At a glance – the CCSS approach

The one year course encompasses the AS and A2 level syllabuses in a single academic year. This is achieved by careful planning such that AS and A2 units are dovetailed together in the most efficient way, linking common ground to give a clear overall picture. There is a more focussed approach to teaching and an intensive program of homework and in class assessment. Emphasis is given to the essential elements of each topic with attention aimed at vital knowledge and practical skills. Examination technique is a priority from the outset in order to prepare students for the demands of the examination period at the end of the year.

Exam Board: OCR

The AS Level units

The AS qualification consists of two taught units and a practical component, based upon assessed practical work set by the examination board. In the taught units, we concentrate on cellular processes and structures, biological molecules, membranes, enzymes, transport systems in both plants and animals, gaseous exchange, diet, disease and its control, smoking, the concept of species, classification and the diversity of organisms.

The A2 Level units

Students take a further two units, which build upon the work of the AS and a practical component, again based on assessed practical work set by the examination board.

The taught units include the study of many physiological processes, including respiration, photosynthesis, the nervous system, homeostasis, and responses in plants. Additionally work is done on inheritance, protein synthesis, biotechnology, genetic engineering, ecosystems and animal behaviour.

Fieldwork and practicals

Much of our fieldwork is carried out during the summer term of the lower-sixth year and includes day trips to areas of biological interest.

Practical work, including microscopy and experimental investigations, forms an important part of the course. During these practical sessions, students develop the skills necessary for them to complete the examined practical assessments.

Background needed

Students taking the one year course need to be dedicated and fully committed to an intensive period of study.

Biology at GCSE or a double certificate in Science, i.e. Science plus Additional Science, is ideal, as is a similar level of expertise developed through other programmes of study. However, if you are prepared to work very hard, you would be able to follow the course even with a limited background.

There is some biochemistry involved, and if you wish to study Biology at A Level it helps if you also take Chemistry, although additional help will of course be given if you encounter difficulties.

Along with the study skills that will be taught and the comprehensive textbooks that go with your course, you need to be prepared to read around the subject from periodicals such as ‘The Biological Sciences Review’ and the ‘New Scientist’.

Suitable combinations

Biology combines well with all other science and non-science subjects.

After A Level

Biology is advised (though not absolutely required) for entry into Medicine and Veterinary Science and is essential for degrees in the Biological Sciences. There is also a very wide range of degrees where Biology is one of a pair for joint honours and is a key component of courses in Marine and Environmental Biology.