Comprehend Our Curriculum

The Sixth Form curriculum at DESC is bold and British,  rich and varied and created to provide infinite pathways for our diverse students. Enhanced and enriched by a Super Curriculum the overall Sixth Form experience is one designed to ensure academic success alongside extraordinary experiences.


The three pathways at DESC are Academic, Vocational or Mixed.

The decision to pursue an academic or vocational post-16 pathway should be made by considering many factors. A Levels are assessed by terminal examinations, after two years of study, whilst BTECs rely on continuous assessment and no examinations. A Levels tend to be academic and philosophical in content whilst BTECS rely on practical and real-world application. Furthermore, success at A Level typically relies on achieving at least a grade 6 in that subject at GCSE whilst BTEC success relies heavily on hard work, organisation and application.

Students pursuing our Academic route can select from 24 different GCE Advanced Level /A Level Qualifications and should choose 3 separate subjects in total.

Students pursuing our Vocational route can select from 8 different BTEC/RSL Qualifications and should choose 3 options in total. In Vocational Pathways many subjects can be taken as a single option, known as a Sub-Diploma (worth 1) or a double option, known as a Diploma (worth 2).

Students can choose from the following pathways:

VOCATIONAL PATHWAY ACODE VA1 BTEC Diploma (worth 2) & 1 BTEC Sub Diploma (worth 1) = 3
VOCATIONAL PATHWAY BCODE VB3 BTEC Sub Diplomas (worth 1 each) = 3
MIXED PATHWAY ACODE MA2 A Level Subjects & 1 BTEC Sub Diploma (worth 1)
MIXED PATHWAY BCODE MB1 A Level Subject & 1 BTEC Diploma (worth 2) = 3
MIXED PATHWAY CCODE MC1 A Level Subject & 2 Sub Diplomas (worth 1 each) = 3



As a British Curriculum Sixth Form we offer GCE Advanced Levels (A Levels). Being a large, oversubscribed, established Sixth Form allows us to offer extensive choice. A Levels are examined after two years and graded from A*-U. In 2022/2023, our overall results from 239 students who are not selected academically, show that 48% achieved an A* or A grade; 75% of students achieved A* – B, 91% achieved A* - C and 100% passed with grades A* – E. 

Learn More About Our A Level Provision.


As an inclusive College, we are proud to offer a growing range of BTEC National Diploma (2 options), BTEC Subsidiary Diploma (1 option) and RSL (Rock School London) Qualifications. Vocational Qualifications rely on ongoing assessment of coursework and are graded from Pass to Distinction Star or D*. In academic year 2022/23, 87% of all DESC BTEC/RSL grades were either Distinction (D) or Distinction Star (D*) and 100% of students passed. Both statistics are significantly above UK averages and testament to our commitment to providing bespoke pathways for our students.

Learn More About Our Vocational Provision.  


Our minimum entry requirements for 2023/2024 can be found below:

Miniumum Grade Criteria for Sixth Form 2023/2024

Peter Flynn - Academic Enrichment Manager



Complementing our Academic and Vocational Pathways we offer a range of academic enrichment subjects designed to enhance the overall curriculum for our students. Many students indulge in one or more of our options and historically these additions have proved highly valuable in terms of university admissions.



For students who are interested in extending their knowledge of a specific subject, we offer the EPQ. This qualification provides an opportunity for students to extend their abilities beyond an A level syllabus, and to prepare for University or their future career. Students have the choice of writing a 5000 word dissertation with academic referencing or to construct an artefact accompanied by a research paper. In either case, students learn advanced research skills as well as being given the opportunity to conduct their own primary research. Students are supported by a weekly lesson as well as regular meetings with a supervisor. With no set subject areas, students have the opportunity to pursue their own subject interests and determine their own title in conjunction with the EPQ Centre Coordinator. 



Mathematical Studies is a course designed to maintain and develop real-life maths skills. The content that the students work through is not purely theoretical or abstract; it can be applied on a day-to-day basis in work, study or life and includes a financial maths element. The skills developed in the study of mathematics are increasingly important in the workplace and in higher education; Mathematical Studies will help students develop and maintain these essential skills. 



Classical studies enables students to learn about the cultures and beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans in a multi-disciplinary subject which covers both ideas and context. The study of the Classical world is invaluable in helping students understand contemporary events as Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome have shaped modern perspectives on topics ranging from Politics to Art. Classics is a subject designed to enhance critical thinking skills and build capacity for empathising with people from different cultures. 



There is an opportunity to study an AS in French or Spanish as an additional enrichment subject. As an International College we are proud to offer this provision. 



Proud to be an inclusive College with a diverse student body we have developed four specific pathways for students who are Emirati, planning to study in Australia, Arabic A passport holders or Acutely Academic in a bid to make the transition from Key Stage Four to Sixth Form as seamless as possible.



DESC welcomes Emirati families and ensures that they are provided with the necessary, information, advice and guidance regarding Equivalency so that they can confidently pursue their chosen Sixth Form pathway. Equivalency refers to British Curriculum Public Examinations being recognised by the UAE and Ministry of Education therefore resulting in a Leavers Certificate which will allow the bearer to continue their study in the UAE or to avail of government employment in the UAE.

Decree 833, point 1 of article 6, states that Emirati students must pass two A Level subjects at grade D or above to gain Equivalency. That subject must come from an approved list of A levels of which DESC offers 16.



DESC sends students all over the world. In academic year 2021/22 nearly a third of students chose university places outside of the UK with many returning to or discovering Australia. To qualify for a top university in Australia, students need to have studied English Language until the end of Year 12. To facilitate this necessity, DESC is proud to offer an AS in English Language which can be chosen as an additional subject for students keen to study in Australia post-DESC.



To support students who will study Arabic A and Islamic throughout their two years of Sixth Form we have developed a distinct strategy. These students must keep either Option A or Option C free from a choice to ensure that their timetable remains manageable and compliant. Most subjects span more than one option block therefore it also ensures that choice for Arabic A students remains as boundless as possible.



Despite not being academically selective DESC attracts students of extraordinary intellectual ability. For these students a four A Level academic pathway may be conducive. With pastoral care at the heart of our decision making at DESC, a set of guidelines allows families to consider whether this pathway may suit their son/daughter and protects the interest of the student.

To consider this pathway a student would typically obtain a minimum of eight grade 8 grades at GCSE or a minimum of eight grade 9 grades at iGCSE.


Sixth Form Information Booklets

Sixth Form Subjects for 2023/2024


Sixth Form Profile 2023-2024

Ready to enrol?

We would encourage you to explore the Admissions Section of our website including details of our Admissions Process, Fees and Admissions Policies.  If you are ready to proceed with your application, please select the Sixth Form Application Form.