Biology


A Level

Biology is a challenging and fascinating subject and it has many applications to everyday life from disease transmission to conserving biodiversity.

Course Overview

A Level Biology encourages you to develop essential knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject. One of the ways this is achieved is by gaining an understanding of how society makes decisions about scientific issues such as cloning animals and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society, for example, through drug discovery and the study of genetics. During the course you have many opportunities to develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem solving skills. The course will also develop your interest in further study and careers associated with the subject and you will demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods.

Doing well in A Level Biology involves clear understanding, firm knowledge of the detail and the confidence to tackle exam questions involving problem solving as well as recall. This course will help you to improve all three of these key aspects with the benefits of small class sizes allowing personalised feedback.

Unit Guide

You will study the following units on A Level Biology:

  • Unit 1 – Development of Practical Skills in Biology
  • Unit 2 – Foundation in Biology
  • Unit 3 – Exchange and Transport
  • Unit 4 – Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease
  • Unit 5 – Communication, Homeostasis and Energy
  • Unit 6 – Genetics, Evolution and Ecosystems

Assessment

On the A Level course you will study units one to four in the first year and then continue with units five and six in the second year with the internally assessed practical endorsement skills being completed across both years.

You will complete three written examinations at the end of the second year, the first two written examinations assess a combination of units from across the two year course (1,2,3,5 and 1,2,4,6) and the third written examination assesses content from all six units. The practical endorsement (a non-examination assessment) is assessed and reported separately from the overall A Level grade based on a minimum of twelve assessed experiments covering a range of technical skills and practical techniques.

Special Features

Practical work, including microscopy and experimental investigations, forms an important part of the course. During these practical sessions, you will develop the skills necessary to complete the practical endorsement and components of the written examinations. Fieldwork is also undertaken and is carried out during the summer term of the lower-sixth year and includes day trips to areas of biological interest.

Progression

Biology is strongly advised (though not absolutely required) for entry into medicine and veterinary science courses 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.

Last year, A Level Biology students progressed onto a wide range of degree programmes including –

University Degree
University of Cambridge Natural Sciences
Hull York Medical School Medicine
Nottingham University Chemical Engineering
University of Aberystwyth Marine & Freshwater Biology
University of Bristol Biochemistry
Essex University Genetics

Exam Board
OCR.