GCSE Options

Descisions, Descisions

Very soon you will be embarking on the next stage of your educational journey; GCSEs! The first step is to decide on which subjects you would like to study towards your GCSE examinations. So, where do you start? This booklet has been designed to help you make an informed decision on your choices, hopefully answering many of the questions you may have. However, your form tutor, teachers and careers advisor (Mrs Jackson) are available to offer further advice, should you require it.

How do I choose my subjects?

Fortunately, some of your subjects are already chosen for you! The GCSE core subjects of mathematics, science and English Language are compulsory subjects at GCSE. You then have to choose four more subjects from a range of options, and you might like to consider the following before making a choice.

Ability: It is a good idea to choose a subject in which you have some skill, or which you are particularly good at: for instance, are you better at subjects which require an emphasis on reading and writing, or are you especially good in practical work and experiments?

Interest: Interest is always a good basis for a choice.You are more likely to do better in a subject in which you have a greater interest. Be careful, though; interest needs to be linked to ability and in some subjects, interest alone is insufficient.

Content: You must become familiarised with the content of the GCSE. You need to look through the course descriptions in this booklet and see what is in store. You need to match up the content with your abilities and interests. Ask pupils in the school, who are taking the subject, what they think. You need to know what you are taking on.

Talent: Many pupils have a real talent for certain subjects and choose subjects in their specialist field. You might, for example, have a creative talent for art or design technology. Some pupils might display a flair for foreign languages. What is your talent? You might like to ask a teacher what she/he thinks about your true abilities in a given area.

Career Implications: Some careers need certain subjects. Luckily the core subjects take care of most of these.Future doctors and vets need to study A levels in the sciences, which include chemistry. Potential engineers have to study mathematics and physics.

The majority of Fyling Hall pupils will be entered for both English Language and English Literature GCSE courses.However, we may decide—in consultation with you and your parents—that focusing on the skills required to achieve a good grade in English Language alone will be more beneficial. The two courses are taught simultaneously throughout the two years sharing a number of similar themes and developing transferable skills.
English Language

The English Language course has three main components. They are:

Reading which develops the ability to read accurately and fluently, to understand and respond to a variety of literature, and to analyse and evaluate a wide range of texts.

Writing which develops the ability to construct and convey meaning in a variety of forms, paying attention to the accurate use of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Speaking and Listening which develops the ability to formulate, clarify and express ideas, to adapt speech to a range of circumstances, to listen, understand and respond appropriately to others, and to be able to use the vocabulary and grammar of spoken standard English.

The method of assessment is based on two papers taken at the end of Year 11. There is also an assessment on your speaking and listening. Although this does not count towards your overall GCSE grade, you will be given a separate score.

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing 1 hour 45 minutes
50% of English Language GCSE
Section A: Reading – one literature fiction text
Section B: Writing – descriptive or narrative writing and one literary non fiction text
Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives 1 hour 45 minutes
50% of English Language GCSE
Section A: Reading – two linked texts: one non-fiction and
one literary non fiction text
Section B: Writing – writing to present a viewpoint
Non-examination Assessment: Spoken Language Assessed by teacher
Separate endorsement (0% weighting of GCSE) Presenting
Responding to questions and feedback Use of Standard English

English Literature

There are 2 main components to the separate English Literature course, which pupils will be taught alongside the GCSE English Language course, over a two year period. Examinations will be taken at the end of year 11 and are ‘closed book’: any stimulus materials required will be provided as part of the assessment.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel

1 hour 45 minutes
40% of English Literature GCSE
Section A: Shakespeare: students will answer one question on the play that they have studied. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole.
Section B: The 19th Century novel: students will answer one question on the novel that they have studied. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel and then to write about the novel as a whole.

Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry: 2 hour 15 minutes

 60% of English Literature GCSE
Section A: Modern texts: students will answer one essay question from a choice of two on their studied modern prose or drama text.
Section B: Poetry: students will answer one comparative question on one named poem printed on the paper and one other poem from the anthology cluster that they have studied.
Section C: Unseen poetry: Students will answer one question on one unseen poem and one question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem.


Mathematics is for everyone and is essential in giving students the right skills to reach their future destination – whatever that may be. The mathematics syllabus places a greater emphasis on problem solving in real life situations and contains the following subject content:

Number Algebra
Ratio, proportion and rates of change
Geometry and measures
Probability Statistics

The GCSE will be assessed at the end of Year 11 by three 90 minute examinations. The first is a non- calculator paper with a calculator allowed for papers 2 and 3. All three of the examinations contribute equally to the overall grade and must be taken from the same tier. Each paper will consist of a mix of question styles from short, single-mark questions to multi-step problems. The mathematical demand increases as a student progresses through the paper.


All pupils study AQA Combined Science (Trilogy) which has an equal proportion of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and results in two GCSEs. The course combines elements of traditional topics, alongside more recent developments. In biology, this includes topics on: Cell biology, Infection and response, ecology as well as bioenergetics. In chemistry, the fundamental concepts of matter are studied. These include: atomic structure and the periodic table, bonding and structure, and the properties of matter. Environmental issues, chemical analysis and sustainability are all studied in relation to current day concerns.Finally, in physics, the classic concepts of forces, energy, waves, electromagnetism are studied alongside examples of their application. In conjunction with the scientific theory, there is plenty of opportunity to conduct practical work.

The course is assessed at the end of Year 11 with six exam papers, two in each science. Each paper examines different topics within the course and each are 1hr 15minutes long. The questions comprise of multiple choice, structured, closed, short answer and open responses. Two tiers are available: foundation (grades 1-5) and higher (grades 4-9). You will be advised on which tier is the most suitable throughout the course and also on the outcome of the mock exams held in the November of Year 11.

For students who are showing sufficient aptitude, there is the possibility to take the 3 sciences separately. This would result in GCSEs in biology, chemistry and physics. This may require the attendance of additional lessons after school and at weekends in the final two terms of Year 11.


Students can select from a range of study areas within art and design. These include fine art, photography, or textiles. Candidates are required to develop knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to their chosen endorsement. Students will explore topics using a variety of techniques that fulfil the different assessment criteria. This includes observational study drawing as part of all Art and Design subjects.Learners will develop their skills in research, creative thinking and independent study as well as the skills relevant to each area.

Unit 1: Portfolio of Work (60%)
Controlled assessment is set and marked by the centre and moderated by AQA.
Each student needs to have evidence of more than one project.

Unit 2: Externally Set Task (40%)
Exam questions set by the exam board, marked by the centre and moderated by AQA.

Business (EDEXCEL)
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t studied business prior to taking this course. You might have an interest in business, and want to start your own business one day. You may have an enquiring mind and be interested in learning about the world around you, how businesses are set up, and what it is that makes someone a great entrepreneur. This course will help you to understand all this and more.

You are likely to learn a lot of new things. You will be introduced to the world of small businesses and will look at what makes someone a successful business person. You will find out how to develop an idea and spot an opportunity, and turn that into a successful business. You will understand how to make a business effective and manage money. You will also see how the world around us affects small businesses and all the people involved.
Assessment consists of two written examination papers at the end of year 11 and a controlled assessment topic chosen from a range of topics studied throughout the course.

This business course can help you prepare for further and higher education such as AS/A2 Levels and BTEC and NVQ courses. You will become skilled in making decisions, being creative, solving problems, understanding finance, dealing with data, communicating and working as part of team. A GCSE Business course could lead to work in a business-related profession such as accountancy, law, marketing, the leisure and tourism industry or even give you the confidence and knowledge to set up your own business!

Computer Science (OCR)

Computers are an integral part of modern society with technology touching all aspects of life from commerce, healthcare, industry, communication and recreation.

The pace of change and innovation is rapid. Many companies have an urgent need for people who understand this technology, how to create it and how to make effective use of it. This course has real relevance in our modern world. While learners will no doubt already have some knowledge of computers and related areas, the course will give them an in-depth understanding of how computer technology works and a look at what goes on “behind the scenes”.

Course Structure
Network security, including viruses, malware and hacking
Computer networks and connections Memory and storage
Systems software Algorithms and flowcharts Programming

The GCSE in Computer Science is made up of two units both assessed through external examinations. Students can achieve grades 9 -1 on this course.

Unit 1 – Computer Systems – Candidates answer all questions that include a mixture of short and long answers based on Computer Systems (50%, written examination).

Unit 2 – Computational thinking, algorithms and programming – Candidates will be required to create algorithms, explain different programming techniques and write program code (50%, written examination).

Is it for me?
Computing gives learners a real, in-depth understanding of how computer technology works. It provides excellent preparation for higher study and jobs in the field of computer science, and develops critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills through the study of computer programming.

Future Pathways
The number of jobs in computing occupations is growing much faster than average, making computer science one of the most viable degree options. It opens the door to highly paid careers: Computer science graduates earn some of the highest starting salaries of any degree.

Design & Technology (Product Design)

GCSE Design and Technology will prepare students to participate confidently and successfully in an increasingly technological world. Students will gain awareness and learn from wider influences on Design and Technology including historical, social, cultural, environmental and economic factors. Students will get the opportunity to work creatively when designing and making and apply
technical and practical expertise.

GCSE Design and Technology specification sets out the knowledge, understanding and skills required to undertake the iterative design process of exploring, creating and evaluating. The majority of the specification will be delivered through the practical application of this knowledge and understanding.
The subject content has been split into three sections as follows:

  • Core technical principles
  • Specialist technical principles
  • Designing and making principles

This course is assessed evenly between a design project undertaken in controlled conditions and a written exam.

Drama (RSL)

Drama is a fun packed course for anyone with a good imagination and a love of theatre. As well as acting, costumes and stage lighting; live theatre trips and performances are opportunities in the course. There will be rehearsals after school during certain parts of the course which are compulsory. Pupils do not have to have done Drama in year 9.

The Level Two course is split into modules with each being assessed through coursework. Modules may include:
Live Performance (a large scale final performance unit)
Preparing for a Career in the Performing Arts (CV writing, research into the industry and interviews with professionals)
Performing Text (performing short extracts of script)
Acting Workshop (leading a 10 minute section of a lesson for your class)

There is no final exam for Drama and we endeavour to finish the course before exam season to allow pupils more time to revise in other subjects.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

EAL gives all pupils for whom English is an additional language the opportunity and coaching to improve their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. There are also opportunities to get involved in project work, which focuses on aspects ofBritish Culture such as traditional festivals and current affairs. These aspects are researched and discussed in comparison with pupils’ own cultures. All pupils are entered for examinations according to their level of competence in English and examinations may be taken at the end of each term.

Cambridge ESOL Key English Test (CEFR level A2) Cambridge ESOL Preliminary English Test (CEFR level B1)
Cambridge ESOL First Certificate (CEFR level B2— C1)
Edexcel IGCSE English as a Second Language (CEFR level B1-B2) is also offered depending on the length of stay and level of English

Pupils are assessed on:
Reading: skimming, scanning, reading for content, reading for detail, following an argument and identifying attitudes and opinions;
Writing: communicative quality, lexical accuracy and range, grammatical accuracy and range and effective organisation;
Listening: listening for detailed information, following a discussion or argument and understanding ideas and opinions;
Speaking: formal and informal.

Geography (AQA)

Although broad-based, the course does allow some in-depth study of selected topics in Physical and Human Geography. Developing skills introduced in Key Stage 3 – map interpretation, sketch-mapping, using aerial photographs and satellite images – pupils become familiar with a wide range of case studies, source materials and statistical techniques.

The study of issues relating to the challenges associated with natural hazards, resource management, urban issues and the changing economic world, as well as the physical landscapes in the UK, provides both a liberal education and valuable perspectives on a rapidly changing world.

During the course, field visits may be made to illustrate concepts and landforms studied in class, involving both physical and urban topics.These may include visits to assess coastal erosion, fluvial processes and the changing landscape or visits to a town or city to show how they are coping with a constantly changing environment and the strategies they utilise to combat these changes.

During the two year course there may be a residential visit which will entail an additional cost (added to the bill). This focuses on preparation for Paper 3, which includes questions on fieldwork and skills. A pre- release resources booklet is also made available 12 weeks prior to the Paper 3 examination.

Paper 1 Living with the physical environment

External exam 35 % – 1 hour 30 minute examination
Paper 1 consists of:
Section A: The challenge of natural hazards Section B: The living world
Section C: Physical landscapes in the UK

Paper 2 Challenges in the human environment

External exam 35% – 1 hour 30 minute examination
Paper 2 consists of:
Section A: Urban issues and challenges Section B: The changing economic world
Section C: The challenge of resource management

Paper 3 Issue evaluation & fieldwork

External exam 30 % – 1 hour examination Section A: Issue Evaluation
Section B: Fieldwork


The course is designed to provide both depth and breadth, in the study of British, European and World history.qualification is linear, meaning pupils will sit all their exams at the end of the course. During the course pupils are given the opportunity to develop a number of important skills, including note taking and independent research, extended writing, analysis of key questions and historical interpretations and the handling of primary and secondary historical sources.

Paper 1: Understanding the Modern World
Section A: Period Studies: Germany, 1890-1945: Democracy and Dictatorship Section B: Wider World Depth Studies: Conflict and tension, 1918-1939

Paper 2: Shaping the Nation
Section A: Thematic Studies: Britain: Health and the People: c1000 to the present day Section B: British Depth Study: The Restoration

Modern Languages (AQA)
We offer the opportunity for pupils to study either French or German, or both (dependent on timetabling restrictions), to GCSE level. Nowadays, it is accepted that a working knowledge of a foreign language enhances job opportunities, is an asset which broadens the horizons both socially and culturally and also widens the choice of University courses. There are many reasons for choosing to take a foreign language to GCSE: you like it, you’re good at it, it develops skills which you can transfer into your other subjects, or you want to work in travel and tourism. The content for each paper is drawn from the following topic areas:

Home and abroad
Education and employment
Poverty, homelessness and charity work House, home and daily routines
The modern world, technology and the environment
Social activities, fitness and health.

A range of question styles are used in the reading, writing and listening papers, including: gap-fill, true/false, multiple choice, box ticking, and note taking. You may be asked to write in either English or the target language. You will be required to translate accurately from English to the target language and on the writing paper you need to be able to respond in French/German to a given topic following a series of bullet points. On the speaking paper you will take part in a role play situation and be asked to describe a photograph. You will already have covered some of the vocabulary and grammar you need from these areas during your KS3 classes and will continue to build on this work over the 2 years of the course.

Music / Rockschool

GCSE Music is an enjoyable subject that is flexible to your musical tastes. You will have the opportunity to use your creative imagination to write and play your own music as well as perform solos and ensembles.

At Fyling Hall we have two options available to study at GCSE Level. The traditional GCSE Music Course (AQA) and the Level 2 Certificate in Performance for Music Practitioners.For both courses,singing or playing an instrument is required.

Please see below for further details on both courses:


This course is split into three parts:
Composition (30% of the course) – Pupils will write two compositions over the course of two years. The first will take place in Year 1 and will be a Free Composition, where there are no restrictions on what they can write. The second will take place in Year 2 and will be based around a brief that will be released in the September of Year 11.

Performance (30% of the course) – Pupils perform two pieces of music, one as a solo and the other as an ensemble, at approximately Grade 4 standard. This will be recorded in the final year of the course.

Listening and Appraising Exam (40% of the course) – A 90 minute listening paper that will take place in the June of Year 11. The exam will be split into two sections: Section A: Listening- unfamiliar music (68 marks) and Section B: Study pieces (28 marks)


An alternative to a traditional GCSE in music, is the Level 2 Certificate for Music Practitioners. This flexible course offered by the exam board RockSchool, allows a student to tailor the course to their strengths and is a mainly coursework focused qualification. This course is fully accredited by the Department of Education and provides a course more in line with the current music industry, to prepare pupils for working life as a musician.

The Level 2 Certificate is a 20 credit music course that involves three main units:

Musical Knowledge (4 credits) – A coursework based unit that focuses on developing the pupils knowledge of particular genres of music. It also builds on their analysing skills for certain songs of their choice.

Unit of Choice: Either Song writing / Instrumental Study (8 credits) – Pupils are given a choice of two units. One to create, record and score up their own piece of music. The other is to set themselves a series of goals on their instrument to complete over a 6 week period, they must log all of their rehearsals and lessons and evaluate their progress at the end.

Live Music Performance (8 credits)Pupils have to plan, rehearse for, perform and evaluate a concert showcasing their strengths as a musician. Their individual performance must be between 10-15 minutes long and will be created to fit a specific brief.

Sports Studies

The course aims to foster enjoyment of physical activity and develop:
(a) an understanding of human performance, effective and safe physical competence in relation to physical education.
(b) inter-personal skills and to help establish self-esteem through the development of physical confidence.
Candidates will be assessed on:
(a) knowledge and understanding of the role of physical education.
(b) understanding of human performance in relation to physical education.
(c) appreciation of safe physical activity.
(d) ability to analyse and evaluate issues in physical education.

Written Examination and Coursework

Unit 1 – Applied anatomy and physiology, physical training
30% of the total GCSE marks, 60 minute exam worth 60 marks.

Unit 2 – Socio-cultural influences sports psychology, health, fitness and well-being 30% of the total GCSE marks, 60 minute exam worth 60 marks.

Unit 3 – Practical activity assessment, evaluating and analysing performance (AEP) 40% of the total GCSE, 80 marks practical assessment

Three practical performances from different activity areas, must be a minimum of one individual and one team sport. In addition to three practical activities, learners are required to demonstrate their ability to analyse and evaluate their own performance.

Additional Support

Learning Support is an option designed to offer additional tuition and guidance in the GCSE subjects currently available.

As well as enhancing the curriculum, lessons also include:

  • Study skills Revision skills
  • Reading, spelling, writing and essay planning Handwriting typing
  • Social and emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL)
  • Practice for examination access arrangements, including using a scribe, a reader or word processor
  • Improving working memory Improving motor skills

All lessons are tailored to the curriculum and learning style of the individual pupil or group of pupils.

Learning Support can only be taken as an option following discussion with Mrs English, subject teachers and parents.