Plymouth College has an extensive list of different subject options for the Sixth Form students to select when choosing their subjects.
We offer 3 qualifications available for study:
Component 01: Personal investigation
Assessment is at the end of the two-year course. During the first year students learn their “craft” and with it all the processes involved in producing sophisticated and personal finished work.
Assessment is based on two elements:
(i) A portfolio of practical work showing their personal response to either, a starting point, brief, or stimulus, provided by the learner or tutor.
(ii) A related study, ie an extended written response which informs their own creative work. (minimum1000 words).
Component 02: Externally set task
Assessment is at the end of the course and is based on a complete unit of work which shows evidence of the development of a finished response to a chosen theme.
The exam paper is issued in February and provides learners with a number of themes, each with a range of written and visual starting points, briefs and stimuli.
Time allocation is 15hrs.
Sixth Form classes are small, so there is plenty of time for individual question/answer sessions and clarification of topic material. Each class has two teachers who will cover different topics.
Pupils will spend about a quarter to a third of their time on practical work. Other class and homework time (approximately four hours per week in Lower Sixth and five hours per week in Upper Sixth) may be spent reinforcing knowledge and understanding of the topics studied.
The course follows OCR’s AS and A Level Biology A specifications which cover both animal and plant topics.
Lower Sixth Topics:
Cell structure; membranes; cell division; biological molecules; transport systems in animals and plants; disease and immunity; biodiversity; classification and evolution. At the end of the first year of study, there are no public exams but there will be an internally set school exam to evaluate progress.
In the summer term there will also be opportunity to take the classroom outside on field excursions, including ecological sampling and surveying in the nearby woodland, Warleigh Point, and on rocky shores at Mount Edgcumbe.
Upper Sixth Topics:
Communication and coordination; excretion; the nervous system, hormones, plant and animal responses; photosynthesis, respiration, cellular control, genetics, manipulating genomes; cloning and biotechnology; ecosystems; populations and sustainability.
For the assessment of the final A Level grade there are three written papers: two 2 hours and 15 minutes and a third of 1 hour 30 minutes.
There is a practical skills endorsement completed during class time.
By studying A-level Business, you will develop a holistic understanding of how a business operates to the point where you would be sufficiently equipped to run your own business or become part of the workforce of a larger business. You will be taught decision-making tools which will help you move towards a more scientific approach to management. A key skill whether you decide to go into business or use your business skills in a different sphere.
Using real-life business case studies and evidence, you will be investigating, analysing and evaluating business opportunities and issues. Building on this and by using qualitative and quantitative methods, you will be encouraged to take a more strategic view of your decisions and recommendations.
This course reflects today’s global world by developing an understanding of current global issues that affect business which will be covered in the second year of study.
You will be studying the Edexcel A-level Business course.
Theme 1 Marketing and people
Theme 2 Managing business activities
Theme 3 Business decisions and strategy
Theme 4 Global business
Three 2-hour papers all worth 100 marks each.
We enrich our Sixth Form pupils with the opportunity on a Friday afternoon, to study Finance at Level 3 (A-level equivalent diploma). Through the London Institute of Banking and Finance, we teach the fundamentals of lifelong budgeting and financial decision-making. This empowers them to take more proactive decisions with their own finance and gives them the ability to offer others sound financial advice.
A practical specification
As a subject, Chemistry spans a great breadth of disciplines. A-Level chemists can expect to be studying topics that appear to be quite different from each other yet as they progress through the course discover how they are fundamentally linked. From unlocking the secrets of the periodic table to discovering how modern-day materials give us the functionality required, Chemistry can explain how the world around us is put together.
Why choose Chemistry?
Chemistry is an academic and highly regarded subject by universities and employers alike. Much of the content is extremely relevant to issues we are facing in today’s society, such as green energy, use and disposal of plastics and developing new ways to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections. Pupils with an A-Level in Chemistry will find many doors opening for them and that they have been well equipped for higher education.
Chemistry A Level can lead to careers in environmental law, intellectual property, pharmaceuticals, space exploration, forensic science, medicine, engineering, accountancy, finance and much more!
A-Level chemists at Plymouth College will follow the Edexcel course, which gives thorough and challenging coverage of key areas within physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. There is ample opportunity for practical lessons and with the 16 core practicals, pupils can become highly competent in scientific and investigative skills. Successful completion of the core practicals will result pupils achieving the Science Practical Endorsement certificate.
In the Lower Sixth, pupils study:
At the end of Upper Sixth, pupils will sit three exams:
A Level Chemistry pupils at Plymouth College go on to study a wide range of courses at university, including Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Engineering, and Biomedical Sciences.
An A Level in Latin or Classics can set you apart from the crowd. They are highly regarded, and an excellent stepping stone to careers in law, politics, journalism and international relations.
Once again, Latin is an excellent academic A Level for pupils with a logical brain who may be considering a career in law, or as an enjoyable contrast for those studying two sciences for example, and who wish to study medicine. A recent past pupil currently studying medicine, was complimented at his interview on his choice of Latin A level! Latin also fits very well for pupils studying History, English or Philosophy at A Level.
We also offer Classical Civilisation at A Level; pupils do not have to have studied this previously at GCSE, as it is a complete stand-alone course. We have taught many successful candidates for whom this was their first experience of the classical world; several of whom have gone on to study this subject at university. Four past pupils are currently studying Ancient History at Cardiff University for example.
The current OCR A Level course is extremely broad, and allows us to choose such diverse modules as Bronze Age Archaeology or Greek Tragedy. The modules currently being studied in the Sixth Form are Greek Myth and Religion, (Upper Sixth) and the Imperial Image of Augustus, the first emperor (Lower Sixth). Through an examination of the literature, visual and material culture of the period pupils can examine the ways Augustus tried to “spin” his public image in ways Donald Trump would envy, proving that the study of the classical world is still relevant today.
A level Computer Science is an excellent training in problem-solving and logical thinking, as well as being a really valuable and exciting subject in its own right. An A Level in Computer Science leads naturally to degree courses in Computer Science or Software Engineering. Anyone studying Mathematics, Science, Engineering and other STEM - related disciplines to degree level and beyond would also find this A Level hugely useful.
We teach AQA Computer Science (specification 7517). There are two examination papers plus a piece of extended coursework:
Paper 1 (40% of A level, one 2½ hour on-screen examination) tests a pupil's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science. The examination consists of a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an Electronic Answer Document. AQA provides Preliminary Material, a Skeleton Program and, where appropriate, test data.
Paper 2 (40% of A level, one 2½ hour written examination) tests the subject areas 5 – 13 listed below. The written examination consists of compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions.
Non-exam assessment (20% of A level) is a piece of coursework which assesses a pupil's ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve, or investigate, a real practical problem. Pupils will be expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving.
The following sections comprise the A Level course:
Those wishing to take A Level Computer Science should ideally hold a good pass at GCSE Computer Science. Without a good pass at GCSE, a high pass at GCSE Mathematics would indicate that a pupil would be able to cope with the demands of this course. A significant part of the course (including the coursework project) involves using the Python programming language. An A level Computer Science pupil should expect to devote at least 3 hours to homework every week.
Past pupils of Computer Science have gone on to study software engineering and cybersecurity at university, followed by well-paid jobs in these rapidly-expanding areas of technology.
A Level Computer Science is taught by one specialist teacher and the College has four well-equipped teaching rooms. We also make use of ever-increasing amounts of information on the College Intranet and external online resources.
Drama is a flourishing subject at Plymouth College.
Drama is not just about acting and, whatever path pupils take in the outside world, the communication skills they develop and confidence they build, through their drama lessons, are tools they will carry with them throughout their adult lives. Theatre has a necessary function in the real world. It is a political, social and educational tool and an important part of a child’s cultural entitlement.
Drama lessons take place in The Michael Ball Drama Studio (a mini-theatre with lights, seating and sound). For exam work, both the Drama Studio and the Meade King Hall provide the space and technical facilities suitable for this subject.
At A Level, we follow the Eduqas Drama and Theatre Studies syllabus. The course consists of three components. Learners participate in the creation, development and performance of a piece of theatre based on a reinterpretation of an extract from a text chosen from a list supplied by Eduqas (20%), perform a devised and scripted piece (40%) and sit a written examination, with a focus on text in performance (40%).
A Level Drama and Theatre Studies is useful for pupils considering Higher Education in any arts or humanities subject including English Language and Literature, Journalism, Dance, Music, Art and Design, and Media Studies. Career opportunities for pupils who study A Level Drama and Theatre Studies include: arts/theatre administration, arts journalism, director, actor, designer, playwright, stage management, theatre management, theatrical agent, technician, broadcasting, media presenting, education, drama therapy and scriptwriting. Several of our pupils have gone on to study at well-respected conservatoires such as LAMDA, RADA and Central.
For A Level DT we offer two different routes
Both A Levels are creative and thought provoking, giving pupils practical skills and theoretical knowledge in their chosen field. They will investigate historical, social, cultural, environmental and economic influences on design and technology, whilst enjoying opportunities to put their learning into practice by producing prototypes of their choice. Pupils will gain a real understanding of what it means to be a designer, alongside the knowledge and skills that come with developing and delivering a large piece of coursework to a deadline.
The examination board for DT: Product Design and DT: Fashion and Textiles is AQA.
The courses use the following structure and all areas are examined at the end of the two-year course.
|Paper 1||Paper 2||NEA (Non-exam Assessment)|
|Technical Principles||Designing and Making Principles||Practical application of technical principles and designing and making principles|
|Written Exam2 hours and 30 mins120 Marks30% of A Level||Written Exam1 Hour and 30 mins80 Marks20% of A Level||Substantial design and make task100 marks50% of A levelDesign portfolio with a final prototype|
Our workshops are equipped with a range of tools - hand as well as electronic - along with CAM machines including laser cutters and 3D printers. We have our own Computer-Aided Design suite with 16 networked PCs.
Design and Technology is all about turning ideas and dreams into reality. We encourage intelligent design using appropriate technologies to make better solutions.
As well as developing subject knowledge and experience during the course you will also develop these key skills that employers and universities are looking for:
Some pupils in the Sixth Form need to prepare and take an Academic IELTs exam. This test measures the language proficiency of pupils who want to progress onto higher study in the UK. It uses a 9 band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert). The IELTs academic test is suitable for pupils who wish to enter for study at undergraduate or postgraduate level and reflects some of the features used in academic study. IELTs lessons are taught in small, specialist classes. Most pupils study for 3 A Levels so have space and time on their timetable to allow them to attend sessions.
The IELTs test assesses ability in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing and can be completed at a recognised Test Centre on the same day. The test can be taken at a computer or on paper to suit pupils. The Listening and Reading tests are designed to test listening or reading for gist and detail and recognising writers’ attitudes, opinions and purpose. Sources are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. The Writing test has two tasks. Task 1 requires pupils to analyse a graph, chart or diagram and Task 2 involves an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The Speaking test involves a pupil talking about a particular topic on a card, addressing all bullet points. All the content is appropriate for pupils entering university level courses.
Empowering pupils to develop skills of analysis and evaluation though the application of Economic theory. Useful for direct entry into industry or as a well-respected course for university entrance.
At A Level, Economic theory is applied to national and international business. Through the application of knowledge and understanding, pupils are empowered with the ability to explain how and why business operates, how the economy is managed and how we are all part of a globalised world.
Choosing A-level Economics gives pupils the confidence to speak about the national economy, about how and why business decisions are made in the context of the market in which they operate.
Plymouth College follow the Edexcel Economics B course, consisting of 40% Business and 60% Economics. In the Lower Sixth (Year 12), units are investigated entitled 'Markets, Consumers and Firms' and 'The Wider Economic Environment'. In the second year, sections named 'The Global Economy' and 'Making Markets Work' are the subject matter. Throughout the course, pupils are guided on the skills of analysis and evaluation required for the written exam, by teachers who have marked for the exam board, so have outstanding knowledge of the requirements of the course. The A Level is assessed with three separate exam papers, each 2 hours long.
Many of the pupils who study Economics A Level, go on to study Business, Economics and Finance degree courses at university. There are also many pupils who use their A Level Economics for medical, humanitarian and science-based options. An A Level in Economics is considered rigorous and challenging by all well-established universities.
We enrich our Sixth Form pupils with the opportunity on a Friday afternoon, to study Finance at Level 3 (A-level equivalent diploma). Through the London Institute of Banking and Finance, we teach the fundamentals of lifelong budgeting and financial decision-making. This empowers them to take more proactive decisions with their own finance and gives them the ability to offer others sound financial advice.
We offer the OCR A Level in English Literature which “encourages pupils to develop their interest in and enjoyment of a broad range of English literature. They apply their knowledge of literary analysis and evaluation to engage critically and creatively” with a variety of texts.
A linear course, there are two terminal examinations and a coursework portfolio to be completed.
Class sizes are small which afford the opportunity to work closely with pupils and develop an excellent rapport –essential when discussing Literature. Typically, classes are taught by two enthusiastic specialists with teaching mostly conducted seminar-style with pupils expected to bring to class their own interpretations of texts. A willingness to read widely around the set texts is requisite.
It is our custom to tailor the course to the pupils’ interests. In the recent past, the course has looked like this:
Drama and Poetry pre-1900: This is a two and a half hour examination. It is closed book which means pupils must learn the quotations and critical comments for their exam. The texts we commonly consider are Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and The Collected Poems of Rossetti.
Comparative and Contextual Study: Another two and a half hour exam, this paper requires pupils to demonstrate their expertise in a particular genre. For the past three years, pupils have chosen the Gothic (Frankenstein and Dracula). Other options include Dystopia and American Literature.
Coursework: Pupils must produce two tasks worth 20% of the overall marks. The first task is a close analysis of a passage from a text. The second is a comparative essay wherein pupils showcase their knowledge of both texts and their contexts. We like to allow for personal choice and interest. Previously pupils have studied The History Boys, Lord of the Rings, Beowulf or The History Boys, Birdsong, WW1 Poetry.
Literature pupils leave with an ability to analyse forensically and argue convincingly –key portable skills in the modern marketplace. Indeed, English Literature A Level is considered a facilitating qualification, one which opens many doors of opportunity post 18.
Whilst it is true that some of our pupils go on to study English at university, the possibilities are endless: law, criminology, land economy, MFL, architecture, ppe; these are just a few of the disciplines pursued by our Sixth Formers in recent years.
Through the study of A Level French pupils will not only gain valuable skills such as communication and interpreting skills, but will open their future into firms who have international links worldwide, owing to the breadth of French (with around 110 million native speakers).
It is an official language in 29 countries and of the United Nations (alongside Arabic, Mandarin, English, Spanish and Russian) as well as one of the European Union where it is the official language of the three political centres: Switzerland, Strasbourg and Luxembourg City, so is a particularly useful asset to anyone wanting to work within any businesses operating in the European markets.
A Modern Foreign Language not only has the rigour and gravitas desired by universities, but can build communication, interpersonal, intercultural, communication and public speaking skills, otherwise known as ‘soft skills’, which graduate recruiters value. Research suggests that speaking two or more languages leads to a rise in cognitive processing, focus and the ability to multitask. If you work for a big international firm, speaking a language immediately puts you in line for interesting work which otherwise would not come your way.
Pupils follow the Edexcel specification for A level. This consists of two externally-examined papers assessing listening, reading and writing and a speaking assessment. The main text book is ‘A Level French’ linked to Dynamic Learning and endorsed by Edexcel; however, a wide variety of books and contemporary material are also used. The topics studied in year 1 are divided into three main areas and are adapted to fit with French society (family structures, education, the world of work), politics and art (music, media, festivals and traditions) and a film study. The topics in year 2 of the course deal with contemporary issues such as immigration and integration, France under the Occupation and a literary text.
Pupils will not only learn about the topics, but will also become confident to discuss the issues and their opinions through class discussion. Pupils also have a range of new materials to enable and encourage independent study along with books of interest - literary or otherwise - which will assist in preparing them for post-18 education.
Not only does French go well with many other subjects to form a joint honours degree, modern foreign languages are also classified as facilitating subjects, subjects favoured by top universities for a whole range of degree courses, so they are a great option, whatever you want to do!
French alumni have gone on to study single honours degrees in French and joint honours degrees combining French with another Language, Law, International Relations, Business Studies, Linguistics, Music, and Catering at the following universities: Oxford, Bath, Durham, Exeter, Reading, Manchester, Cardiff, UCL, Nottingham and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
A level Geography is a combination of multiple themes equally dispersed between human and physical geography. Pupils study 6 topics over the duration of the course and have to complete their own independent study.
Pupils who opt for geography tend to have a mixture of interests, from the sciences to more financial and ethical disciplines. This varying interest serves them well and many issues across all A levels are incorporated in Geography, from statistical analysis to globalisation and political powers.
Geography pupils find themselves studying at university and thereafter with excellent communication and investigation/research skills. Pupils who are interested in geography can seek employment in a variety of areas, including engineering, accountancy, economics, military, politics, human relations, conservation, preservation and forestry, surveying and meteorology to name a few.
A level geographers will follow the AQA A Level which gives a challenging and thorough coverage of physical and human geography. There is ample opportunity for practical elements within our lessons with four days of fieldwork and investigation. Pupils become highly competent in research interpretation and critical analysis of their data and methods of collection.
At the end of the Upper Sixth, pupils will sit two 2 hour and 30-minute papers both worth 40% each.
Geography A level Pupils go on to study a wide variety of courses at excellent universities including: Geography, Economics, Civil Engineering, Coastal Engineering, Biology, Marine Biology, Law, Human Relations, Politics, Development Studies and Teaching.
German is seen as a language worth learning for real purposes. The Department seeks to promote German as a vibrant language and the methodology of the Department revolves around communication in all forms for realistic purposes; this fosters a purposeful, relaxed and friendly classroom environment. Our pupils learning German hear the language used between teachers and around school.
The Department follows the Edexcel A Level specification. This consists of two externally-examined papers assessing listening, reading and writing and a speaking assessment. The course builds on IGCSE skills and encourages pupils to engage in more complex issues and develops their skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. The topics covered are more sophisticated, but the fundamental principle remains the same – language for communication.
The A Level course has a strong focus on the contemporary cultural, political and historical context of all German-speaking countries at the heart of modern Europe, whilst always keeping the interests of the young learner in mind. Using a wide range of materials (newspaper and magazine articles, video and audio media, posters, advertisements, internet) pupils discuss and write about topics such as leisure activities, cinema and film, contemporary politics, the environment, education, travel and other related issues.
The course is assessed through external assessment. The pupils complete one oral examination at the end of the course and then sit one paper assessing their Listening, Reading and Writing skills. Both of these examinations are prepared for throughout the two-year course.
Formal homework is set, focusing heavily on preparation for the examination, but pupils are expected to complete their additional self-study in their own time.
The Department has successfully run trips to the German-speaking world, most recently Vienna (2012) and Berlin (2014 and 2017). These trips are essential for the pupils to truly experience another culture – an essential aspect of both departmental and school-wide educational aims.
German alumni have gone on to study single honours degrees in German and joint honours degrees combining German with another Language, Law, International Relations, Music at the following universities; Oxford, Exeter, Reading, Manchester, UCL and Warwick.
History is one of the most popular A Level subjects at Plymouth College. We follow the OCR A Level History syllabus, and study two units in the Lower Sixth and two units in the Upper Sixth.
Why study History?
History is a highly regarded academic subject that can open up a wide range of career opportunities. It helps pupils to develop skills that are highly prized by both universities and employers alike, such as the ability to analyse, make judgements and to select and organise information. History is an excellent foundation for a number of well-respected degree topics including Law, Journalism, International Relations, Politics, Teaching, Banking and Accountancy. History is also one of eight A Level subjects regarded as ‘a facilitating’ subject by the Russell Group (a group of the top 24 UK universities), for its ability to provide access to a wide range of academic degrees.
Course content and assessment
We follow the OCR A Level History syllabus. This consists of three examined units (all examined at the end of the Upper Sixth Year), and a 4,000 word coursework assignment completed in the autumn of the Upper Sixth year.
Lower Sixth: In the Lower Sixth pupils study two modules.
Many pupils go on to study History or a related subject, such as Law or International Relations, at university. Recent destinations for some of our A Level historians include, reading Law at Exeter University, History at Imperial College, London, and Politics and International Relations at Nottingham University.
Trips and extracurricular activities:
In the past we have organised A Level trips to London to visit key sites linked to the Tudor unit of study, such as Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. Pupils have also had the opportunity to attend academic lectures on different aspects of the A Level course. We are hoping to organise an A Level trip to Germany to help deepen pupils’ understanding of the rise of National Socialism and the impact of the Cold War on German politics and society. Pupils who are particularly interested in Politics are able to join the Drake Society as part of their Sixth Form enrichment. This society tries to resolve some of the big issues facing the modern world, using an historical perspective.
Mathematics is one of the most popular subjects at Plymouth College. It is a subject highly valued by employers and universities and the department has a track record of consistent success.
Pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and to make the most of a supportive and committed group of teachers. There is a strong emphasis on algebraic and problem solving skills.
The new Mathematics A Level started nationwide in September 2017 with our first exams in May 2019. Three sets of pupils in each year group study the subject with another group doing Further Mathematics. All papers are sat at the end of the Upper Sixth.
All pupils will experience Mechanics and Statistics alongside Pure Maths, while the Further Mathematicians learn about the above in greater depth and breadth. The syllabus is now more similar in all exam boards and we follow the Edexcel courses, 9MA0 and 9MF0. Pure Maths makes up two-thirds of the A Level and one-half of Further Maths. Statistics and Mechanics contribute one-sixth each to the A Level and one-quarter each to Further Maths. Based on our success with the previous A Level, those with a sound work ethic should expect good results. Three 2 hour exams will be sat at the end of the Upper Sixth with the Further Mathematicians completing four more papers of the same length.
An A Level mathematician currently has six, fifty minute lessons per fortnight shared equally between two teachers and should expect to produce at least 3 hours of homework per week.
In the last three years, our pupils have gone on to study Mathematics at the universities of Oxford, UCL, Leeds and Sheffield. We have helped engineers achieve places at Imperial, Durham, Edinburgh and Loughborough, while the subject has been a popular choice for those going on to study Medicine.
Pupils in Lower and Upper Sixth can choose between studying the EDUQAS A Level PE or the EDEXCEL BTEC level 3 extended diploma in sport (outdoor adventure). You do not have to have studied PE at GCSE level to study either of these courses.
In Lower Sixth we offer students a choice between the Physical Education A Level or the Sport Baccalaureate, consisting of the Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport (Outdoor Adventure). You do not have to have studied GCSE PE to take either course.
The PE A Level course is run as a linear two year A Level. We follow the Eduqas syllabus. There are five topic areas which are taught throughout the two years and make up 70% of the A level. These are:
All five topic areas are examined by two separate papers at the end of the second year.
In addition to this is the practical element of the A level, worth 30%.
Students require one very good practical sport chosen from a wide range of activities and they can be assessed as either a participant or a coach. There are 34 practical options for students to be assessed in, which are:
|Amateur boxing||Association football||Athletics||Badminton|
|Cycling (track/road)||Dance||Diving (platform)||Gaelic football|
|Netball||Rock climbing||Rowing||Rugby league|
|Volleyball||Plus several disability specialist activities|
Practical performance as player/performer (15%) - learners must demonstrate and apply the relevant skills and techniques required for the sport/activity. All activities should be played under competitive/formal conditions.
Analysis and evaluation of performance (15%) - the analysis and evaluation should help the learner to improve personal performance as a player/performer or coach. It must be linked to the chosen practical activity and contain research into appropriate theoretical subject content. The students will also be required to produce a written piece of coursework (the Non-Examined Assessment).
Physics is a fundamental subject that drives our technology-rich society. The department’s aim is to reflect this energy in our teaching. The department aims to build on the academic excellence of the past, constantly enhance the use of up-to-date teaching methods and employ quality resources to engage pupils and help them achieve to their highest potential. We will provide a coherent educational experience for our pupils which will enable them to acquire sufficient knowledge and understanding to become confident citizens in a technologically-driven world, able to take or develop an informed interest and opinion in matters of scientific importance.
Most importantly, we wish to develop in our pupils:
At A level we follow the AQA syllabus. The Lower Sixth course consists of topics in particles, mechanics, waves and electricity, and the Upper Sixth course comprises further mechanics, thermal physics, fields and nuclear physics, plus an optional topic, usually Astrophysics but this depends on the wishes of the particular cohort. AS exams are no longer taken in the linear A levels, so all the assessment is at the end of the two-year course.
Physics A level is taught by three specialist teachers. We have five fully-equipped Physics laboratories clustered around an office and pupil support room. Each laboratory has an interactive whiteboard and projector with full AV. We have a dedicated Physics technician who oversees a thorough range of key stage-specific apparatus.
Our teaching employs modern methodology including a wide range of teaching strategies to ensure that all types of learner are able to access the lessons. This includes the use of technology in appropriate forms, active learning, group work and experimental work, whist also integrating traditional teaching techniques.
We pride ourselves on our open-door policy for 1:1 support for all our pupils.
We run a trip to the CERN high energy Physics research facility in Geneva every few years, which is open to Sixth Form and Year 11 pupils who are interested in post-16 Physics. In the past few years, we have also run gifted and talented workshops, and we are involved in various STEM related projects in school and beyond.
In the Sixth Form, Physics is a popular option and we have two groups who follow the AQA A level course. This is a very good course not only for further development in the subject, but also as preparation for scientific and other technical degree courses. Many of our pupils go on to study Physics, Engineering and Mathematics at very good universities.
Psychology continues to be a popular choice in the Sixth Form at Plymouth College.
Pupils studying the course enjoy this novel and fascinating subject which has applications to real life and is relevant for all future education and career paths. As well as gaining an insight into a variety of topics within this vast science, pupils develop valuable and transferable skills. These include being able to analyse research and theories in terms of their strengths and limitations; being able to apply their knowledge of Psychology to scenarios and novel situations and, of course, developing a deeper understanding of why humans behave the way that they do.
Psychology pupils learn about what memory actually is, why we forget and whether it is reliable when giving an eyewitness testimony. Other areas covered include the attachment between a child and a caregiver and whether disrupting this can have negative consequences.
Further topics include types of conformity and why we feel the need to conform; the reasons behind why people obey even when they know that their actions will cause harm; definitions of and explanations for abnormal behaviours (for example, phobias) together with therapies to treat these abnormalities.
The specification followed is AQA and for the full A Level qualification, three exam papers need to be completed in the Summer of Upper Sixth.
A Level Philosophy
In the Sixth Form pupils can study Philosophy at A Level. This course helps to enhance analytical and evaluative skills thus supporting the ability to reason. Presenting ideas logically, questioning and clear headed thinking are useful in so many professions.
We enhance our learning by attending Philosophy conferences and the Lower Sixth are given the opportunity for a life changing visit to Auschwitz. Many of our pupils have gone on to study Philosophy, Theology or Religious Studies at university.
A Level RE
Whether we are debating the ideas of William James and David Hume, or discussing the merits and drawbacks of euthanasia from a case in today’s newspaper or even reflecting upon the origins of our universe, the questions we ask have resonated with humans down the ages.
In any pupil’s future, at both degree level and beyond, the ability to analyse and evaluate arguments, challenge assumptions and think creatively are vital skills for the world we live in. As a department, we want pupils who have a love of ideas, whilst we maintain excellent results at GCSE and A Level.
The AS course follows the Eduqas specification and begins by looking at the challenges to the Existence of God from psychology and atheism, and then analyses and evaluates the various proofs of the existence of God. Finally, we study the Problem of Suffering and the theodicies that are designed to reconcile the Existence of both God and Suffering in the world. Ethically we study the theories of Utilitarianism and Natural Law Theory, applying these value systems to relevant and interesting issues such as sexual ethics and voluntary euthanasia. We also give pupils the opportunity to study Buddhism in detail looking at religious figures and sacred texts, religious concepts and religious life and religious practices that shape religious belief. In year 12, pupils attend lectures delivered by famous philosophers such as Keith Ward and, two specially selected pupils will have an opportunity to visit Auschwitz.
Within Buddhism we study the social and historical developments in religious thought. In ethics, we study ethical thought alongside determinism and free will. The A level topics studied in the Philosophy of Religion include, religious language and an examination of the relationship between religion and science.
As a vibrant and committed department we work hard to ensure that our pupils are able to unlock their potential. Pupils enjoy lessons and are encouraged to think independently, to debate and to analyse. These vital skills will provide an excellent basis for their further education.
A Level Spanish is highly respected and valued by universities and employers. Not only does it teach very valuable skills such as communication and interpreting skills, it opens doors into firms who have international connections across the globe owing to the high importance of Spanish (with over 400 million native Spanish speakers). Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, spoken across all continents and in 23 countries as the native language. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations (alongside Arabic, Mandarin, English, French & Russian), and is used as an official language by Mercosur and the European Union.
Spanish not only has the rigour and gravitas desired by universities, but for pupils who are looking for a career using communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving, team working, intercultural, organisational and presentational skills and independence, which graduate recruiters value, Spanish will give them excellent job prospects through its valuable practical and transferrable skills whether pupils choose to specialise or combine it with engineering, management and business, hospitality or law among others. Research suggests that speaking two or more languages leads to a rise in cognitive processing, focus and the ability to multitask. If you work for a big international firm, speaking a language immediately puts you in line for interesting work which otherwise would not come your way.
Pupils will follow the Edexcel specification for A level. This consists of two externally-examined papers assessing listening, reading and writing and a speaking assessment. The main text book ‘A Level Spanish’ linked to Dynamic Learning and endorsed by Edexcel; however, further contemporary material is used and available. The topics studied are adapted to fit with changing Spanish society and include the role of the family, tourism, the world of work, politics and art as well as a film and literary study. Pupils will not only learn about the topics, but above all will become confident to discuss the issues and their opinion through class discussion. Pupils also have a range of new materials to enable and encourage independent study, which will assist in preparing them for post-18 education.
Not only does Spanish go well with many other subjects to form a joint honours degree, modern foreign languages are also classified as facilitating subjects - subjects favoured by top universities for a whole range of degree courses.
Spanish alumni have gone on to study single honours degrees in Spanish as well as combining Spanish as part of a joint honours degree at the following universities; Bath, Exeter, Reading, Manchester and UCL.