What is an IGCSE?

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is taken in over 100 countries worldwide and is internationally recognised as being equivalent to the GCSE in the United Kingdom.  IGCSE is widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic achievement.

Grading is on an eight-point scale (A* - G).  IGCSE examinations are widely used as preparation for International Baccalaureate Diploma, A Level, AS, and US Advanced Placement courses.

A number of the IGCSE subject curricula and examinations can be either core or extended.  If candidates are entered for the Core curriculum and examination they are eligible for the award of grades C to G only.  Candidates who follow the Extended curriculum are eligible for the award of grades A* to E only.

IGCSE assessment takes place at the end of the course and can include written, oral, coursework and practical assessment. This broadens opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning, particularly when their first language is not English. In many subjects there is a choice between core and extended curricula, making IGCSE suitable for a wide range of abilities.

IGCSE develops learner knowledge, understanding and skills in:

  • Subject content
  • Applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as unfamiliar situations
  • Intellectual enquiry
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to change
  • Working and communicating in English
  • Influencing outcomes
  • Cultural awareness.

Schools worldwide have been involved in the development of IGCSE. The syllabuses are international in outlook, but retain a local relevance. They have been created specifically for an international student body and avoid cultural bias.

More information regarding IGCSEs can be found at:


Making the right choices

Making the right choices

At 14 years of age most students do not have a clear idea about the career they want to follow.  It is important therefore to choose a ‘BROAD AND BALANCED’ selection of option subjects.  It would be a mistake to specialise too early and for a student to be denied a wide and exciting range of studies.

In addition, narrow options choices for IGCSE may create difficulties when it comes to the broad range of subjects required in IB Diploma, Certificate or IBCC programme which are on offer at DIS in years 12 and 13.

Students must be careful not to take a subject simply because they like their present teacher or because friends have chosen it.

How do you ensure the choices are right for you?

A good first step is to talk to your parents, friends and teachers to see where they believe your strengths are.  Then consider the questions below, read the subject outlines in this document, research more into the subjects you are thinking about choosing, before deciding on your options.

Some questions to ask about you and each of the IGCSE subjects:

      What subjects do you like?

  • What subjects will allow me to study my chosen course at IB or ‘A’ Level?
  • What career would I like to follow?
  • How much reading is involved?
  • How much writing is involved?
  • What type of writing? Is it mainly essays, reports or other styles of written work?
  • How much course work is involved?
  • What percentage of the final mark is given for course work?
  • Is there an oral test?
  • Does the subject involve any field work?
  • What practical skill would be needed to do well in this subject?
  • Would I have to gather information myself?
  • Are there any projects involved?

Those questions are very important as once you begin a course you will be expected to complete it.

What options are available?

At DIS students are encouraged to study a broad and balanced curriculum they will enjoy.  However, in year 10 it is recognised many students do not have clear plans for the future and are likely to change their minds several times over the next few years.  In order to prevent students limiting their future options (employment and universities) and to provide them with the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects it is compulsory for students to take the core subjects, leaving them with a further three subjects to choose.

Core Subjects




Cambridge IGCSE First Language English is designed for learners whose first language is English. The majority of students at Deira International School sit the Cambridge IGCSE First Language English examination at the end of Year 10.  Over the course of the year learners develop the ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively, developing a personal style and an awareness of the audience being addressed. 

IGCSE First Language English 

The syllabus enables learners to read, interpret and evaluate texts through the study of literature in English. At Deira International School the majority of students sit the English Literature Examination at the end of Year 11.  Learners develop an understanding of literal meaning, relevant contexts and of the deeper themes or attitudes that may be expressed.  The syllabus also encourages the exploration of wider and universal issues, promoting learners' better understanding of themselves and of the world around them.

IGCSE English - Literature


All students must take Mathematics as an IGCSE subject.  The course is structured on two levels, Core and Extended. Extended allows students to reach grades up to an A* and is a prerequisite for any future mathematical study. 

Core focuses on the basic concepts of mathematics and is aimed at giving students who struggle with the subject a good chance to achieve a pass grade. 


This is the compulsory Science course that all students follow. It is designed to give students a holistic Science education by encompassing elements of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Students gain 2x IGCSEs on completion. Students who wish to study Science in more detail are encouraged to complete the Separate Sciences option as an extension to this.

IGCSE Co-ordinated Science

This additional Science course is aimed at students who have a particular aptitude or interest in Science.  It gives them the opportunity to study the Sciences in more depth and detail.  It is strongly recommended for students thinking of studying Higher Level IB or A-Level Sciences and those who are thinking of pursuing a career in Science. 

IGCSE Separate Sciences


The Cambridge IGCSE in Foreign Languages is a 2 year course which provides students with the opportunity to further develop their language skills as a practical means of communication and offers an insight into the culture and civilisation of countries where the language is spoken. It is suitable for students who have some prior knowledge of the language. 

All Muslim students will also take a course in Islamic studies.

Non-examined subjects

All students will study 1 hour of Physical Education (with the option of IGCSE on top of this) and 1 hour of Skills 4 Life (S4L) every week.

Option Subjects

The ‘Options’ subjects (Please click on the links for more information) Students have to opt to study 3 subjects from the following list:

Art and DesignThe 2 year Art & Design course should encourage personal expression, imagination, sensitivity, conceptual thinking, powers of observation, an analytical ability and practical attitudes. It should lead to greater understanding of the role of the visual arts in the history of civilisations and widen cultural horizons and enrich the individual. In addition, it should combine a breadth and depth of study so that it may accommodate a wide range of abilities and individual resources. Ideal candidates would have reached a level 6 by the end of Year 9 and have a keen interest in developing their creative ideas and abstract thinking.
Business StudiesBusiness Studies will equip you with the knowledge to appreciate how modern, successful businesses operate and how they are affected by the environment around them. Business Studies was recently the most popular degree in the UK. 
Computer ScienceStudents will develop their understanding of the main principles of problem solving using computers. They can apply their understanding to develop computer-based solutions to problems using algorithms and a high-level programming language. Students also develop a range of technical skills, as well as being able to effectively test and evaluate computing solutions. Students will appreciate current and emerging computing technologies, the benefits of their use and recognise their potential risks. Computer Science helps students develop an interest in computing and gain confidence in computational thinking.
Design and TechnologyThe Design and Technology course enables leaners to identify, consider and solve problems through creative thinking, planning and design, and by working with different media, materials and tools. Candidates gain technical and design awareness as a result, and develop skills such as initiative, resourcefulness, enquiry, communication and ingenuity. Ideal candidates would have reached a level 6 by the end of Year 9 and have a keen interest in how technology affects our daily lives.
DramaIGCSE Drama at DIS is an unforgettable two year course full of creative and theoretical elements. Governed by Cambridge International Examinations, students use learnt skills to not only pursue professional work within the Performing Arts industry but to execute presentations, business proposals and public addressing.
EconomicsThe Cambridge IGCSE Economics syllabus develops an understanding of economic terminology, core principles and basic economic theory. Students learn to handle simple data, undertake economic analysis and evaluate information on economic issues. This course is suitable for students with an interest in the business world and how economies operate. A solid ability in Maths is advantageous.
EnterpriseCambridge IGCSE Enterprise is a unique syllabus that brings the world of business into the classroom and gives learners a clear insight into what it means to think like an entrepreneur. This is the first Cambridge IGCSE syllabus which asks learners to adopt the thoughts and actions of entrepreneurs, developing their knowledge and understanding of the practicalities of setting up and running their own new enterprise. Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise equips learners with a range of vital life skills for use in planning and organisation, communication and financial management. Therefore this course would interest students who want to run their own business.
FrenchThe Cambridge IGCSE in Foreign Languages is a 2 year course which provides students with the opportunity to further develop their language skills as a practical means of communication and offers an insight into the culture and civilisation of countries where the language is spoken. It is suitable for students who have some prior knowledge of the language.
GeographyIGCSE Geography is a 2 year course that has been designed to develop an understanding of both the natural and physical environments. Suitable learners need to be able to be independent in their learning and thoughtful in their studies. Geography will help you to be more aware of everyday situations and issues faced by the people who live around you, in other parts of the UAE, and across the world. Geography is a highly topical subject, ever changing as world events unfold; therefore pupils must actively take an interest in current news and events.  The geography course will help you make sense of what is going on in our world through you making balanced judgments.  Geography will make you an aware and better informed citizen, which seeks a more sustainable future. 
HistoryIGCSE History is a 2 year course that offers pupils the opportunity to study world history from the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Learners will explore history from a diversity of perspectives, including social, economic, cultural and political. IGCSE History encourages learners to raise questions and to develop and deploy historical skills, knowledge and understanding in order to provide historical explanations. Studying History at IGCSE will develop pupils’ interest in and enthusiasm for learning about and understanding the past. Pupils will be given the opportunity to explore historical concepts such as cause and consequence, change and continuity, and similarity and difference.
Information and Communication TechnologyThe IGCSE ICT syllabus encourages students to develop lifelong skills including:
  • The ability to understand and implement new and emerging technologies within a business environment
  • How to analyse, design, implement, test and evaluate ICT systems
  • Consider the impact which new technologies have on ways of working and the social, economic and ethical issues associated with them
  • Awareness of the ways ICT can help in practical and work-related scenarios.
MusicEdexcel GCSE Music is a creative, innovative and practical course aimed at students who are interested in both Music and Music Technology. In today’s society universities and perspective employers are looking for students who have a creative edge and this course encourages students to be both analytical and imaginative. During this two year course students will perform, compose and broaden their cultural and musical knowledge. 
PsychologyEdexcel GCSE Psychology is a two year course that offers students the opportunity to develop an understanding of how the brain works and why people behave the way they do. Students will gain skills and understanding of the use of scientific research to explore the workings of the brain.
Physical EducationA great course studying both the practical and theoretical aspects of Physical Education.  It encourages enjoyment and excellence in sport through participation in a range of physical activities alongside an understanding of anatomy, physiology, training principles and global sport.  The theory element provides a good foundation for further study within sport science and medicine.
SpanishThe Cambridge IGCSE in Foreign Languages is a 2 year course which provides students with the opportunity to further develop their language skills as a practical means of communication and offers an insight into the culture and civilisation of countries where the language is spoken. It is suitable for students who have some prior knowledge of the language. 



  • Deira International School
  • Dubai Festival City, P.O. Box 79043, Dubai, UAE
  • +971 4 232 5552
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