What Is IGCSE Curriculum: A Complete 2023 Overview

by Ignite Training Institute

Every parent wants the best for their children. Whether it is the means to develop a strong academic foundation from the beginning or pursue career goals. It’s important to understand what your child is getting into, its benefits, & so much more. On that account, this guide has been created for all the parents & potential students willing to understand the IGCSE curriculum.

IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) is a globally recognized 2-year program. It offers a wide range of subject choices with content & knowledge-rich coursework to the students. In this article, we’ve covered all the critical aspects of IGCSE that you must know to get started.

However in case, you’re looking for the best tutors for the IGCSE curriculum in UAE, Ignite Training Institute is here to support you. Connect with our academic counselors right away.

What Is IGCSE Curriculum?

IGCSE (International General Certificate in Secondary Education) is a program developed by the University of Cambridge International Examinations. It is one of the most popular international qualifications for 14-16-year-old candidates. This two-year program offers broad & well-rounded academic support that helps students gain the right qualifications for the future.

The IGCSE course is also strategically divided into two levels as per the varying levels of difficulty. It is the core curriculum & extended curriculum. The core curriculum provides an overview of the subject matter whereas the extended curriculum offers specialized qualifications in that subject. The course lays an in-depth foundation for further educational programs like IBDP & others. 

The IGCSE course is primarily offered by the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) & Edexcel exam boards. It supports a student’s journey to achieve international qualifications & score good grades. It helps target better academic performance with a critical mindset, full training, incredible resources & problem-solving approach. 

Related: How Are A-Level Qualifications (Advanced Level) Different?

IGCSE VS GCSE: What Is The Difference

The GCSE (General Certificate in Secondary Education) is a UK-based qualification taken by the students at the end of Year 11. However, IGCSE is an internationally focused academic system equivalent to GCSE present in over 160 countries worldwide. They both are a 2-year program but some schools also start early at Year 9. 

The main difference between the IGCSE & GCSE is the geographical availability. The GCSE is only limited to the UK & is present in very small numbers in a few other countries. Whereas IGCSE is globally present outside of the UK. Secondly, GCSE is offered by AQA, CCEA, Edexcel, ORC & WJEC. On the other hand, CIE, Oxford AQA, & Edexcel offers IGCSE. 

Another difference is that GCSE coursework is mainly designed for British students. It also has a mandatory practical component & certain subjects which are optional for IGCSE students. With IGCSE, the curriculum’s coursework differs with respect to cultural & contextual boundaries. It offers a chance to target better academic performance.

In short, IGCSE, GCSE, and O-Levels are all same qualifications & are considered equivalent to Grade 10. However, GCSEs are only offered in the UK & IGCSE is in more than 150 countries worldwide. 

Benefits Of The IGCSE Curriculum

The IGCSE curriculum is typically known to be a content-rich program. As a result, the following are the key benefits of choosing this curriculum moving forward:

  1. IGCSE is a globally recognized curriculum considered equivalent to GCSE. 
  2. The curriculum offers a practical learning approach that helps students prepare for higher education programs like A-Levels. 
  3. The IGCSE program is an ideal choice for students looking forward to studying in the UK & abroad for higher studies. 
  4. IGCSE offers a skill development & problem-solving approach to students. 
  5. IGCSE provides a wide range of subject choices to select as per students’ career aspirations.
  6. Students are rewarded with separate IGCSE qualifications for every subject chosen to study.
  7. The IGCSE syllabus is also outlined as per the cultural aspects of the particular country. 
  8. IGCSE lays the foundation for further studies & holds international recognition amongst top colleges & companies. 

Subjects Offered In The IGCSE Curriculum

The IGCSE curriculum offers to learn via five subject groups. Students can choose subjects from any of the groups & take their academic goals forward. Since IGCSE is a very broad program, students are acknowledged with IGCSE qualifications for each subject they wish to study. However, students are required to pick up 3-6 subjects as their core & extended choices. 

1. Subject Group 1: Language – (First language, Second Language, Foreign Language, etc)

2. Subject Group 2: Humanities & Social sciences (English Literature, History, & Geography, etc)

3. Subject Group 3: Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, & Biology, etc)

4. Subject Group 4: Mathematics (Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, etc)

5. Subject Group 5: Creative, Technical, & Vocational (Accounting, Business Studies, Computer Studies, Music, etc)

Grading Pattern Of IGCSE

The IGCSE exams are conducted every year in the month of January, May, & October. Accordingly, the results are released in March, August, & January respectively. As the program focuses on practical learning & testing than theoretical educational methods. It is not limited to written assessments only. Listening & oral tests are also conducted as a part of the process for a comprehensive evaluation. 

The students are critically assessed on an eight-point grading scale. These grades range from A+ to G, where A+ is the highest grade honored to a child. However, students have a choice to select subjects either in the category of the core curriculum or extended curriculum. In comparison, the core curriculum offers a general run-through of the subject. The extended curriculum offers specialization in that very subject. 

Is IGCSE Globally Recognized?

The IGCSE program under the British curriculum is globally recognized & valued by the world’s leading colleges & universities. It is recognized & practiced by more than 10,000 schools in about 160 countries worldwide. The reason for this immense popularity is because of how well the curriculum’s coursework helps students prepare for higher studies. It helps candidates develop the right qualifications & skills to build a great career in the future. 

What Is Cambridge IGCSE?

Cambridge IGCSE is one of the most globally acknowledged curriculums for candidates aged 14-16 years. It offers a very broad & flexible outlook that encourages students to develop proficiency around content-rich resources & full-scale training. Additionally, it offers a choice of about 70 subjects inclusive of 30 language courses. 

Likewise, students taking the IGCSE curriculum are presented with an opportunity to assimilate multiple linguistic qualifications. Every subject chosen holds individual credibility & is rewarded with separate qualifications for each of them. Hence helping its learners to develop critical thinking, excellent foundation, & problem-solving skills for higher education. 

Cambridge IGCSE also presents a choice between the core curriculum & the extended curriculum. Most students choose the core curriculum as it not only offers a subject overview but rewards grades between C to G. However, the extended curriculum is more academically detailed & sound & grants grades between A* to E. 

Therefore, the Cambridge IGCSE aims at offering the following skillsets & advanced knowledge to match every student’s potential: 

  1. Rich subject content
  2. Practical aspects of knowledge with respect to real-world situations
  3. Flexibility & swiftness to adapt to a change
  4. Cultural & linguistic awareness
  5. Functioning & communication in English
  6. Intellectual inquisition 
  7. Influencing results


1. What is the syllabus of IGCSE?

The IGCSE curriculum offers a choice of 5 subject groups to the students who are part of it –

  • Languages
  • Humanities & Social Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Drama, Music, Art, Computer Science, Business

2. Is IB MYP or IGCSE better?

IB & IGCSE are both excellent education systems. As IGCSE is most often compared to the IB MYP framework. The IB is more about skills development whereas IGCSE is more exam-focused. IB curriculum offers a flexible approach & allows teachers to administer the student’s needs & the school’s culture. IGCSE, on the other hand, is more accountable as it is externally graded. It offers a direct path to higher education. 

3. Can Private Candidates Also Opt for IGCSE?

Yes, private candidates can also appear for IGCSE examinations. It is best recommended for students opting for the IGCSE curriculum for a well-rounded academic background. Candidates are only supposed to register with a school so that it acts as an exam board for them. Rest, students can seek external support from the best tutors in UAE to get familiar with the coursework. 


igcse curriculum

The IGCSE could be a good option for your child. It lays a very strong foundation for students keeping into consideration the extent of their academic abilities. It is designed to meet all the student’s requirements by segregating assessments based on difficulty level. Hence making it a good option for students to experience critical exam conditions that result in achieving good grades.  

Get in touch with our expert consultants for full-scale educational support for IGCSE.