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Applied Science BTEC National Extended Certificate at Esher College

Course description

BTEC Applied Science is a challenging and worthwhile qualification for students with an interest in science, particularly from a practical point of view. The course reflects the fact that it is Applied Science by focusing on practical scientific investigation and work-related assignments, rather than a broad range of scientific theory for its own sake.

It gives you the opportunity to study science beyond GCSE in a way that enables you to succeed and do well even if you have found it tough going to achieve strong results in exam based courses at GCSE. This is because it is assessed through coursework assignments rather than through exams. This means you can check your thinking and understanding with your teachers as you go along, rather than being faced with having to learn and memorise a large body of scientific theory and knowledge – and then have to apply it under exam conditions to solve problems you will not have seen before.

If you do well in sciences at GCSE but find it tough going to achieve a good range of strong GCSE results more broadly, you can take BTEC Applied Science alongside one or more science A Levels to give an overall programme strongly focused on science, with subjects supporting each other.

The course develops a wide range of skills needed for life, in work and at university. This includes research, time management, self-organisation, giving presentations, and the ability to write well and precisely in good English. You will develop strong practical skills in scientific measurement, experiment and investigation. The methodical and careful approach needed in laboratory work is of wide benefit – not just in science!

Course content

The first year of the course approaches a number of scientific ideas from across Biology, Chemistry and Physics in a practical and experimental way. On the current course you do practical work on the structures of different types of cells and tissues and how the cells function, on chemical reactions, and on different types of energy. These ideas underpin the science involved in a wide range of human activities. The practical work includes experimental work connected with the scientific investigation of a range of chemical and biological substances, and using microscopes to examine biological samples. You also learn how to communicate scientific ideas, and about how scientific laboratories operate and function.

In the second year you will take more specialised units in line with the interests and goals of the class. This is likely to be focused on biologically orientated units such as Human Physiology, Microbiological Techniques and Genetics & Genetic Engineering.

Entry requirements

You need to have good communication and numeracy skills. In order to meet the deadlines for the assignments, you will need to have (or develop) strong organisation and time management. You will develop good research and team work skills. 

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

In addition to the College’s standard entry requirements you will need to have achieved C grades in GCSE Science and GCSE Additional Science (or two separate sciences from Biology, Chemistry and Physics) as well as a grade 4 in GCSE Maths, together with a minimum of a grade 4 in GCSE English Language.


The course is assessed mainly through coursework. Some of the assignments are marked by your teachers and some are marked externally. All the tasks are linked to a work-related scenario.

25% of the course is assessed through exams in which you give written answers to practical questions. There will be a mix of short and long answers, plus some multiple choice questions.

Future opportunities

Students taking this course have used the science base to enable them to progress to a wide range of university courses including BSc courses in Sports Science, Sports Therapy, Teaching, Paramedics, Nursing, Radiography, and Equine Science, as well as broader based Foundation degrees in Biomedical Science and Animal Behaviour. In combination with one or more A Levels from Maths/Physics/Chemistry/Biology a wider range of more specialised science degrees are feasible. As part of an appropriately chosen overall programme of study it is also suitable for progression on to higher education in fields not particularly related to science. The Extended Certificate can also be developed further after you leave Esher by taking more units to widen your expertise and achieve the more specialised Diploma or Extended Diploma qualifications. This is a natural way forward to qualifying and working specifically as a science technician.

Further information

Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed. The current information reflects what is known about the new course and further details will be available on the website when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Esher College directly.

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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