What is this subject about?

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 tricky scientific theory and knowledge – and then have to apply it under exam conditions to solve problems you will not have seen before.

The Diploma qualification is equivalent to two A levels in terms of the number of lessons, the amount of work needed and the UCAS points value. The Subsidiary Diploma qualification is equivalent to one A level.

If you are planning on taking a subject such as PE, Sport, Health & Social Care or Psychology you will find the Subsidiary Diploma useful in giving you the scientific background needed for careers and university courses in these fields without taking a whole A level in, say, Biology, with all that entails by way of understanding and remembering scientific theory, and solving problems under exam conditions.

What will I study?

The first year of the course approaches a number of scientific ideas in a practical and experimental way - mainly from across Biology and Chemistry, with some Physics. This includes 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.

Please note we have no plans to introduce BTEC Engineering and if your interests in science are very tightly focused on Physics you are likely to find a BTEC Engineering course more relevant to your interests and longer term plans. The BTEC Science course is much broader and the main emphasis is on Biology and Chemistry topics.

How is this course assessed?

BTEC Applied Science is currently assessed entirely through coursework assignments.

What skills will I need and develop in this course? 

The course develops a wide range of skills needed for life and 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! 


​What can the course lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

Diploma course: The BTEC Diploma course in Applied Science taken as your only science course enables progression onto a range of biological, biomedical, biochemical, zoological, animal science, forensic science, healthcare and environmental degree courses at a good many universities, as well as a range of other science based degrees, including in engineering, via a foundation year. The choice of universities going forwards in science from the BTEC Diploma course is more limited than from the A level courses. However if you are committed to science but your GCSEs suggest you are far more likely to be successful in science BTEC rather than in science A levels, the BTEC course does enable progression in science from GCSE, through sixth form, and on into university. The Diploma course also enables you to qualify and enter a career as a science technician.

Subsidiary Diploma course: 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. It is also suitable for progression on to higher education in fields not particularly related to science as part of an appropriately chosen overall programme of study.

Experience shows that the coursework based approach enables you, if you work hard, to go on and achieve strong results. Students who might be expected on the basis of their GCSE results to achieve a D (24 UCAS points on the new scale) or an E (16 UCAS points) at A level find they can achieve a Merit (32 points) or a Distinction (48 points) or even Distinction* (56 points) on the BTEC Subsidiary Diploma course. These UCAS points are doubled for the Diploma course.

Entry Requirements

​What are the formal entry requirements for this course?

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 GCSE Maths grade 4 and the expectation for this course is also a minimum of a grade 4 in GCSE English. This is a lower entry requirement than for A levels in the sciences.

For some students there will need to be a discussion at enrolment about whether an A level or a BTEC science programme is appropriate, and that decision will be taken on the basis of your GCSE results, both specifically in the related subjects as outlined above, but also more broadly.

All science entails tricky scientific ideas and principles. The difference between BTEC and A level lies in what you are expected to do with these…….

On the BTEC courses you work on coursework assignments where you have a dialogue with your teachers about what you are doing as you go along and you are assessed on those coursework assignments. The nature of the A level science courses is explained in detail in the individual subject information sheets but the key differences are the need to understand and remember all the material for assessment in an exam and the requirement to apply tricky scientific ideas and principles to unfamiliar situations. It is your GCSE results overall which best indicate whether BTEC or A level courses are most appropriate for you, not just your GCSE science grades. 

Extra Support

​What extra support / enrichment activities are on offer?

In addition to giving you full support with your assignments we plan a range of visits and also input from speakers to give insight into how science is actually practised in the real world.

Subject combination advice

Subject combination advice:

BTEC Science can be combined with a wide variety of other courses. It goes well with A level courses where there is some science orientated thinking such as Psychology, Geography and PE. It is also helpful alongside BTEC Health and Social Care as a preparation for degrees in nursing and related fields, and similarly alongside BTEC Sport or A level PE as a preparation for degrees in sport related fields. In finalising a programme of courses, consideration should be given to the extent to which courses support each other and to the overall quantity of coursework involved.