Exam Board: CIE
“It’s about independent thinking and it’s comparative: looking at the international scene, not just your own home.”
Kevin Stannard, University of Cambridge
GPR at Fort Pitt
Cambridge Pre-U is an exciting new post-16 qualification. It prepares students with the skills and knowledge they need to make a success of their studies both in school and beyond. Universities tell us they want students who are equipped to benefit from a higher education experience, which calls for an independent and self-directed style of learning.
In Year 12 students work on a range of topics. These have included ethical and environmental issues, as well as topics on technological developments and issues related to global politics. The emphasis is on giving them the tools to identify, evaluate and explore competing arguments and perspectives while studying contemporary issues facing us all in an increasingly complex world.
In Year 13 students produce an in depth report on a topic of their choice. This 4500 to 5000 word ‘Independent Research Report’ is invaluable preparation for studies beyond school. In consultation with a tutor, students identify a suitable research focus and then work on this throughout the academic year, bringing their own ideas and findings to regular tutorials. One former student, now at university, wrote to the school with the following comment:
“Within two days of being here, I had to use my GPR and IRR skills. We had to use the database to access journals and use Google Scholar and the advanced search, all things I learnt through the GPR and IRR lessons. Also how to set out a bibliography and use footnotes. I’m way ahead of my peers.” Sarah Taylor
Some recent titles for the Independent Research Report at Fort Pitt have included:
- Is the Search for the Higgs Boson Worth It?
- What are the Global Impacts of the Economic Development of China?
- Has the Traditional Role of Metaphysics Declined in Contemporary Philosophy?
Successful completion of the course leads to an award on the Cambridge Pre-U scale, from a ‘Pass’ grade, through ‘Merit’ to a ‘Distinction’. Each one of the three grades is further subdivided (e.g. M1, M2, M3) to allow for precise outcomes. University offers reflect the academic standards of the award, with typical recent offers from some of Britain’s top universities equating an ‘M2’ award on the Pre-U scale to a ‘B’ at A Level, with a Pre-U ‘D3’ being an alternative to an ‘A’ at A level (D2 and D1 are above A Level at ‘A’). UCAS points (exceeding the points available in A Level subjects for high achieving students) are also awarded.
Subject Leader: Mrs S Doran (email@example.com)
Teaching in class groups and small groups.
Topics of global significance are considered in some depth. These have included, amongst other things:
The Market in Human Organs
In looking at topics such as those listed above, the students will prepare for the externally assessed components of the course:
- Examination (90 minutes)
- Essay (up to 2000 words)
- Presentation (up to 15 minutes in length)
The focus in each of these is on the analysis and evaluation of sources and developing a persuasive and clear personal perspective.
Individual study for the Independent Research Report:
Students will follow a university style approach, meeting with their assigned tutor over the academic year. This style of learning is similar to the supervisions or tutorials at Oxbridge.