The Pre-U Curriculum

The first Pre-U commenced in September 2008 as a result of several top private schools getting together with Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) to devise a curriculum which was more robust than A Levels. Here we give some basic details of the Pre-U Diploma.

The Pre-U is available in 25 individually chosen principal subjects, although most schools have limited their range. The principal subjects are taken over a 2 year period with exams at the end.

The Cambridge Pre-U Diploma consists of 5 elements – 3 of the individual courses plus an Independent Research Report and Global Perspectives – a similar methodology to the International Baccalaureate DP – creating a breadth of study – but offering more choice of subjects without the compulsion to take subjects which the student does not want.

For the time being, candidates may substitute a maximum of 2 A level course passes for 2 Pre-U subjects. Most schools have started with a mixture of A Levels and Pre-U subjects.

Global Perspectives and the Independent Research Report are intended to be taught as successive one year courses in that order and are each equivalent to half of a full volume course. The Global Perspectives project is a form of research and critical thinking assignment where students can explore a key global challenge such as Ethics, Economics, Environment, Technology or Politics & Culture – both independently and in seminar based discussions. The Independent Research assignment builds on the skills from the Global Perspectives, where the student conducts independent research into a topic chosen by the candidate.

We further expect that some schools may start by simply offering a very small number of Pre-U subjects as alternatives to A Levels with no attempt to offer the full Pre-U Diploma, which also requires GP and IRR. It is estimated that a single Pre-U subject will require 400 hours of teaching as opposed to 350 hours for an A Level. Further details of the Pre-U Diploma Program are given in our eGuide on “How to choose between A levels, the IBDP and the Pre-U”

You should be aware that the schools which have adopted the Pre-U are mostly among the Top 20 in our league tables. They are therefore very selective on admissions and you need to allow at least 12 months time ahead of the intended entry in order to apply.

Talk to us on +44 (0)1622 813870 as soon as possible.