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Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the relevance of (a) materials science and (b) engineering to the development of scientific and technological understanding in AS and A level students. [114651]

Engineering and materials science do have the potential to contribute to the technological understanding of advanced level students. Vocational A levels (AVCEs) are available in engineering and can include units in application of new technology, applied science and engineering processes. Materials science is taken into account when developing criteria for engineering and science based subjects for AS/A level students. For example, the Nuffield GCE A level chemistry specification includes a special studies optional unit on chemical engineering and materials science. The Vocational A levels in engineering and in science have optional units addressing various aspects of materials science. These and other awards help promote an understanding of science and its applications in various technological industries.