Academic Curriculum
Sixth Form

Ancient History

At A level, students tackle some of the most enticing topics and debates from the ancient world, such as the Spartan Mirage, the causes of the Peloponnesian War, the downfall of the Roman Republic and the nature of Julio-Claudian imperial rule. Students encounter a wide variety of primary materials from some of the greatest authors of the classical world and learn to scrutinise sources critically and contextually. 

Ancient history combines brilliantly with other humanities subjects, such as history, philosophy and politics and classical languages. 

Art and Design

Art and design develops and broadens practical skills and creative visual language. Students learn to reflect purposefully on what they have created and understand how their work relates to the broader world of art and design through independent research, gallery visits, group discussion and written critical analysis. 

Students work in a dedicated studio with their own workspaces which are always accessible when the school is open. 

Biology

Students learn best through experimentation, so we develop practical skills and confidence to directly explore questions in the laboratory. 

We teach the importance of questioning, developing skills to critically assess, while producing and analysing data to draw conclusions. 

We ensure students leave with the practical skills needed for a scientific university course. Students should be able to calibrate the eyepiece graticule of a microscope using a stage micrometre and know how to examine a range of histological material. They should also be confident handling a variety of biological equipment and performing a range of experiments from serial dilutions to dissection of material. 

Chemistry

Practical work is at the core of our approach, helping students develop dexterity, observation and interpretation skills. 

The study of chemistry develops many transferable and higher-order thinking skills. It refines students’ scientific enquiry skills, their confidence in selecting the right methods and in carrying out practical work.  

Students develop their ability to explain changes observed at macro and microscopic level and learn to interpret and critically assess others’ interpretations, such as those made in the media. 

Computer Science

Computer science is an exciting and highly relevant course not only in its own right, but also to support further study in many other subjects, including maths, economics, engineering and the natural sciences. 

Manipulating large data sets algorithmically plays an increasingly essential part in higher education and research. Being comfortable and confident to create programmatic solutions to workplace challenges, irrespective of your chosen field or career path, can set students apart in a competitive world. 

Design and Technology

This is an academic and hands-on course over two years that focuses on the core principles of designing and fabrication, specifically geared towards product design. 

This hands-on subject sets to understand user requirements in design and combines programmable electronics with 3D modelling and mechanical manufacture, and a broad knowledge of tools and machinery. 

We develop how a product can be iterated through the stages of prototyping, realisation and commercial manufacture. The course produces empathetic learners who have the ability to confidently critique products and their use in situations and society, while building skills in thinking and designing too.  

Economics

Economics is a serious, intellectually challenging subject combining analytical reasoning and an evaluative approach to issues with the study of important developments in current affairs in the UK and abroad. 

While facts play an important part, there is often no ‘right answer’ to economic questions, making it a subject characterised by informed discussion.  

We make the subject highly relevant and topical, enthusing students through making clear links to what is happening in economies right now. An understanding of the issues in the news today provides a great framework for getting to grips with complex ideas, giving students interesting examples that illustrate the theory in action. 

English Literature

English Literature is one of the most established, rigorous and widely-recognised A level courses. It allows students to engage in a stimulating and demanding way with a wide variety of texts, ranging from 14th-Century English poet Chaucer to contemporary British playwright Jez Butterworth. 

This course is lively and interactive, from group work to student-led seminar presentations, and improvisation in class to analysing film language. Discussing complex ideas and challenging themes in a lively and supportive environment is integral to our working methods, and students grow in skill and confidence as they explore texts in detail. 

French

The study of French allows students to develop confidence and demonstrate competency in the most sought-after transferable skills.  

There is no better way to demonstrate communication skills than through the ability to discuss, debate and persuade in another language. By the end of the course our students can also work collaboratively and individually to research topics, critically analyse information and creatively solve problems. 

Cultural awareness is also increasingly important in our society and in the global economy. We aim to foster this awareness as we study Francophone culture across the different continents. 

Geography

A level geography provides an opportunity to work and think independently. We strongly believe fieldwork is an essential component of the subject as reading around the discipline forms a core part of the learning and helps students build skills ready for life at university and beyond. 

Students have ample opportunity to develop literacy skills such as critical assessment, argument and essay writing, debating and communication, numeracy skills such as the use of graphs and statistics, digital skills such as the use of GIS and communications skills of research, analysis and presentation. 

German

Our approach to AS level German and Goethe Zertifikat (GZ) is rooted in an understanding of what makes Germany tick today. Through their appreciation of what it is to be German, students develop the ability to think in a non-Anglophone way and to connect effectively with Germans on many levels, in addition to becoming competent linguists. 

Greek

Studying classical Greek requires students to become confident linguists as well as critical analysts of literature written in the language. During the course, students should expect to read texts by such authors as Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus and Thucydides, and become immersed in the myth, history and culture of the Greek world.  

In almost every case, those wishing to study classical Greek in the Sixth Form will need to have taken classical Greek at GCSE. Although many students will study Latin alongside classical Greek in the Sixth Form, it is quite possible to study classical Greek without Latin. 

History

History contributes richly to our students’ understanding of the world; it expands horizons and explodes assumptions. For many, the study of the past has its own inherent fascination, yet its value for all is that history opens our minds to new, and often challenging, human encounters. History reveals the interdependence of people’s actions and ideas. History informs us of humanity’s failings and prejudices, its achievements and aspirations.

By engaging with history, students understand and appreciate not only the characteristic features and diversity of British society, but of a range of societies, political and social structures, cultures and beliefs. We aim to cultivate students’ ability to construct an argument, both orally and on paper, and to write and think analytically.

Latin

Studying Latin requires students to become confident linguists as well as critical analysts of the literature written in that language. Students read texts from authors such as Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Livy and Tacitus, and become immersed in the mythical origins of the Roman world as well as its gritty political realities. 

Latin provides a chance to learn more about the Romans and their literature, an opportunity to understand the language behind so much scientific and medical terminology and a means of improving one’s understanding of the way languages, both ancient and modern, work. 

Languages – other

We offer A level Italian (subject to demand) as well as a wide range of internationally recognised language proficiency qualifications. Click on the link below to find out more.

Mandarin

The study of Mandarin as a Perse Elective in the Lower Sixth allows students to build upon their skills in the language from GCSE, and develop confidence to apply their knowledge in a higher education or working environment.

During the year-long course, students gain a HSK qualification (汉语水平考试), which is an internationally recognised qualification in Mandarin proficiency.  Generally, a minimum level of HSK 4 is required for oversees study and work in China.

Furthermore, the HSK qualification will demonstrate competency in the most sought-after transferable skills and will set students apart from the field in their future applications.

Maths

Our philosophy is rooted in creating confidence in maths. Students will frequently encounter problems that could, on first glance, appear beyond them and will certainly test their skills to the maximum. We help students to confidently unpick a question and select the best maths to deploy each time, giving students the ability to face challenges undaunted. 

Students who study maths at A level learn to appreciate the difference between an answer and a solution, using their knowledge, skills and intuition to select the most appropriate maths to bring to bear on any question. We help them develop rigorous working habits, instilling the importance of writing proper solutions and making judicious use of computers. 

Music

A level music embraces the creative, interpretative, historical and analytical aspects of the subject. The syllabus encourages an integrated approach to the three main elements of performing, composing and appraising. It also allows students to explore either performance or composition in more depth. Through the wide variety of historical topics, students will be both inspired and challenged. 

Philosophy

Philosophy is an intellectually challenging subject which suits those interested in big ideas who enjoy writing evaluative essays. The subject provides an academically rigorous overview of philosophical and theological enquiry, as well as high-level explorations of epistemology and the philosophy of the mind. 

We give students an introduction to the Western philosophical tradition through the key concepts, ideas, texts and arguments which have played a large role in shaping our intellectual heritage. We encourage students to form their own judgements, express them coherently and contribute to the process of debate. Alongside the intellectual rigour of the course, philosophy is great fun to learn and fosters a huge amount of discussion and critical engagement. 

Physics

We place a strong emphasis on practical work in our teaching of physics. Lessons are designed to give each student hands-on experience of tackling a problem, in order for them to grasp a concept. This, plus our focus on thinking skills and our commitment to stretching students beyond the syllabus, helps to ensure that students feel confident facing the more complex challenges they will encounter at university.

The A level course gives students a firm foundation in classical physics, along with an introduction to some intellectually stimulating modern concepts, and we often go deeper into topics such as special relativity, quantum physics and astrophysics. The course develops students’ understanding of the historical development of some concepts of physics, and the link between experiment and theory.

Politics

The department specialises in UK politics and US politics with courses that provide a grounding in the political theory and practice of both countries and encourage students to make links with different political systems across the globe. There is also a unit on the core ideologies of liberalism, conservatism and socialism with a further study on nationalism. This ideological content provides an intellectual foundation for the other aspects of the course. 

Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. It is a diverse field that incorporates such issues as the nature of thought and memory, social roles and psychopathology. Psychology requires of students both the precision and rigour of the sciences, but also the subtlety and creativity of the arts.  

Whilst few of our students come to psychology having studied it before, many soon find it to be the subject that most awakens and stimulates their minds. 

Religious Studies

Religious studies offers a window to a higher-level theological and philosophical discussion. 

We encourage students to discover truth for themselves, to develop the ability to articulate their own worldview, and to adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach. 

In the course, students explore religious, ethical and existential questions through rational and critical enquiry and by studying the language and concepts people have used to talk about God. 

Spanish

While we foster our students’ interest in the Spanish language in its own right as an academic subject, we go much further by exploring the importance of the language in the modern world and discovering the history, arts, traditions, and popular culture of Spanish-speaking countries. 

Through their study of Spanish, our students develop their oral and analytical skills, as well as their linguistic accuracy and their ability to express themselves in a persuasive manner, both orally and in writing. 

Sport

Find out more about our curricular and extra-curricular sport.

Timetables

Take a look at some example timetables for the Sixth Form.

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