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Guide to choosing courses

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As Aquinas College offers over 50 A Level/Level 3 courses it is essential that students research the different types of courses available to discover which match their interests and strengths, whilst enabling them to reach their career goals.

Aquinas supports this process through the Open Events and detailed advice and guidance throughout the different stages of the enrolment process. We will take as long as is needed to help students to find the right courses which will allow them to achieve their full potential. Having selected the right courses, students gain outstanding results due to their hard work and dedication supported by excellent teaching and learning.

General advice on choosing courses

Entry requirements to progression routes are based on the grades/points from three Level 3 courses students are therefore advised to take three courses except where there is a valid academic reason for a student to take a fourth course. Additional enrichment activities related to a student’s future destination, such as an EPQ will be looked on more favourably than a fourth course in most cases.

Students select from the following groups:

A Levels

These are available to students who have gained at least six GCSEs at grade 4 (including Maths and English Language) though many subjects also have additional Subject Entry Requirements (see later).

A-Levels are two-year courses; the majority are 100% examined. Students need to be able to learn and remember two years’ worth of information and apply it during their final exams at the end of the second year.

In some subjects there is a small coursework component, please check the individual subject pages via the sixth form course directory.

Level 3 Vocational Courses

These are available to students who have gained at least five GCSEs at grade 4 (including Maths and English Language) though some subjects also have additional Subject Entry Requirements (see later).

Vocational Courses have the same equivalence as A-Levels; eg both a Distinction * and A level A* are worth 56 UCAS points. These courses are more suited to students who prefer a mixture of assessment methods spread across the two year period.

Vocational courses are two-year courses; they are assessed by a combination of exams, controlled assessment and coursework. These assessments take place throughout the two-year period of study; for the majority you will complete exams or controlled assessment, alongside coursework in both the first and second year. The results of these assessments count towards your final grade. Please check the individual assessment arrangements on the subject pages via the sixth form course directory.

A levels or Vocational qualifications (or both)?

Aquinas offers a wide range of A level and Vocational subjects so that students can choose the right combination of courses for them. Students have the option to take:

  • 3 A levels, or
  • 2 A levels and 1 Vocational course, or
  • 1 A level and 2 Vocational courses, or
  • 3 Vocational courses

Students need to consider what is the best combination for them, as well as researching what is required for any progression route they have in mind. Students will be given advice and guidance on course selection during the enrolment process.

Please now go to Sixth Form Courses for more detail about all of the qualifications available at Aquinas.

Level 2 courses

We only offer a small number of Level 2 courses, mainly for students who have not yet achieved GCSE grade 4 in Maths and/or English Language.

Student GCSE results and Types of Study Programme

College and Individual Subject Entry Requirements

Subject Entry Requirements 2023

At Aquinas we aim to  maximise your potential to progress onto higher education and/or skilled employment by giving you all the right skills and qualifications.

We have many programmes available that will compliment your studies and will help you achieve your goals.

What Should I Do Next?

Your GCSE grades are very important. Working hard to gain the best grades you are capable of will give you more choices at Aquinas and beyond. Universities and employers will look closely at your GCSE grades, alongside A Level and BTEC qualifications, before offering you a place.
Here are some practical things you can be doing to make sure that you are fully prepared for enrolment and that your transition to college is as smooth as possible:

  • Carefully research the subjects you want to take at Aquinas. You will eventually need to pick three subjects that you will study for two years. Be aware that many subjects at A level are not the same as at GCSE so look carefully at the content and assessment methods of each course.
  • Research careers or particular Universities you may be aiming for and list any specific requirements they have. Are particular subjects or combinations of subjects or qualifications (BTEC/A Level) expected or do certain courses expect you to have work experience?
  • Make a list of your current GCSE predicted grades and compare these against the Subject Entry Requirements for these courses at Aquinas.
  • Identify the subject areas you need to improve (if you have any) and list the things you can do between now and your final GCSE exams to achieve this
  • Work hard in preparation for your GCSE exams and good luck! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions at