What We Offer

Our curriculum

At LAE, we offer only the A level subjects favoured by the top universities in the UK and worldwide. These are called ‘facilitating subjects’ and are the subjects most commonly required or preferred by universities to get on to a range of degree courses. Good results in these subjects will secure entry to the most competitive courses at the best universities.

All students, joining LAE from September 2017, will enrol onto an agreed learning programme of four linear A levels in year 12 comprising:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • English Literature
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics
  • Philosophy, Religion & Ethics (PRE)
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Spanish

Additional information about the A level subjects we offer including exam boards, syllabuses, recommended reading and advice on how to prepare can be found in the expandable sections at the bottom of this page.

For further information, please contact the Deputy Head (Academic), Claudia Harrison, by emailing: office@excellencelondon.ac.uk.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

We also offer the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), a self-directed project designed to develop your research, referencing and critical analysis skills. The EPQ is a great way to explore and expand your subject knowledge and is equivalent to an additional AS level qualification.

Biology

OCR Biology

Biology is the study of Life itself. It is at the core of many major scientific disciplines such as Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Biophysics. Even Exobiology – the question of life elsewhere in space – is a fast growing specialism. You will find biologists working all over the world in almost every setting imaginable: from research laboratories, hospitals, offices, classrooms and factories to boats, planes, museums, jungles, caves, treetops, even at the heart of Government and in the City.

What will I learn?

Have you ever wondered how a 50m high tree silently gets water from the soil to its leaves? Can you explain how the “lub dub” heartbeat sound is produced?  You start in Year 12 by investigating key biological concepts such as cell biology, disease and immunity, and biodiversity, and you will study biochemistry and the physics of microscopy also.

During Year 13, you will delve deeper into the biochemical reactions which keep us alive: so much so that you will never look at the world in the same way again! You will question how the body is controlled and how it responds to stimuli, while considering how our genes make us who we are.  Are you a risk taker?  Do you get easily hooked on new trends?  Do our genes shape our personalities?

You will also develop exceptional practical abilities. Regular practical work supports and enhances your learning of Biology at LAE. You can even undertake university level procedures such as gel electrophoresis and PCR during your Genetics unit – very much following in the footsteps of the Independent Thinker Rosalind Franklin.

Autumn term Spring term Summer term
Cell Structure, Biological Molecules, Enzymes, Nucleic Acids,  Cell Membranes, Cell Division, Enzymes Transport in Animals & Plants; Disease & Immunity; Biodiversity, Classification & Evolution Bridge to A level, Practical Assignments & Research presentations

How should I prepare myself?

As well as the minimum entry requirements for LAE, you will need an A*/A grade in Double/Triple Science at GCSE in order to enrol to study Biology at A level. 

Challenge yourself regularly by researching the latest in scientific discoveries, and by reading around what you’re studying in lesson in books, magazines and online. We want you to start discussions with us about the topics you find intriguing, and for you to develop your own love of Biology to rival ours.

Recommended reading:

  • The Diversity of Life, Edward O. Wilson
  • This Is Biology: The Science of the Living World, Ernst Mayr 
  • The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, Lewis Thomas
  • Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Matt Ridley
  • Y: The Descent of Men, Steve Jones
  • DNA: The Secret of Life, James Watson

Chemistry

OCR, Chemistry A

Chemistry is everywhere and has occupied human thought since the first alchemists started mixing and melting and transmuting substances thousands of years ago. It is the study of substances: what they are made from, how they behave, what properties they have and how they can be changed.

What will I learn?

You will learn about the foundations of chemistry – the key knowledge, skills and understanding that make a chemist. You will learn to calculate how much of one substance reacts with another. You will unearth and explain patterns in the Periodic Table. You will develop a toolkit of reactions that allows you to make the substances you need. And throughout the course you will learn core practical techniques and procedures.

How should I prepare myself?

Ensure you understand the concepts you have studied up to Year 11 in depth, in particular about covalent and ionic bonding. Always attempt extension questions, and take time to read more about the Periodic Table, so that you can explain how and why it looks like it does today.                             

Reading list:

  • On Giants' Shoulders, Melvyn Bragg
  • Mystery of the Periodic Table, Ben Wiker

 

Economics

Edexcel

Economics is taught linearly and you would sit two moderated exams in the summer at the end of year 12. Paper 1 is focused on microeconomics and Paper 2 is focused on macroeconomics. To attain the full A level, you would sit three exams in the summer at the end of year 13. Paper 1 is Markets and business behaviour. Paper 2 is The national and global economy. Paper 3 contains both microeconomics and macroeconomics. There are a mixture of shorter questions, data response and essay questions. There is no coursework in economics. The A level grade would be attained purely on the 3 papers you will sit in year 13.

What will I learn?

You will learn about microecononics which is the study of individuals and firms. You will learn how they make decisions about what to make, what to buy, and at what price. You will also learn about macroeconomics where you would be looking at the bigger picture. What happens behind the news headlines in the economy? What does recession, austerity and inflation mean and why are they important? Should governments aim to make their countries richer, or aim to make their people happier?

How should I prepare myself?

Watching the news and current affairs programmes is a great place to start. Read broadsheet newspapers and magazines like The Economist. Practice coming up with and explaining your own opinion. This is a fundamental skill in Economics.                             

Reading list:

  • The Undercover Economist, Tim Hartford
  • Superfreakonomics, Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
  • Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

English Literature

AQA English Literature B

Studying English Literature at LAE is a lively mix of literary analysis, contextual thinking, wider reading and independent learning. You will be encouraged to question, debate and develop informed opinions, and the enjoyment and discipline of reading will give you a secure basis for astute critical discussion. English is a competitive university subject and supports a very wide range of careers.

What will I learn?

The course as a whole seeks to introduce you to a range of genres, forms and writers. For Unit 1, you will study three texts within the genre of Tragedy. For Unit 2, you will study Crime Writing. For Unit 3, you will write two coursework essays on a novel and poetry anthology of your choice, each informed by a different literary theory. Classroom learning will be supported by workshops, extra-curricular academic societies and literary events.

How should I prepare myself?

The best way to prepare yourself is to read, read and read again: novels, poems, plays, modern texts, older works, texts in translation.                            

Reading list:

  • The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
  • The World's Wife, Carol Ann Duffy

French

AQA French

The study of a foreign language is a gateway to a new country or indeed countries, to new culture, literature, film and music, to the genius of icons such as Voltaire or Gabriel García Marquez. As well as the practical linguistic skills you will build on day to day, your study will require self-motivation, determination and discipline, which is why having a modern foreign language qualification is still highly regarded by admissions tutors at top universities.

If you enjoy looking for links and patterns in language, solving problems and making informed deductions about the form and meaning of words, and if you want to study a course in which you can explore aspects of history, politics, society and media, all while developing confident fluency in French or Spanish, you will enjoy studying a language at LAE.

What will I learn?

At LAE you can study French or Spanish. At this advanced level, you will begin by building on your skills acquired at GCSE and start to communicate sophisticated ideas and opinions in the target language. Every one of your lessons will target one or more of your language skills: speaking, reading, writing and listening. Language lessons at A Level will require you to think independently, and you will develop confidence in expressing and justifying your points of view. In your first year, you will acquire the linguistic skills necessary to debate key social issues and discuss controversial topics, for example, whether young people are slaves to social networks or whether the concept of a “traditional family” still exists in the twenty-first century. While there is no coursework, there is an oral exam for which you will prepare ideas to discuss about a particular topic of your choice. With the support and guidance of your teachers, this will be a unique opportunity to hone your independent research skills and to develop expertise about a particular issue within a Francophone or Hispanic country. What you investigate and research is down to you and your individual interests, be it the effects of sustainable tourism in Costa Rica or how the French rap scene has developed over recent decades.

How should I prepare myself?

Get to grips with the key material at GCSE. Try not to shy away from the grammar and verb tenses at school, because at LAE you will need to have these basics secure before you progress to more sophisticated language.

Recommended reading:

Start to read article in newspapers such as Le Parisien and 20 Minutos. You can read them online. The website www.wordreference.com is a quick way of looking up vocabulary, but don’t look up every word you don’t know: understand the article overall, not each tiny detail.

Further Mathematics

Edexcel

 

What will I learn?

When studying Further Mathematics at LAE, students will complete the full A level in Mathematics in the first year, and then the full A level in Further Mathematics in the second year. The extra material covered involves the important pure topics of complex numbers, matrices and proof by induction. Students also extend their skills in solving differential equations, which are very useful when applied to engineering problems. Students will also encounter further applications of Mathematics such as the development of algorithms which can be used to program computers to solve optimisation problems. 

How should I prepare myself?

As the course moves very quickly through A level Mathematics, it is important that students are ready for that, and this means that their GCSE knowledge must be finely polished. Algebra skills are particularly important, and students must be at ease with the algebraic manipulation skills encountered at GCSE level.                                                      

Geography

AQA A level Geography 7037

“Geography: it’s a must-have A-level…a subject for our times” (The Guardian)

 

We live in an increasingly globalised society where everything we do has a link to another part of the world.  Nearly every media story leaves us asking questions like “So, globalisation: good or bad? And for whom?” The A-level course ensures that you will emerge as a well-informed and skilled geographer.  The scope of A-level Geography at the LAE is broad and builds on the knowledge and skills acquired at GCSE. The course studies both human and physical geography themes, with studies at local, regional, national and global levels. The main focus at A-Level Geography is to develop a secure knowledge about human and physical systems and to investigate the challenges facing humanity around the world today – many of which will continue to be a challenge into the future. 

 

A recent guardian report suggests that Geography is “… inherently multidisciplinary in a world that increasingly values people who have the skills needed to work across the physical and social sciences. Geographers get to learn data analysis, and to read Robert Macfarlane. They learn geographic information systems. They can turn maps from a two-dimensional representation of a country’s physical contours into a tool that illustrates social attributes or attitudes: not just where people live, but howwhat they think and how they vote. They learn about the physics of climate change, or the interaction of weather events and flood risk, or the way people’s behaviour is influenced by the space around them. All these are not just intrinsically interesting and valuable. They also encourage ways of seeing and thinking that make geographers eminently employable, which is why, according to the latest information from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, only 5.8% of geography graduates were still job-hunting six months after they graduated, against an average of 7.3%.”

What will I learn?

Physical geography: Water and carbon cycles; Hot desert systems and landscapes; Ecosystems under stress

Human geography: Global systems and global governance; Changing places; Population and the environment

Investigative geography: Getting out into the ‘real world’ is a fundamental part of being a good geographer. You will research and write an independent fieldwork investigation as part of the A-level course. We go on a 4 day residential trip to Nettlecombe Court in Somerset at the beginning of Year 13 as well as doing other trips and visits over the course.

How should I prepare myself?

As well as the minimum entry requirements for LAE you will need an A*/A grade in Geography GCSE. If you did not do Geography GCSE you can still take it at A level. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis but in general you will need to have an A*/A in another humanity subject and a 7 in Maths and/or English GCSE to do the A level without the GCSE.

 

Keep up to date with the latest geographical news. Be interested in places and change whether in your local area or on a global scale. The LAE geography Twitter feed @GeogLAE has all the latest geographical news and stories as well as news about the LAE geographers.                        

Recommended reading, listening and watching:

  • Planet Earth 2 (BBC)

  • The True Cost (Documentary: Netflix)

  • Geography podcasts e.g. ‘National Geographic weekend’ or ‘a very spatial podcast’

  • Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo

  • Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall

History

OCR, History A

Throughout human existence, historians have examined what has preceded them, and that has shaped their understanding of the world in which they live. From Herodotus and Thucydides in the ancient world to perspectives as varied as Hobsbawm and Ferguson today, independent thinkers and rigorous debaters have defined, enlivened and relished in the study of History.

What will I learn?

As a historian you will examine and interpret evidence to understand causation, consequence, change and continuity within a historical context. You will study European Early-Modern and Modern History, spanning the course of well over two hundred years. The focus will be conceptual, rather than chronological, and you will examine how the ideas of liberty, reason and nationalism came to replace dogmatism, religion and feudalism in social, economic and political terms. In the Early Modern component, you will examine the religious and political challenges faced by Queen Elizabeth I and the Mid Tudor Crisis (1547-1603).  You will also study the French Revolution (1774-1815) which ultimately set the stage for the emergence of one of History’s most controversial figures: Napoleon Bonaparte.  Finally, as the course enters the modern era, you will encounter the rise of nationalism in Germany (1789-1919) and the challenges which this posed to a world faced with new political, social, intellectual and technological upheavals.  Additionally, all candidates for History A Level have the opportunity to develop their independent thinking and research skills further through completion of the 4,000 word Topic Based Essay, making History at LAE the perfect choice of study for all those wishing to pursue any degree at university level. 

How should I prepare myself?

The ideal preparation for history is to engage in deep and meaningful reading. Don't merely sit and absorb ideas and interpretations, be mindful and question!                              

Reading list:

  • History: A Very Short Introduction, John Arnold
  • The Return of Martin Guerre, Natalie Zemon Davis
  • A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor

 

Mathematics

Edexcel

 

What will I learn?

In Mathematics, students learn how to apply a formal set of techniques in order to solve both real-life and abstract problems.  These techniques include algebra, graphs, functions, geometrical reasoning, trigonometry, calculus, and vectors.  Throughout the course, students develop general logical reasoning and abstract problem solving skills which are highly desired by both universities and employers.  Students will also learn about the related disciplines of probability and statistics, and how they can use models of situations to help predict what may happen in future events.  The other major area of application is in mechanics, where students learn how to model physical scenarios and draw conclusions on the behaviour of objects in space. 

How should I prepare myself?

The best way to prepare for A level Mathematics is to ensure that all the skills from GCSE are really up to scratch. In particular, students must be confident with fractions and algebraic fractions, rearranging equations, factorising quadratics and solving simultaneous equations.                                                        

Reading list:

  • The Code Book, Simon Singh
  • The Music of the Primes, Marcus du Sautoy
  • Thinking About Mathematics, Stewart Shapiro

Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE)

Edexcel

PRE at LAE is the study of Philosophy of Religion, Moral Philosophy and Textual Analysis of Scripture.

‘Philosophy’ literally means the love of wisdom. It is a subject that seeks to determine ways of looking at the questions that intrigue humanity, such as ‘what is knowledge?’ or ‘what is the purpose of life?’ At LAE, by focusing specifically on the moral and religious branches of philosophy, we address how ideas of God, GOODNESS, and the nature of belief, have affected society and the development of thought throughout the ages. Combined with the study of scripture, we look at how and why we see religious texts as being authoritative; the nature of authorship and interpretation, and how these texts are used to influence social and cultural laws or customs.

The most important thing to note about this subject is that it is academic, analytical and equips the student with the critical analysis skills required for future studies in all subject areas, most notably Law and Medicine.

What will I learn?

There are three areas of study within this Subject. Firstly, in the Philosophy of Religion section you will look at the nature of the philosophical arguments put forward for God’s existence; the credibility of religious experiences; as well as, arguments against religious belief; and psychological and sociological critiques of religious belief.

The second are of study is Moral Philosophy. Here you will look at the differences in the construction of theories of ethics; the theories of Natural Law Kantian Ethics, Virtue Ethics and Utilitarianism; applied ethics (medical ethics and environmental ethics); and how we understand the concept of GOOD.

Lastly, in the Textual Studies unit, you will look at the social, historical and religious context of the New Testament; as well as, various ways to interpret scripture as a historical and classical artefact.

How should I prepare myself?

You do not ned any background in Religious Studies in order to sit PRE at A’ Level as this is a very different subject in terms of content and skills from what you have studied at secondary school. However, the minimum entry requirement to do this subject at A’ Level is an A grade in English literature GCSE.

At the very heart of this subject is the desire to question and inquire, and so intellectual curiosity is vital. Reading is also essential as a preparation, whether this is of newspapers (e.g. The Guardian; The Times or The Independent), literature, or non-fiction. The more you read, the more ideas and varying viewpoints you will be exposed to, which in turn should make you think about the nature of things. Philosophical questions are also inherent within many films (e.g. Inception, AI, Minority Report, The Matrix) and TV programmes (e.g. CSI, the Simpsons), so do watch, enjoy and think about them. As well as the minimum entry requirements for LAE, you will need an A grade in English Literature at GCSE in order to enroll to study PRE at A level.

Recommended reading:

  • Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder

Physics

AQA Physics (7408)

Physics describes the interactions between objects in the world around us, from the smallest sub-atomic particles to huge clusters of galaxies, and provides the theoretical basis for much of the technology of the modern world.

What will I learn?

In Year 12 you will study measurements and uncertainty; particles and radiation; waves; mechanics and materials; and electricity. Year 13 builds on these ideas, covering circular and oscillatory motion; thermal physics; fields; nuclear physics; plus one of five option topics. Practical skills are integrated into the course and the exams, and you will complete at least six required practical investigations in each year.

How should I prepare myself?

You should be aiming for A or A* grades in GCSE Sciences and Maths. You do not have to study Maths at A level in order to study Physics, but strong numeracy is vital. Make sure you understand all the equations and definitions from GCSE Physics, as well as practising mathematical techniques in algebra, trigonometry, and data handling.                                                         

Reading list:

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
  • On Giants' Shoulders, Melvyn Bragg
  • Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman!, Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton

Psychology

In the 2012 film Compliance, ordinary and decent workers in a fast-food diner are persuaded by a policeman to subject a colleague – one of their friends – to increasingly cruel and degrading punishments. Is this a ludicrous film story, or a frighteningly plausible chain of events? Why is somebody in a room with a mirror less likely to pick up and pocket a £20 note lying on the floor than somebody in a room without a mirror? Why if four people stand on the pavement and look skywards do others join them and also look upwards, but if only one person does so then no one else joins in?

Psychology is the study of human behaviour. AS and A2 Psychology will help you start to understand not only why we all behave so differently but also why so often we behave so predictably.

What will I learn?

The course covers a range of theories explaining behaviour. You examine the individual studies that have been completed to test whether these theories are sensible and useful, and the degree to which they help us understand behaviour. 

One of the first topics you will study, memory, is an example of cognitive psychology. It includes two theories that explain how long and short term memory works: these mean that the evidence of eye witnesses might be flawed when used in a court room.  Memory techniques that can be applied to your revision are also covered. 

A developmental psychology topic, attachment, is also studied: attachment is the process by which an infant forms a bond with a primary caregiver. The consequences of the success or failure of this relationship are studied in detail. Social Psychology covers two of the most famous research in Psychology: Milgram’s study of obedience and Asch’s study of conformity, and how these two factors can influence the behaviour of individuals and, possibly, groups. 

Psychopathology looks at definitions that aim to identify who is society might be described as mentally ill, the controversies surrounding this language, and the variety of treatments available. Biological psychology will look at scientific methods for research the brain and nervous system as well as drug treatments and finally biological rhythms.

Throughout you will learn how to take part in psychological debate; looking at the nature vs nurture debate and free will vs determinism. You will also learn the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods; so that you can assess the quality of evidence you are given.

Exam Board: AQA

  Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term Educational Visits and Enrichment
Year 12

Approaches and BioPsychology; Social Psychology; Research Methods

Psychopathology; Memory and Attachment

Revision and Exam Preparation

Cinema trips

Vienna

Lectures in clinical psychology
Year 13

Issues and Debates in Psychology; Aggression; Relationships; Eating Behaivour

Eating Disorders; Statistics; Schizophrenia; Anomalistic

Outcomes:

AS Level Results 2015 (Introduced in September 2014)
A* - B = 81%

How should I prepare myself?

Read some of the books on the recommended reading list. Look at the British Psychological Society website and find their “Research Digest” which you can have e-mailed to you once a month: it gives a précis of recent interesting research. Familiarise yourself with the AQA Psychology syllabus. As well as the minimum entry requirements for LAE, it is recommended that you have a grade A in Maths as well as in either English or Biology at GCSE in order to succeed in A Level Psychology. If Psychology has been studied, then a grade A is required.

Recommended reading

Opening Skinner’s Box Lauren Slater
The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat Oliver Sacks
Scientific American and New Scientist magazines
A Very Short Introduction to Psychology
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon
The Lucifer Effect Philip Zimbardo

Spanish

AQA Spanish

The study of a foreign language is a gateway to a new country or indeed countries, to new culture, literature, film and music, to the genius of icons such as Voltaire or Gabriel García Marquez. As well as the practical linguistic skills you will build on day to day, your study will require self-motivation, determination and discipline, which is why having a modern foreign language qualification is still highly regarded by admissions tutors at top universities.

If you enjoy looking for links and patterns in language, solving problems and making informed deductions about the form and meaning of words, and if you want to study a course in which you can explore aspects of history, politics, society and media, all while developing confident fluency in French or Spanish, you will enjoy studying a language at LAE.

What will I learn?

At LAE you can study French or Spanish. At this advanced level, you will begin by building on your skills acquired at GCSE and start to communicate sophisticated ideas and opinions in the target language. Every one of your lessons will target one or more of your language skills: speaking, reading, writing and listening. Language lessons at A Level will require you to think independently, and you will develop confidence in expressing and justifying your points of view. In your first year, you will acquire the linguistic skills necessary to debate key social issues and discuss controversial topics, for example, whether young people are slaves to social networks or whether the concept of a “traditional family” still exists in the twenty-first century. While there is no coursework, there is an oral exam for which you will prepare ideas to discuss about a particular topic of your choice. With the support and guidance of your teachers, this will be a unique opportunity to hone your independent research skills and to develop expertise about a particular issue within a Francophone or Hispanic country. What you investigate and research is down to you and your individual interests, be it the effects of sustainable tourism in Costa Rica or how the French rap scene has developed over recent decades.

How should I prepare myself?

Get to grips with the key material at GCSE. Try not to shy away from the grammar and verb tenses at school, because at LAE you will need to have these basics secure before you progress to more sophisticated language.

Recommended reading:

Start to read article in newspapers such as Le Parisien and 20 Minutos. You can read them online. The website www.wordreference.com is a quick way of looking up vocabulary, but don’t look up every word you don’t know: understand the article overall, not each tiny detail.