Learning > Subjects & Departments

Subjects & Departments 

Milton Abbey has one of the widest ranges of courses available in the UK independent schools sector, covering a host of both academic and vocational subjects.

Click on a heading below to learn more about the courses that are available in each Department.
Art & Photography

All pupils spend a term and a half studying Art in the Third From, and a term and a half studying Photography. Thereafter they may opt to pursue a course in either Fine Art or Photography at GCSE. Both Fine Art and Photography are offered at AS and A-Level, although in some circumstances it is possible for those who have not studied art at GCSE to follow the course.  

Art at Milton Abbey aims to encourage the development of the imagination and to foster creativity and the practical skills for communicating and expressing ideas and feelings through art, craft and design. The department organises trips for all year groups to galleries and museums in the UK throughout the year and also a variety of tours to European cities and occasionally North America for the Sixth Form.
Communication & Culture

Communication & Culture is the study of the world we all live in and is an A-Level subject which pupils can study in the Sixth Form. The first year of the course asks pupils to analyse and understand how their identities are constructed and communicated, and how those identities are linked to and respond to the wider cultural environment in which they live.

The second year of the course asks pupils to work with a range of critical theories to understand the questions and issues that arise from a consideration of culture and society as a whole; these theoretical approaches include Post-Modernism, Feminism, Marxism, and the impact of technology on how culture develops and changes. 

Pupils who study this course are equipped with valuable analytical skills, which will allow them to interrogate different types of material so as to produce a deep understanding of the forces that shape the world we live in. They will also develop research and independent study skills, as well as technical skills as a result of the demands of the coursework portfolio. The course lends itself to those pupils who wish to become involved in the cultural industries as well as those who have an interest in marketing and advertising. 
Countryside Management

Milton Abbey offers BTEC courses in Countryside Management at Level 3 (equal to A-Level study) and also Countryside and Environment courses at Level 2 (equal to GCSE study). The inclusion of the option of courses for the Lower School in recent years means that numbers have increased steadily and, importantly, there are mixed gender classes with girls showing a keen interest in the subject. 

The Countryside Management department takes advantage of the stunning location of Milton Abbey School and the on-site facilities, which allow our pupils to take part in a wide range of rural activities. We have an excellent working relationship with the Forestry Commission, which owns the majority of our adjoining woodland, and this allows us to deliver specialist Woodland Management and Greenwood Crafts units. We are also able to offer a Shoot Management and Game Bird Rearing unit through our own pheasant shoot, which is unique in a school setting.

The department is responsible for the School Farm, which allows for the delivery of Crops and Livestock units and also facilitates Working Dogs, Estate Skills and Land-Based Machinery units. Generally speaking, we can offer most of the units required on the courses using our own outdoor resources. As well as the academic courses our pupils are able to enjoy taking part in farm duties, beagling and regular trips to game fairs, local farms and county shows. Through the activities programme pupils can also have weekly clay pigeon shooting lessons.
Drama & Theatre Studies | Performing Arts

The Drama Department prides itself on its vibrant, broad and inclusive opportunities.  All Third Form pupils take part in skills development, and pupils have the chance to study the subject at GCSE and Sixth Form where they can currently undertake the A-Level or the Level 3 BTEC Performing Arts (Acting). 

All our Drama courses are enhanced by regular school productions, visiting professional theatre companies and international tours. Pupils can also undertake Trinity Guildhall examinations in Speech & Drama or Communication Skills; as well as be part of the School’s resident theatre company that performs regularly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Design & Technology

Design & Technology (D&T) is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject which prepares all young people to live and work in the designed and made world. It is about providing opportunities for pupils to develop their capability, combining their designing and making skills with theoritcal knowledge and understanding, in order to create quality products.

At GCSE level, pupils can study a combined Design & Technology course. At Sixth Form, we offer BTECs in 3D Design or Fashion Design & Production.

Economics is studied at A-Level. It is a fascinating subject involving the study of how people behave and interact with each other. 

Economics gives pupils the opportunity to debate and analyse the relationship between consumers, businesses and government. Other fundamental issues which affect our lives, such as employment, prices, international trade and poverty are covered.

Pupils are offered GCSE qualifications in English Language and English Literature, and the full A-Level in English Literature. Where appropriate, pupils are also able to pursue the Functional Skills in English at Level 1 and Level 2. 

English at Milton Abbey equips pupils with a broad range of skills in the written and spoken word, as well as fostering in them a love for reading and an understanding of the impact of imagination. Beyond the classroom, we visit Shakespeare’s birthplace and enjoy theatre productions from across the country.
Enterprise & Entrepreneurship

The BTEC Level 3 in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is designed for students who wish to know how to start up a business or social enterprise. Each student will be launching and running their own business throughout the course.

Students will learn what it means to be innovative, come up with creative and new ideas to develop products, learn how to write a business plan, and how to pitch their idea to prospective sponsors. To do this, they will cover modules on market research and marketing, the financial and legal considerations of running a business, and what it means to be a leader of a successful business. Students will also have the opportunity to carry out e-marketing and create a website for their business.
Equine Management

Milton Abbey offers the BTEC Level 3 qualification in Horse Management at a Diploma or Extended Diploma level. Any pupil with a keen interest in broadening their industry specific knowledge is also able to pursue the BHS exams.

Equine Management at Milton Abbey develops understanding about the fundamental care of horses and equips pupils for further study or for a direct route into employment. Learning derived around an existing love and passion for horses constantly proves to be a motivational tool and Milton Abbey’s strong links to a variety of equestrian enterprises give pupils valuable insight into this rapidly growing industry.

French is a well-recognised and established language around the world. It is of course the official language of France but is it also spoken in Monaco, Luxembourg, part of Belgium and Switzerland, Qu├ębec, Madagascar, in 15 African countries and in Asia. As the second most commonly taught foreign language in the world after English, being able to speak French will take you anywhere in the world.

At Milton Abbey, pupils have the chance to be part of this community and teachers will help develop linguistic skills in the four skill areas. Milton Abbey’s ambition is to give pupils the confidence to communicate in a different language, allow them to discover a new culture, increase their employability and be a citizen of the world by travelling to many different countries.

All year groups have the opportunity to study Geography at Milton Abbey. The Third Form are offered an introductory ‘Geography Around the World’ course where we look at a variety of locations across the globe and the geographical challenges faced by each location. We couple this course with some basic map skills which help pupils to make the transition from Key Stage 2 into GCSE standard work. If pupils enjoy the subject in the Third Form they have the option to choose it for GCSE. The subject is also available at A-Level, where pupils will study a further eight topics over a two year period.

In the new curriculum there is renewed emphasis on locational and place knowledge, human and physical processes and some technical procedures, such as using grid references. We have customised our schemes of work to ensure that we as a department undertake this new approach to the subject. There is also renewed commitment to fieldwork and the use of maps, as well as written communication, and as a department we are planning a number of exciting filed trips including a trip to Iceland.
Government & Politics

At A-Level, pupils study political concepts and systems and current affairs. Beginning from scratch, the course provides a comprehensive grounding in the UK constitution and political system, and in a broad range of political philosophy. Pupils will learn how to analyse and interpret political events and to evaluate them both in discussions and in written work. We study British Politics at AS, and the US system at A2.

Politics is a text-based, essay-assessed subject, and these facts cannot be ignored. It is however, a subject rich in debate and discussion and the subject matter lends itself to a great variety of teaching, learning styles and activities. The department is well-resourced with up-to-date text books, DVDs and active learning activities. AS classes will have the opportunity to visit Parliament and various elements of government in London and an annual visit to Washington DC takes place during the October half term.

The History Department at Milton Abbey offers a wide-ranging Third Form curriculum with the aim of inspiring in the pupils a love of History. We offer the Modern World GCSE and a fascinating syllabus at A-Level, which currently includes a broad range of topics such as the Tudors and US involvement in Vietnam. 

We aim to inspire a love of History for History’s sake, but also to equip our pupils with the necessary skills to achieve their full potential in public exams and to give them a passion for the subject that will encourage them to study History at university level.
History of Art

Sixth Form pupils at Milton Abbey are offered the opportunity to study History of Art at A-Level. It is a popular and thought provoking course which explores history, politics, philosophy and sociology through the study of art and architecture. Spanning over 2500 years, this fascinating story is studied chronologically, thus ensuring that pupils are given a solid understanding of the history of our Western civilisation from the classical period (Greece and Rome) right up to the modern day.

Benefitting from the School’s unique setting, with over 1000 years of history, pupils are taught to develop a deep understanding of their own unique cultural heritage whilst also exploring a variety of new artistic concepts. This is enhanced by regular visits to the London galleries, whilst also studying modern architecture in the city. Closer to home, we study the English country house and explore the political and sociological significance of the medieval period. Overseas trips include visits to many exciting cities such as Athens, Rome, Florence and Paris.

In the Lower School, pupils have the option to choose the BTEC Level 2 Award in Hospitality instead of a GCSE. There are opportunities to investigate the industry and pupils use the facilities of the Hospitality kitchen to prepare, cook and serve a variety of different dishes, culminating in the preparation and service of a two course meal. At this level pupils also study nutrition and food safety. Pupils can go on to study BTEC Level 3 Hospitality at Milton Abbey School where we use events in the School calendar to allow them to develop their skills in dealing with customers and food and beverage service.

During the Lower Sixth Form pupils visit a range of different hospitality outlets. They also carry out a variety of practical assignments hosting their own themed events or business enterprise to fully understand the way in which they need to organise and manage their time. Pupils also cook once a week preparing foods that may be unfamiliar, developing a range of cookery skills and using different methods of preparation. In the Middle Sixth Form, pupils use the knowledge gained the previous year together with work experience carried out both at school and in the holidays to complete a project and investigate careers in the industry. This aids study skills as pupils prepare for higher education or the world of work.
ICT | Creative Media Production

All Third Form pupils study an hour of Digital Skills a week; a course that is designed to support the use of digital technologies across the curriculum, as well as building up skills such as computational thinking, abstract thinking and problem solving.
In the Fourth Form, pupils can study a Level 2 BTEC in Creative Media Production (Tech Level). This is an exciting course for learners who wish to acquire vocational skills, by applying knowledge and processes related to investigating, exploring and creating media products as part of their Key Stage 4 learning. Learners will acquire knowledge, understanding and skills to underpin their practical activities in assessment, while complementing other GCSE and BTEC choices.
Pupils can then choose to study Creative Digital Media Production in the Sixth Form. We offer a choice of two pathways, which are the Tech-Level Diploma in Film & TV Visual Effects and the Tech-Level Extended Certificate in Digital Games Production. The Film & TV Visual Effects qualification is designed to give learners a technical understanding of the topic. They produce visual effects through practical projects, gaining knowledge and skills in areas such as storyboarding, 2D and 3D animation, compositing and rendering techniques. The Digital Games Production qualification is designed to provide a technical introduction to digital games production. Learners develop skills in areas such as games engine scripting, 3D environments and app production.
All the courses are designed to be both stimulating and challenging; they are creative, enjoyable and very rewarding, with pupils building a comprehensive portfolio of work by the end of the course.


Mathematics, like English, is a compulsory subject taken by all Lower School pupils through to GCSE level. Mathematics underpins our lives. From checking your change to working out your stocks and shares, it would be impossible not to utilise this subject in our day to day lives. Even the purer parts of Mathematics are useful because of the way in which they encourage logical thought and promote the ability to ‘think around a problem’.

Virtually all professions use aspects of Mathematics, and those with a particular liking and proficiency in the subject can study it further at A-Level.

Music is a vitally important part of life at Milton Abbey. We believe that music is a rigorous academic subject and we approach our pedagogy in such a way that everyone should have the opportunity to learn about and create music throughout their school careers, whether in curricular or extra-curricular settings.  All pupils in the Third Form study Music as a curricular subject and lessons focus on practical and creative skills in a wide variety of contexts. This prepares pupils who opt for music as a GCSE subject. In the Sixth Form pupils have the flexibility to take A-Level Music Technology or a BTEC Diploma in Music with a vocational performance focus. Pupils also have the option to follow a one-year Subsidiary Diploma in Music Performance.

A typical week at Milton Abbey sees a wide variety of music making taking place, including rehearsals with the Abbey, Chamber, and Girls’ Choirs, band practices, and instrumental ensembles. Each week up to 100 individual instrumental and vocal lessons are delivered by specialist visiting Music teachers. Performance opportunities abound with a variety of lunchtime recitals being held each term, and there are always musical contributions at chapel services in our spectacular 13th-century Abbey. We also take our music further afield and have undertaken international tours to Venice and New York in the past two years. The Music Department also works closely with the Drama Department on the annual school show.

Despite all this, the firm highlight of the week is the whole-school congregational hymn practice (affectionately known as ‘Congo’) held on Friday mornings where the boarding houses are pitted against each other in contest for the Congo Cup, which is awarded at the end of each term.
Religious Studies

The Religious Studies Department at Milton Abbey School is a place of lively philosophical debate. We aim to engender a real passion for the subject, regardless of religious outlook.

All Third Form pupils take Religious Studies and many are keen to continue to GCSE in Fourth and Fifth form. Pupils engage in projects, debates and discussions on topics as diverse as crime and punishment, drug abuse, world poverty, sexual ethics and medical ethics.

Upper School pupils engage in more philosophical studies. Some of our A Level pupils have gone on to study Anthropology, Philosophy and other Humanities subjects, as well as moved into the world of work. They find that the discipline and rigorous thinking they have developed along with their knowledge and tolerance of other people’s philosophical positions is a great advantage.

Pupils are offered GCSE qualifications in Core Science and Additional Science. Full A-Levels are offered in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Science at Milton Abbey equips pupils with a broad range of skills and allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical situations. The curriculum aims to foster an understanding of science that will allow students to appreciate the world around them, as well as develop an interest in contemporary science issues and developments.

There has never been a better time to learn Spanish. Second only to Mandarin Chinese in terms of its number of speakers, almost half a billion people speak Spanish around the world. The Spanish Department at Milton Abbey aims not only to give our Lower and Upper School pupils the confidence to communicate, but also to make them aware of the diversity and possibilities of the Spanish-speaking world. 

Lower School pupils prepare for the GCSE in Spanish. Many incoming Third Form pupils have not taken Spanish before but find that within a term they are able to communicate confidently with the native speaking pupils at Milton Abbey. 

Upper School pupils study the Spanish A Level. Many find that as well as gaining an invigorating skill, having a foreign language greatly opens up career options in an increasingly globalised world as employers seek out the communication and analytical skills of linguists. Whether they want to work in business, diplomacy, fashion, hospitality, or tourism, Spanish is essential. Many of our pupils apply for degrees combining Spanish with Business, Management, Economics or Event Management.

At Milton Abbey we offer the Level 2 and 3 BTEC Sport courses which give the opportunity to study Sport in both a practical and applied way (Level 2 – First Award in Sport and Level 3 – Diploma and Extended Diploma in Sport).

During lessons, pupils have access to a variety of facilities including playing fields, an all-weather astro pitch, strength and conditioning gym, sports hall and turbo zone. The course covers a range of topics including the importance of exercise, sports performance, anatomy and physiology, leadership and the structure of the sports industry. 

In addition to the BTEC qualification, pupils have access to governing body coaching awards and first aid qualifications enabling them to pursue instruction or go on to take further specialist training at higher education level. Career options in the industry include teaching, professional coaching, and sports and leisure management.

You can learn more about our academic, competitive and extra-curricular sports offering elsewhere on this website.