science

BTEC Extended Certificate in Applied Science (Forensic Science)

Qualification: 
BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate
Duration: 
2 years
Level: 
3
Curriculum Manager: 
Fiona Revell

What is the BTEC Extended Certificate in Applied Science (Forensic Science)?

This is an excellent opportunity to develop Level 3 Science skills across the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, however, the emphasis is largely on Applied Chemistry. This two year course will enable you to gain a good understanding of the industrial application of Science and professional roles of scientists in the world of work. A BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate is a practical course. You achieve modules by completing assignments and some time-constrained assessments. The assignments combine practical work, individual research and taught theory, and are based on realistic situations.

You will study three core units plus the equivalent of three 60 guided learning hours (GLH) specialist units over two years covering a range of topics.

The three core units are:

  • Fundamentals of Science
  • Working in the Science industry
  • Scientific practical techniques

The specialist units will include:

  • Chemical laboratory techniques
  • Forensic evidence collection and analysis
  • Medical Physics techniques

The Award is equivalent to one A Level and carries a maximum of 56 UCAS points.

Is the BTEC Extended Certificate in Applied Science (Forensic Science) suitable for me?

The course is suitable for students who enjoy science but do not want to specialise totally in one area.

How will I learn?

You will be taught by specialist teachers in The Beacon Science Centre.

How will I be assessed?

The BTEC Extended Certificate is 100% coursework assessed and may include portfolio work - there are no exams. Projects are submitted for marking on a regular basis throughout the course. They are assessed internally by your teachers and then moderated by the board.

Your work will be graded pass, merit or distinction. The BTEC Extended Certificate is equivalent to one A Level and carries a maximum of 56 UCAS points. The BTEC Certificate, awarded after successful completion of one year, carries a maximum of 28 UCAS points. 

Students must complete and pass the first year to be awarded a BTEC Certificate and the full 2 years of the course to receive the full BTEC Extended Certificate.

We are aware that Edexcel is currently evaluating the assessment process and there may be the introduction of an examined unit. Further information is unavailable at the current time.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C. Alternatively if you have studied at level 2 you should have achieved a merit or above. Vocational courses are an ideal qualification for students who prefer coursework. You should have achieved a Grade C or C/C in Science GCSE.

Course costs

£20 for the resource pack per year.

Physics

Qualification: 
A Level
Duration: 
2 years
Level: 
3
Curriculum Manager: 
Ian Martin

What is A Level Physics?

What can physicists tell us about our bodies, our world, or the universe we inhabit? How do ultrasound scanners or fibre optic communications work?  What did Isaac Newton have to do with landing a space probe on a comet? How did physicists at CERN develop PET scanners used in cancer diagnosis?  These are just a few of the many questions addressed in the A-level Physics course.  We look at the nature and behaviour of matter from the subatomic scale to that of the universe itself.

To understand all this, of course, we have to study principles of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics and waves, photons and quantum phenomena. You will need an enquiring mind and an ability to cope with mathematics. The analytical and numerical skills you gain will be useful in a wide variety of careers, including architecture, engineering (structural, mechanical, aeronautical, electronic, sound…), medicine (radiology, optometry, dentistry…) materials science, meteorology, satellite imagery, consultancy, finance, and many more.

The first year of the A Level covers 4 specific areas of physics:

  • Practical Skills in physics (laboratory-assessed)
  • Foundations of Physics (quantities & units, measurement & analysis)
  • Forces and Motion (motion & projectiles, forces & work, energy & power, momentum & collisions)
  • Electrons, Waves and Photons (charge & current, energy & power, resistance & circuits; wave behaviour, interference & stationary waves, photons, electrons & quantum physics)

As well as continuing to develop Practical Skills (see Practical Endorsement below), two more modules complete the two year A-level course:

  • The Newtonian World and Astrophysics (thermal physics & ideal gases, oscillations & circular motion, gravitation & planetary motion, stars, stellar distance & cosmology)
  • Particle and Medical Physics (capacitors and electric fields, magnetic fields & electromagnetism, behaviour of charged particles in fields, nuclear atom, radioactivity, fission & fusion, fundamental particles; medical imaging & diagnosis using X-rays , PET scans, ultrasound and more)

For A-level students, exams will be taken at the end of the two year course, with an option to take AS at the end of year 12. However, an AS no longer counts as part of a full A-level.

How will I learn?

The A Level Physics course provides a distinctive structure to allow students to learn about fundamental physical concepts and about physics in everyday and technological settings.

The course is supported by a range of resources on Moodle, the college VLE; and on-line resources including Kerboodle and Isaac Physics. Extensive use is made of computers within our laboratories. Resources will include questions, images, text, video clips and interactive animations, virtual experiments and quizzes; all designed to help you grasp the fundamental physics concepts. To make full use of this, you will need a computer at home with a fast internet connection. There is also a textbook (A-level Physics for OCR A) to accompany the course.A  A typical week may include class teaching and practical experiments, working online or using the college VLE, discussion & development of ideas and research into applications, as well as attempting practice questions in class and for homework.

The amount of homework for both AS and A Level will be about 4 hours per week. The style of homework will include experiment reports, numerical questions, and research. Students will be expected to take increasing responsibility to work independently outside lessons. There will also be a series of Directed Study tasks set, whose aim is to consolidate and extend your study of Physics.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment will be by means of written exams at the end of each course. Students will also gain a Practical Endorsement based on skills developed and demonstrated during the A-level course. The table below details the percentage weighting of each assessment in the overall A level.

Assessment Year 1 Year 2
Paper 1 90 mins (50%) 135 mins (37%)
Paper 2 90 mins (50%) 135 mins (37%)
Paper 3   90 mins (26%)

Practical Endorsement is Centre Assessed

To achieve a Practical Endorsement you will undertake a range of experiments (12 over the two years) to display your competency in:

  • Following procedures
  • Applying an investigative approach when using instruments and equipment
  • Working safely
  • Making and recording observations
  • Researching, referencing and reporting

The Practical Endorsement is in addition to the A-level itself, but will be required by most STEM courses at University. It is simply graded pass/fail, according to whether you have carried out the required body of work.

Progression

Physics is an excellent qualification, well thought of by employers. It is an essential subject for a wide range of degree courses in Science and Engineering. The career possibilities are extensive ranging from industrial and scientific research through management, business and finance, to medicine and education.

Some of our past students:

Gina –studying Engineering at Cambridge University

James – studying Mathematics at Oxford University

Grace – studying Biomedical Engineering at King’s College London

Ben – studying Mathematics at Leeds University

Mary – studying Structural Engineering and Architecture at Sheffield University

Alex – studying Electronics at York University

Amelia – studying Physics at Southampton University

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved a minimum of a B/C profile at GCSE. To study Physics we will normally expect a Grade 6 in Maths, and a B in Physics or Double Science.

Course costs

Essential: approximately £40 anticipated for new textbook and CDROM. All students will be expected to provide their own textbook and revision guide, stationery and calculators.

Optional: we organise visits to a number of venues, this year including Diamond Light near Oxford and CERN in Switzerland. Cost may range from £10 for a day trip to £300 for a CERN residential course.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of the financial support scheme on our website.

Course Code

OCRH156/H556

Chemistry

Qualification: 
A Level
Duration: 
2 years
Level: 
3
Curriculum Manager: 
Fiona Revell

What is Chemistry?

A level Chemistry will give you an exciting insight into the contemporary world of Chemistry. It covers the key concepts of Chemistry and practical skills are integrated throughout the course. This combination of academic challenge and practical focus makes studying A level Chemistry highly appealing for many students. Chemistry investigates the properties and structure of a whole range of different substances and is also concerned with chemical reactions in which new substances are produced.

What’s in the course?

  • Atoms, compounds, molecules and equations
  • Acid-base and redox reactions
  • Electrons, bonding and structure
  • The periodic table and periodicity
  • pH and buffers
  • Enthalpy, entropy and free energy
  • Organic chemistry and organic synthesis
  • Polymers
  • Analytical techniques, chromatography, spectroscopy

Is Chemistry suitable for me?

Are you…

  • Wanting to understand how chemistry can impact the environment?
  • Interested in the world around you?
  • A problem solver?
  • Wanting to work in the chemical industry?
  • Keen on practical work?

If you have ever wondered about the answers to any of the following questions, then you have been thinking about some of the problems that Chemists solve. You will be able to answer these questions yourself when you have completed the course.

  • What is the importance of 6.02 x 1023?
  • How is nitrogen similar to arsenic?
  • How can spectroscopy be used to solve a crime?
  • How does the shape and bonding in a molecule affect its smell?
  • How can dissolving plastics be manufactured?

Each year we survey our students and ask for feedback on the course, here are some of their comments….
“The creativity of the lessons and visual learning really helps to understand concepts in chemistry that are difficult to learn. The extra exam practice revision sessions are extremely helpful on Friday lunchtimes.”
“Having all aspects of the course tied together and related to real life was very good.”
“Being able to ask teachers for help”
“I liked the varying lesson structure making the lessons more interesting than just making notes”
“Online End of Module tests are a good way of revising and checking your knowledge before an end of module test in class.”
“My teacher was always extremely helpful and has always been approachable for questions. Going through past paper questions in class was also very helpful.”
“Advice and guidance was always to hand and I feel that this guidance was one of the most important tools I used during my time at Alton.”

How will I learn?

In class you will carry out a variety of activities which include practical sessions (for which you must wear a lab coat and safety glasses supplied by the College), group discussions, solving problems, analysing data, making models to help you understand molecular structure and interpreting scientific information.

You will be expected to do at least 4 to 5 hours study time per week outside lessons. There is a Science Work Area where students can borrow the resources used in class for further study. The resources are also available on the College network. Each topic takes approximately one month and you will have a test at the end of each. You will need to be very organised in your approach to work and you will be helped to take responsibility for your own learning as the course progresses.

How will I be assessed?

3 written papers;

Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry. 2 ¼ hours, 37% of total A level marks
Synthesis and analytical techniques., 2 ¼ hours, 37% of total A level marks
Unified chemistry, 1 ½ hours, 26% of total A level marks. 

To achieve a Practical Endorsement you will undertake a range of experiments to display your competency in:

  • Following procedures
  • Applying an investigative approach when using instruments and equipment
  • Working safely
  • Making and recording observations
  • Researching, referencing and reporting

Progression

Past students have gone on to a wide range of courses and careers. Chemistry is an essential subject for Higher Education in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Pharmacology, Food Science, Veterinary Science and for some Biology courses. Lee came to Alton College with ten GCSEs including Chemistry. He took A Levels in Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths and AS Spanish. He studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and is now doing his PhD at Oxford. Danielle came with 10 GCSEs including Double Science. She took A Levels in Chemistry, Psychology, Art and AS Biology. She is now studying Forensic Science at Kent.

Approximately 65% of our students each year will be using their Chemistry in a Higher Education course.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C. To study Chemistry we will normally expect a Grade B in Chemistry or Double Science and a Grade 6 in Maths.

Course costs

All students will be expected to provide their own stationery and calculators (where appropriate). Students will also use online resources such as Kerboodle which has an online copy of the textbook. Purchase of a textbook is therefore optional.

Any further costs are outlined below:
Optional: £20 for trips

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

 

Course Code

OCRH432

Biology

Qualification: 
A Level
Duration: 
2 years
Level: 
3
Curriculum Manager: 
Dr Libby Smith

What is Biology?

Biology is the study of living organisms; it covers a wide range of exciting topics, from molecular biology right up to the study of whole ecosystems. Biology is often in the news and has many applications in everyday life. For example, the human genome has been sequenced and we now know the arrangement of the millions of bases that make up human DNA. There are now more than 2,000 genetic tests for human conditions. These tests enable patients to learn their genetic risks for disease and also help healthcare professionals to diagnose disease. Based on a deeper understanding of disease at the genomic level, in the future we will see a whole new generation of new targeted treatments, many of which will be drugs that are much more effective and cause fewer side effects than those available today.  Another major issue that will affect future generations is that the human population is rapidly increasing. The impact that this will have on the environment and how scientists can increase food production by intensive farming and genetic engineering will also be studied.

Topics include:
Year 1

1. Biological molecules

2. Cells

3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment

4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Year 2

5. Energy transfers in and between organisms

6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

8. The control of gene expression

Is Biology suitable for me?

Biology is an obvious choice if you are interested in a career in Medicine, Veterinary Science or other health related professions. However, it is also a fascinating subject in its own right and develops scientific, mathematical and literacy skills which are well respected by all University courses.

How will I learn?

In Biology, you will be taught by experienced, specialist staff. The Biology department was graded as outstanding in the last OFSTED inspection. 

Students work through interactive packs of notes in lessons. They find the packs very useful as having pre-printed notes allows them to concentrate more in class, the packs help students to organise their work better and the questions within the packs allows students to apply their new knowledge to exam-style questions. Regular practical classes allow students to develop laboratory skills which will be assessed (leading to a practical endorsement) and  experimental knowledge will be tested within the written exams.

Students who are applying for competitive courses such as oxbridge, medicine, veterinary science and dentistry have a dedicated staff mentor who will guide them through all stages of the application process from admission tests, through to personal statements and then to  mock interviews.

Extra “Interested and enthusiastic” sessions are offered to those students who wish to go beyond the subjects taught within the A-level specification.  Students are encouraged to enter the Biology Olympiad and other competitions throughout the year. Some of our students have taken part in the Microverse Research project as part of the citizen science initiative organised by the Natural History Museum.

Many extracurricular trips are run each year and this year included visits to the University of Southampton, Reading and Portsmouth where students had the opportunity to perform experiments in the University laboratories. Other trips included attending the “Biology in Action” lectures at the Institute of Education in London, and attending interactive workshops run by the Royal College of Pathologists and Anaesthetists. Every two years a marine ecology field trip is taken abroad in the summer to give students the opportunity to learn to scuba dive and take part in ecological research under the guidance of University staff; in July 2015 our students took part in a marine biology expedition in Greece.

All of the Biology staff are experienced extended project supervisors and Biology is a very popular subject area within which students choose their research projects. Those students who have interviews at University find the research skills they gain from the extended project invaluable.

There is a lot of factual knowledge to learn in Biology. Students need to develop their revision techniques from GCSE to cope with this and they are given regular end of topic tests to ensure that they are learning the material as they progress through the course and that they have understood what is taught.  There is a comprehensive support system for any students that find the step-up from GCSE challenging.  Extra lessons take place each week to target those students who need a little extra help. There is also an extensively used peer mentoring system in place.  The open door policy ensures that any student needing extra support can drop in to see their teacher when they are free.  Students are encouraged to work in the science study area near to the teaching laboratories.

Students need to be organised in their approach to independent work and be committed to at least five hours extra per week on this subject. This will involve weekly reading of the relevant text book chapters, preparing revision notes, practicing past exam questions and other homework such as writing up practical experiments.

How will I be assessed?

This qualification is linear. Linear means that students will sit all the A-level exams at the end of their A-level course.

In your second year you will have three assessments:
Paper 1: What's assessed?
Any content from topics 1 - 4, including relevant practical skills

Paper 2: What's assessed?
Any content from topics 5 - 8, including relevant practical skills

Paper 3: What's assessed?
Any content from topics 1 - 8, including relevant practical skills

To achieve a Practical Endorsement you will undertake a range of experiments to display your competency in:

  • Following procedures
  • Applying an investigative approach when using instruments and equipment
  • Working safely
  • Making and recording observations
  • Researching, referencing and reporting

Progression

Students who have followed this course have gone on to a wide range of courses and careers. These include, medicine, veterinary science, biology, biochemistry, nursing, physiotherapy, sports science.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.

It is essential that you have gained at least grade B in Biology or B/B in Science before starting the course.  

Part of the course will include Chemistry and 10% of the course is Mathematics. You do not need to follow these subjects at A Level, although a Grade 6 in GCSE Maths is preferred. As there is an essay component to the assessments and lots of new terminology to learn it is important that you have good English skills.

Course costs

All students will be expected to provide their own textbooks, stationery and calculators (where appropriate).

Essential:
£20 per year for written resources and electronic book.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Course code

AQA 7401/7402

 

 

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