"The outstanding range of interesting and stimulating extra curricular activities provide excellent opportunities for pupils to take initiative and extend their capabilities. Throughout the school the personal development of pupils is exceptional."

Independent Schools’ Inspectorate, 2010 (Girls’ Division)

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Subject Options

All students embark on a combination of four AS subjects in the Lower Sixth, taken from the list of subjects below.

Once students have indicated their preferences for Lower Sixth courses, we draw up option pools which allow for as many of your different combinations as possible.  The enormous flexibility of this arrangement is illustrated by the fact that there are more than 100 different weekly timetables in operation.

Reformed A Levels

Up until recently, A Levels have been taken in two stages, AS (at the end of the Lower Sixth) and A2 (at the end of the Upper Sixth), and the AS modules have contributed half of the marks of the final A Level.

From September 2017, however, A Level subjects will have been reformed. The most important change is that the AS at the end of the Lower Sixth will no longer count towards the final A Level grade. Many schools and colleges will no longer take AS examinations at the end of the Lower Sixth. In Bolton School, however, the majority of subjects will offer AS (see below).

The following subjects were reformed in the first phase, and have been in place since September 2015: 

  • Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
  • English: English Language, English Literature
  • Art and Design
  • Economics
  • Business
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Computer Science

In September 2016, the following subjects were reformed: 

  • Modern Foreign Languages
  • Ancient Languages
  • Geography
  • Music
  • PE
  • Drama
  • Religious Studies

From September 2017, all subjects we offer will have been reformed (although some subjects which have previously been taught at Bolton School, most importantly Food Technology, have been ended by the government).

The new AS and A Levels are not intended to be harder than the unreformed exams except that there are no modules or resits; they depend on a final ‘terminal’ exam (either at the end of one year, for AS, or at the end of two years, for A2); there is a reduction in teacher-assessed coursework; and the mathematical content of some A Levels has been beefed up. The Qualifications watchdog, Ofqual, have said that they will ensure that the grade distribution across all subjects remains the same when the reformed A Level comes in – so we do not expect any dramatic shifts in the number of students getting the top grades nationally. Certainly, the AS grades achieved at Bolton School in the summer of 2016 were very promising. We shall, however, only see A2 results for reformed subjects for the first time in the summer 2017.

In A Level sciences the amount of practical work students must do has been increased, but the practicals are largely assessed by exam questions taken at the end of the course. Also in the sciences, equipment manipulation and data-recording skills are now assessed by the teacher and given a pass/fail grade separate from the main A Level grade. Universities may well insist that a student gains a pass in this element as a condition of entry.

Given the changes to A Levels and the fact that AS marks no longer count towards the final A2 grade, we are no longer insisting, as we have done in the past, that all subjects will be offered at AS and that the vast majority of girls will do 4 AS subjects in Year 12, dropping down to 3 A2 subjects in Year 13.

Instead, we shall allow Departments to decide whether or not to offer AS, according to what is best for the students taking their subject and we shall let girls decide how best to manage their course, given their aspirations for University/ career entrance at the end of Year 13.

When you read the description of each subject at the end of this brochure, you will see whether the subject is:

  • Taken at AS by all students;
  • Taken at AS by some or most students;
  • Not taken at AS, ie the course is for two years, leading to A2 only.


"The teaching at Bolton School is inspirational, promoting independent learning and aspires for all students to realise their full potential. I feel I can approach teachers at all times to solve any problems I may have.  Not only are they there for educational queries but for careers advice as well. I can safely say that the high quality of teaching at Bolton School has made the difference to my grades."
Zoe, Year 12

Art and Design

Aims Advanced Level Art and Design aims to provide an all-round visual and aesthetic education.  You will have the opportunity to work in art and craft media in two and three dimensions.  This will be supported by contextual studies in the History of Art & Design.  You will produce a portfolio of your work. What will I study? All girls will...


Aims To extend the work done in Biology at GCSE and to give you an appreciation of the wide variety of applications of Biology in the modern world. What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity to take AS and A2 in this subject. The Biology course is extremely varied and provides an excellent foundation for a wide range of courses at...


Aims To develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the core business concepts.  To recognise that business behaviour can be studied from a range of perspectives and to challenge assumptions. With the application to a wide range of contexts and complex business information you will begin to take a more strategic view of business...


Aims To develop a knowledge and understanding of the concepts of Chemistry and the skills needed to use them in new and changing situations.To sustain and develop your enjoyment of, and interest in, Chemistry.To develop an understanding of the link between theory and experiment.To be aware of how advances in Information Technology and...

Classical Civilisation

Aims To encounter the ideas of two of the most innovative and influential cultures in history: Greece and Rome.  By studying their literature, to understand some of the moral, political and aesthetic values of these societies, and to compare and contrast them with our own perceptions. What will I study?* All girls will have the opportunity to...

Computer Science

Aims This Advanced Level course will develop: An understanding of, and the ability to apply, the fundamental principles and concepts of computer systems The ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving problems, including writing programs to do so The capacity to think creatively, innovatively,...

Design Technology: Product Design

Aims On this exciting and forward thinking A Level course, we aim to encourage independent learning and creativity through the setting of inspirational and practical problem-solving tasks. Strong emphasis is placed on students developing confidence in their own innovative ability and on making unique products. What will I study? All girls will...

Design Technology: Fashion and Textiles

Aims Fashion and Textile Technology offers both theoretical and practical opportunities for problem-solving through studying and working with a wide variety of textile materials and components.  There are many opportunities to develop your independent learning, creativity, innovation and project management skills. What will I study? The course...

Drama and Theatre Studies

Aims To study theatrical forms and understand the roles of director, designer, performer and audience.To create original drama using the devising process and to interpret scripted drama through performance. What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity to take AS and A2 in this subject. At AS you will study theatre forms and functions...


Aims To provide a strong grounding in both microeconomics and macroeconomics drawing on local, national and global contexts. To develop the basic knowledge and understanding of the essential aspects of economic theory and concepts. To develop an enquiring, critical and thoughtful approach to the study of economics and gain an ability to think as...

English Language

Aims To provide you with a framework for the study of authentic texts, both spoken and written.To help you develop the ability to write for a variety of specific purposes and audiences.To develop analytical skills that will help you consider how issues relating to gender and power influence language use. What will I study? It is expected that...

English Literature

Aims To explore individual works of literature, relationships between texts and significant cultural and contextual influences.To develop analytical skills through both writing and discussion.To be aware of the relationship between Literature and other academic disciplines.To produce informed, independent opinions and judgements. What will I...


Aims We aim to help you become a confident French speaker with an interest in all aspects of French life.During your course you will:Develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skillsExpand your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar so that you can express ideas and arguments forcefully and accuratelyLearn new skillsLearn about culture...


Aims To develop an understanding of our ever-changing world; its societies and environments.To promote better informed decision-making.To encourage lively and reasoned enquiry. What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity to take AS and A2 in this subject. In A level Geography you will learn how today’s world was shaped and...


Aims We want you to be a fluent and confident speaker of German who is interested in German life and culture. During your Sixth Form course you will: develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills; expand your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar so that you can express ideas and arguments forcefully and accurately; acquire new...


Aims To develop an interest in, and an engagement with, contemporary politics.To develop knowledge and an informed understanding of contemporary political structures and issues in their historical context, both in the UK and globally.To become more aware of our rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society. What will I...


Aims To help you discover more about the Greek language, your own language and also about the nature of language in general.  To enable you to read and appreciate the works of Greek literature in their original form, and learn to analyse and respond to them with increasing sophistication. What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity...


Aims To stimulate interest in this ‘never-ending’ subject; to increase understanding and knowledge, not only of historical events, their causes and consequences but also of human behaviour, past and present; to develop the many general and specialist skills of the historian.  In brief, our aim is to make the study of history interesting and...


Aims To help you discover more about the Latin language, your own language and also about the nature of language in general.  To enable you to read and appreciate the works of Latin literature in their original form, and learn to analyse and respond to them with increasing sophistication. What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity...

Mathematics and Further Mathematics

Aims To develop your understanding and enjoyment of Mathematics, to extend your range of mathematical skills and techniques and to help you to acquire the foundation necessary for the further study of Mathematics and other disciplines. To develop your ability to think more logically and to recognise and analyse situations which can be...


Aims The new AQA Music A Level is a rigorous course with broad appeal that is designed to suit potential University or Conservatoire students, as well as engaging those who simply enjoy music.  What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity to take AS and A2 in this subject. The subject content is divided into three components:...


Aims To learn how and why the Universe behaves in the way it does.To understand how Physics is applied to a multitude of situations in everyday life.To develop a fascination for the scope of Physics, ranging from the extremely large (the Universe) to the incredibly small (the structure of matter). What will I study? In A Level Physics, all...


Aims To develop an increased awareness and understanding of the ‘main schools’ in Psychology and how they each interpret human behaviour. To develop understanding of the research methods psychologists use and an ability to apply these across a range of contexts. To develop independent learning skills within the subject.  To learn to draw...

Religious Studies

Aims The A Level course helps to develop the skills of analysis, logical presentation of argument and critical thinking, whilst allowing you to gain knowledge which may help you to make sense of the world and the competing demands of life in the 21st century. What will I study? All girls will have the opportunity to take AS and A2 in this...


Aims Our aim is to help you to extend your linguistic skills so that you can speak and write Spanish both confidently and fluently. During the course you will: Develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.Expand your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar and acquire new skills such as translation and interpreting.Learn to analyse...