A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

Starting Twenty First Century Science courses FAQs

See also FAQs about Support and training

We are starting teaching C21 in September. Where do I find information?  

Which courses for which students?  

How does the Entry Level course fit into the C21 suite?    

Can GCSE Science be a stand-alone course?

How does 'How Science Works' fit into the C21 courses?

How well do students and teachers cope with discussion activities in the GCSE Science course?  

Is GCSE Science plus Additional Science sufficient for A-level - or should students do Separate Sciences?

Can Separate Sciences (3 GCSE courses) be taught in the same time as GCSE Science plus GCSE Additional Science (2 GCSE courses)?     

Our students have done Edexcel / AQA Science in Year 10. Can they do OCR Additional Applied Science in Year 11?  

Can students who have done Applied Science go on to pure science A-levels?


We are starting teaching C21 in September. Where do I find information?

Start with this website. It includes guides to the OCR and OUP websites.

1 Introduction 
See the rationale and the summary of the different courses.

2 Resources and course materials 
The resources page on this website gives you a summary of what is available for FREE from the Project Team on the OUP website. Follow the link to the OUP website where you will also find information about the 2011 editions of the textbooks and teaching resources. OUP can provide samples of these course materials for schools. Here is the OUP catalogue.   

3 Specification and assessment 
Our guide to the OCR website contains links to all the relevant pages for Twenty First Century Science.

4 Support and training 
We have produced a training pack for subject leaders, advisers, and others providing training for leadership teams and teachers in schools. Please note that the training pack was written for the 2006 specifications and, whilst much of the material is still relevant, some sections may now be out of date. We are working to update the pack for the 2011 specifications

Science Learning Centres, OCR and others run external training courses which support Twenty First Century Science.

Teachers can also get support through the email discussion forum, cluster groups and the Project Team. Find out more.

Which courses for which students?

All the GCSE science courses are for the full-range of A*-G grades. The exams are offered at Foundation and Higher tiers.

Unless students study for all three separate science GCSEs, they must do either GCSE Science or Entry Level. The majority also take an additional GCSE science course – see below.

GCSE Science 
Almost all students do GCSE Science, and may also take GCSE Additional Science, GCSE Additional Applied Science, or one or more of the Separate Sciences (these build on GCSE Science).

Option choices need to be considered carefully. For each student, the decision is likely to depend partly on career intentions and partly on the type of study which best motivates the individual.

GCSE Additional Science 
This is a concept-led course to meet the needs of students seeking a deeper understanding of basic scientific ideas. The topics complement those in the GCSE Science course, so providing a balanced preparation for further study in any branch of science. Typically this course would be the choice for those wishing to become professional scientists, doctors, ophthalmologists and so on.

GCSE Additional Applied Science 
This meets the needs of students who wish to develop their understanding through authentic, work-related contexts. The course focuses on procedural and technical knowledge underpinning the work of practitioners of science, and gives students insight into contexts that students are likely to encounter in their personal and/or working lives.

Students study eight modules. Each module examines how an important part of science is applied in contemporary life. Taken alongside GCSE Science it provides a good basis for progressing to a range of technical, pre-vocational and vocational courses involving science.

The Applied Science course provides a 'ladder' of progression to high achievement. Students across a full range of abilities will find the steps rewarding to climb because of their authenticity.

Separate Sciences (Triple Science) 
These courses build on modules from GCSE Science and GCSE Additional Science and extend it with a further, larger module. This may suit students who enjoy understanding scientific concepts, are able to learn science at an accelerated pace, and are able to work independently.

The Further Science modules were developed on the same principle as the other courses, that is, they should have their own distinct purpose and flavour, and not be simply 'more of the same'. Each subject uses contemporary contexts to explore new concepts, and to encourage students to draw together some of the ideas they have already developed.

Entry Level 
Entry level will be appropriate for some students who, for a variety of reasons, are not ready to start a GCSE Science course at the age of 14.

To find out more read a summary of the courses.


How does the Entry Level course fit into the C21 suite?

The Entry Level specification is on the OCR website at OCR Entry Level Science

You will see from the specification that the content matches some of the content in Twenty First Century Science and Gateway Science. You may wish to bear this in mind when selecting which modules to cover.

The controlled assessment allows straightforward double entry of students for Entry level plus GCSE Science if you wish. The case study activity which students carry out during the Entry Level course can be submitted for GCSE Science, although you must read the guidance in the specification carefully before setting the task. Note also that the work would need to be remarked against the GCSE Science criteria.

Teachers at schools which offer Entry Level have reported that Entry Level + GCSE Additional Applied Science is a popular combination for some students.


Can GCSE Science be a stand-alone course?

Yes. GCSE Science is specifically designed to provide students with the ideas everyone needs in dealing with the science they meet in everyday life. However, most students will also do an additional GCSE science course.

To find out more read a summary of the courses.   


How does 'How Science Works' fit into the Twenty First Century Science courses?

In Twenty First Century Science, 'How Science Works' is embedded in the 'Ideas about Science' which formed a core part of the development of the GCSE Science course.

Ideas about Science are integrated into all modules of GCSE Science, GCSE Additional Science, GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics.

You can find out more about Ideas about Science in Appendix B of the OCR specifications. Download the OCR Twenty First Century Science GCSE Science specification from the OCR website, and go to page 130.


How well do students and teachers cope with discussion activities in the GCSE Science course?

Here are some comments from pilot school teachers.

Jo Richardson Community School, Dagenham:
Within each class there is a range in terms of willingness to participate in discussion in a mature way. Some students are able to reason, justify opinions and challenge others which is encouraging. Other students find it difficult to justify their opinions, simply saying ‘its wrong’ for example without being able (or willing) to relate information from the lesson to their argument.

I think as we continue through the course, teachers will find it easier to run and manage discussion lessons, plus the students will be more familiar with how discussion/debate works and participate more.

Manningtree High School, Essex:
I find it works if I give students a clear discussion point and allow them a fixed time to discuss it (allowing them to record their views on the whiteboards) and then feed back either just to me or the group as a whole. I also sit them in a circle, as in circle time, with a furry ball or cuddly toy to pass around, and ask the student holding the toy to contribute. This strategy is normally with a topic I feel we have discussed at length so they all feel confident to make at least one contribution.

For generic notes on running a discussion, see school-based training on this website.


Is GCSE Science plus Additional Science sufficient for A-level, or should students do Separate Sciences?

GCSE Science + GCSE Additional Science is a very adequate preparation for A-level in any of the sciences. 

Separate Sciences is an option for students with a very strong interest in science, which they choose to pursue rather than use the extra curriculum time for another subject, such as a second modern language or an arts subject.

Clearly the separate sciences courses include extra material, but this is not essential for progression to A-level.

Some 11-18 schools have decided to use the extra flexibility which the new curriculum gives them to enhance their provision of Science + Additional Science and include some aspects of the separate sciences courses for more able students.


Can Separate Sciences (3 GCSE courses) be taught in the same time as GCSE Science plus GCSE Additional Science (2 GCSE courses)?

In our view trying to teach triple science in no more than the time typically used to teach two GCSEs is a mistake. If time is limited it is much better to do what some schools are doing, which is to work from the separate science Biology, Chemistry and Physics student books, explore parts of the extra topics in B7, C7 and P7 to enrich and extend the programme of teaching and learning, but in the end to enter candidates for two GCSEs.

Note that you can keep the option to sit separate science exams open for a long time, so long as you take the B1, B2, B3 etc series of OCR exams, and not the B1, C1, P1 etc exams.

Knowing that some schools do not provide the full allocation of time for triple science, we have made some suggestions for ways of cutting down on the total time for teaching the separate sciences. These can be found in the introductions to the Resources and Planning Packs published by OUP for the supplementary separate sciences modules Biology B7, Chemistry C7 and Physics P7.

If you are really required to cover the triple science courses in the time for two GCSEs, then the separate Biology, Chemistry, and Physics workbooks published by OUP are going to be essential. These will save a lot of time with note-taking and help students to create a record of the courses from which they can revise. Without supporting resources to do the job in this short time you will be faced with a difficult task, likely to demoralise students. If at all possible it is much better to try to get more time.

See also Planning and organising the courses. 


Our students have done Edexcel / AQA Science in Year 10. Can they do OCR Additional Applied Science in Year 11?

Yes certainly your students can do OCR's GCSE Additional Applied Science in Year 11. It's a stand-alone course. The students will have covered the statutory Programme of Study by doing Edexcel or AQA GCSE Science in Year 10, and so are free to do any other course as their second science GCSE.

The specification is downloadable from the OCR website. For a guide to what else is available on the OCR website see Guide to OCR website.

OUP publications provide a complete resource package to support GCSE Additional Applied Science, including full teacher and technician guidance. See OUP catalogue


Can students who have taken Additional Applied Science go on to pure science A-levels?

Progression from Additional Applied Science to pure science AS/A level courses is possible.

Issues to consider

The Additional Applied course can promote the development of a range of skills, for example greater independent learning and more confident practical skills. Teachers may feel that this enables students to progress to AS/A level science courses without the same level of content knowledge which would be gained through the Science + Additional Science courses.

It makes sense to take into account the performance of students in Maths and English as well as Science when advising them on progression routes post-16.

Some teachers argue that students with strong Additional Applied grades can be accepted onto science AS/A level courses on the understanding that they will attend top-up sessions at the start of Year 12.

11-16 schools strongly recommend that centres make links with their local post-16 providers, and clarify the progression routes available to students following the Science + Additional Applied courses. This varies locally from college to college. Schools will want to clarify progression routes early on, so that students can be appropriately advised when making options choices.