Choose 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.

Matthew Davies - Director of Vocational Education

We currently offer eight vocational BTEC/RSL courses:


Sixth Form Information Booklets

Sixth Form Subjects for 2023/2024


Sixth Form Profile 2023-2024



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.