Year 9 Curriculum

Students in Year 9 study a wide range of subjects which enables them to develop both transferable and specialist skills. All students in Years 10 and 11 study English, maths, science (Combined or Triple award), and two engineering qualifications, in addition to two subject of their choice. The Year 9 curriculum is designed so that students can try the different subjects on offer and make an informed decision about what to study at GCSE.


English at the UTC aims to develop students’ skills of retrieval, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, comparison, the crafting of their language and their technical accuracy – all made relevant and transferable to the world of work.


Numeracy skills and mathematical methods are the cornerstone of science, technology and engineering. Students must be fluent and confident in their maths skills as they progress through the UTC and into future courses or employment. We teach in line with the national curriculum whilst linking mathematics to real-life and industry applications, particularly in the engineering sector. During visits to our industry partners, students are able to see how such topics as algebra, ratio, geometry, probability and statistics are applied in the workplace. We offer additional support for students who struggle with aspects of the maths curriculum.


Students in Year 9 will have lessons in separate sciences, enabling them to access specialist teaching. In Years 10 and 11, they study either Combined Science (worth two GCSEs) or Triple Award Science. Our state of the art equipment allows students to conduct industry standard practical work to support theoretical content. We are also able to utilise the facilities and expertise of our business partners and university links.

  • Biology

Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical composition, function, development and evolution. Understanding the natural world is important for scientific and technical innovation, and the study of plant and animal biology leads directly to a wide range of careers in medicine and scientific research.

  • Physics

Physics is the study of the nature and properties of matter and energy, including electricity, atomic structures, forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism, and the physics of space. The principles of science, particularly physics, underpin engineering and advanced manufacturing. Our links with businesses at the cutting edge of the application of sciences show students why physics is so important.

  • Chemistry

Chemistry concerns the properties of substances, their reactions and interactions with other substances, and the natural laws that describe these changes. Visits to our employer partners and practical chemistry projects and experiments enhance the study of such topics as: atomic structure and the periodic table, the properties of matter, quantitative chemistry, chemical and energy changes, chemical analysis, and chemistry of the atmosphere.


Here at UTC South Durham our engineering hall is the heart of our building, and students learn through practical application; building students’ skills from using entry-level equipment to industry standard machinery. Students will have the opportunity to study the following engineering disciplines:

  • Engineering Manufacture

Engineering Manufacture enables students to study and experience the different manufacturing practices and processes using the machines, tools and equipment that turn raw materials into new products. Following a design specification, students apply their knowledge and skills by operating manufacturing equipment, including using programmes such as CAD/CAM and CNC equipment.

  • Engineering Design

Engineering Design is a process used to develop and enhance new products as a response to market opportunities and need. Students are encouraged to consult with real industry and individual clients, to use practical equipment, computer aided design (CAD), and to develop modelling skills to evaluate and make prototype products.

  • Systems Control

Systems Control introduces students to the fundamentals of electronic circuits and how microprocessor control systems are used in a variety of domestic and commercial engineering contexts. Students develop practical skills by designing, constructing and testing electronic circuits using appropriate techniques, procedures and equipment, including fault-finding and identifying potential electrical hazards.

Design and Technology

Every product made by humans has been designed and manufactured. Product designers have a responsibility to design useful products which work effectively, and are efficient and environmentally friendly. In Product Design, students are encouraged to consider new and emerging technologies, energy generation and storage, material properties and developments in new materials, ecological and social footprint, how to create and communicate design ideas, and how to develop a prototype. Understanding the design process and being able to communicate ideas are important skills for designers, engineers and manufacturers.


Geography encourages students to investigate the links between the human and physical, addressing such topics as energy resources, sustainability and climate change. During the course, students will undertake two fieldtrips examining areas of both the natural and man-made world, whilst evaluating the impact one has upon the other. Geography enables students to develop a strong understanding of populations and demographics, markets and regions, economic development and globalisation; knowledge and skills which are valued by employers.

Business Studies

Understanding Business and how it works is essential in today’s changing economic landscape. Students learn to understand and apply the fundamental principles of Business Studies including business start-up and development, finance and marketing, promoting a brand, and recruitment and employability. Business Studies uses real-life context, including visits to and from our employer partners, to make the content as real and relevant as possible.

Computer Science

Computer Science is about understanding the fundamental mathematical and scientific building blocks of computers, including: programming, algorithms, data representation, computer hardware, and cyber security. Students are encouraged to reflect on how digital technology is having an impact on wider society, and develop important skills such as problem-solving. Students also learn programming languages, including Python and SQL.

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