Studying STEM at Varndean College


Through our teaching, we encourage students to move on to higher level STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses and into a STEM career. These students would hopefully go on to work on some of the biggest developments of the 21st Century. Who knows where they will end up; even the sky itself is no longer a limiting factor.

We are very proud to have been given government funding to build a new £2.9m STEM centre, which is due to open here in February 2020, and hope to continue our promotion of STEM with even greater numbers of students.

STEM subjects are the foundations of the industrial and corporate world. Students who study these subjects will gain a diverse and comprehensive skill set. As such, these subjects present a high currency for universities and are also sought after by a wide range of employers.

STEM skills are essential and not only contribute to the UK’s manufacturing and research output, but they also offer exciting opportunities in emerging technologies. The promotion of these subjects by government is intended to ‘help empower future generations through science, technology, engineering and mathematics to grow a dynamic, innovative economy.’

Varndean College is particularly keen to encourage a greater involvement in STEM by all students and, in particular, we want to see more female students studying and working in this area. We will be running Women in STEM events this coming year.

We offer a range of STEM subjects: Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) as well as Mathematics and Computer Science. New for September 2020 we will also be offering a Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Engineering. The rigorous academic framework of these subjects, combined with the requisite technical and practical skills developed during the course of study, make them ideal choices for those with enquiring minds and are the foundation stones for a number of important career routes.

At Varndean College, through our challenging and engaging teaching, we hope to inspire and motivate the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Computer Science

Computer Science is a subject that spans theory and practice. Through the study of this subject, you will become a confident programmer using different coding languages to solve problems. You will learn how to apply computational thinking to decompose larger problems into smaller ones and use a range of techniques to solve them. You will learn how computers work and how encryption allows the safe transfer of private data over public networks. You will also learn about security issues such as hacking and how viruses are spread.

Career Pathways

Many students choose to study Computer Science and related subjects at degree level. Popular choices include computer science, robotics, artificial intelligence, computer forensics, software engineering, networking, digital media, web development, e-business and computer games design. Some students move onto foundation degrees or HND courses. Apprenticeships are also increasingly popular with the many technology firms in the Sussex area.

Transferable Skills

Creative and aesthetic, technical, organisational and interpersonal, analytical and communication, and organisational and teamwork skills.


Mathematics

Maths plays a valuable role in technology and the economy. It is used to solve real world problems and can open up solutions that were previously not understood. It is a system of reason and logic used to explain the universe and is both practical and creative. Pursuing an education in maths equips you with skills that are highly valued in most careers. Mathematical ability is very highly regarded by both universities and employers.

Career Pathways

Maths qualifications are considered essential or desirable for a whole host of degree subjects including virtually all sciences, economics and related courses and many social science courses. There is a national shortage of mathematicians, and employment prospects are good. To get some idea of careers open to those studying Maths at A Level and beyond, look at the careers section at Maths Careers.

Transferable Skills

Problem solving, logical thinking, conceptual ability, analysis and interpretation of data, research skills.

Studying Biology at Varndean College gave me a firm foundation in the subject enabling me to complete a BSc in Biology at the University of Bath. Currently I am working for the University of Arizona in Phoenix researching the effects of traumatic brain injury on children and adolescents in pre-clinical model.
Tabitha Green, Varndean College 2013-15, Bsc Biology with Professional Placement at University of Bath

Biology

The field of biology is a complex and rapidly evolving science. It helps us understand the behaviour of living systems from the level of cells to whole organisms and ecosystems. The study of biology can include areas such as advanced genetics, evolutionary biology, plant biotechnology, tropical medicine, marine biology, animal and human physiology, zoology, microbiology, forensic biology, environmental biology, molecular biosciences and neuroscience.

If you are fascinated by life and living processes then biology is the subject for you. It will help you to develop a much more detailed scientific knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Career Pathways

Many students go on to degree courses in Medicine (with Chemistry A level), Nursing, Physiotherapy, and Biological Science degrees. It is essential for Medicine related and Biological Sciences but is also highly valued for subjects such as Law. This subject can lead to careers in the biotechnical services.

Transferable Skills

Data analysis (including use of IT); problem solving; producing balanced ethical arguments; scientific literacy; teamwork.


Chemistry

Chemistry has a worldwide impact. As a fundamental physical science it has a lasting effect on our planet; trained chemists will be needed to help tackle the challenges society faces in changes to environment, food security and energy supply. Almost every new technological change and important discovery has its foundation in Chemistry.

Chemistry is the key to influencing life and making the world a better place in which to live. It provides the basis for medicine, agriculture, food technology, environmental science, forensic science and many other fields. Having a chemistry qualification is like having an open flight ticket to any destination in the world!

Career Pathways

Many students go on to degree courses in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Medicine and medically related subjects, Food Technology, Environmental Science, Agriculture, Law and Forensic Science.

Transferable Skills

Chemistry graduates earn around 30% more during their career through having intellectual, communication, organisational, interpersonal, research, numeracy and IT skills.


Physics

Physics explains how the universe works as simply as possible. From Quarks to Quasars, Physics is all about understanding and predicting nature. You will look at how our world (and beyond) behaves and try to make sense of it. You will enjoy Physics if you want to find out about life, the universe and everything, develop models to explain how the world we live in works, sharpen your problem-solving skills and see how physics is used all around us. You will discover that our ideas of how things work have changed over the centuries; scientists are not always ‘right’. A theory only lasts until an experiment proves it wrong! Then we need a new one.

Career Pathways

Many students go on to degree courses in Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics, Engineering, Research, Financial Management, Law, Medicine and numerous other fields. Physics is an in-demand subject in the UK and, indeed, worldwide.

Transferable Skills

Analysis, problem-solving, communication, modelling, research, mathematical skills, evidence-based decision-making.

I chose Varndean because it felt really friendly, like the teachers actually cared about getting to know you as a person. They know how to create a real sense of community and are able to offer personalised help, which meant I never felt lost in the crowd.
Eliza McHugh, Varndean College 2013-15, Chemistry at Oxford