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Applied Science BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate (Block B) at St John's Catholic Comprehensive School

Course description

For anyone who sees their future career in Science the Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Applied Science is an excellent starting point. It covers a wide range of topics across biology, chemistry and physics and will allow you to acquire a high level of practical laboratory skills from which the theory is then drawn.

The applied science sector is diverse and wide-ranging, including, for example, biomedical, forensic, physical and chemical sciences. There are approx. 5.8 million people employed in applied science occupations in the UK. The qualification allows you to develop your skills and knowledge in a field that will support your interest and future career options. 

The content of this qualification has been developed in consultation with academics to ensure that it supports progression to higher education. Employers and professional bodies have also been involved and consulted to confirm that the content is appropriate and consistent with current practice for those planning to enter employment directly in the applied science sector.

This course provides you with a more practical, real-world approach to learning alongside a theoretical background, giving you the knowledge , understanding and skills needed to prepare for employment.


Course content

You will study three mandatory units:

Unit 1: Principles and Applications of Science I

The topic areas covered in this unit include: animal and plant cells; tissues; atomic structure and bonding; chemical and physical properties of substances related to their uses; waves and their application in communications.

• Unit 2: Practical Scientific Procedures and Techniques

This unit introduces you to standard laboratory equipment and techniques, including titration, colorimetry, calorimetry, chromatography, calibration procedures and laboratory safety. Through the practical tasks in the unit, you will develop proficiency in the quantitative analytical techniques of titration and colorimetry, including learning to calculate the concentration of solutions. You will use measurement of temperature to study cooling curves and be introduced to paper and thin-layer chromatography (TLC). You will also have the opportunity to calibrate equipment and will be encouraged to be aware of the safety aspects of given laboratory procedures and techniques.

• Unit 3: Science Investigation Skills.

In this unit, you will develop the essential skills underpinning practical scientific investigations. As well as drawing on Unit 1 and Unit 2, these skills will be delivered through subject themes ranging from enzymes and diffusion to electrical circuits. The subject themes provide different contexts for the development of the investigative skills. In this unit you will draw on your learning from across your programme to complete assessment tasks.

We will choose one optional unit which has been designed to support choices in progression to applied science courses in higher education. Optional units include:

 • Unit 8: Physiology of Human Body Systems

The human body is a complex mix of organs and organ systems. Knowledge of how they function to maintain human life is an essential part of the study of human physiology. In this unit, you will focus on three body systems: musculoskeletal, lymphatic and digestive. You will examine each of the systems as a functioning unit, identifying their structure and function. By exploring the anatomy of these systems, through experimentation and use of simulations, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of their role in the human body.

 • Unit 10: Biological Molecules and Metabolic Pathways

In this unit, you will study some of the chemical processes in living organisms. Biological molecules and metabolic pathways play a crucial role both in society and in various industries, such as health, chemical and environmental sciences. Examples of the importance of this field of study include improvements in the efficiency of photosynthesis to increase crop yields, the bioremediation of polluted soils, the development of new feed-stocks and the production of biofuels.

• Unit 13: Applications of Inorganic Chemistry

Acid-base equilibria are important industrially and in biology. Analysts in many companies carry out acid-base titration – for example in the production of fatty acids from fats, finding the acid number in the oil industry, and determining the acidity of wine and vinegar. The phosphate and carbonic acid buffer systems help to maintain pH in cells. Compounds are often added to food products to ensure that the pH remains constant and the mixture stable. In this unit, you will learn how to calculate the pH of solutions and carry out acid-base titrations using pH meters, learning how to select suitable indicators for titrations and how autotitrators work. You will also explore buffer action.

Oxidation-reduction reactions, involving loss and gain of electrons, have applications in industry and in biology. You will learn how to write oxidation-reduction half-equations and balance overall redox equations in terms of the number of electrons involved. The concept of oxidation number will allow you to identify redox equations. There are several industrial analytical methods that involve redox reactions, and you will have the opportunity to use and research some of these.

Many compounds of biological importance are transition metal complexes. You will learn about complexes of the period 4 transition metals, exploring terms related to complexes and investigating substitution reactions and acid-base reactions of transition metal complexes. You will make and explain very detailed observations from the reactions and you will summarise the main reactions that transition metals undergo, devising a scheme for distinguishing between metal ions in solution.

 • Unit 15: Electrical Circuits and their Application.

In this unit, you will explore what electricity is, how to use measuring devices and construct circuits, as well as gain an understanding of the many varied applications of electricity in our everyday lives. Since Thomas Edison’s first demonstration of the electric lamp in 1879, it is difficult to imagine life without electricity and the immediate effects it provides.

Despite advances in modern electronic devices, fundamental electrical principles still form the basis of electrical and electronic development in all aspects of life. The unit will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake essential tasks related to electrical circuits and their components.

Entry requirements

A minimum of 5 GCSE’s A*- C (or equivalent) including a C grade in Additional Science and a Level 4 in GCSE English and Maths.


You will be assessed through examinations, assignments and tasks set by the exam board. The exam will be sat in the January of Year 12 and content is of A Level standard.


Future opportunities

You could take this course with other level 3 courses or equivalent to prepare for higher education/employment.

The requirements of the qualification will mean that you will develop the transferable and higher order skills which are valued by higher education providers and employers. For example, when studying Unit 3: Science Investigation Skills, you will develop skills including how to plan investigations, collecting, analysing, and presenting data and communicating results which support some of the skills you need to progress to higher education, employment, self-employment or training.

The qualification carries UCAS points and is recognised by higher education providers as contributing to meeting admission requirements for many courses if taken alongside other qualifications as part of a two-year programme of learning, including, but not exclusively, those which are science-related. The qualification can be taken as part of a diverse programme, leaving progression options fully open. It can also give context to subjects which would benefit from some scientific background. This will depend on the combination of qualifications you choose.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St John's Catholic Comprehensive School directly.

Last updated date: 09 November 2017
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