The College’s curriculum broadly follows and extends the National Curriculum to allow for a proper combination of breadth and specialisation. It is designed to stimulate, challenge and support all pupils.

The curriculum is supported by a wide range of academic extension and enrichment activities through societies, lectures, theatre trips, museum and gallery visits, debates, poetry readings, conference and concerts creating a full co-curriculum which recognises that qualifications alone do not produce a broadly educated person.

Time is allowed in the curriculum for extra-curricular activities, and on occasions the timetable is suspended or modified to allow activities to occur, such as CCF/Outdoor Activities field days, sports fixtures and subject-specific day trips.

The Marlborough College curriculum is designed to ensure that every individual maximises his or her potential. There is a clear focus placed upon success in public examinations, but the College also takes seriously its responsibility in preparing pupils to succeed beyond the College, at University, and in their subsequent career.

There are five year-groups in the College split between the Upper and Lower Schools.

During the Shell (Year 9) year, pupils maintain the broadest possible curriculum in order to introduce them to the range of subjects available at Marlborough and options are kept to a minimum.

In the Remove (Year 10) and Hundred (Year 11) pupils will study a core of compulsory subjects to GCSE: English (Language and Literature), a modern foreign language, Maths, Religious Studies, and three Sciences. They will also continue to study Information Technology and Physical Education.

In the Upper School, pupils choose at least four substantial courses of study (A levels or Pre-U) with the option of supplementing their choice with options such as ab initio language courses, standalone AS courses, and the excellent Extended Project Qualification.

Subjects are taught in departmental areas to give all pupils the advantage of specialist facilities such as laboratories, art studios, computer suites, design technology workshops and modern language suites. The Memorial Library is located in the heart of the College and holds an extensive range of resources, on the shelves and online. This provision is well supported by specialist departmental libraries where pupils can find more in-depth resources.

All pupils undergo an induction programme in the library, and extensive use of the facility is made in the Shell through the Form course to inculcate the full range of study and research skills. The overall curricular provision is regularly reviewed to ensure that it best serves the interests of all pupils. Within departments, schemes of work are reviewed annually and are designed to ensure that lessons are correctly focused and that all pupils, regardless of their particular needs, are able to make progress through the school.



As Marlborough draws its Shell (Year 9) pupils from a particularly wide range of feeder schools, our boys and girls will have had diverse and varied educational experiences up to the point when they join us. The Shell curriculum is therefore as broad as possible, designed to promote a spirit of enquiry, and to engender learning habits that will be useful for life.

The most distinctive element of this first year is ‘Form’ in which small classes (of approximately 12) look into the development of human civilisation, its ideas, cultures, actions and beliefs.  Form aims to provide a basis for intellectual growth and the sharing of ideas and it takes the place of separate English, History & RS lessons. You can read more about it on the Form page.

Shell Curriculum Booklet

Beyond Form, all Shell pupils study a broad range of subjects, as listed below.

Timetable by Subject

Subject Periods per fortnight
Form 9
Mathematics 5
Biology 4
Chemistry 4
Physics 4
Modern Language 1 4
Modern Language 2 4
Geography 4
Art 2
Design Technology 2
Physical Education 2
Music 2
Latin/Greek 4
Information Technology 2
Total 52

Pupils choose two modern languages from French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish.  In addition all pupils will study Latin; those who wish to will also study some Greek.

During the Shell year pupils additionally embark upon a PSHE course (Artemis) which is run through the boarding houses. This course aims to reflect the College’s aims and ethos and is delivered in small groups to facilitate honest discussion and supportive guidance. The course tutors are experienced in this area and undergo regular training updates.


In the Remove (Year 10) and the Hundred (Year 11) pupils study a core of compulsory subjects to (I)GCSE: English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Religious Studies.  They must then pick at least four subject options. In the Remove, they also continue to study IT and PE as a matter of course (and as distinct from the academic subject options of Computer Science and Physical Education).

GCSE Curriculum Booklet

Subject Options

In addition to the core, pupils make a choice from a wide range of options: Art, Design Technology, Drama, French, German, Geography, History, Italian, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Music, Physical Education, Russian and Spanish.

Pupils are required to choose four subject options of which one must be a modern foreign language.  Pupils may also study up to two additional subjects, choosing from Astronomy, Computer Science and Greek.

Length of Courses

(I)GCSE courses are generally run for two years and pupils take their exams at the end of the Hundred year. In the Hundred, pupils no longer take Physical Education or IT.

Subject Periods per fortnight
English 5 7
Mathematics 6 7
Biology 4 4
Chemistry 4 4
Physics 4 4
Religious Studies 4 4
Information Technology 1 0
Physical Education 2 0
Option 1 5 5
Option 2 5 5
Option 3 5 5
Option 4 5 5
Total 50 50

Upper School

The College expects Sixth Form pupils to undertake combinations of A level and Pre-U courses which are demanding and of sufficient breadth to enable them to differentiate themselves in a competitive university admissions market.

Pupils are encouraged to stretch themselves and to develop their abilities to the fullest. Beyond their four A level/Pre-U subjects, pupils are offered the choice of one of the Extended Project, a standalone AS in Creative Writing, (I)GCSE languages for beginners in Arabic, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin, and further language qualifications in French, Spanish and German. Pupils will also be able to enjoy a carousel of opt-in short courses that will encourage them to explore some interests further and to perhaps find new passions.

The College will be looking from this time to begin to embrace the advantages of linearity (all examinations at the end of two years of study) that is being introduced into the national system, having already had great success with the linear Pre-U qualification in a number of subjects.

Sixth Form Curriculum Handbook