a working knowledge of German, you will be able to avail yourself of the opportunities offered by the Erasmus scheme, whereby you can study your chosen degree subject for a term or more at a German university.
Widen your horizons, and enhance your CV!
Are you intrigued by what humans have done with their time on Earth? Do you feel curious to understand better the relationship between the present and the past? Are you keen to know more about other periods, places and peoples? If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then History is the subject for you.
Our aim is to provide an enjoyable and successful learning experience, in a friendly but challenging environment. Above all, we want students to realise their full potential in History, regardless of academic ability. You do not need to have studied History at GCSE; certain qualities, however, are advantageous. Those who gain most from A Level History are enthusiastic, inquisitive and conscientious – eager to learn, contribute and achieve. The subject is exceptionally popular at the College, currently involving about 90 students in the Sixth Form as a whole.
History is varied, dramatic and colourful; after all, it is about people. In our new A Level curriculum you will find out about a mixture of eras, from the 15th century to the 20th century, and a variety of fascinating countries – Britain, Spain and the USA. You will also examine a wide range of compelling themes, including, nationalism, war, ethnicity, political protest and civil rights.
Lessons typically centre on discussion of research or written work, completed in advance. Lively debate often results, in which every student is asked to participate. You will be expected to read widely and to take an interest in current affairs related to our topics (we frequently explore present-day parallels with the past). Students develop valuable analytical skills: for example, how to interpret different types of evidence and evaluate opposing opinions. They also evolve their writing skills, enhancing their ability to explain arguments and communicate judgements.
The Department has an excellent library, specially dedicated to Sixth Form History; students are encouraged to borrow books and magazines to pursue individual interests in (and beyond) their A Level studies. We hold Film Nights outside lessons, intended to bring students together in groups different from their regular teaching sets, and also to promote awareness and discussion of cinema’s role in influencing popular interpretation of the past. We provide extra revision classes prior to public examinations, in which the Department has a long track record of results far above the national average. Traditionally, many of our students decide to read History at university.
History combines well with many other A Levels. Clearly, it complements those subjects, such as English Literature, which also require significant reading and essay-writing. Numerous students, however, study History alongside Mathematics or the Sciences, with much success. In short, an interest in the past is the only essential requirement for choosing A Level History.
Where can it lead?
History is recognised as ideal preparation for a large number of professions, as well as allowing you to keep your options open. Historians can be found in most lines of work, especially in posts requiring qualities of leadership, problem-solving and decision-making. Many students of History go on to careers in the City (that is, in business, banking, insurance, accounting, etc).
Other popular choices include: the Civil Service, politics, law, journalism, publishing, advertising and education. History is also directly relevant to careers in museums, archives, art galleries and archaeology.
In sum, the good historian is very much in demand. This is because History not only fosters independence of mind, but intellectual discipline too. These are the highly transferable skills that A Level History will help you to develop. More generally, a passion for History implies curiosity about the world around you – an asset in any walk of life.
Mathematics & Further Mathematics
Mathematics is essential for a wide range of students, from those intending to read the subject at university to those needing particular techniques to support other courses or their chosen careers. Many areas of science, engineering, computing, medicine, economics, business, psychology and other disciplines require an understanding of mathematics beyond GCSE level.
There is a national shortage of mathematically trained people and a qualification at advanced level dramatically increases a person’s employment and earning potential. Mathematics provides an intellectual training, nurturing powers of analysis, logic, organisation and problem solving. Some are attracted by its sheer power, some by the elegance of its methods, and some by the satisfaction they feel when they complete a clever solution or master a tricky procedure.
Work for A Level Mathematics involves studying mainly pure mathematics, with applied units in statistics and mechanics, depending on the individual needs of the student concerned.
Work for Further Mathematics involves a much wider and deeper appreciation of the subject and should be considered by anyone interested in mathematics.
Examination results in mathematics are very good at Bishop’s Stortford College with 100% pass rates at A Level, and an average of 66% grade A*-A over the last five years. There are nine qualified teachers in the department, who all use a variety of approaches to teaching mathematics. All Sixth Form students have at least two teachers.
The new advanced level specification is designed to be accessible to all students after GCSE, but most will have achieved at least a grade B (or numerical equivalent). Most people starting the further maths course will have at least a grade A at GCSE. There is no assessed coursework on the new specification, but investigational skills are developed through the teaching approaches.
Students completing the two-year courses in Mathematics and Further Mathematics achieve two complete A Levels.
The three key elements of performing, composing and appraising will be examined. The A Level in Music will provide a contemporary, accessible and creative education in Music with an integrated approach to the three main elements – Performing, Composing and Appraising.
Students will be encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of music and musical contexts, develop understanding of the place of music in different cultures and contents, and reflect on how music is used in the expression of personal and collective identities. They will also explore musical language and performance and composition skills. There is an emphasis on musicality and practical music making.
A Level Physical Education at Bishop’s Stortford College focuses on the Performer in Actionfactors affecting participation, where students apply the Psychology, Physiology and Sociology of Sport to the practical performer. Experienced staff and excellent facilities at the College aids students’ practical performance in their chosen field, which often improves dramatically through applying acquired knowledge to training and competition. Field trips are also undertaken to Loughborough University and English of Institute of Sport sites where students are able to apply physiological principles of fitness testing to their own performance and that of elite athletes.
The subject combines well with sciences such as Biology, Physics and Psychology and the arts subjects, such as English, History and Geography. It is widely accepted by the country’s leading universities as an excellent subject choice at A Level. With a hugely successful London Olympics Games and Rugby World Cup we are perfectly placed to feel the true power of sport. It unites nations from all over the world, inspires generations and energises economies. With the sport and leisure industry currently booming in Britain and growth in areas such as Sports Science, Management, Sponsorship, Agencies and Nutritionists, the study of Physical Education has never been so relevant to modern day society.
Alongside a genuine understanding of how physical activity and exercise affects everyone, from elite athletes to the elderly, A Level Physical Education teaches skills such as leadership, motivation, feedback and teamwork; all of which prepares students for life after the College.
Where can it lead?
A Level Physical Education could lead you into areas such as Sports Management, Physiotherapy, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Science, Coaching, Teaching, Sports Medicine, Sports Therapy, Sports Nutrition or Sports Psychology.
Physics at the College has been going from strength to strength recently with both a very high take up of the subject and excellent results. The AQA specification will help the department to build upon this in many ways. Students will progress smoothly from previous iGCSE or GCSE studies in Physics, develop in-depth knowledge and understanding of the principles of physics and gain hands-on practical skills and data analysis skills.
The course enables students to see how physics links to other sciences and how the subject underpins important modern technologies.
Why choose Physics?
It is a fascinating and enjoyable course and is highly regarded by university admissions officers. Cambridge University’s admissions website advises all students who have not made their A Level choices to study at least one of six subjects that they consider to be ‘academic’ – including, of course, Physics! The best reason of all though is that studying Physics at Bishop’s Stortford College is such fun! Interesting concepts and exciting lessons combined with plenty of ‘hands-on’ practical work.
Where can it lead?
Pointers for those considering the A Level for university entry: Physics is necessary for Engineering and Physical Sciences, and is a supporting subject for Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Environmental Studies, Geological Sciences, Mathematics, Computing, Medical Sciences, Medicine and Dentistry.
By choosing to study Government and Politics students will acquire knowledge and understanding of political systems within our own and other societies. Studying the different levels and systems of government will facilitate the understanding of diverse political systems. The British system of government will be examined by looking at its local, national and current European dimensions. This will include studying the essential characteristics and inter relationships of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary and examining voting structure, behaviour and participation; all whilst interpreting current political debate.
The understanding of our own system will be developed further by looking comparatively at the politics and government of another country – America. This study will be further enhanced through learning about political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism and socialism, as well as a further ‘new’ ideology from a choice of feminism, nationalism, multiculturalism, ecologism or anarchism.
In taking A Level Government and Politics, students will learn to interpret political information in a variety of forms such as, written, oral, visual and numerical. There will be the opportunity to debate and to make connections between the similarities and differences of the different political systems and political institutions studied. Students understanding will be aided by the use of a variety of sources such as, journals, newspapers, television and internet. This will be further enhanced by a number of conferences and a trip to the Houses of Parliament. In a similar way to the study of History, Politics is essentially about the study of people and society, in this case past, present and future. It is about the responsibility of individuals. Government and Politics A Level encourages constructive argument through debate and also the discipline of creating concise, structured and analytical written responses to key political questions.
As citizens who are on the verge of gaining the right to vote, it is a subject that in our rapidly changing political world, is relevant to all students embarking on sixth form studies and as such is an ideal choice at A Level.
Psychology at Bishop’s Stortford College offers students in the Sixth Form the opportunity to diversify from the traditional mainstream subjects. Psychology is a science using scientific methods and principles and it is classed as such for university applications. However, it can be seen as more tangible and directly related to people and their observable and everyday behaviour than the traditional natural sciences. So whilst Psychology has its roots firmly in the discipline of science, it incorporates many skills from other areas too. You will learn to evaluate and analyse information and evidence and to draw conclusions from the research and work of others. You need to be able to structure an answer and formulate an argument in essay type format.
The first year of the course provides a foundation in what is a broad and continuously expanding subject. It covers some of the development of Psychology as a discipline and some key topic areas such as memory, psychopathology and social influence.
The second year of the course takes this foundation further extending the areas and studying them in more depth. In addition to this the second year includes topics such as gender, forensic psychology, eating behaviour and some of the issues and debates that are key to Psychology.
Assessment is in the form of written examination modules. Psychology A Level has three equally weighted examinations. These contain a combination of multiple choice, short answer questions and extended writing.
There is focus throughout both years on the methods used in Psychology. Practical research studies will be designed, carried out and analysed by the students themselves. In this way they develop an understanding of the research methods and issues in Psychology. They will be required to draw on this experience for some examination questions.
The Psychology department makes good use of online materials and DVDs (including some original footage of key experiments). Throughout the course many research studies are reproduced in terms of class versions of experiments – enabling you to experience and understand them from a personal viewpoint.
Students aiming to study Psychology must be ready to learn extensive new terminology and be keen to read around the subject – this can be in the form of books, magazines, newspapers and numerous television programmes.
An understanding of maths is required in terms of interpreting data generated in experiments, as well as a good grounding in Biology.
Where can it lead?
As a career choice, Psychology is far from limited. Following a Psychology degree, students can pursue careers in Educational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Sport Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Occupational Psychology, Counselling, and Academic/Research Psychology - to name a selection.
However students with Psychology at A Level will find it applies to many other careers not directly based in Psychology. These include media and advertising, marketing and sales, medicine, teaching, business, law and people management.
The A Level Spanish course offers the opportunity to develop linguistic knowledge andunderstanding whilst exploring some of the most fascinating and vibrant cultures in the world. The course aims to open opportunities in higher education, business, and travel through arming the students with a deep understanding of Spanish language and the tools to develop their linguistic skills as well as stimulating an understanding and interest in Hispanic culture, history, literature, and film. The nature of the A Level course means that students will be given opportunities to make links across the curriculum and will be fully supported with this by the A Level scheme of work.
Studying for A Level in Spanish can be extremely beneficial whilst at school and in the future:
• It develops and enhances transferable skills which can be used across the curriculum and in higher education, including analytical skills and communication skills.
• It widens the cultural and social awareness of pupils which can be invaluable in higher education, and later, in the workplace.
• Spanish is spoken by at least 329 million people worldwide and in 44 countries, making it the second most spoken language in the world, and therefore a hugely valuable skill in the business world.
• Language skills are in massive demand across all sectors and the ability to speak Spanish with fluency will be a valuable asset when applying for jobs.
Having already gained a good GCSE grade, students are versed in the basics of Spanish grammar, during the A Level this knowledge will be stretched and moulded into a thorough understanding of the way the language works and the ability to employ familiar and unfamiliar vocabulary to express themselves fluently. During the course students will study Hispanic film and literature which will help to widen their understanding of Hispanic culture and language.