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Mathematics A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

The majority of the course is algebra based. By studying the course your algebraic skills will improve significantly as you progress through the core modules. You will learn many mathematical techniques and their applications to a variety of practical situations. This will benefit the study of other subjects, such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Psychology, Economics and Business Studies.

The course provides an excellent preparation for a wide range of university courses such as Engineering, all of the Sciences, Medicine, Accountancy, Architecture and Computer Science. It is also considered to be a facilitating subject for many other courses. It is a versatile qualification that is well respected by employers.

If you are still not convinced then you may be interested to know that Mathematics is the only A Level proven to increase earnings in later life - by an average of 10%, although hopefully your motivation to study the course is one of interest in learning about mathematics as opposed to being purely financial!

Course content

Year 1
3 modules for AS Mathematics

You will be sent a workbook for the summer break before you start the course. This will help you to be ready for the start of the course and make sure that there are no important topics that you missed out on.

Through this course you will gain an understanding of mathematical processes and techniques and learn how to use them in real world problems. The first year AS Mathematics course will develop your abilities to reason logically and use Mathematics to communicate ideas effectively. You will study three modules during the first year AS:

Core Mathematics 1
Core Mathematics 2
Statistics 1

The Core Mathematics modules develop your GCSE skills in algebra, trigonometry, and co-ordinate geometry and introduces some calculus techniques. They also provide the basis for the applications you will study in the Statistics module (and in the applied module in Year 2). The Statistics module extends the statistical techniques that you studied at GCSE and introduces some new ideas about correlation between variables and an important statistical concept called the Normal Distribution.

At a higher level, Mathematics is all about applying your knowledge to real life situations, so an interest in solving problems and puzzles is very useful. You need to be logical so that you can follow a mathematical argument, and creative so that you can look for different ways of applying your skills.

Year 2
3 modules for A2 Mathematics

You will be given a workbook for the summer break before you start the second year of the course. This will help you to be ready for the start of the course and make sure that there are no important topics that you have missed out on.

The A2 Mathematics course builds on the work that you studied in the first year. It takes each of the techniques and skills you have acquired and develops them so that you are able to solve more complex problems. There are three modules to study during the second year:

Core Mathematics 3
Core Mathematics 4
Mechanics 1 or Decision Mathematics 1

In the core modules you will extend some of the ideas from AS Mathematics, such as exponential and logarithm functions, transforming graphs, trigonometry and the use of trigonometric identities and extend the types of functions that you can differentiate. Additionally in Core 4 you will study some new topics, such as partial fractions, the general binomial expansion, parametric equations, differential equations and the use of vectors in geometry. You will also develop integration techniques that will enable you to deal with a wide variety of functions. You will use the core material to solve practical problems and find out about some of the background stories behind the ideas.

In Mechanics 1 you will learn about why moving objects move in the way they do and why stationary objects remain in static equilibrium. You will learn about modelling forces using vectors, calculate moments and develop equations for simple kinematics in one-dimension. You will learn how to apply Newton’s laws and the model for friction to predict the motion of simple systems that can be modelled as particles. There is some crossover with AS Physics, but you do not need to be studying Physics to understand Mechanics 1.

If you choose to study Decision Mathematics you will study the mathematical principles that underpin decision making in Economics and also some of the algorithmic methods that are used in the design of computer programs (you do not need to understand programming in order to do this module).  You will learn how to model various real life problems using networks and then how to use network algorithms to solve the problems.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C with at least a grade B in GCSE Mathematics. An enjoyment in studying algebraic topics is important.


Your success in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will complete an AS qualification in Mathematics based on the modules covered in Year 1. You will complete an A Level qualification in Mathematics based on the modules covered in both years.

  • You will have weekly homework assignments. These will be quite substantial and you should expect to spend up to three hours on each assignment.
  • You will have regular tests, carried out in class, at least one test each half term
  • You will be encouraged to enhance your study experience by following up the work done in class with further reading, using websites or trying extra questions from the online text books.
  • You will have access to exam board past papers, mark schemes and online worked solutions through the college Moodle site.
  • You will review your own performance in 1:1 discussions with your tutor.
  • You will be given a mock examination in each module.
  • You will be formally examined on each unit that you study. The examinations are traditional 90 minute written exams and are sat at the end each year in May or June.

Future opportunities

A qualification in Mathematics is highly valued by many universities and employers. A Mathematics A Level will be desired if you are thinking of applying for higher education courses in subjects such as: Computing, Sciences, Engineering, Finance based courses, Geography, Psychology, Economics and Business Studies.

Further information

You will be expected to do a significant amount of work outside class. Workshops and drop-in support sessions are available for all mathematics students.

We also enter students for the UKMT Senior Maths Challenge and the Senior Team Challenge each year, some of whom progress to the Senior Kangaroo or rounds of the British Mathematics Olympiad.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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