Biology is a fascinating and popular choice of subject. Teaching is based around practical and tutorial sessions. Problem solving and communication skills are developed through class and independent study. Students are expected to analyse factual information and communicate their ideas in writing. The subject is taught on a topic basis and each topic is supported with a booklet of resources including a study guide that outlines the content and practical work.
This is a 2 year A Level course, which consists of 8 topics.
1) Biological molecules.
All life on earth shares a common Chemistry. Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids and water interact to ensure the correct functioning of all living organisms.
All life on Earth exists as cells. These have basic features in common. Differences between cells are due to the addition of extra features. Cells must be able to divide and communicate with each other.
3) Organisms exchange substances with their environment.
The internal environment of a cell or organisms if different from its external environment. Substances must be exchanged across specialised surfaces to cope with any changes.
4) Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms.
Genetic diversity within and between species is caused by variation within the DNA. Mutations in the DNA lead to variations in organisms structure and function.
5) Energy transfers between organisms.
Life depends on continuous transfers of energy. Respiration and photosynthesis are the two most important reactions which allow this transfer.
6) Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environment.
There are changes in the internal and external environment in all organisms. Once a change or stimulus occurs, organisms must initiate and control their response.
7) Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems.
The theory of evolution underpins modern Biology. All new species arise from existing species living in changing environmental conditions.
8) The control of gene expression.
Cells are able to control their metabolic activities by regulating the transcription and translation of their genome. This allows them to become more specialised, forming tissues and organs.
There are 12 set practical activities and the written papers will assess knowledge and understanding of these.
100% Examination (no coursework) – There will be three two hour papers at the end of the course. Paper 1 (35%) will examine topics 1-4 and Paper 2 (35%) will examine topics 5-8. Paper 3 is based on the whole specification and will include critical analysis of some experimental data and one essay from a choice of two titles. All written exams will require knowledge of relevant practical skills. In addition to this, a certificate of practical competence is awarded, dependent upon performance within specified practical work.
Examining Board – AQA
Special Entry Requirements
Grade 6 in Maths and grade 6 in Biology or grade 5-6 in Combined Science is required. In addition, standard A level entry requirements apply.
Career and Progression Opportunities
Biology is a foundation for progression into dentistry, medicine, veterinary science, pharmacy and the full range of subjects embraced by the term Biology. It is also a sound basis for progression into nursing, physiotherapy and other caring professions.
There are regular practical lessons, where you will develop new skills, as well as supporting the biological knowledge you will be learning. The other sessions will use a variety of learning strategies to cover the subject material. All the topics are supported with study booklets and past paper questions to ensure that you are well prepared for your exams.
This information is correct for September 2019 entry.