GCSE and IGCSE courses

GCSE Results DayWe offer a balanced, flexible curriculum that can be tailored to suit every student's individual needs, talents and future ambitions.

In addition to our core GCSE and IGCSE subjects, students choose from a wide range of optional subjects, additional options and extension opportunities.




At St Mary’s School, Cambridge almost all girls take core GCSEs/IGCSEs in English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Religious Studies and Sciences (either Separate Sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics, three GCSE qualifications or Science Dual Award, two GCSE qualifications).

Students for whom English is an additional language typically prepare for Cambridge English: First, and Cambridge English: Advanced, in Year 10 and Year 11 respectively.

In addition to the subjects above, most girls choose to study three or four optional subjects. The overall number of GCSEs/IGCSEs each student takes and the subjects she chooses will vary from individual to individual depending on her circumstances. Most girls take 10 subjects in total, some fewer, some more - selecting from additional options and extension opportuntities.

Teacher support

Students have the opportunity to discuss choices in a meeting with a senior member of staff, who will help to decide on a suitable number and selection of subjects. Options should be carefully considered, bearing in mind future career aspirations, strengths and interests. For further information about a GCSE/IGCSE course, or to ask advice about its suitability, please discuss with teaching staff or the Head of Department for the specific subject.

Please do not hesitate to seek further advice by contacting me or any other member of the teaching staff should you need to do so. We are all very willing to help you with your decision-making process at such an important time.

Mr Stephen Seidler
Deputy Head: Academic

Expand to view our Year 9 options

We encourage students to select a balanced programme, that reflects their unique abilities, interests and future aspirations. In addition to the core and optional subjects, all students undertake two non-examined subjects: PE (Physical Education) and PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education).

Core subjects

Everyone studies:

  • Mathematics
  • Religious Studies

Depending on a student's first language, each girl will choose either:

  • English Language and English Literature GCSEs1
  • English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Students choose six options (including two or three Science subjects):


  • Three separate Science IGCSEs (Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
  • Two Science IGCSEs (Science Double Award)

More about core subjects

Optional subjects

Students choose up to three optional subjects to make a total of 10:

Additional options

The following additional subjects are taught outside curriculum time, and can be taken in addition to the subjects above:

  • Additional Mathematics5
  • Classical Greek
  • Latin (Level 2 Certificate)

Discover more

Please note:

  1. If English is not your first language, participation in GCSE English Lanaguage and English Literature courses will be at the discretion of the Head of English and the Head of EAL.
  2. Computer Science can be chosen as one of the six options, but it can also be chosen as an additional seventh subject if a student has opted for a separate science.
  3. If English is not your first language, then one of your options may be English Language Support - please note this course does not offer a qualification.
  4. Students who have received Learning Support lessons in Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 may opt to continue with these sessions in Year 10 and Year 11, please not this course does not offer a qualification.
  5. Only available to students who are in the top two Mathematics sets at the start of Year 10.
  • Preliminary choices form completed and returned by 25 January 2019
  • Individual guidance interviews scheduled in January
  • Final choices confirmed following parents' evening on 31 January 2019
  • Final choices form completed and returned by 11 February 2019

Some of our subjects are accredited as GCSEs and others as IGCSEs. Both are fully recognised by universities and employers. The government are currently reforming GCSEs and IGCSEs with new specifications for course content. Reformed subjects operate a new grading system, grades 9-1 replacing the old A*-G grades.

Additional information

Our Heads of Department for each subject are happy to discuss course content, or any other further information required to support our students and parents, in making the right choices in Year 9. Our Deputy Head of Acadmic Study, is also available to help in this important decision-making process.