DESC Vocational (BTEC and RSL)

DESC prides itself on delivering, what we believe to be, the best vocational provision of any British curriculum school in the Middle East. We have taken care and the necessary time to grow our vocational provision to make sure it is world-class. Courses have been carefully selected and resourced to ensure they are of the highest quality.

We currently offer eight vocational BTEC/RSL courses:

Matthew Davies - Director of Vocational Education

What is BTEC/RSL?

BTEC stands for Business and Technology Education Council.  These are well-established vocational courses in the UK that have been around for over 25 years. Vocational courses differ from traditional GCSE and A Level courses in many ways. Our vocational BTEC courses are 100% coursework assessed, which is often better suited to some students that prefer this method of assessment to more traditional examinations. Moreover, the style of assessments closely reflects those of the workplace. This means that students learn more practical skills and are well-prepared for the world of work.

RSL stands for Rock School London. RSL provide innovative, contemporary vocational qualifications for music and the arts. Being at the forefront of the industry for over 25 years. 

BTEC/RSL differs to more traditional examined courses in the following ways:

  • BTEC features work-related ‘hands-on’ tasks.  For example, Hospitality – Running hospitality events, Sport – Running a Leisure Centre, Enterprise – Running a business.
  • Visits – We add context by visiting local organisations. For example, Dubai Garden Centre – marketing (Enterprise), Lime Tree Café (Enterprise), Grand Habtoor Hotel JBR – operations (Enterprise), Le Meridien Hotel – Customer service (Hospitality and Enterprise), Jebel Ali Resort, Customer Service and Operations (Hospitality). Eataly, Dubai Mall, Front and Back of house Operations (Hospitality).
  • Visitors – For example, Coaching (Enterprise), Physiotherapy (Sport), Project Management (Enterprise), Entrepreneur Speakers (Enterprise), First Aid (Sport), Plan, prepare, manage and execute a Hospitality event (Hospitality). 

Why study BTEC/RSL?

These are vocational and work-related qualifications. This means that students will learn through completing a variety of tasks that closely reflect those that they may be asked to complete in the workplace. 

The vocational approach is often an effective way for students to learn about a practical subject. For instance, BTEC Enterprise requires students to run a micro-business. The majority of coursework is then based around this context.  Hard-working students can often achieve a better outcome through BTEC than they would when studying A Level, especially if they prefer coursework to examinations.

How does BTEC/RSL work?

We offer BTEC courses at the equivalent of A Level (Level 3). 

Level 3 is equivalent to A Level. For example, we offer Level 3 BTEC Enterprise and Sport courses in both Subsidiary Diploma size and Diploma size. Subsidiary Diploma size is the equivalent to one A -Level. A Diploma is the equivalent of two A Levels. Please see the subject pages for more info.

What type of student is suited to BTEC/RSL?

  • Hard-working students.  Each BTEC/RSL course is 100% coursework based, therefore there is a heavy workload.
  • Students that excel at coursework over examinations.
  • Students that enjoy learning through ‘hands-on’ experiences. Work-related tasks are used. Students enjoy the vocational approach and develop soft skills.
  • Well-organised students. Multiple pieces of work have to be completed simultaneously. Students develop their organisational skills as they progress through the course.

Typical BTEC/RSL tasks

The content is often similar to A Level, but assessed differently. This depends on the course, but typically, tasks are work-related.

Examples include:

  • Demonstrating customer service skills when serving customers in BTEC Enterprise
  • Provide training on a particular sport skill in BTEC Sport
  • Preparing a banquet in BTEC Hospitality
  • Pitching for investment in Enterprise


We are pleased to have recorded outstanding results since this pathway was introduced. Highly motivated students can achieve superb results. The demands of the course are great as there is a significant amount of coursework to be completed. However, by taking a BTEC or RSL qualification, this has enabled students to achieve great results allowing them access to a larger choice of well established, higher ranking universities. 

Our BTEC Courses

BTEC Level 3 Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

Key Facts

Examining board - Pearson

Course Outline
BTEC Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is an exciting and challenging course that focuses on small businesses. Students have the opportunity to work in small teams to plan, set-up and operate a micro-business. Some of the units studied are contextualised to the micro-business, which makes learning enjoyable and relevant. Not only do students acquire subject knowledge but also many hard-skills from the experience of operating a business. Graduates of the course have commented on the usefulness of the skills they have learnt.

You will study the following units:

- Research and plan a marketing campaign (Sub Dip & Diploma)

- Business finance (Diploma)

- Business decision making (Diploma)

- Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (Sub Dip & Diploma)

- Launch and run an enterprise (Sub Dip & Diploma)

- Survival and growth (Diploma)

- Intrapreneurship and innovation in an enterprise (Diploma)

- Optional units - Market research, Branding or Social Enterprise - TBC

Methods of Assessment

The course is 100% coursework based. The 8 units (4 at Sub Dip) are each assessed through assignments that will require the students to complete tasks that mirror those that would be asked of them in the workplace. Grades awarded are Pass, Merit and Distinction. A Distinction* is also achievable as an overall grade.

Entrance Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 5 or above. No prior study of Business is required.

Is this course for me?

This course is well-suited to hard-working, highly motivated students that prefer coursework to examinations. Although the coursework load is significant, the outcome is much more controllable than an examination. In many cases, hard-working students have achieved superb results that have resulted in a strong application to university.



Pearson BTEC International Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Hospitality

Equivalent in size to one international A Level.

BTEC Hospitality is an exciting, motivating, practical and challenging course. Students will investigate the hospitality industry, and develop a thorough understanding of the types of business that form the industry to provide accommodation, catering and other related services.  The two year course allows students to experience first hand real life hospitality scenarios through visits to hotels, catering and hospitality outlets.  Level 3 Hospitality provides a solid basis for students wishing to progress into hospitality management programme either within a University or a recognised company programme.

This course is well-suited to hard working, highly motivated students that prefer coursework to examinations. Although the coursework load is significant, the outcome is much more controllable than an examination. In many cases, hard-working students have achieved superb results that have resulted in a strong application to university.

Course outline:

In year 12 students will study a total of 3 units which is comprised of both practical and theory-based assignments. Over duration of the course there will be three mandatory units, of which two are assessed using a Pearson Set Assignment. Year 12 will complete one of these assignments.

The remaining two practical based units will focus on European and Asian Cuisines which allow students the opportunity to cook and visit both styles of Cuisines and Hospitality Businesses.

Year 13 will complete the second of the Pearson Set Assignment along with Contemporary Cuisines and Events in Hospitality; where students will have the opportunity to undertake roles and responsibilities to ensure every aspect of the event is a success. This is a highlight of year 13 and many students have thrived whist undertaking roles such as accountant, head chef, customer service manager and restaurant manager.

Further details:


BTEC Sport

The BTEC Sport is a vocational qualification and it is offered as either a Subsidiary Diploma which is the equivalent to one A-level upon completion or as a Diploma which is the equivalent to two A-levels upon completion. The courses are ideal for those seeking employment within the sports industry. At present, unlike A-levels, BTEC Sport is not assessed through traditional written examinations; instead assessment is done regularly throughout the course by the means of presentations, written coursework and practical elements such as coaching and officiating. Assessments are varied and the assignments are based on real life scenarios.

YearSub DiplomaDiploma

Unit 1: Health, Wellbeing and Sport 

Unit 25: Sports Injuries 

Unit 33: Rules, Regulations and Officiating in Sport

Unit 1: Health, Wellbeing and Sport 

Unit 2: Careers in the Sport and Active Leisure Industry 

Unit 4: Ethics, Behaviours and Values

Unit 21: The History of Liverpool Football Club 

Unit 25: Sports Injuries

Unit 33: Rules, Regulations and Officiating in Sport.


Unit 12: Sports Tourism 

Unit 17: Inclusive Coaching

Unit 26: Nutrition for Physical Performance 

Unit 15- Developing Coaching Skills

Unit 17:Inclusive Coaching 

Unit 26: Nutrition for Physical Performance 

Unit 30: Organising Sports Events


BTEC Travel and Tourism

Course Name:  BTEC International Level 3 Diploma and Subsidiary in Travel and Tourism

Equivalency Size:  2 A levels (Diploma) 1 A level (Subsidiary)

Units:  9 Units in total for Diploma, 4 for Subsidiary. Including: Worldwide Travel and Tourism Destinations, Marketing Travel and Tourism, Customer Service and The Travel and Tourism Industry (Plus an addition 4 for units for the Diploma)

Is this course for me and the methods of assessment?

The course is assessed by using pass, merit and distinction criteria, these all carry points. For those going to university, the points are then converted into UCAS points, or converted into TWO A level equivalent grades.

If you are a student who is willing to participate, show initiative, be creative, to develop your organisational, investigational and motivational skills and will be fully committed to achieve then this will be the course for you.

The course is 100% coursework. There is no exam

Why Should I do it?

Travel and Tourism covers a wide range of employment opportunities in the largest industrial sector and employee in the world. Globally 1 in 9 jobs are directly related to tourism. It is the fastest growing industry in the world. The availability, range and requirements for the different careers within the Tourism sector will always be sustained and is enormous, even during these, and especially after this COVID19 pandemic. The industry is expected to bounce back faster than any other sector of employment according to the World Bank. It includes jobs in airlines, management, agencies, hotels, with tour operators, managing attractions, conferences and events, hospitality and entertainment, the list is endless.

Dubai provides the perfect context for the study of this subject and its highly dynamic industry. Students will get many opportunities for hands on experience whilst studying the course, with visits to several key tourism industries here in the Emirate, completing work experience, participating in residential visits and organising and participating in international trips.

What else do I need to know?

The BTEC is a 100% coursework only subject - there are no examinations involved, although there are two assignments that are set by the examining board. You will, be required to spend time completing work to a high standard, outside of lesson time.  The work and assessments you produce may take the form of presentations, videos, performance logs, promotional materials and written documents.

This BTEC Diploma is equivalent to 2 A levels. The subsidiary is equivalent to 1 A level

Where could it lead?

Travel and Tourism will allow access to a range of career and further education opportunities.  A variety of higher education courses exist that are based around either leisure, travel or tourism management and a number of students will no doubt enter extended learning pathways or most likely they will go onto attend University courses in the United Kingdom and beyond, to study one of the vast range of degrees on offer.

Alternatively, there are many careers that build on the Travel and Tourism Qualification, particularly prevalent within the UAE. 

The Travel and Tourism market is the most rapidly expanding area in the 21st century. Therefore if you are interested in any of the enormous range of career opportunities in travel and tourism, this course is for you:

Course Outline

The course is made up of 9 units of study. Each unit will have an assignment brief with a vocational scenario that students will complete.

The units include modules such as;

  • World Wide Travel Destinations
  • Marketing in Travel and Tourism
  • Customer service
  • Work Experience
  • Recruitment and selection in the work environment
  • Travel and Tourism Enterprises

Each unit has credits which students can gain a Pass, Merit or Distinction, these credits are then converted into UCAS points or/and A level equivalent grades. During the course students will develop a range of skills and techniques, and improve their personal skills and attitudes essential for successful performance in working life.

BTEC Level 3 Applied Science

Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Applied Science

Designed for learners who are interested in learning about the sector alongside other fields of study, with a view to progressing to a wide range of higher education courses, not necessarily in applied science. To be taken as part of a programme of study that includes other appropriate BTEC Nationals or A levels.

Equivalent in size to one International A Level. Six units of which three are mandatory and assessed using Pearson Set Assignment.

Unit 1 Principles and applications of Biology

This course will focus on three main areas of study including the study of the different type of cells, the musculoskeletal system and the lymphatic system. While learning about the musculoskeletal system and the lymphatic system, we will also look at not only what they are, but also the different disorders that can occur in these as well as treatments for these disorders where applicable.

Unit 2: Principles and applications of Chemistry

In this unit, students will build a fundamental understanding of chemistry by exploring topics such as periodic table, reactivity of key groups of elements and the relationship between bonding of a molecule and its structure. Students will explore real life applications of chemistry such as calculating how much substance is needed and made in a reaction.

Unit 3: Principles and applications of Physics

How do we communicate with each other? How can we send information securely? The Waves in Communication topic explores the physics of communication by looking at how waves can transmit information and then how this is used from sending signals through space to diagnosing cancer. 

Methods of Assessment 100% coursework based

The course is assessed by using pass, merit and distinction criteria, each of which carries a points weighting. At the end of the two year course the points are added up. For those going to university, the points are then converted into UCAS points. You can also convert the points into A level equivalent grades.

Entry Recommendations

5/5 GCSE Science

Is this course for me?

If you are the type of student who is enthusiastic about all areas of Science then this course could be for you. You need to be willing to use/improve a number of different skills in order to pass this course. These include: organisational, investigational and motivational skills. If you are a person who is fully committed to achieve then this will be the course for you, provided you have proven you have a good command of written English and Mathematics demonstrated by a Level 4 or above at GCSE.





BTEC Level 3 Creative Media

Course Summary 

A dynamic and innovative course, the Creative Media Production BTEC offers a qualification that has more practical and vocational application than the traditional A level. An understanding of the media industries is at the core of the program of study, and students will complete practical media projects involving music video production, film studies, print production and stop animation. This is an opportunity to gain real hands on experience in a range of media forms. 

There are several opportunities on the course to improve on existing media skills and we encourage students to embark on ‘real’ projects to add value to the learning whilst simultaneously developing their UCAS/future job applications. Due to the technical nature of the course, it is important that the BTEC Creative Media Production student has access to a reliable laptop throughout the course. We will provide photographic and video equipment as required by the projects. 

Career Pathways/Key Skills Developed

BTEC Creative Media Students will develop skills in: 

  • A variety of editing software
  • Approaches to film
  • Print Media production
  • Exciting creative productions across film and print. 
  • An understanding of how the creative industries function.

Why Choose BTEC Creative Media?

There is no industry in the world that has such wide ranging recruitment options into the work place.  All industries now heavily rely on developing brand and digital presence in order to remain visible and valuable. Increasingly, a multi-skilled individual is far more desirable to an employer / university, for example, if you can write content and edit video, you will increase your employability.  This course offers a range of skills to the student from two major Media industries (video and print), equipping our students with the skills needed to pursue a successful media career.

Is this course for me?

​Students that feel certain that the Creative and/or Media industries are what they want to specialise in, either at University or as a career, this is the perfect course. The course will develop practical and analytical skill alongside real life experience and portfolio development. If students are unsure about which area to specialise in, the BTEC Creative Media Course will offer opportunities to investigate and explore a vast spectrum of creative media disciplines. Our goal is to ensure that students feel ready to enter employment or enter higher education and training, within the field of creative media, by the end of Year 13.

What else do I need to know?

The key word here is creativity. This is a must for the BTEC course. There are no exams in the BTEC Creative Media, it is 100% coursework. This means that students must work on projects that require creative output for real audiences. This can be challenging, but incredibly rewarding. It must be reiterated that access to a laptop and to software are essentials for any student choosing the course. This is to allow you to familiarise yourself with industry standards. There are some very budget friendly student subscription deals available.