AQA Level 3 Extended Certificate in Applied Science

Course Leader:

Ms K Morris –

Exam board: AQA
Guidance: Grade 44 or above in combined science or 4, 4, 4 in triple science, plus grade 4 or above in English and maths
Course Start Date: 09/2024
Course length: 2 Years
Course description:

This course has been tailored to meet the needs of students who enjoy science and want to take their studies further at KS5 but don’t want, or would struggle with, a final exam only A-level in the subject. There is a mixture of biology, chemistry and physics content in year 12, however this qualification allows optional units in year 13, which shifts the focus towards the growing, and increasingly popular field of biomedical sciences.

This course is popular with students taking a range of subjects but particularly complements psychology, health and social care and physical education. We have had many students successfully secure nursing and midwifery degrees, veterinary nursing and other biomedical courses. The UCAS points it attracts has allowed others to pursue a variety of degree courses of their choosing.

This course has a large practical element, allowing students to develop technical skills such as sterile techniques and growing microbes. The coursework elements allow students to improve time management, organisation, research skills and independent learning which also prepares them well for future employment or further study.

Course units:

The course consists of six equal units.

Three core units are undertaken in year 12.
Unit 1: Key concepts in Science (includes biology, chemistry and physics content)
Unit 2: Applied experimental techniques
Unit 3: Science in the modern world

Three further units are undertaken in year 13 and are all biology based.
Unit 4: The human body
Unit 5: Investigating science (a full scientific report on a topic of choice)
Unit 6: Microbiology


Unit 1 – exam
Unit 2 – practical portfolio, internally assessed
Unit 3 – pre-release, exam
Unit 4 – exam
Unit 5 – portfolio, internally assessed
Unit 6 – portfolio, internally assessed

50% external exam, 50% portfolio (internal, moderated).

The exam units can be entered in June of year 12 (Unit 1 and 3) and Jan/June of year 13 (Unit 4) and remain modular. One resit of each unit is possible, with the best mark used.

Students can achieve Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction* levels and are awarded UCAS points in-line with A-level.

From September 2021 it is possible to enrol on a one year Certificate in Applied Science which is worth 50% of an A-level equivalent on UCAS.
Only units 1-3 are studied. The unit 1 and 3 units will be examined in the June series of year 1 alongside the Extended certificate curriculum. However, unit 2 coursework will not be complete until July (end of year 1). Students taking this option will fully complete their studies within one school year but not cash in their grade for the certificate until the January series of year 2 when the coursework will be officially graded by AQA.

This option should only be considered by students who require additional qualifications. For example, if you do not meet the entry guidance for A-level sciences after GCSE, this route may be used as a transitional ‘foundation’ year. If students achieve a merit or above, they may then move onto the 2-year A-levels in sciences or choose to stay on to complete the extended certificate in Applied science.

What can I do with this qualification?

With courses such as this, you can progress straight into employment or higher education, as successful L3 extended certificates qualify for UCAS points for university applications requiring science. This qualification can help prepare you for jobs such as laboratory technician, hospital technician, radiologist, nursing, engineering, medical or forensic science, embryologist, zoologist and lots more.

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