A level course resources

For Sixth Form students – a collection of course-specific resources, online handbooks, useful websites and reading lists.

Resources by subject


A level art enables students to work with a broad range of media, including traditional and new media. It allows them to develop skills and techniques whilst giving them an understanding of the relationships between art, craft and design. It also provides them with the knowledge, understanding of both contemporary and past societies and cultures.

Both AS and A2 are assessed through practical coursework portfolios and a controlled assignment at the end of the year. Students must show evidence of research and exploration and the acquisition of skills and techniques evident in their work.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: OCR H161 Handbook (PDF): Art

Useful websites

Reading list


This course develops the scientific skills and concepts learned during GCSE science. Throughout the course students will learn essential biological principles and look at the contribution of biology to modern society. There are a total of six units in this specification including: diseases, cells and organisms, and the environment as well as units assessing practical skills. Four of the six units are assessed by written exam. This specification allows all students to show what they can do, as well as being suitable for those looking for a challenge.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: AQA 2410 Handbook (PDF): Biology

Useful websites

Reading list

  • Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Matt Ridley (1999) – an excellent introduction to human genetics. Essential reading.
  • Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Like, Adam Rutherford (2014) – theories surrounding the origin of life and emergent technologies in the field of genetic engineering and synthetic biology.
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution, Nick Lane (2010)
  • Nature Vs Nurture: Gene, Experience and What Makes Us Human, Matt Ridley
  • The Energy of Life, Guy Brown (2000)
  • Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, Nick Lane (2006) – an insight into the powerhouses that release the energy to drive life.
  • The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins (1986)
  • The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin (1859) – a very important book but written in a longwinded Victorian style. You may not get through it all, but do look at it and at least read the final chapter.
  • The Periodic Table, Primo Levi (2000)


A level chemistry will develop students’ scientific skills and knowledge in preparation for further study. By studying chemistry in a contemporary context students will develop an understanding of the relevance of chemistry in the world around them. Following on from GCSE science or chemistry, this specification offers students freedom, creativity and the opportunity for independent progression in science. The units on offer provide a range of pathways toward the qualification, grouped under broad themes such as Chemistry in Action, Kinetics, and Inorganic Chemistry. There are also units designed to assess practical skills alongside the written exams.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: AQA 2420 Handbook (PDF): Chemistry

Useful websites

Reading list

The academy library contains many useful books and magazines that will support your learning at AS level Chemistry. The library has subscriptions to New Scientist, Scientific American and Chemistry Review.

  • What is Chemistry, Peter Atkins (2013) – a great introduction to the importance of chemistry in our lives. Peter Atkins is a very important chemistry author; look at some of the other titles on this list too.
  • Four Laws that Drive the Universe, Peter Atkins (2007) – a short simple introduction to thermodynamics and entropy.
  • Prometheans in the Lab: Chemistry and the Making of the Modern World, Sharon B McGrayne (2001) – describes how nine chemical discoveries changed our lives for the better and the worse.
  • The Laws of Thermodynamics, Peter Atkins (2010) – a more challenging, but still short, explanation of thermodynamics in chemistry.
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes (2012) – a detailed account of an incredibly important political and scientific development.
  • Periodic tales: the curious lives of the Elements, Hugh Aldersey-Williams (2012) – an alternative description of the importance of the elements in society
  • The Elements of Murder: a history of Poison, John Emsley (2006) – accounts of when science and crime combine.
  • The Science of Chocolate, Stephen T Beckett (2008). This will be of particular interest to those with an interest in food chemistry, as well as those who just like chocolate.
  • The Periodic Kingdom – a journey into the land of chemical elements, Peter Atkins (1997)
  • The Chemistry of Fragrances, Charles S Sell (2006)
  • Oxygen: The molecule that made the world, Nick Lane (2003) – gives a great account of how important oxygen has been in the development of our World.
  • Elegant solutions: Ten beautiful experiments in chemistry, Philip Ball
  • H2O: A biography of water, Philip Ball (2000)
  • Food – The chemistry of its components, Tom Coultate (2008) – an important summary for food scientists.
  • Vanity, Vitality and Virility: The Science behind the Products you love to buy, John Emsley (2004) – a fascinating account of the science behind things we use every day.
  • Building Blocks: an A-Z guide to the Elements, John Emsley (2011). This is not the type of book you read from cover to cover but there are some fascinating facts in here.
  • The Fats of Life, Caroline M Pond (1998)
  • Uncle Tungsten: memories of chemical Boyhood, Oliver Sacks (2012). The story of how he became engrossed in the World of Science.
  • Chemistry in the Marketplace, Ben Selinger (1997) – a reference guide to the science of products we buy.
  • The chemistry of explosives, Jacqueline Akhavan (2004) – outline the basic principles required to understand the chemical processes of explosives
  • Magic Molecules: How Drugs work, Susan Aldridge (1998) – we all use drugs and this takes us through how they interact with our bodies and their history.
  • The Unnatural Nature of Science, Lewis Wolpert (1992) – a great introduction to what science is.
  • Why chemical reactions happen, James Keeler and Peter Wothers (2003) – an alternative approach to explaining chemistry with a little less maths.
  • Science: A History, John Gribbin (2002) – an entertaining and comprehensive look at science and scientists between 1543-2001.
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson (2004) – really does cover everything, in a very readable way. Essential reading for any scientist.
  • It’s not rocket science, Ben Miller (2014) – a comedic look at some key science ideas.
  • Bad Science, Ben Goldacre (2008) – an entertaining and informative journey through the world of bad science from ‘health’ foods to the MMR/autism scare.


The main aim of this course is to teach computational thinking as a kind of reasoning used by both humans and machines. Thinking computationally is an important life skill using abstraction and decomposition. Students will demonstrate this through different programming languages that they will use. From problem solving to programming, operating systems to networking, this course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, is a good foundation for further study.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: AQA 2510 Handbook (PDF): Computing

Useful websites

Reading list

  • AQA Computing AS: Student’s Book (AQA AS level),Sylvia Langfield and Kevin Bond (2008) – course text book



This course has been designed for geographers with interests in distinct physical, human and environmental areas of study. There are opportunities for out-of-classroom activities which add to the study of geography. Fieldwork and research skills are key features of both AS and A2.

Developed in consultation with the Geographical Association, Royal Geographical Society and leading HE institutions, the course encourages independent study, giving students the skills that employers and universities want. Units of study cover everything from global challenges such as natural hazards and extreme weather through to population migration, sustainability and bio-diversity.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: EdExcel 8GE01 Handbook (PDF): Geography

Useful websites

Reading list


A level ICT allows learners to develop a broad range of ICT skills together with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of ICT that can be transferred into the modern business world. Practical elements inspire and challenge providing a sound base for further study and life in general.

At both AS and A2, students’ work is assessed through an end-of-year exam and a practical coursework assignment focused around the understanding of core ICT systems, knowledge of processing, networks, hardware and software as well as the role and impact of ICT on legal, moral and social issues.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: OCR H117 Handbook (PDF): ICT

Useful websites

Reading list


This course develops the scientific skills and concepts learned during GCSE science. A level Physics allows students to develop an understanding of how the world works through the formulation of theories and laws.

In the first year, students cover familiar subjects in more depth: mechanics, materials and waves, and exciting new topics: particles, quantum phenomena and electricity. In the second year, students are introduced to topics including fields and further mechanics, and choose from options including astrophysics, medical physics, applied physics and turning points in physics.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: AQA 2450 Handbook (PDF): Physics

Useful websites

Reading list

  • Uncle Albert and the Quantum Quest, Russell Stannard – the Uncle Albert series is a light-hearted introduction in to some of the most exciting fields of Physics.
  • PhysicsWorld Magazine – the library has a subscription to this.
  • Richard Feynmann’s Lectureswww.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu
  • Six Easy Pieces: Fundamentals of Physics Explained, Richard P Feynman, 1998
  • The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene, describes the current thoughts on string theory and other exciting cosmological theories.
  • The First Three Minutes, Steven Weinberg
  • In Search of the Big Bang, John Gribbin
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
  • The Flying Circus of Physics, Jearl Walker
  • The New Physics, Ed Paul Davies
  • Thinking Physics, Epstein and Hewitt
  • The Problems of Physics, A J Leggett
  • Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension, Michio Kaku
  • Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?), Brian Cox
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman – an amusing autobiography
  • Blackholes and Timewarps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy, Kip Thorne
  • Great Physicists, William H. Cropper
  • The pleasure of finding things out, Richard Feynman
  • A level Physics, Roger Muncaster


A level psychology provides an insight into the study of the human mind and behaviour. The study of psychology explores a range of topics such as: the human thought process, eating disorders and media influences on social behaviour.

This course of study comprises two written units at AS and two at A level, with no coursework. The emphasis is on applying knowledge and understanding, thereby developing students’ transferable skills of analysis, evaluation and critical thinking. Popular topics include cognition and development, biological rhythms and sleep and relationships.

Exam board, syllabus and handbook

Board/Syllabus: AQA 2181 Handbook (PDF): Psychology

Useful websites

Reading list

Online resources (general)

Encyclopedia Britannica – The famous multi-volume encyclopedia in an electronic format making it easily searchable. Accessed via Citrix. See a member of library staff for a username.

Philip Allan Magazines – http://magazinesonline.philipallan.co.uk/Default.aspx – 14 magazines designed for sixth form students. See a member of library staff for login details.

Infotrac – A resource which contains newspapers, magazines, podcast and reference books on multiple topics and current affairs. Accessed via Citrix. See a member of library staff for a username.

Guardian Digital Archive – Newspapers from 1821 to the present day. Accessed via a link on the Oliver homepage – http://mis1/oliver/libraryHome.do

Connell Guides – https://connellguides.com/user – Online critical guides to great works of literature – see am member of library staff for login details

E-Mag – www.emagazine.org.uk – for English Literature students – see a member of library staff for login details.

Aesthetica – www.aestheticamagazine.com/logininfo – online archives focusing on art and design. See a member of library staff for login details.

Geofile – http://www.kerboodle.com/app/courses/8903/modules/home – Geography case studies. See Ms Britton for login details.

Study Skills

http://www.wiltshire.ac.uk/learning/study_skills/default.asp – on online guide outlining the different types of study skills written by Wiltshire College.

Online referencing guides:


http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk/referencing/files/QuickHarvardGuide2013Aug.pdf – a very short and easy to understand guide to Harvard referencing from Anglia Ruskin University

Online referencing and bibliography tools:

https://www.citethisforme.com/ – an online bibliography generator. Add your sources manually, choose your referencing system and it will do the work for you. You will either need to keep a note of the details for every source you use or have it open as you are researching and build your bibliography as you go.

http://www.neilstoolbox.com/bibliography-creator/index.htm – a bit more manual than citethisforme.com but does the same thing.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/word-help/create-a-bibliography-HA102809686.aspx – If you are using Word to write essays then you can use the in-house referencing tool. This is a link to the instructions. You will still need to input the details of the items you have used.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/easy-ultimate-referencing/id698603628?mt=8 – if you are using an IPad, I-Phone to do the majority of your work on then you could buy a referencing tool from the Apple store.

http://dirtdirectory.org/ – a digital registry of research tools to help you collect data, manipulate images and visualize data amongst many other things