Types of Courses

Coulsdon College offers a wide range of courses designed to develop a student’s interests and skills, allowing for a smooth progression into employment or further/higher education.

There are two broad categories of study programmes students can enrol on:

  • Advanced Level 3 Programme – for students who have, or expect to achieve, four or five GCSE passes at grade 4 or above. Students can opt to study a) all A Levels, b) all BTEC Level 3 courses or c) ‘mix and match’ A Levels and BTEC Level 3 courses.  Students will be required to have at least 5 GCSE passes at grade 4 or above to study A Levels, and meet any additional course entry requirements  (e.g. a grade 6 or above at GCSE Maths, is required to study A Level Maths).
  • Intermediate Level 2 Programme – for students who have, or expect to achieve, four GCSE passes at grade 3 or above.

Advanced Level 3 Programme

What Level 3 courses are available?

Coulsdon College offers:

  • A Levels
  • BTEC Level 3 courses

A Levels

Students who enjoy an intellectual challenge and are confident about doing well under exam conditions, are usually best suited to doing A Levels.

Most candidates will take take three subjects, with the exams for the A Level in their second year.

Increasingly, many students do a combination of A Levels and BTEC Level 3 courses to enhance their chances of success. See Mix and Match Programme.

BTEC Level 3 courses

BTEC Level 3 courses are practical, work-related courses that are assessed through a combination of coursework and projects and external assesments. Candidates must complete assessed units that are based upon real life work place situation.  As well as learning about a chosen employment area, students will develop the skills needed to flourish in their chosen field.

Since BTEC Level 3 courses are assessed  mainly via coursework, many students find that doing a mix of A Levels and BTECs can help ease the pressure around exam time and gives them the best opportunity of gaining the highest possible grades.

BTEC Level 3 courses are recognised by universities and employers alike as suitable entry qualifications for university courses, apprenticeships and graduate training programmes.

How long do the Advanced Level 3 Programmes Last?

Students enrol on to a two year programme (i.e. requiring two years of commitment) – whether for A Level or BTEC Level 3 courses.

For the BTEC Level 3 courses, the norm is for students to sign up for a Extended Certificate, Diploma or Extended Diploma and complete them after two years.

The table below indicates the structure of the BTEC Level 3 qualification over the two years. 

Year One
A Level Equivalent
Certificate One AS Level
Extended Certificate Two AS Levels
Foundation Diploma Three AS Levels
Year Two
A Level Equivalent
Extended Certificate One A Level
Diploma Two A Levels
Extended Diploma Three A Levels


Are students eligible for all Level 3 courses?

No.  Students wishing to include A Levels in their programmes need to have (or expect to achieve at least five GCSE passes at Grade C/4 or above. Some A Levels such as A Level Maths have additional entry requirements (such as a Grade B/6 or above in GCSE Maths).  These are indicated in the entry requirements for specific courses.

Students wishing to do BTEC Level 3 courses, need to have (or expect to achieve) at least four GCSE passes at Grade C/4 or above.

How many units are students expected to take?

Students are required to create a programme which incorporates a minimum of three ‘units’in their first year (where one unit is the equivalent to one A Level). Based on GCSE results, these units can be: 1) all A Levels, 2) a combination of A Levels and BTEC Level 3 courses or 3) all BTEC Level 3 courses.

Intermediate Level 2 Programme

This one year programme is designed for students who do not qualify for the Advanced Level 3 Programme but who have a minimum of two GCSEs Grade 3 plus three GCSEs at Grade 2, these must include English Language and Mathematics.

Many students who successfully complete the Intermediate Level Programme stay on at College for a further two year to do BTEC Level 3 courses, before progressing to higher education or employment.

Two types of courses are available at Intermediate Level:

  • BTEC Level 2 Awards
  • GCSEs

BTEC Level 2 Awards

These are practical, work-related courses that introduce learners to their chosen employment area and provide a good basis to go on to a more advanced work-related qualification, or directly into employment. The BTEC Level 2 Award is equivalent to one GCSE (Grades 9 – 4) and is assessed via a combination of coursework and external assessment. It is graded as Pass, Merit or Distinction.


The College offers GCSEs in English Language, Mathematics and Science.  Students may combine these within an Intermediate or Advanced Level Programme of study.

The Government requires that students who have not achieved a Grade 4 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics retake these qualifications during their time at College.


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Get in touch

Tel: 01737 551 176
Fax: 01737 551 282
Email: enquiries@coulsdon.ac.uk

Coulsdon Sixth Form College
Placehouse Lane
Old Coulsdon



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