A Level

Biology is a fascinating and complex subject, and we will provide you with the support and structure you will need to be successful. Studying the subject at A level will give you a brilliant insight into what will feel like a different world!

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Biology involves the study of living organisms, the way they work, their interactions with each other and the environment. You will study a huge range of material, from the biochemistry of molecules like DNA and proteins, to the physiology of organs like the heart and lungs, to interactions between whole populations, evolution and the formation of new species.

Course Content

Module 1: Development of practical skills in Biology
Skills of planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation
Module 2: Foundations in Biology
Includes: Cell structure; Biological molecules, nucleotides and nucleic acids; enzymes; biological membranes; cell division, cell diversity and cellular organisation
Module 3: Exchange and transport
Includes: Exchange surfaces; transport in animals and transport in plants
Module 4: Biodiversity, evolution and disease
Includes: Communicable diseases, disease prevention and the immune system; biodiversity; classification and evolution.
Module 5: Communications, homeostasis and energy
Includes: Communication and homeostasis; excretion as an example of homeostatic control; neuronal communication; hormonal communication; plant and animal responses; photosynthesis and respiration
Module 6: Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
Includes: Cellular control; patterns of inheritance; manipulating genomes; cloning and biotechnology; ecosystems and populations and sustainability.

(Exam board – OCR)
(Specification code: H420)

How it is Taught

Teaching methods will be varied and will include teacher-led, small group work, student presentations, problem solving exercises, discussion, video and ICT inputs. In order to achieve success at advanced level, you are encouraged to take greater responsibility for your own learning than at GCSE and regular completion of homework assignments will be expected, as well a significant volume of independent work outside of lessons. Practical work is included, regularly and where appropriate, to teach skills necessary for the Practical Endorsement aspect of the course.

Assessment Information

Paper 1: Biological processes

100 marks, 2hr 15min, 37% of overall mark
Section A – Multiple Choice (15 marks)
Section B – Structures questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills (85 marks)

Paper 2: Biological diversity

100 marks, 2hr 15mins, 37% of overall mark
Section A – Multiple choice
Section B – Structures questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills

Paper 3: Unified biology

70 marks, 1hr 30mins, 26% of overall mark
Structured questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills

Practical Skills

Practical skills will be assessed within all written exams. You will also build up a portfolio of evidence based on your practical experience. This will be reported separately as the Practical Endorsement.

Entry Requirements

You should have at least a grade 6 in GCSE Maths and an average GCSE score of 5.5. In addition you should have one of the following:

  • Grade 6 in both grades of Combined Science
  • Grade 6 in GCSE Biology

In this subject, particular skills and aptitudes will be required, many of which will be demonstrated by students’ GCSE profiles.

Students will also need to meet the general College entry requirements. Entry requirements are subjects to change. 

Careers & HE Information

The range of possibilities is vast: agriculture, horticulture, plant biology, medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, speech therapy, nursing, biomedical science, pharmacy, pharmacology, forensic science, veterinary science, biological science, marine biology, microbiology, food sciences, biochemistry, biotechnology, ecology, environmental studies and teaching.

Equally, the problem solving and investigative skills gained are useful to enter a non-scientific area such as the legal profession.

Useful Subject Combinations

A large number of students combine Biology with Chemistry and this is useful for any progression to medical courses. A number of our students combine Biology with Maths and/or Physics; this then enables a very wide choice of future options specialising in Science or Engineering.

Biology with Geology and/or Geography is also a good combination. However, an increasing number of students successfully combine Biology with other subject such as Business Studies, English, History, Psychology or a language, to give themselves a broader education.

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