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Curriculum Reform in England

A Level Reform:

How are A Levels changing?

AS Levels and A Levels are no longer to be linked. Instead they will be separate, standalone qualifications. They will also be linear qualifications, with assessment at the end of the course only. Students will take all of their examinations at the end of the course (typically 1 year for AS Level and 2 years for A Level).

When are the changes being implemented?

A Levels are being reformed in three phases – phase 1 took place in 2015 (with first assessment in 2017), phase 2 for first teaching is due in 2016 (with first assessment in 2018) and phase 3 for first teaching is due in September 2017 (with first assessment in 2019).

Which subjects are affected?

September 2015: Art & Design, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English Language, English Language & Literature, English Literature, History, Psychology, Physics, Sociology.

September 2016: Dance, Drama & Theatre, Ancient Languages, Modern Foreign Languages, Physical Education, Geography, Religious Studies.

September 2017: Mathematics, Further Mathematics.

LSE’s Position:

LSE believes that AS Levels offer significant benefits, both for the student and for universities. Our evidence indicates that AS Levels are an effective indicator of performance at undergraduate level and give a useful contemporary picture of academic achievement. For this reason we will continue to use AS grades (and in some cases the associated UMS scores) in our admissions assessments.

For students due to start A Levels in September 2016 we recommend that, wherever possible, they sit AS Level examinations at the end of year 12. These AS results will help the LSE Selectors better assess applications in a fair, consistent and transparent manner and will ensure that more subjective indicators of academic potential, such as predicted grades, are less important factors in the decision making process.

LSE understands that there will be some schools and colleges that are unable to teach AS Levels alongside the new A Levels and has no intention of disadvantaging students who submit an application without AS Level grades as a result. In these circumstances we will use the information presented on the application form to make our decision (possibly in conjunction with some form of additional assessment).

AS/A-level requirements:

The standard entry requirements for the majority of LSE’s undergraduate programmes are based on three A levels (or equivalent), however we also value the breadth of study gained by students studying 4 subjects at AS level. Studying 4 subjects at AS level also demonstrates students’ ability to cope with high workload. As such we recommend that, where possible, students sit a 4th AS in year 12 or year 13.

An Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) may also provide evidence of breadth of study and ability to cope with workload, it is also useful to provide evidence of literacy for students who have chosen mostly quantitative subjects.

The entry requirements for the LLB programme requires students to offer a 4th AS and BSc Economics and BSc Finance look upon a 4th AS in further maths as desirable. If students are not able to study a 4th AS they will not be disadvantaged; this should be made clear in the academic reference.

Science Practical:

Students offering biology, physics, or chemistry A Level will be required to pass the science practical element of the course in order to meet the entry requirements.

What should I do if my school or college doesn’t offer me the option of sitting AS Levels?

If your school policy does not allow for AS Level examinations at the end of Year 12 then it is important that this information is included in the referee section of your UCAS application. This will allow us to ensure that you are not disadvantaged in any way. We will make our decision based on the information provided on your application form (possibly in conjunction with some form of additional assessment arranged by the LSE).

Will the LSE’s standard entry criteria change in light of the reforms to A Levels?

There are currently no plans to change our standard entry requirements. Standard entry criteria for our programmes are published in our prospectus and on our website.

 

GCSE Reform:

How are GCSEs Changing?

A new grading scale of 9 to 1 will be used, with 9 being the top grade and assessment will be mainly by exam. The reformed GCSEs will be linear qualifications; they will be designed for two years of study and will no longer be divided into different modules. Students will take all their exams in one period at the end of their course.

When are the changes being implemented?

GCSEs are being reformed in three phases – phase 1 took place in 2015 (with first assessment in 2017), phase 2 for first teaching is due in 2016 (with first assessment in 2018) and phase 3 for first teaching is due in September 2017 (with first assessment in 2019).

Which subjects are affected?

September 2015: English Language, English Literature, Mathematics.

September 2016: Ancient Languages (Classical Greek, Latin), Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, Citizenship Studies, Computer Science, Dance, Double Science, Drama, Food Preparation and Nutrition, Geography, History, Modern Languages (French, German, Spanish), Music, Physics, Physical Education, Religious Studies.

September 2017: Ancient History, Astronomy, Business, Classical Civilisation, Design and Technology, Economics, Electronics, Engineering, Film Studies, Geology, Media Studies, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics.

LSE’s Position:

We appreciate that implementing curriculum and qualification reform may pose a challenge to schools and that there will be some volatility as a result of the introduction of new specifications and examinations. For applicants offering new GCSEs we expect a minimum grade 5 in English and Maths. We will continue to review this requirement and this may increase to a minimum grade 6 as the qualifications become more established. 

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