Applied Science

Level 3 Extended Certificate – AQA (new specification from September 2016)

This is a new and exciting course that Sheringham Sixth Form are offering for students who have an interest and enthusiasm for Science subjects, but for one reason or another do not feel that A level qualifications are appropriate for them.

This is a new and exciting course that Sheringham Sixth Form are offering for students who have an interest and enthusiasm for Science subjects, but for one reason or another do not feel that A level qualifications are appropriate for them.

This vocational qualification gives post-16 learners a practical introduction to Science. It covers key content in all three Science subjects (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) that is common with all three subjects at A level, meaning it is a challenging and highly respected vocational option. However, it has the added benefit of combining a mixture of internal and external assessment, meaning learners can apply their knowledge in a practical way and that it is not all completely assessed by examination only.

Content & Breakdown

Applied Science builds on GCSE knowledge and quickly progresses to an advanced level of application which requires a significant commitment to homework and a mature approach to study periods. Practical work is at the heart of the course, including two portfolio assessed units on modern practical techniques in Science and investigating Science. As a level 3 qualification, this course is the equivalent of an AS level (for the certificate) or a full A level (if the extended certificate is completed.) This means the content covered in Biology, Chemistry and Physics is also present in the A level specifications so it is a comparable qualification. As the content on this is equivalent to A level, this course has been endorsed and recognised by a large number of universities as fulfilling the criteria of other qualifications at the same level. The advantage to students is that the examined component is reduced as part of the course is internally assessed portfolio work (see details in assessment section.)

Topics covered include:

  • Key Concepts in Science – this includes cell structure and cellular transport mechanisms; the heart and circulation; homeostasis; cellular respiration and breathing; photosynthesis and food chain productivity; atomic structure; the periodic table; chemical bonding and structure; enthalpy in chemical reactions; useful energy and efficiency; electricity and circuits; motion and dynamics.
  • Applied Experimental Techniques – students will carry out applied experimental techniques in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, including colorimetric analysis, resistivity, the Hill reaction of photosynthesis and specific heat capacity. They will generate a portfolio of their work on the variety of techniques they cover to be internally assessed.
  • The Human Body (Year 13) – including the musculoskeletal system and movement; transport of oxygen; the digestive system; the nervous system and the brain.
  • Investigating Science (Year 13) – students will carry out a specific investigation related to a real-life application of an aspect of Science and compose a portfolio of their work to be internally assessed.

There will then be an additional unit in microbiology, organic chemistry or medical physics in Year 13. The unit completed will be selected depending on upon the needs of the students for their future qualifications and the expertise of the staff delivering the course.

The Year 13 units need to be completed in addition for students to be awarded the extended certificate which is the equivalent of an A level. Students could opt to just complete the Year 12 units and therefore be awarded the certificate in Applied Science, which is the equivalent of an AS award.


Unlike traditional A levels, assessment for this course is partly by externally set examination and partly by internally assessed portfolio work. The assessment for different units is as follows:

Certificate in Applied Science (AS equivalent – Year 12)

  • Key Concepts in Science – Written exam. 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Science in the Modern World – Written exam. 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Applied Experimental Techniques – portfolio.

Each component above is worth 33.3% of the final mark awarded if the AS equivalent is chosen (meaning 33.3% of the AS option is portfolio based).

Extended Certificate in Applied Science (A level equivalent) – students need to complete units above for Year 12 and the following in addition:

  • The Human Body – Written exam. 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Investigating Science – portfolio.
  • Microbiology OR Medical Physics – portfolio.

If the extended certificate is completed over the two years, each component (there are six in total) is worth 16.6% of the final grade awarded. This means that 50% of the assessment for the extended certificate course is by examination and 50% is portfolio work that is completed over the two years. At the end of this students will achieve a Level 3 Extended Certificate in Applied Science, equivalent to one full A level.

Careers/Further Education

Applied Science will potentially enable you to enter a wide range of degree courses or career areas. These may include:

  • Forestry/woodland management
  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Nursing
  • Laboratory research
  • Biochemistry
  • Forensic Science
  • Biomedical Science
  • Sports Science
  • Science in the media

In addition it will demonstrate skills in a variety of areas that could lead to careers in the NHS, education or scientific research and technology.

This course has been supported by a range of higher education institutions (a full list of these can be found on the AQA website) and has been designed to provide the best possible opportunity for progress to higher education or employment.

For more information contact: Dr B Bestwick