At Exeter Mathematics School we give you the freedom and challenge to go further than the standard exam-led A level curriculum.  Our exceptional teachers help you explore the incredible creativity and excitement of maths, physics and computing and every student gets to take the Exeter Maths Certificate.  This is the big highlight of our course:  an opportunity to engage with demanding, real-life mathematics challenges set by one of our partners in academia or industry and carry out your own, in-depth research.    Alongside your core subjects at EMS, you also have the opportunity to broaden your study by drawing on the wide range of courses at Exeter College nearby.

The majority of our students progress from EMS to studying STEM subjects at top universities.  Our curriculum is designed with this in mind, giving you a great preparation for the challenging, independent enquiry-led culture you will experience as an undergraduate.

Curriculum Structure

All students study A-levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, and Physics or Computer Science and take part in our extensive enrichment programme.  Students may elect to study both Physics and Computer Science or a fourth subject from those on offer at Exeter College; these options include AS levels, A levels, BTECs and enrichment courses (Extend).  See ‘College Option’ section below for further information. 

The curriculum, which is timetabled fortnightly, consists of:

Mathematics 9 hours per week
Physics or Computer Science (or both)* 4.5 hours per week
Option taken at Exeter College 5 hours per week**
Academic Tutorials 1.25 hours per week
Exeter Mathematics Certificate (EMC) 1.25 hours per week
EMC Skills 1.25 hours per week
Pastoral Curriculum 1 hour per fortnight
Inspire 1 hour per fortnight
Extra-Curricular Wednesday lunchtime (optional)


*Students may elect to take both Physics and Computer Science. If this is the case, they do not take a College option.
**This is for AS/A-level and BTEC options. The alternative, Extend, is for 90 minutes per week.

Students sit A-level examinations at the end of year 13.  Students taking a subjects at Exeter College may sit AS examinations in that subject during the summer term of year 12 and will then have the option to continue on to A-level in year 13.  This is dependent on the subject selected.

Mathematics & Further Mathematics

Mathematics is taught with rigour, developing within students, insight, depth of understanding and a broad appreciation for the subject and its applications.

Our aim is not only to prepare students thoroughly for their A-level examinations, but also to develop an in-depth understanding of mathematical principles and the logical connection between its different disciplines. We support students as they develop the confidence to tackle complex problems without a pre-defined structure or menu of options.

We aim to ensure that the depth and breadth of EMS students’ mathematical experience will accelerate their progress as they begin their undergraduate courses.

The Exeter Mathematics Certificate (EMC) and Inspire lectures are an integral part of the students’ mathematical experience.  See below for more details of these courses.


A-level Mathematics and A-level Further Mathematics

Examination board



Each A-level will be assessed by examinations at the end of the course.  For A-level Mathematics these will be:

Component 01: Pure Mathematics and Mechanics – 100 marks;
Component 02: Pure Mathematics and Statistics – 100 marks;
Component 03: Pure Mathematics and Comprehension – 75 marks.


For Further Mathematics, 50% of the grade will be assessed in the paper “Core Pure”.  Students will also be assessed by examination on their chosen modules.

Units of Study for Year 12

All students study the same three courses in year 12

 Maths P: Pure Mathematics;
 Maths Q: Mechanics and Pure Mathematics;
 Maths R: Statistics and Pure Mathemaitcs.


These courses will cover the entirity of the A-level curriculum and some of the Further Mathematics curriculum, including Complex Number, Matrices and Proof.

Units of Study for Year 13

All students will follow the course “Maths S”.  This will review work from year 12, complete the remaining compulsory content for “Core Pure” and will also include topics that extend beyond the required curriculum.

Students will also elect to study either one Major and one Minor unit or three Minor units from the table below.


Major Units (13.3%)  Minor Units (16.7%) 
 Mechanics  Mechanics
 Statistics  Statistics
 Further Pure with Technology
 Numerical Methods
 Modelling with Algorithms
 Extra Pure

Other Activities

Students will be prepared for, and encouraged to sit, UKMT Mathematics Challenges and University entrance papers such as STEP and MAT.

For further details about our Mathematics and Further Mathemaitcs curriculum, contact Kerry:


Students will have the option to take an A-level in Physics and/or Computer Science.

Studying Physics is the process of equipping yourself with the tools not only to explain and understand the world around you, but to go wherever your imagination leads.

Perhaps you’ll design new solar panels, make a leap in medical physics or finally unify our understanding of the four forces.

Physics is not only important in its own right but is also an essential component of other Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology. Furthermore, it is a subject in which mathematical principles, effectively applied, are used to develop understanding and underpin progress.

Physics is a practically taught subject through which students develop a deep understanding.  They learn through logical thought and experimentation; the majority of lessons are in a specialist state-of-the-art laboratory and Practical Skills are developed throughout the course, providing opportunities to apply knowledge and develop problem solving.


A-level Physics

Examination board



A-level Phsyics is comprised of three components:

  • Newtonian Physics
  • Electricity and the Universe
  • Light, Nuclei and options

Each component is assessed by a written examination. To gain a Practical Endorsement with their A-level, students will also complete Required Practical tasks.

Units of Study for Year 12

Students will begin working towards components 1 and 2 of their final A-levels in year 12 but will not sit any external examinations.

Units of Study for Year 13: Components 1, 2 and 3 for A-level

Students will sit all 3 A-level components in their second year.  They will build on the content of component 1 and 2 from year 12 and will also study for component 3.

Component 3 contains some optional content; students will choose one option from:

  1. Alternating Currents
  2. Medical Physics
  3. The Physics of Sports
  4. Energy and the Environment

Other Activities

Students take part in the British Olympiad, are supported in their preparation for Physics Aptitude Tests (PAT) and are encouraged to take part in team activities such as the Particle Physics Cascade and Engineering Education Scheme.

For further details about our Physics curriculum, contact Malcolm:


Computer Science

Students may take Computer Science as an alternative to or in addition to Physics.

Computer Science involves questions that have the potential to change how we view the world; for example, we may be computing with DNA at some stage in the future, with computer circuits made of genes.  This leads to the question, does the natural world ‘compute’?  Experimental Computer Science can be done with computers whereby we can learn more about the natural world by observing the behaviour of interacting software simulations.

Computing is about designing new sets of instructions (algorithms) to solve new problems.  In this sense Computing is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.  Many great challenges lie in the future for Computer Scientists to solve and this course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem solving, mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, is a good foundation for understanding these future challenges.

Computer Science is taught in a specialist computer room.  The course is focused on programming and its applications.  There are opportunities for students to use Raspberry Pis, Arduinos and other microcontrollers. Initially, students will study Python 2.7 but opportunities to work with Java, C and other languages are also integral to the course.

Students are taught to apply mathematical techniques to solve problems systematically and will develop an appreciation for the need of rigour, clarity of communication and precision.

Topics covered on the course include programming, data structures, algorithms, data representation, computer systems, computer organisation and architecture, communication and networking, databases, functional programming, the theory of computation, consequences of uses of computing and big data.


A-level Computer Science

Examination board



40% on-screen examination, 40% written paper and 20% practical project.

Units of Study for Year 12:

Students will begin working towards the completion of each module but will not sit any external examinations until year 13.

Units of Study for Year 13:

Paper 1 and Paper 2 for A-level and coursework.

Other Activities

Students will apply their knowledge to practical applications and will be encouraged to enter challenges and competitions such as the British Informatics Olympiad, Project Euler, the National Cipher Challenge and those run by the Computer Science Students’ Network.

For further details about our Computer Science curriculum, contact Liam:

College Option

Students who have not selected to study Physics AND Computer Science will study for one subject at Exeter College. Students may elect to study any of the AS, BTEC or A-level options available at the College , subject to timetabling, and will have the option to continue with this subject in year 13.  Alternatively, students may select to take an enrichment option from the College’s “Extend” programme; this may not lead to a qualification but will broaden students’ experience. 

Exeter College is situated just a few minutes’ walk from EMS and is an outstanding provider of post-16 education. EMS students will have full access to the extensive resources and facilities of the College and will gain a richer 6th form experience by working alongside College students and staff.

More detail about each course can be found by clicking here to open the Exeter College website.

An overview of their Extend options is available here.

Exeter Mathematics Certificate

One of the challenges facing current 6th form education is that it often does not prepare students adequately for university study.  The Exeter Mathematics Certificate is designed to bridge this gap.

The Exeter Mathematics Certificate is a rigorous academic programme devised by University academics in consultation with EMS staff.

In Year 12 EMC, students collaborate in teams, completing group projects.

In the first term, the students work with academics from the Univerity of Exeter to research a question or problem posed by lecturers and professors. They meet their lecturer and student mentors on a regular basis before presenting their work as a formal poster and delivering a talk to a lay audience numbering several hundred at our Christmas Lectures, hosted by the University of Exeter.

In their second term, the students work with the likes of ATASS, QuinetiQ, The Met Office, Apple, and The Hydrographic Office to gain experience of the world of industry and to contribute to the running of these companies. In January, the students meet a representative of the company who introduces the task and explains how it benefits them; the students visit the company part way through their projects for a tour and a progress meeting, before presenting their findings to their companies in a professional report.

In their third term, students complete a research project into careers and report their findings to one another.  This project links closely with our careers programme and supports students as they begin to make decisions about their future post-EMS.

In Year 13 EMC, the students have the option either of developing further one of the concepts explored in  Year 12, or selecting and pursuing a piece of individual research to be presented to all students and the general public at the EMC Easter Conference.

Subjects that have been presented in the past include “The Science of Skimming Stones”, “Developments in Aeronautics”, “Statistically Engineering the UK Top 40” and “The Mathematics of Traffic Flow”.

Throughout the course of all of these projects, the students’ ability to work independently, meet deadlines and sustain effort are developed, tested and challenged. Resources at the disposal of the students include university and public libraries, 3D printers, Scanners, Raspberry Pi, Arduino and our range of computing and practical equipment for modelling and experimentation.

The Exeter Mathematics Certificate is recognised by the School and the University of Exeter as a course of high prestige, setting students apart.  It forms an essential element in our preparation of students for university study, giving a vital real-world context to their mathematics.  Linking theory to practice will emphasise the usefulness and relevance of Mathematics and Physics today.

UK_Hydrographic_Office_logo   1024px-Met_Office_svg   atass  QinetiQ-logo

EMC Skills

Being brilliant at Mathematics is not enough in the modern workplace: employers need skills beyond those developed by our core courses.  EMC skills will equip students to succeed in their EMC projects and beyond.

There are two key foci of this course: programming and literacy.

In the world of Big Data and a technological revolution, being able to code is a vital skill for any mathematician or scientist.  All EMS students will learn to program in Python.  By the time they leave EMS, students should have a firm foundation on which to build.  For those that are already competent coders, challenging projects will be set to extend their skills.

The ability to communicate scientific findings to varied audiences is vital and increasingly sited by employers as essential to their business.  Throughout this course students will be supported in public speaking, scientific writing and adapting their communication to different audiences.  We hope also to develop an appreciation for literature and enjoyment of the written word.


Whilst EMS is primarily established to nurture Mathematical talent, it also has a responsibility to provide students with the opportunity to develop their appreciation of the wider world and to encourage the development of skills beyond the mathematical.

Hand in glove with the students’ own creative outlet of the Exeter Mathematics Certificate projects is the need to enable them to make the connections between their different spheres of knowledge that give rise to true innovation. One of our mechanisms for fostering our budding polymaths and reinforcing our unique learning atmosphere is the simply named `Inspire’ lecture series.

A place to broaden and round the education received by EMS students, `Inspire’ consists of a two – year programme of fortnightly talks across the spectrum of Philosophy, History, Politics and Art. Predominantly research fellows, professors and lecturers, our previous speakers have expounded on topics as varied as “Proof of 1+1”, “Time travel for the uninitiated”, “Levels of Truth” and “The Seaton Down coin hoard”.

These lectures are designed to expose and illustrate the deep links between all things and Mathematics, whilst also breaking down the traditionally rigid boundaries between, for example, Biology and Physics.



Pastoral and Academic Support

We are very proud of the pastoral support we offer at Exeter Mathematics School.

As a small school supported by a very large college, we are in a unique position to offer a small, personalised, family atmosphere together with the very significant support network of the college.

All students have a tutor that meets with them regularly to support their progress.  We recognise that EMS is an academically demanding environment; care is taken to ensure that students receive support and are equipped with the skills necessary to enable them to thrive.

Initially, students are assisted in adapting to the unique learning environment at EMS through our induction programme. Tutors aid students in building effective relationships with their teachers and peers; induction includes orientation of the school, Exeter College and the University of Exeter. Tutors also discuss with every student their academic goals and targets for their courses.

Throughout their time at EMS, students receive information, advice and guidance on varied topics: from university applications and living away from home, to managing workload and personal health.

The tutor is the key link between parents, subject teachers, and a whole range of support services, both with us and through our partner, Exeter College. Through their tutor, all students have access to;

a) A team of counsellors who provide confidential support for a range of issues – school worries, home concerns, personal problems or relationship difficulties

b) A student welfare advisor, who can also help and advise with issues surrounding childcare, benefits, attendance, supported housing and emergency accommodation.

c) For students in care or leaving care, there is support in place to offer advice, guidance, advocacy and financial assistance throughout their time at EMS.

d) A medical room on the Hele Road site that is open during term; students can attend with any health concern and gain advice and support from college nurses, who can also be contacted by telephone. The nurses also support tutors with the delivery of health education sessions and liaise with GPs and other health professionals on students’ behalf.

The safety of all students is very important to us. We have a dedicated safeguarding team, who work to ensure that students are safe in School, at College, and in their personal lives. All students are asked to have their student identification with them at all times whilst on college sites.

If you want to speak to someone about a safeguarding concern or have any questions about the pastoral aspects of life at EMS, then contact  Further Safeguarding information can be found on the Devon Safeguarding Children Board website.

Students with Special Education Needs and Disabilities will be supported to access the full curriculum.  We work closely with Exeter College’s learning support department to identify and make provision for each student’s needs.  An overview and contact details for Exeter College Student Support can be found here.


Several clubs and societies exist within EMS. In line with our unique approach, the clubs are entirely egalitarian; some of them are run by staff, whilst others are managed and established as a result of students’ own interests.

Students also join their friends and other students from Exeter College for sporting and enrichment activities. To ensure that EMS students are aware of the range of activities available at the college, they all attend the the Freshers’ Fair at the start of the year. These enrichment activities include:

 Recreational activities such as working on the College radio station or taking part in the debating society
Sport and fitness activities – over 15 different ones from which to choose, including fitness training, volleyball, basketball, yoga or using the Central Fitness gym
Team building challenges such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or the Ten Tors event
 Citizenship activities which involve fundraising and volunteering through activities such as the Exeter College Volunteers (ECV) and the Enterprise Club
 Music groups such as the Chamber Orchestra and opportunities for music performance
 Drama productions – students take part in College productions of a very high standard
 Business and enterprise activities and workshops to learn essential business skills and turn entrepreneurial dreams into a reality


In addition, the School and each faculty at the College run trips and visits, such as the annual ski trip. Many courses involve trips to develop skills and provide experience to support coursework. In recent years, these have included local fieldwork for geology students, court visits for law students, trips to Berlin for history students, New York or San Francisco for film studies students and the Cheltenham races and holiday parks for travel and tourism students.