Our curriculum has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the able students of mathematics and science that enrol at EMS.  We are committed to developing the whole student and have developed a broad and balanced curriculum that extends beyond students’ core A-level subject.

The vast majority of our students progress from EMS to studying STEM subjects at university.  Our curriculum is designed with this in mind, ensuring our students are well equiped to the flourish in higher education and beyond.

Curriculum Structure

Our curriculum is currently under review and we will be developing a new timetable to reflect these changes.  The text in this section reflects curent practice. 

There are 17 teaching periods in a week, each of 1.5 hours duration.   Additional time is available on Wednesday afternoons to pursue optional extra-curricular activities.  Students will also meet with an academic mentor on a regular basis.

The curriculum, which is timetabled fortnightly, consists of:

 Mathematics 7 periods a week
 Physics or Computer Science 3 periods a week
 Option taken at Exeter College 3 periods a week
 Tutorial Program 1 period a week
 Exeter Mathematics Certificate 1 period a week
 Independent Study 2.5 periods a week
 Inspire 0.5 periods a week
 Extra-Curricular Wednesday pm (optional)

Students sit AS examinations in their first year and complete A-level qualifications in their second year.  The Mathematics examinations taken in year 12 will count towards students’ final A-level.  In Physics and Computer Science this is not the case, the whole of the A-level is assessed at the end of year 13.

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 module is assessed by a 90 minute written examination.

Units of Study for Year 12: C1, C2, M1, M2, S1, S2

Students will study all the content required for the modules given and some of the content from C3, C4 and FP1.  An emphasis on Applied Mathematics modules ensures students have enough knowledge to meaningfully engage in project work as part of EMC.

Following their examinations in June, students will continue to study topics from C3, C4 and FP1.

Units of Study for Year 13: C3, C4, FP1, FP2, FP3 and either M3, S3 or D1

In august, once students have their 1st year results, they will decide on which of the applied options they wish to study: M3, S3 or D1.  Students will then build on the foundation laid in year 12 to complete their A-levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

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: kburnham@exeterms.ac.uk


Students will have the option to take an A-level in Physics 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



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: Components 1 and 2 for AS

Students will sit examinations at the end of year 12.  This will provide them with an AS qualification.  These results will not count towards their final A-level grade but will be useful for students in benchmarking their progress and gaining examination experience.

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.  Much of the content of component 1 and 2 will be the same as that studied in their first year.

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 joe: joerowing@exeterms.ac.uk


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



AS: 50% on-screen examination and 50% written paper.

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

Units of Study for Year 12:

Paper 1 and Paper 2 for AS level

Units of Study for Year 13:

Paper 1 and Paper 2 for A-level


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: liamcantle@exeterms.ac.uk

College Option

Students that have not selected to study either Physics or Computer Science will study for one subject at Exeter College. Students may choose from any of the 30+ subjects on offer, from traditional GCSE subjects such as Chemistry, English, Music and History to new subjects such as Psychology, Law and Geology. Students will have the option to continue with this subject in year 13, completing the full A level or BTEC qualification.

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.

A list of subjects on offer is given below. More detail about each course can be found by clicking here to open the Exeter College website.

  • Archaeology
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Classics
  • Creative Media Production
  • Critical Thinking
  • Dance
  • Drama and Theatre Arts
  • Economics
  • English
  • Language
  • English
  • Literature
  • Environmental Studies
  • Fashion and Textiles – Art and Design
  • Film and Video – Art and Design
  • Film Studies
  • Fine Art – Art and Design
  • French
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • German
  • Graphic Design –Art and Design
  • History 16th and 17th Century(Tudors and Stuarts)
  • History 20th Century
  • Human Biology
  • Law
  • Media Studies
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion and Ethics
  • Photography – Art and Design
  • Physical education
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • World Development

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 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 to be presented this year include “The Science of Skimming”, “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


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 pastoral tutor that meets with them regularly to support their progress. In addition, tutors deliver a curriculum designed to meet the students’ developmental needs. 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 JoeRowing@exeterms.ac.uk.  Further Safeguarding information can be found on the Devon Safeguarding Children Board website.

Students with Special Education Needs and Disabilities will be supported 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.