A Level


What are A Levels?

A Levels are subject-based qualifications, which you usually start straight after your GCSEs.

If you’re thinking about going to university, most courses require specific A Levels, however, if you’re not sure what career is right for you, choosing a selection of A Levels is a good way to keep your options open.

How long would I be studying for?

It takes 2 years to complete a full A Level qualification, your first year is known as ‘lower sixth’ and your second year is where you complete your formal assessments.

How many subjects do I choose at A Level?

You can choose up to 4 subjects to study, however most students take 3 to ensure they can manage their workload effectively.

There’s no pressure to take more than 3 subjects, as this is the minimum entry requirement for all universities.

How do I decide which subjects to take?

When choosing your subjects, it’s important to take into consideration your career goals, which subjects you enjoy, and which subjects you know you’ll secure a good grade in.

Make sure to read an overview of the course content to ensure you’ll be studying modules you’re interested in. There are no compulsory subjects, but it’s best to check university entry requirements if you have a particular degree subject in mind.

What GCSEs do I need to get into sixth form?

Here at Queen Alex, we ask for a minimum of 5 GCSEs, grade 4-9, for the majority of subjects.

We usually look for grade 6 or above in subjects that you would like to pursue at A Level, but entry requirements are reviewed on an individual basis.

How will I be assessed?

Assessments vary slightly between subjects. Some include a practical coursework element, but for the majority, you’ll sit exams at the end of your second year.

This will determine your final grades. A Levels are graded A*-E, and any exams you sit in your first year of study will not count towards your final grade.

What’s the difference between GCSEs and A Levels?

When studying for your A Levels, you’ll notice that you don’t have as many lessons on your timetable.

This is because you’re required to complete more independent study than you would have through your GCSEs. Although there is more independent study, your tutors are always on hand to answer any questions and provide support when you need it. You’ll also notice that your classes are a lot smaller than you are used to in school. This is a great opportunity to get to know your classmates and tutors.

What progression opportunities are there after A Levels?

The majority of A Level students look to progress on to Higher Education at university, but there are opportunities to get into an apprenticeship or higher-level apprenticeship, further study, training or go straight into work depending on your career goals.

I’ve noticed that Queen Alex also offer BTECs, what’s the difference between A Level and BTEC?

There are a number of differences between BTECs and A Levels, including the teaching style, assessment methods, and amount of practical experience.

Essentially, if you study A Levels, you will be taught in a similar style to your lessons at GCSE, whereas with BTECs, you will combine any theory with practical work so you can apply what you learn. Additionally, with A Levels, you are assessed through exams at the end of your final year. If you know that exam pressure isn’t for you, BTECs may be the answer, as they’re assessed throughout the year, which spreads out the work that contributes to making your final grade.

Where can I find more information about choosing the right A Levels?

At Queen Alex, we hold an advice and enrolment night on the first Tuesday of every month.

This is a great opportunity to speak with our tutors and determine which subjects might be right for you. Our School Liaison team is also available to offer advice and guidance. You can simply drop them an email or phone call at any time, and they will be more than happy to help.



What are BTECs?

A BTEC is a practical-based, vocational qualification that can be studied at school or college.

What can you study as a BTEC?

Here at QA, we offer BTEC courses in both Art and Design and Business.

These subjects are ideal if you are interested in pursuing a career in these industries and want to gain some hands-on experience.

What are the entry requirements for BTECs?

Each of our BTEC courses will have slightly different entry requirements to help us make sure you’re on the right programme for you.

However, in most cases, we look for a minimum of 4 GCSEs at grade 4-9 and with our art courses, you will be asked to provide a portfolio of work.

What is the transition from GCSE to BTEC like?

Whatever option you choose to take after GCSE, it’s likely there will be a few changes in the way you study.

A key difference will be the increased freedom and independence, as you’ll have fewer lessons across the week. It’s also the case that you’ll have smaller class sizes, which means you can build fantastic relationships with your tutors and classmates. Finally, studying BTECs will be much more hands on than the learning you are used to for GCSE. If you’re someone that loves practical-based learning, a BTEC might be for you.

How are BTECs assessed?

For each course, you’ll complete a variety of units that are assessed through projects, coursework, exams, and moderated assignments.

For each unit, you will receive either a Pass, Merit, or a Distinction.

What’s the difference between BTEC and A Levels?

There are a number of differences between BTECs and A Levels, including the teaching style, assessment methods, and amount of practical experience.

Essentially, if you study A Levels, you will be taught in a similar style to your lessons at GCSE, whereas with BTECs, you will combine any theory with practical work so you can apply what you learn. Additionally, with A Levels, you are assessed through exams at the end of your final year. If you know that exam pressure isn’t for you, BTECs may be the answer, as they’re assessed throughout the year, which spreads out the work that contributes to making your final grade.

I see that QA offers BTEC Business and A Level Business. What’s the difference?

Those studying BTEC Business will learn the same core concepts, and theoretical knowledge as they would at A Level.

However, with a BTEC course, the assessments used to test this knowledge will be different and have a higher percentage of coursework. As well as this, BTEC Business students are expected to undertake a work placement or workplace shadowing to gain experience in the industry.

How long does it take to complete a BTEC?

At BTEC, there are number of different levels you can study at, and these vary in length.

A BTEC level 2 course will last for one year, but the extended diploma will last for two.

Where can I progress after completing a BTEC?

Following successful completion of a BTEC, you’ll have a number of different opportunities at your fingertips.

Many of our students go on to further study, apprenticeships, or go straight out into employment. Whichever option you choose, we will be there to support you with expert advice and guidance.

Will universities accept BTEC qualifications?

95% of universities and colleges in the UK, including those in the Russell Group, accept BTEC students.

The time management and self-organisation skills you will develop in a BTEC course will be key to your success at university, and BTEC students achieving good grades are just as sought after as A Level students.



Why choose QA?

Queen Alex Sixth Form College offers a unique environment for A level and BTEC success, with experienced teachers, dedicated support staff and outstanding facilities supporting learning and development.

What is the difference between sixth form colleges and school sixth forms?

Although it might seem scary starting somewhere new, there are lots of advantages to choosing a sixth form college over staying on at their school’s own sixth form.

Firstly, sixth form colleges tend to be a little more informal, and here at QA, we don’t require our students to wear a uniform. Students also call their teachers by their first name, which can help to build really strong relationships.

Sixth form colleges are also generally bigger than school sixth forms, with the majority of our students studying between 16-19. This means that students won’t be sharing corridors and classrooms with year 7s and will have dedicated learning spaces. Also, as our students come from all different schools, this creates the perfect opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Possibly the biggest difference between the two is the experience.

As a sixth form college, we work a little bit more like a university, and offer students a more grown-up environment, where they can develop their independence, confidence, and tenacity. By coming out of their comfort zone and meeting new students and staff, they’re setting themselves up for success in the future.

What is the pass rate at QA?

Our academic results continue to impress year on year, and our 100% pass rate is indicative of the high standard of teaching and support on offer at Queen Alex Sixth Form.

What does an A Level timetable look like?

With the opportunity to study up to four subjects, every students’ timetable will look a little different.

However, students can expect a number of free periods alongside their lesson times, which we recommend they use to support their studies.

How can students access additional learning support at QA?

We understand how important it is for students to feel comfortable and confident during their time with us, both in and out of the classroom.

Each year, our dedicated ALS team provides support for students with a wide variety of learning needs and disabilities, and works closely with schools and the local authority to ensure the appropriate support is put in place.

Before beginning their A Level journey, students can highlight any additional needs on their application form, and a member of our ALS team will then design them a bespoke support package.

But don’t worry, it’s never too late to ask for help and our friendly team can support at any stage of study.

What support is in place?

Although there is a bigger focus on independent study, students will be offered continuous support throughout their time with us.

Here at Queen Alex, we pride ourselves on the wrap-around support that we offer. Our dedicated team is here to help students through every step of their learner journey. From one-to-one guidance to funding and financial advice, our team welcome students to drop by for a chat or make an appointment in advance.

Each student is also assigned a Tutorial Coach, who will provide one-to-one reviews, support to achieve personal goals, help with university applications, alongside personal statements and CV writing. Tutorial Coaches set targets with each student and assess their progress throughout the year and ensure they remain on track with their studies.

We also have dedicated Mental Health Ambassadors, who are on hand for a chat or to offer support when needed. Our on-site Counsellor is also available to all students.

What progression opportunities are there after A Levels?

A large proportion of our students progress on to Higher Education following the completion of their A Levels, others go on to apprenticeships, gap years, further study or straight into full-time employment.

Our Careers Hub is available to all students and offers a range of advice about further education, prospective interviews, CV building and Higher Education opportunities, so there is plenty of opportunity to receive Career Guidance, no matter what our learners’ progression goals are.

What extracurricular activities are on offer at Queen Alex?

Here at Queen Alex, our learners receive more than just a qualification.

For students who are interested in sport, our North East Sports Academy offers personalised sport programmes for all abilities, leadership and volunteering opportunities alongside a wide range of work placements. Alternatively, our Students’ Union offers a variety of activities held throughout the year, encouraging students to get involved in charity events, entrepreneurial projects, and an array of other challenges. Students can be involved in as much or as little as they want in line with their studies.

Where are you located?

Our Wallsend campus is ideally situated between the coast and Newcastle city centre and has over 350 parking spaces.

If you’re traveling by bus, there are nine different bus routes that have stops close to Queen Alex. For more information on how to get to us, visit and click on ‘North East’ to plan your journey to the college using ‘Battle Hill Drive’ as the location.

How can we find out more information about the college?

Our Advice and Enrolment events are a great way to find out more about our range of courses, chat to our dedicated lecturing staff, tour the facilities and get a real feel for life at college.

You can also follow us on social media to keep up to date with all of our latest news and events.



What courses are available for adults?

This year we’re running Level 4 and Level 5 courses in Fine Art, Graphics and Business.

We offer:

  • Business
    • Full-time HNC Business (level 4)
    • Full-time HND Business (level 5)
  • Art
    • Full-time HND with year 1 (level 4) & 2 (level 5)
    • HNC (part time level 4)
    • HND year 2 (top-up) (level 5)
Do you only offer Higher Education courses in Art and Business?

If Art and Business is not for you, we offer a wide range of Higher Education courses at our Coast Road and Westoe campus, north and south of the river.

Check out these courses at (North) and (South)

How does a Higher Education course at Queen Alex differ from a course at university?

We offer university level education to suit your pocket (we’re on average £3k cheaper than university options) with high quality assurance standards.

You will benefit from industry recognised lectures, industry guest speakers, live briefs, employer recognition and develop real world skills to enhance your career.

What are the entry requirements for Higher Education courses?

Entry requirements are as follows;

Level 4 Art

An appropriate BTEC National Diploma in Design; or an appropriate Access to HE qualification; or a BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies; or two AS Levels and one A Level, including an Art and Design subject. You will be expected to bring a portfolio of work that reflects your commitment to the subject. Applicants without formal qualifications/with appropriate work experience or other qualifications can apply. An interview is required.

Level 4 Business

Students should be at least 18 years old and have either:

  • A relevant BTEC Level 3 qualification
  • A GCE Advanced Level profile that demonstrates strong performance in a relevant subject or adequate performance in more than one GCE subject.
  • Other related Level 3 qualifications
  • An Access to Higher Education Diploma awarded by an approved further education institution
  • Related work experience
  • An international equivalent of the above.
  • A level 2 English proficiency through GCSE English, IELTS of 5.5. (Reading), or equivalent.

Level 5 Art

An appropriate BTEC National Diploma in Design; or an appropriate Access to HE qualification; or a BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies; or two AS Levels and one A Level, including an Art and Design subject. You will be expected to bring a portfolio of work that reflects your commitment to the subject. Applicants without formal qualifications/with appropriate work experience or other can apply. An interview required.

Level 5 Business

  • HNC in Business or other related Level 4 business qualification
  • 40% average from a first year of a business qualification
  • A foundation degree in another field
  • Related work experience
  • An international equivalent of the above.
  • A level 2 English proficiency through GCSE English, IELTS of 5.5. (Reading), or equivalent.
How are Higher Education courses assessed?

Assessment is through assignments and work submitted, which is assessed each semester, with an external examiner visit at the end of the academic year.

Will I get help with funding?

Further information about funding your Higher Education can be found here (link to HE page attached on email)

What level of support will I receive during my studies?

Available support is as follows;

Mental Health and Wellbeing

We take the well-being and mental health of our students very seriously. We have dedicated on-site mental health ambassadors, who are on hand for a chat and to offer support when needed. We also have an on-site counsellor, available to all students.

Student Services and Financial Support

Our friendly Student Services team can help with a range of support including course information, careers advice, available financial support, welfare and general enquiries. Student Services is also on hand to support all students on their next steps including careers advice about interviews.

Additional Learning Support

If you need additional support to study a course, our Additional Learning Support team is on hand to help. The team will discuss any requirements you have and put an individual support package in place.

Examples of additional support our students receive includes:

  • In class support via a learning support assistant (LSA), communication support worker (CSW) or note taker
  • Specialist equipment and assistive technology e.g. laptops, specialist software, digital recorders
  • Lesson materials prepared in advance or in an alternative format e.g. large font, electronic version, braille
  • Access to specialist services such as dyslexia support and a teacher of the deaf
How long does it take to complete a Higher Education course?

2 years

Do you offer part time courses for adults?

We offer part time Level 4 HNC art courses (2-year course – year 2 L5 HND top-up).

There is an opportunity to study HNC & HND Business part-time, which can be discussed with the Programme Leader –

Can I study a degree at Queen Alex then go to university for a top-up course?

See below for information on top-up courses;

Many of our students complete their 2 year HND with us and then progress onto a one-year top up degree at university. Therefore, our students still achieve an Honours Degree in 3 years.

HNC & HND Business

Once you have completed both your HNC and HND qualifications you are able to go to university to study a top up course in a business related field. This is done via UCAS and universities like to see an overall merit in the HND year.

Do you offer online courses or a mixed of blended learning?

See below for details of online courses/blended learning;

We don’t do online courses due to the nature of the subject.

HNC & HND Business
Not at the moment, although we do use our virtual learning environment (VLE) to keep learners up to date if they need to self-isolate or support someone who is self-isolating. We are available for face-to-face lectures providing education establishments are not requested to lockdown by the Government, should this happen, we will use our VLE to deliver our lessons via video conferencing software.

Higher Education


Do I not have to go to a university to study Higher Education?

Absolutely not. You can study Higher Education right here on your doorstep with the highest Ofsted rated college in Tyneside.

With campuses north and south of the river, we pride ourselves on delivering high-quality Higher Education programmes designed to help you achieve your career aspirations.

We’re the real alternative to university.

Why study HE at college? What is different?

We offer students a personal touch to learning.

Throughout your time with us, you will benefit from 1-2-1 support and guidance, flexible learning, smaller classes, industry standard facilities, fantastic industry links, knowledgeable lecturers and a culture you will achieve and excel in.

Can I study HE part-time?

Yes. We offer flexible, condensed learning to our Higher Education students.

We know how tricky juggling life and work commitments are, so we’ll work with you to make sure it’s right for you.

Are college fees for HE lower than uni fees?

Our HE programmes are value for money for our students, and we offer help with fees and funding so nothing can hold you back from achieving your dreams.

What subjects can I study and at what levels?

We offer HNCs, HNDs, and Foundation Degrees, which will set you up for a career in your chosen industry, or you can continue to university for your final top-up year.

We offer HE programmes in the following areas:

  • Art and Design
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Computing
  • Counselling
  • Criminal Justice
  • Early Years
  • Education and training
  • Engineering
  • Hairdressing
  • Health and Social Care
  • Hospitality and Catering
  • Management
  • Media Production
  • Games Development
  • Music
  • Sport
What financial support does the college offer if I’m looking to study HE and how do I apply?

There are a number of loans, grants and bursaries available to our HE students.

Please head to our financial support page or for more information.

Is the learning environment different to uni?

We offer students a friendly, supportive, multi-cultural environment you’ll thrive in.

With industry standard facilities, well-being spaces, coffee shops, a restaurant and a hair and beauty salon, you’ll be able to experience a lively campus.

What grades do I need to study HE at college?

This will all depend on the programme and level you’re looking to start.

The best way to find out what grades you need is to pop to one of our Advice and Enrolment events. Please check our events section of the website for dates and times.

What if I don’t have the required grades?

Don’t worry, we’ll work with you to find the right programme that will get you on track to achieve your career aspirations.

We have a lot of support available from tutorial sessions, maths and English courses and in-classroom support.

I’ve missed the UCAS deadline, what do I do?

This doesn’t mean you have missed your chance to study HE.

You can apply for your desired programme directly with us. We’ll then process your application and get you enrolled on to your programme.

What is Clearing?

Clearing identifies which HE programmes are still available for you to apply for.

From 5 July to 19 October, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places.

What is the application process?

Once you apply for a HE programme, you’ll be contacted by a member of the team for an interview for the course.

It’s nothing to worry about – this is so we can assess your skills and identify any additional learning support you may need throughout your studies. Once you have completed your interview, you’ll be able to apply for any funding you require.

Once this has been finalised, you can complete your enrolment ready to start your programme.

What other support is available?

Supporting all our students is at the forefront of everything we do.

We want all students to flourish and excel while helping them develop confidence, self-motivation, and achieve their career aspirations. Our support comes in many forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Mental health and well-being counselling service
  • Careers Guidance and Higher Education advice
  • School Liaison team and Student Services team
  • Financial support
  • Tutorial Coaches
  • Additional Learning support:
    • Special exam arrangements
    • Help with personal care needs
    • Support assistants
    • Communication support workers
    • Dyslexia support
    • Maths and English support
What are the progression opportunities?

Depending on what level programme you start with, you can progress from Level 4 up to a Foundation Degree.

Our strong links with employers mean we can help you look for a career in the industry of your choice. If you would prefer to top-up your qualification, you can also do this via a university. We can help you with any job or university applications, offering you advice and guidance throughout the process.

Get in touch

Our team is always ready to help. So if you have questions on courses, your career, or anything else, complete this contact form and we’ll be in touch.