Upper Secondary (IGCSE) Curriculum

Upper Secondary (IGCSE) Curriculum Y10-Y11 (14-16 years of age, KS4)

Year 10 represents the start of an important journey for students, leading up to, and including the start of university. The first stage of this journey is the IGCSE. 

Cambridge IGCSEs are a globally recognised qualification that serves as evidence of basic competence in skills and knowledge.  They are used for A-Level admissions, university entrance requirements, and Language competencies. Regardless of the education system students with to continue with after IGCSEs, they will be recognised as a high-quality qualification.

Unlike previous stages of education students are allowed to choose some subjects that they wish to study, but it is important at this stage that we do not limit a student’s future career options by allowing them to overspecialize or to miss out on key academic subjects. 

There are a ‘core’ group of subjects studied at Year 10, these include:

  • English as a First Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics 
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Modern Foreign Language (French, Spanish or German)
  • PE
  • Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE)

Option Blocks

  • Each student must pick one subject from each option block depending on their interest. There is no requirement to have studied an optional subject at IGCSE if they wish to later study it at A-Level.

Option Blocks

Option 1


Business Studies

Option 2

Computer Science

Global Perspectives

Option 3

Art & Design



All subjects offered in Years 10 and 11 are CIE subjects.  Syllabuses and assessment are all in line with CIE criteria.

The IGCSE is a two-year course and is designed to be delivered over two academic years.

Each subject requires a minimum of 130 guided learning hours per subject over two years. We recognize that this is a minimum and seek to provide additional study time to ensure that students can achieve their very best. Each subject will receive an average of three lessons per week over both Years 10 and 11.   


Students will sit their IGCSE exams at the end of Year 11. These are externally assessed examinations which will be sent to Cambridge, who will award graded certificates in August.

Exaamination papers may be split into Extended or Core. The Extended paper is harder, but emcompasses the entire range of available grades, the core paper is easier but the highest available grade is a C (or 5). Therefore all students will be expected to study for and sit the extended curriculum in order to provide access to the highest grades. Students who sit core papers will be limiting their options in the future. A typical minimum benchmark is a grade 5..

Recently the grading structure changed from A*-G, to 9-1. Students at Royal School will be graded on the 9-1 scale.

Year 11

Year 11 represents the final year of the IGCSE programme.  This culminates in external examinations in May/June.  All syllabuses for all subjects will be completed no later than March of the year in which the examination is being written to allow time for examination preparation.  Mock examinations will be scheduled for all Year 11 students in January.  Mock Examinations will be marked internally and feedback (informing revision strategies) will be given to all students on a one-to-one basis.

In early February, all Year 11 students will be asked to make their respective examination entries for the forthcoming May/June series.  Please note that all examination fees for Year 11 are to be paid by the respective families of the students and examination entry is compulsory.

Key Stage 5 – A-levels

Towards the end of Year 11, Royal School will provide comprehensive councelling in collaboration with parents to assist students in making their A-Level choices. These choices will be cruicial for shaping the future careers of our students.