Subjects and Curriculum | Epsom College

The academic curriculum at Epsom is broad, and delivered by staff who know their subjects deeply and care passionately about passing on their knowledge and enthusiasm. In each and every year group the choice of subjects, and the syllabus delivered, has been carefully selected to ensure pupils enjoy their education while also being challenged to succeed.

Lower School (Years 7 & 8)

The arts and humanities are covered with lessons in Geography, History, Religious Studies and English. Creatively, pupils are well catered for with lessons in Art, Music and Drama.

They are also introduced to the world of STEM, by way of Maths, Computer Science and Design & Technology. The Sciences are taught individually, following a bespoke curriculum which extends pupils beyond the confines of the National Curriculum and introduces them to the principles and practices that underpin all scientific study.

Every pupil takes Latin once a week, and they choose two modern languages from French, German, Mandarin and Spanish.

Wellbeing is timetabled for one lesson a week and covers a range of issues related to your child’s personal, social, relational and mental wellbeing. And Lower School pupils are also introduced to the art of reading, researching, reasoning and public speaking in weekly Trivium lessons.

Middle Fourth (Year 9)

This year, pupils cement what they have studied in Years 7 and 8 and start to look ahead to their GCSEs. Their knowledge and skills are deepened in the subjects studied in Lower School, while PSHE replaces Wellbeing.

Having learnt the vital skills to aid their scientific study, pupils no longer take ‘How Science Works’. Trivium is also dropped from the timetable, as the skills learnt can now be deployed in our many co-curricular activities. This frees more of the timetable for further academic study.

Pupils choose a modern language from French, German, Mandarin and Spanish, and supplement that with either a second modern language or a choice of either Latin or Classical Civilisation.

GCSEs (Years 10 & 11)

Pupils complete 10 GCSEs/IGCSEs, and choose their options in the Lent term of Year 9. Seven subjects are compulsory, with three being optional.

Pupils study three sciences, Maths and English (language and literature). They must also choose a Modern or Classical Language from French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Latin, Classical Civilisation and English as an Additional Language (for those who require it). Three optional subjects are chosen from:

  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Design & Technology
  • Drama
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Latin
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Physical Education
  • Religious Studies
  • Spanish

A-levels (Years 12 & 13)

Students study three A-levels, and to foster independence and responsibility, a core curriculum option. A-levels are chosen from Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Computer Science, Design & Technology, Drama & Theatre Studies, Economics, English Literature, French, Geography, German, History, Latin, Maths (and Further Maths), Mandarin, Music, Photography, Physical Education, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies and Spanish.

We also offer the Business BTEC Level 3 National Diploma which is equivalent to studying two A-levels.

Core Curriculum

The academic curriculum is enriched by our Core Curriculum, and pupils pursue one from the following throughout Lower Sixth:

  • Core Maths
  • English AP
  • Extended Project Qualification
  • International Certificate for Digital Literacy
  • Young Enterprise

The Subjects Offered at Epsom

Please click below for more detail about what each of our subjects and departments offers pupils.

Art

All pupils study Art from Year 7-9, after which it becomes an optional GCSE and A-level subject.

We encourage our artists to take risks, explore their creativity through varied media, and develop confidence and fluency as the progress through the College. In Years 7-8 pupils learn in groups of around 15, taking lessons in our studios in the John Piper Art School. We treat Year 9 as a foundation year and focus on developing pupils’ ideas through drawing, painting, mixed media, printmaking, lens-based work and sculpture.

GCSE

The Fine Art GCSE is split between pupils developing a portfolio of work (60% of the final mark) and responding to an externally set task (40% of the final mark). Pupils are engaged in the creative process of making, developing practical skills, exploring creative thinking and becoming confident risk-takers and reflective learners. They will work with a variety of materials, exploring drawing, painting, mixed media, printmaking, lens-based work and sculpture.

A-level

The Fine Art A-level is a broad and inclusive Art A-level. Students develop their practice and refine their skills. In response to a theme, each student creates their own body of work, choosing from a range of media tailored to their artistic interests and strengths. Traditional skills – drawing, painting, printmaking – are refined, but students may also work with lens-based and mixed media, installation, and in three dimensions. The resulting work is high quality, original and deeply personal. It is common for Art to record close to 100% A-A*s.

Download Handout from Sixth Form Choices Evening, January 2023

Download Accompanying Slideshow of Pupil Artwork

CONTACT THE HEAD OF ART

Biology

Biology is taught throughout the school as one of three individual sciences. It is compulsory from Year 7 through to GCSE, after which it becomes an A-level option.

Students are taught by subject experts, all of whom have a wealth of teaching experience and come from a variety of biological backgrounds. Many have been involved in post-doctoral research and their expertise ranges from plant science and zoology to cancer studies and developmental biology.

In the Lower School, pupils work in mixed-ability groups learning the fundamental of the subject. The focus of the lower school syllabus is to build both practical and investigative skills in our young biologists that will stand them in excellent stead for the remainder of their school career. The topics covered across the two-year course include: cells and microscopy, the philosophy of science, reproduction, human evolution and plant biology. Pupils will also have the opportunity to complete an ecology project during the global conservation topic. Pupils will use their iPads for data logging, recording and research.

GCSE

All pupils follow the Edexcel IGCSE syllabus from Year 9 onwards. Year 9 is seen as a foundation year in which pupils deepen their subject knowledge and prepare for what is an academically rigorous and highly practical course. The IGCSE encourages pupils to consider the pros and cons of scientific development related to society, the environment and the economy.

There is no coursework content and pupils sit two exams at the end of the course.

A-level

We follow the Edexcel B syllabus. In the Lower Sixth students examine:

  • Biological molecules
  • Cells, Viruses and Reproduction
  • Classification and Biodiversity
  • Exchange and Transport
  • Energy for Biological Processes.

In Upper Sixth, they cover:

  • Microbiology and Pathogens
  • Modern Genetics
  • Origins of Genetic Variation
  • Control Systems
  • Ecosystems

Practical work is central to the A-level and students are expected to carry out 16 practicals as part of their studies. 

Throughout a pupils’ time at the College, numerous enrichment opportunities are available in Biology. These include Biology Extension sessions, the Biology Olympiad, The dissection club (led by L6th students) and the Wildlife photographer competition. In line with the College’s medical history, the provision to support pupils applying for medical-related degrees is also superb, with specialist timetabled lessons being offered to pupils with interests in this area. The college also regularly welcomes guest speakers and runs various field trips, with the next one heading to Mexico in the summer of 2023.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact The Head of Biology

Chemistry

As with all the sciences, Chemistry is taught to all pupils as an individual subject from Year 7 through to the completion of GCSEs. It is then offered as an option at A-level.

In the Lower School (Years 7 & 8) we follow our own specification which extends pupils beyond the confines of the national curriculum and prepares them for studying the three Sciences at GCSE level and beyond. Practical work is embedded throughout the syllabus and a range of electronic resources are used to challenge pupils and allow for meaningful feedback to be provided throughout the course.

GCSE

The Edexcel IGCSE course is taught from Year 9 through to the end of Year 11. This course helps pupils to develop a deeper understanding of the unifying patterns and themes of Chemistry. They will acquire experimental and practical skills, learn to form hypotheses and design and test their own experiments, developing a logical approach to problem-solving.

There is no coursework component, with pupils assessed across two papers at the end of Year 11.

A-level

The Edexcel A-level course is a traditional and academically challenging course suited to students with strong scientific and mathematical skills. Handling data is central to the subject, allowing students to demonstrate information-retrieval skills as well as numeracy and use of ICT. Experimental work is embedded throughout the 2-year course, and students will build a range of practical skills that require creativity and accuracy. Independent and group work features regularly and there are numerous opportunities to develop team participation and leadership skills.

Throughout the course, students will complete a series of assessed Core Practicals which evaluate their ability to select appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods, record scientific observations and findings accurately and precisely, as well as critically analysing and evaluating the methodology, results and impact of their work. At the end of Year 13, students are assessed across three papers.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact The Head of Chemistry

Classics (Latin & Classical Civilisation)

Years 7 & 8

All Lower School pupils study Latin for one lesson a week. We assume no prior knowledge of the subject, and introduce pupils to the language and society of Ancient Rome. We follow the Cambridge Latin Course, developing the pupils’ vocabulary and knowledge of grammatical structures as they begin to translate increasingly complex passages into English.

The study of the language is complemented by exploring Ancient Roman culture and civilisation. Pupils are encouraged to consider how the language and customs of Ancient Rome both influenced life today and how we have moved away from some of their beliefs and ideas.

Year 9 – Latin

Pupils can choose to study Latin or Classical Civilisation. Lessons are accessible both to those with prior knowledge and those new to the subject.

In Latin, pupils will study grammar, the structure of language and etymology. They also continue to explore Roman society and how societal values have changed or remained the same.

Year 9 – Classical Civilisation

In Classical Civilisation, pupils explore the myths, literature and societies of Ancient Greece and Rome. They will develop skills of analysis, literacy and reaching personal judgments – and are encouraged to consider if and how moral and societal values have changed. We explore Greek Gods, the story of Odysseus, and the foundation of the Roman Republic.

GCSE – Latin

Pupils will hone their skills in translation, language analysis, the study of literary texts and explore courses that show how Roman society worked. There is no coursework element, with pupils sitting two exams that test them with unprepared translations, comprehension, and questions based on verse and prose or sources studied throughout the course.

GCSE – Classical Civilisation

This course allows pupils to explore life in Ancient Greece and Rome, comparing the two societies and the world today. Pupils will study myth and religion, literature and culture, society and politics – honing their skills in critical thinking, literary analysis and persuasive writing and debating.

A-level – Latin

Students study the subject in a more sophisticated and extensive fashion. With little new grammar to learn, their knowledge of the language is applied in a more exciting range of tasks. Students translate a number of Roman authors in preparation for the language and literature examinations. Through these works they explore what life was like in the Roman Republic and under the first emporers, as well as the poetic skills of Ovid and Virgil.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact the Head of Classics

Computing & Computer Science

Years 7, 8 & 9

The aim during these three years is to turn pupils into critical and independent users of computer technology. Pupils also learn the basics of writing code in several programming languages (JavaScript, Ruby, Python3). We explore the potential, and the limitations, of software and the results they produce – and we help pupils consider the application of these technologies to the wider world.

They are introduced to computational thinking, binary and hexadecimal numbers, robotics, and how to design websites and pages from the ground up. We introduce artificial intelligence, cryptography and encryption as well as a mini project involving an app design to solve a real-life problem.

GCSE

The Computer Science IGCSE isn’t a programming course, but a course in which fundamental programming concepts are learnt. It puts an emphasis on problem-solving using a computer, computational thinking and programming. Pupils develop computer-based solutions using algorithms and a high-level programming language (Python 3). 

They also explore data representation, data compression and encryption, data transmission, how a microprocessor works and the components needed to build it, as well as how the microprocessor works with a variety of other hardware (input, output, storage, sensors). Pupils also explore and understand the basics of AI, robotics, automated systems, cyber security and digital currency.

A-level

The emphasis is on studying the principles of problem-solving, computational thinking skills, programming (procedural to object-oriented, to functional) – data structures and other current computer science areas. Students will cover programming, data structures, algorithms, systematic approaches to problem-solving, theory of computation, communication and networking, data representation, computer systems, Big Data, relational databases, and the fundamentals of functional programming.

20% of the final grade is the Non-Exam Assessment (NEA). This is a substantial advanced programming task for a problem of personal interest, which will demonstrate students’ programming and problem-solving skills. Most students say this is the most fulfilling and inspiring part of the Computer Science A-level.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact the Head of Department 

Design & Technology

Years 7, 8 & 9

Every pupil studies Design & Technology for one lesson a week. By taking on a number of small projects in our purpose-built studios, our youngest pupils gain a practical understanding of a range of processes and materials. Among other things, they design and build a torch, a bug hotel and pewter casting. They create an MP3 speaker dock, a hardwood storage box with dovetail joints, a mood light and seasonal decorations.

GCSE

By following the Edexcel Design & Technology GCSE pupils develop their skills by designing and making prototypes that solve real and relevant problems. The course combines the use of CAD and CAM, through our excellent range of CNC machines, with more traditional manufacturing processes.

Pupils develop their knowledge and skills through the completion of design exercises, small project work, taught theory lessons and a series of visits to exhibitions and industrial environments including the Mini factory in Oxford, the V&A Museum, Science Museum, Design Museum and the London Design Fair.

50% of the final grade derives from the non-examined assessment (NEA), which is a practical project-based assignment that takes around 40 hours. Pupils respond to a creative brief and design and build their own 3D outcome.

A-level

We follow the AQA Design and Technology: Product Design specification. 50% of the final grade is based on exams, and 50% on a ‘design and make’ project, in which students respond to a brief chosen by the student in consultation with their DT teachers and parents, by creating a final piece and submitting a design portfolio.

Students will be expected to respond to design briefs by applying scientific knowledge, undertaking investigative research, using physical resources and working through an iterative design process to explore potential and alternative solutions.

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Contact the Head of Design & Technology

Drama

Years 7, 8 & 9

In the first three years, pupils enjoy one lesson per week, and discover and develop skills in a range of dramatic techniques including costume, makeup, puppetry, mask design, scriptwriting, devising performances, acting, lighting and sound design.

Lessons take place in our specialist drama studios, and pupils have access to professional lighting, soundboards and costumes. As they move into Year 9, we ask pupils to deepen their analysis of various forms of theatre by attending, evaluating and writing critically about performances. All pratical assessments are filmed, to encourage self, and peer, reflection and feedback.

GCSE

Our GCSE pupils study theatre skills and can specialise in acting, lighting or sound design. Regular theatre visits, each half term, form the lifeblood of the course and help pupils gain a wide understanding of theatre styles and genres that help to influence their work as performers, designers, directors and critics.

For the final grade, pupils devise a piece of theatre as actors, sound designers or lighting designers. The final piece is performed to a live audience, and supported by a 900-word portfolio. This component is worth 40% of the final grade. The remaining marks come from a performance from a set text, and a written exam in which pupils analyse a play and review live theatre.

A-level

Our A-level students consistently achieve 100% A*-B in a course that combines theory and practice and examines modern and traditional work. The course is built on participation in professional workshops, residencies and live theatre review. Students are encouraged to experiment as directors, actors and designers, and explore theatre’s social, artistic and cultural function.

The final grade is awarded based on three components, two coursework and one written exam. Students reimagine a well-known play, using styles and techniques by a chosen performer or theatre company; they devise their own piece of theatre and perform a text-based piece in response to a given stimulus; and they undertake a final exam based on three set plays studied throughout the course.

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Contact the Director of Drama

Economics & Business

Our Sixth Form students can opt to study Economics or Business at A-level or Business BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (which is the equivalent of two A-levels).

Beyond the curriculum, the department offers a number of opportunities to enrich your studies. The Economics and Enterprise Society arranges talks either at the College or with Eton’s Keynes Society. Examples of recent guest lecturers include Robert Gardner, Chief Economist at Nationwide, and Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England.

Those with an appetite for finance are able to study towards the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment’s (CISI) Fundamentals of Financial Services award in Lower Sixth.

Additionally, our Lower Sixth students take part in the annual Royal Economic Society essay competition.

Economics A-level

One of the most popular A-levels at Epsom, the Economics A-level (we follow the Edexcel Economics A specification) is structured into four themes:

  • Introduction to Markets & Market Failure
  • The UK Economy, Performance & Policies
  • Business Behaviour & The Labour Market
  • A Global Perspective

Students will be expected to apply their knowledge and understanding to familiar and unfamiliar contexts, and to demonstrate an awareness of current economic events and policies, when they are assessed in three papers at the end of the course.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Business A-level

Students will study organisations of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, focusing on:

  • Marketing & People
  • Managing Business Activities
  • Business Decisions & Strategy
  • Global Business

The course requires students to build a knowledge of core business concepts and apply them to real-world examples. Students who perform best are those who take the fundamentals and go deeper, taking a more strategic view of business operations and issues.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Download Leaflet from Pearson Edexcel

Business BTEC

The BTEC diploma requires students to complete eight modules, of which three are assessed externally, all across a two-year programme. There are six mandatory units in the qualification, which include:

  • Developing a Marketing Campaign
  • Personal and Business Finance
  • Principles of Management
  • Exploring the Business Environment
  • Managing an Event
  • International Business

In addition, students will take two further units to complete the qualification. At Epsom, we have selected units that add significant potential value: Digital Marketing and Management.

Assessment tasks are designed to help students develop a broad range of transferable skills and may involve the completion of a vocational task, such as creating a digital marketing campaign to meet a given brief. There are two examination sessions each year and students will have the opportunity to retake an exam if required.

Contact the Head of Economics & Business

English

Years 7 & 8 

In the first two years, pupils immerse themselves in writing from across history – seeking to emulate the styles and methods of the greatest writers. Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses, Armitage’s Sir Gawain & the Green Knight and Hill’s The Woman in Black, First World War poetry, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth are some of the texts we work with. We focus on grammar and writing throughout – giving pupils the skills and, crucially, the confidence to become accomplished writers.

Year 9

An important precursor to GCSEs, Year 9 provides pupils with experience of texts that are substantial and challenging in terms of their ideas and use of language. The year begins with prose fiction from different genres and periods before giving way to poetry and drama (including Shakespeare).

The Year 9 poetry project is an exciting independent study programme that takes poetry out of the classroom and affirms the joy of reading for pleasure. Pupils respond creatively and critically, finding their own inspiration and areas of interest.

The final term builds on these skills in unseen analysis, and all pupils have the opportunity to take part in our Dodd Public Speaking Competition.

GCSE

The English Language IGCSE is a wide-ranging, exciting course which teaches students to become critical readers and effective writers. The course combines study of literary non-fiction, such as travel writing by Benjamin Zephania and George Alagiah, as well as literary fiction and poetry by writers as diverse as Shakespeare and Susan Hill.

Students also learn to write in different forms and for different audiences: one week they may be crafting an eerie piece for a ghost story; the next, polishing up a fiery political speech.

The English Literature IGCSE invites students to engage with the best literature written in English in the past 500 years. In addition to studying a Shakespeare play, students will also read modern drama, such as Miller’s A View from the Bridge, as well as poetry from different centuries and continents. The course includes the study of unseen poetry, which helps students become confident readers of literature from all periods.

A-level

Students who enjoy literature, discussion and the surprise of a fresh perspective will thrive on this course. The ability to express complex ideas with lucidity is highly regarded, and students receive guidance on how to write essays that combine clarity, sensitivity and force.

Students read widely around the course in order to become more sophisticated, discerning and knowledgeable in their response to literature. Reflections on wider reading are kept within a student reading log which acts as a catalyst for further discussion and lines of enquiry. By the end of Upper Sixth students will confident readers, fully equipped to pursue a degree course. They will be able to write concisely, think independently and marshal large quantities of information, constructing pithy arguments and drawing convincing conclusions.

The English Department’s enrichment program exposes students to a wealth of literature outside the A-level course along with consistent interview practice, to prepare them for further study and application to Oxbridge.

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Contact the Head of Department

English as an Additional Language

Just under 20% of Epsom’s pupils study English as an Additional Language (EAL), testament to the fact that the College is truly global in its outlook. Pupils come from 35 different nationalities. While we expect our international pupils to have an excellent standard of English, in order to keep pace with the education on offer, some will benefit from the additional support provided by English as an Additional Language.

EAL is studied in place of a Modern Language. All pupils taking EAL will be expected to access the normal curriculum, and to sit the usual GCSEs and A-levels – including English language and literature.

GCSE

Pupils will be prepared for the IGCSE English as a Second Language, as a potential alternative to English First Language. Lessons are taught to small groups of approximately 10 pupils in Years 9-11.

IELTS

In the Sixth Form, the emphasis of teaching and learning changes and concentrates on two specific areas of study:

  • Qualification for entry to British or other English language universities
  • Broadening and consolidation of academic skills in English language.

The course of choice leads to the IELTS exam (International English Language Testing System) in Lower Sixth. It is also possible for pupils to undertake study that leads to examinations such as the Cambridge University Main Suite Exams (CPE, CAE or FCE).

In the Upper Sixth, private tuition is the norm, and pupils may resit the IELTS exam if required.

Contact Head of EAL

Pupil Leaflet in English Leaflet in Chinese Leaflet in Russian

 

Geography

Year 7 

  • Our Island Home: Where do we live? What is the physical and human geographies of where we live? Map reading.
  • Unnatural Disasters: When a tectonic event goes from a hazard to a disaster? Why are some places and people more vulnerable than others?
  • Freshwater: where does our freshwater come from? Why do we have so little access to it? Why is it running out? How do we manage our water sustainably? 
  • Economic Geography: What are the different sectors of the economy? How does a country’s economy develop? Why do we outsource? What are the future industries?

Year 8 

  • Extreme Environments: What are Earth’s extreme environments? Why is the desert so hot and the poles so cold? What are the biomes like in these areas?
  • Development: Why have some countries developed while others remain developing? What factors are driving future development? How do we support countries to develop?
  • Sixth Extinction: We are facing our sixth mass extinction, what causes the previous extinctions, and what is driving this extinction event? Why is our changing climate the biggest crisis humanity is facing?

Year 9

  • Superpowers: Which countries are the most powerful and why? Why does the USA remain a superpower and how are China, India and Russia fighting for this status? Who is on the ‘world stage’?
  • Oceans: Why do we know less about our oceans than we do about the moon? Why are our oceans so valuable and what resources do they hold? How are our oceans contested including the Exclusive Economic Zone? What is happening in the South China Sea? Why do pirates operate in the Strait of Malacca? 
  • Africa: Africa is not a country. The great variations of the continent of Africa. Why are some countries more developed than others? How did colonisation play a role in shaping Africa? What areas are currently contested in Africa? Why does Africa have such a range of biomes? The carving up of Africa and the role of borders. 

GCSE

Pupils develop what they’ve learnt in Years 7-9, through a combination of fieldwork, data collection and analysis and classroom-based learning.

For the physical geography component of the course, pupils explore the complex nature of hazardous environments such as coral reefs, tropical storms and tectonic hazards. We also investigate Coastal Environments, involving fieldwork in Seaford and Cuckmere Haven to examine coastal management.

For human geography, we look at the significance of the world’s increasingly urban population, while we also explore the impact to the planet of economic change, energy dependency and resource exploitation. This involves fieldwork to Stratford in East London to examine the impact of the Olympic Park development.

A-level

Geography A-level offers opportunities to learn outside the classroom through field trips overseas and throughout the UK, and the opportunity to attend lectures at the Royal Geographical Society.

We follow the OCR syllabus which contains four separate units, three of which are assessed in exams at the end of Upper Sixth, and one which is assessed as coursework.

We look at the Earth’s life support systems – such as the water and carbon cycles – in our physical geography component. For human geography, students examine concepts more akin to those taught at university. Throughout the course we encourage students to engage with, reflect on and think critically about some of the most dynamic issues the planet faces, such as disease dilemmas and ‘hazardous earth’.

20% of your final grade will be from your own independent investigation. This is coursework based on an investigation into a topic of your choosing which must include four days of fieldwork.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Download Handout from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact the Head of Geography

History & Politics

History is taught to all year groups, becoming optional at GCSE and A-level. Politics is offered at Sixth Form only.

Years 7, 8 & 9

We begin by exploring Medieval History, including the Norman invasion and the consolidation of power that followed. We then take pupils through to the Middle Ages and on to early modern Britain, looking at monarchs, dynasties, wars and the struggle for power between crown and state.

Globally, we examine the two world wars, including a trip to First World War battlefields and a piece of personal research into an aspect of the war. We round off the year by introducing the GCSE syllabus, exploring the US Civil Rights Movement from 1950-1964.

GCSE

Pupils explore the USA between the Wars. Continuing what was introduced in Year 9, they address America after the Second World War and assess whether it truly was a ‘divided union’ – examining the Civil Rights movement from 1964-1972.

The Year 10 course is complemented by an annual visit to Berlin to focus on the rise of the Nazi Party, and its consequences.

In Year 11, students study the ‘Development of Dictatorship in Germany 1918-45′. This provides a stark contrast to the final module which explores the history of China in the twentieth century.

This course is made up of two examinations of 90 minutes each. There is no coursework.

A-level History

In History, students will study the early Tudors (1485-1588), Russia and its Rulers (1855-1964) an element of US History and the Cold War in Europe (1945-91). Students also complete a personal investigation on a topic of their choice for the coursework element of this A-level.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

A-level Government & Politics

Students explore the nature of politics, the effectiveness of elections, the role of political parties, the constitution, Parliament, Prime Minister and the judiciary. In Upper Sixth, focus shifts to US politics and that country’s system of government in preparation for a synoptic paper which compares and contrasts UK and US political systems.

There is no coursework element in this A-level. Candidates are encouraged to discover information and ideas for themselves, to analyse that information, make judgments on it, formulate conclusions and communicate their findings fully and clearly.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact the Head of History & Politics

Mathematics

Years 7 & 8

Lower School pupils have three Mathematics lessons per week. For the first half term of Year 7, we work in mixed-ability groups to assess the profile of the year group and individual performance. During this time we cover the basics such as integers, fractions, decimals and percentages. Once pupils are placed into sets, they cover algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.

All pupils, irrespective of their set, follow the same course content and assessments. Only the pace differs, with higher groups taking on more extension work. There may well be some movement between sets throughout the two years, particularly when pupils move between year groups.

Year 9

Pupils are broadly placed into five ability-based bands, with two parallel sets within each band. Sets are based on a baseline test taken early in the term, but pupils are assessed throughout the year and we ensure that they are taught at the most suitable pace. Over three weekly lessons, we cover algebra, geometry, statistics and probability, and all pupils – regardless of set – cover the same content and take the same assessments. 

GCSE

Pupils have four lessons a week. All pupils cover the same course, and pupils from all sets are awarded these grades.

The only material difference between sets is that those in the extension sets study the Edexcel Higher IGCSE at an accelerated pace in parallel with the AQA Level 2 Further Mathematics qualification. Those in the ‘lower’ sets are generally taught in smaller groups so that we can provide support and build confidence.

A-level – Maths

82% of students achieved A*-B for A-level Maths in 2022. All students will follow the Edexcel course, which combines pure mathematics (algebra, trigonometry, coordinate geometry and calculus) with applied mathematics (mechanics and statistics).

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Download Information About the Core Maths Option

A-level – Further Maths

100% of students achieved A*-B for A Level Further Mathematics in 2022, with 89% of those A* or A grade. Further Mathematics can be taken alongside Mathematics A Level as a core curriculum option. This is a very demanding option and you should talk to your current mathematics teacher if you are considering the course. You should have obtained 9 at GCSE/IGCSE to take this option.

Students studying both Mathematics and Further Mathematics are taught separately to those studying A-level Mathematics and will gain two full A Levels at the end of the two-year course.

Contact the Head of Maths

Modern Languages

From Year 7 through to the Sixth Form, pupils are able to learn, develop and become fluent in:

  • French
  • German
  • Mandarin
  • Spanish

Years 7 & 8

All pupils study two languages, which they start from scratch. By the end of Year 8, they will sit an exam leading to an internationally-recognised qualification. We want pupils to learn languages as they are authentically used, and by way of concrete, real-world application.

In French, this will mean taking the DELF A1-A2. Pupils studying German will sit the DaF A1-A2 Diploma. For Spanish, pupils take the DELE A1-A2 Diploma. And those who take Mandarin will sit the HSK Levels 1-2.

GCSEs

In Year 9 pupils study up to two languages, choosing from French, German, Mandarin and Spanish. If a pupil opts to study only one Modern Language this must be supplemented with either Latin or Classical Civilisation.

German and Mandarin are available to beginners, while French and Spanish require prior knowledge.

In Year 9 pupils will begin their GCSE or IGCSE course in their chosen language. They consolidate what they have already learnt, and develop a solid foundation of grammatical theory and accuracy that will allow for independent learning through to the A-level course and beyond. 

At the end of Year 11, pupils sit exams to assess listening comprehension, reading comprehension, writing and speaking.

To stretch the most able, the top sets in French will sit the DELF B1 in March of Year 11. German and Spanish students can do likewise, on request.

A-levels

French, Mandarin and Spanish are offered as A-level from Pearson/Edexcel. German is offered as A-level from AQA.

These exams allow students to develop individual and independent linguistic skills that prepare them for EPQ and University study. They combine society and culture-based topics, and situate the language in real-world contemporary settings.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

CONTACT THE HEAD OF MODERN LANGUAGES

Music

Years 7 and 8

Pupils in the Lower School enjoy a practical and entertaining course that focuses on manipulating the elements of music in performance and composition. Pupils have one lesson a week and there is a strong emphasis on learning through music-making.

Year 9

All pupils study a course which covers a broad span of music theory, composition and performance. Pupils will take one lesson a week and roughly half are computer-based, using Sibelius notation software and Garageband. The course concludes with an independent individual research project which is then presented to the whole class.

GCSE

Pupils study the Edexcel GCSE, which is comprised of three components: performing, composing and appraising. 

Performance requires pupils to record one solo and one ensemble performance, which are internally assessed and worth 30% of the final grade. Composing is similarly worth 30% and internally assessed, with pupils required to submit two compositions. The final part of the course – appraisal – is assessed by a public exam, with pupils asked a series of questions related to the set works studied throughout the GCSE. This is worth 40%.

Pupils study instrumental music from Bach and Beethoven; vocal music from Purcell and Queen; the music of stage and screen (Wicked and Star Wars); and fusions, covering Afro-Celt Soundsystem’s Release, and Esperanza Spalding’s Samba em Preludio.

A-level

As with the GCSE, students are assessed in three components: performing (30%), composing (30%) and appraising (40%). 

Pupils perform one or more pieces at a public recital. The pieces can be sung – solo or in an ensemble – improvised, or performed using music technology. Recordings of the performance will be externally-assessed. For the composition, pupils create two pieces, one of the pupil’s choosing and one based on a brief set by the examiner. Both are externally assessed. ‘Appraisal’ takes place within a two-hour written exam, assessing the student’s knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language.

Students explore vocal music (Bach, Mozart and Vaughan Williams); instrumental music (Vivaldi, Clara Wieck-Schumann and Berlioz); film music (Elfman, Portman, and Herrmann); pop and jazz (Courtney Pine, Kate Bush and The Beatles); fusions (Debussy, Familia Valera Miranda and Anoushka Shankar); and new directions (Cage, Kaija Saariaho and Stravinsky).

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

CONTACT THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC

Photography

Photography is offered as a GCSE and A-level subject, with students able to access a dedicated studio equipped with specialist lighting, a suite of Apple Macs with all the latest software, and a darkroom.

GCSE

This two-year course teaches pupils how to use the photography studio, how to master the art of composition and all the Photoshop skills required to create stunning digital art. It is comprised of two components:

  • Portfolio (60% of qualification)
  • Externally Set Assignment (40% of qualification)

The portfolio is an opportunity for pupils to learn how to make creative images using digital techniques. Pupils learn how to use digital cameras, the photography studio, as well as how to master Photoshop. The Externally Set Assignment involves creating a portfolio of work based on a topic of study. It concludes with an exam.

A-level

This course exposes students to art and image-making using new media techniques:

  • Digital Photography: students learn how to master DSLR cameras and image-making using lens and light-based media
  • Digital Art: students learn how graphic designers, web designers and digital artists create art on the computer
  • Photography Studio: students learn how to use the professionally-equipped photography studio to create their art
  • Multimedia and lens-based imagery: in previous years students have created short films
  • Traditional darkroom and modern digital photographic techniques are taught

Pupils follow the WJEC Advanced GCE in Art and Design (Photography), which comprises two components:

  • Personal Investigation (60% of qualification)
  • Externally Set Assignment (40% of qualification)

The Personal Investigation consists of a major in-depth practical investigative portfolio. Students are free to decide which themes and ideas they wish to investigate. They must also submit a 1,000-word report that relates to the practical work. The Externally-Set Assignment involves creating a portfolio of work in response to a topic set by the exam board.

Contact the Head of Photography

Physical Education

We offer pupils everything from core PE provision to all years, through to a sports performance and sports science-focused syllabus at GCSE and A-level.

Years 7, 8 & 9

PE is delivered to Years 7, 8 and 9 throughout the year. It encompasses activities such as:

  • Athletics
  • Core fundamental motor skills
  • Functional movement skills (stronger, faster, for longer)
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • A variety of net, wall and team games.

Skills and physical characteristics learned and developed in these activities prepare pupils for Epsom’s extensive competitive games programme, as well as for life beyond the College.

Years 10 & 11

The provision for Year 10 and 11 PE is incorporated within a Personal Social Development (PSD) programme. The Year 10 Physical Education programme focuses on staying fit for life. The Year 11 programme aims to develop knowledge and skills learnt in Year 10 and inspire physical activity for life. Our aims are to:

  • Encourage enjoyment through physical activity
  • Provide experiences that inspire pupils to want to increase their participation
  • Produce informed young men and women who understand the physical, psychological and social benefits of participating in physical activity
  • Develop pupils’ moral, social and cultural awareness through engagement in teamwork, cooperation, communication, leadership, sportsmanship, fair play and a tolerance of others’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Promote safe practice and encourage all students to consider safety issues in PE and sport.

GCSE & A-level

Epsom College follows the OCR Examination Board’s Physical Education syllabus at GCSE and A-level. Results have been excellent and pupil value-added scores are consistently amongst the highest in the College.

To study Academic PE it is important that candidates are interested in the world of sport and that they enjoy the process of applying theory to practical examples within the physical activity setting.

At both GCSE and A-level, pupils achieve a proportion of their marks by demonstrating their ability to perform effectively in a practical setting. Regular participation in physical activity is therefore vital for success in this aspect of the course.

Physical Education is a challenging but rewarding subject. The wide range of topics studied in the theory aspect of the course makes it interesting for a broad range of pupils. For example, we look at both the physical and social factors that affect performance and sports psychology, including drugs, gambling and the commercialisation of sport. The practical aspect allows pupils the opportunity to apply the knowledge from these topics to develop their overall performance level.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact the Head of PE

Physics

Physics is taught in the College by seven specialist subject teachers. The team is extremely well balanced; several staff hold higher-level degrees, whilst others have worked for a time in industry. This brings a wealth of both theoretical and practical knowledge for the benefit of the students.

Years 7 & 8

In the Lower School, students are introduced to Physics as a separate subject. The course is focused on building students’ understanding of the fundamental principles of the subject and the nature of science by foregrounding its empirical nature. The topics covered across the two years are:

  • Forces and Motion
  • Energy
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Astronomy and Cosmology

Physics is by nature a hierarchical discipline, and as we have students joining the College from many different schools, one aim of this course structure is to consolidate and standardise students’ subject knowledge in preparation for their IGCSE course in Year 9.

Years 9-11

In Year 9, students begin their three-year IGCSE Physics course. We follow the Edexcel IGCSE specification. We are fortunate enough to have a huge stock of experimental equipment and much expertise. As such the course not only covers content, but develops the analytical, graphical, mathematical and, most importantly the problem-solving skills of our students. The aim is to make them inquisitive, curious and able young scientists. We follow a spiral curriculum in this order:

Year 9

  • Energy
  • Motion
  • Statics & Charge
  • Pressure & Particle Theory

Year 10

  • Forces & Motion
  • Energy, Work & Power
  • States of Matter
  • Electricity
  • Nuclear Physics

Year 11

  • Waves
  • Forces
  • Astronomy & Cosmology
  • Electromagnetism

A-level

Physics and Engineering are problem-solving disciplines, and this is very much the foundational tenet on which our teaching philosophy rests. We promote this, alongside skills such as analytical reasoning, criticality, data analysis and experimental fluency.

The A-level course is taught in two halves, each by a separate teacher. We follow the AQA A-level syllabus and undertake Option C – Engineering Physics because engineering is the most popular degree course undertaken by students of Physics, both at the College and nationally.

The course is linear, meaning students spend two years working towards their final A-level examinations. Students move through the syllabus as follows:

Year 12

  • Waves
  • Particle Physics & Quantum Phenomena
  • Material Properties
  • Forces & Motion
  • Electricity
  • Thermal Physics

Year 13

  • Gravitational Fields
  • Electrical Fields
  • Magnetic Fields & Electromagnetism
  • Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Optional Topic: Engineering (Rotational Dynamics & Thermodynamics)

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

 

Contact the Head of Physics

Psychology

Psychology is offered at A-level. It is a popular subject that combines well with all other subject choices. Those who enjoy the sciences and those who enjoy the arts and humanities are equally well suited to Psychology, as it provides a unique blend of scientific theories and processes, alongside a qualitative understanding of how culture and social interactions impact our behaviour.

Students will need a minimum of a Grade 6 in Science, Maths and English Language.

What is psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. It is a dynamic and fascinating scientific discipline, which is relevant to the world around us. Psychologists conduct scientific research to find out what motivates, challenges or changes us. They use this understanding to predict behaviour, tackle personal and social problems in society and improve quality of life.

The department

The department focuses on inspiring pupils to question research, to become independent thinkers and to expand their understanding of human behaviour. Enrichment is offered through Psychology Society and ‘Mind Games’ club, led by Lower Sixth students for Upper Fourth (Year 10) and Fifth Form (Year 11) pupils.

The A-level syllabus

The A-level course follows the AQA specification which focuses on the following topics:

Paper 1: Students study four topics

  • Social influence – conformity, obedience to authority, minority influence and the role of social influence processes in social change.
  • Memory – models of memory, types of long-term memory, explanations for forgetting, factors affecting the accuracy of eye-witness testimony and how to improve eyewitness testimony in real world criminal proceedings.
  • Attachment – caregiver-infant interactions and explanations of why we attach, the types of attachment between caregiver and infant and the importance of our early attachments on later relationships, including issues surrounding Romanian orphanages.
  • Psychopathology – definitions of abnormality and the symptoms, causes and treatments of phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Paper 2: Students study three topics

  • Approaches in Psychology – the different theoretical perspectives of explaining behaviour including the learning approach, the cognitive approach, the biological approach, the psychodynamic approach and the humanistic approach. The development of Psychology, including the emergence of cognitive neuroscience.
  • Biopsychology – the workings of our central and peripheral nervous systems, our endocrine system, our brain and to what extent our biological rhythms, such as the sleep/wake cycle, are influenced by internal or external factors.
  • Research methods – knowledge and understanding of a range of research methods, the scientific process, as well as data handling and analysis. There is an applied maths element to this topic (a grade 6 in GCSE Maths is sufficient to cope with this).

Paper 3: Students study four topics

  • Issues and debates in psychology – free will vs. determinism; holism vs. reductionism; and nature vs. nurture. Students also consider ethical and cultural issues in research and theories, including reference to social sensitivity, gender and cultural bias.
  • Relationships – evolutionary explanations for partner preferences, factors affecting attraction and theories of romantic relationships. Students will also explore virtual relationships and parasocial relationships.
  • Schizophrenia – diagnosis and classification as well as biological and psychological explanations and treatments of schizophrenia. Students will also explore the interactionist approach and methods of managing schizophrenia.
  • Aggression – biological and social causes of aggression as well as the role of computer games and the media in aggression. Students will also explore aggression in a prison setting and the impact of desensitisation and cognitive priming.

Download Presentation from A-level Choices Evening, January 2023

Contact the Head of Psychology

Religious Studies

Year 7 & 8

Pupils are introduced to the three world religions that developed in the eastern hemisphere – Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism – in the chronological order in which they originated. Pupils also study religious festivals, pilgrimage, and religious food and drink.

In Year 8, pupils are introduced to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and study the religious themes of Holy books, religious leaders and places of worship.

Year 9

In Year 9, pupils are introduced to the philosophy of religion. They study the historical conflict between religion and science, and the different ways in which religions communicate about God, and with God.

Toward the end of Year 9 pupils choose whether to pursue Religious Education on to GCSE level. Those who choose not to take a GCSE in the subject will still engage with the subject as part of a compulsory carousel of subjects covering Religious Education, Physical Education and Personal and Social Development.

Years 10 & 11

In Year 10, those pupils taking Religious Studies GCSE will study Christianity, specifically its beliefs, teaching and practices. Pupils also study two thematic studies: religion peace and conflict, and religion, crime and punishment.

In Year 11, pupils study Judaism, specifically its beliefs and teachings, and its practices. Plus the following thematic studies: religion and life, and the existence of God and revelation.

Those who choose not to take a GCSE in the subject will still engage with the subject as part of a compulsory carousel of subjects covering Religious Education, Physical Education and Personal and Social Development.

For the Year 10 religious studies component, pupils will study relationships and families. In Year 11, they focus on religion, human rights and social justice.

Sixth Form

Religious Studies is a very popular A-level that complements most other choices. The department is fortunate enough to be staffed entirely by experienced subject specialists, all of whom hold degrees in Theology from institutions belonging variously to Oxbridge, the Russell Group and the 1994 Group.

The department focuses on instilling clarity of thought, coherence of argument, and academic rigour in students, in order to ensure examination success in Religious Studies and other disciplines that require these transferable skills.

The A-level course focuses on the following topics:

Philosophy of Religion

  • Philosophical issues
  • The nature and influence of religious experience
  • The problem of evil and suffering
  • Language
  • Philosophers
  • Influences and developments

Religion & Ethics

  • Significant concepts of issues and debates
  • Utilitarianism, situation ethics, and natural moral law
  • War and peace and sexual ethics
  • Ethical language
  • Ethical theory
  • Medical ethics

New Testament Studies

  • The context of the New Testament
  • Texts and interpretation of the New Testament
  • Interpreting the text and the purpose and authorship of the Fourth Gospel
  • Ways of interpreting scripture
  • Texts and interpretation
  • Scientific and historical challenges in faith and history

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Contact the Head of Religious Studies