Dr D Rose – Chief Technician
Mrs A Peck
A Level Biology
The A Level Biology course provides a coherent and thorough understanding of Biology and its relevance to areas like modern medicine and gene technology. The course is very popular, with around 170 students taking the subject in Year 12. Many Biology students from the school go on to study Biology or related courses at degree level. These include applied courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Science, Physiotherapy, and Nursing; as well as pure Biological Sciences.
GCE A Level Awarding Body: AQA
Preferred Previous Studies
Students should have gained a grade B in Biology (pre June 2017) or a 6 in the new GCSE Separate Science Biology (June 2017 onwards), or a grade A in Additional Science (pre June 2017) or a 7 in GCSE Combined Science (June 2017 onwards). Students must also have achieved a 5 in Maths, due to the significant numeracy demand, and a 5 in English, due to the extended writing aspects. On very rare occasions students who do not meet these criteria may be able to take the course after a recommendation from their GCSE Biology teacher.
Course Content Year 12
• Biological molecules – The structure and role of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins; DNA and RNA; ATP and water.
• Cell Structure – Detailed features of animal, plant and bacterial cells, and viruses; DNA replication and mitosis; how molecules get across membranes; the immune system and vaccination
• Exchange and Transport – Gas exchange in mammals, insects and fish; digestion in mammals; the circulatory system, (heart, blood vessels and haemoglobin); transport of water and sugars in plants.
• Genes and Variation – Genes and chromosomes, protein synthesis and the effect of mutations. Cell division by meiosis, genetic diversity and classification and biodiversity within communities.
• Practical Skills – Students do regular practical work to develop essential skills and understanding. These include 6 compulsory tasks set by the exam board, on the basis of which practical and analytical skills are assessed as part of the end of year written examinations.
Course Content Year 13
• Energy Transfers – Biochemistry of photosynthesis and respiration; energy flow through ecosystems and nutrient cycles.
• Response and Control – Response to stimuli in animals and plants including the nervous system and control of heart rate in mammals. Muscles and homeostasis in mammals, including the control of blood glucose and kidney function.
• Genetics and Populations – Genetic crosses and population genetics as well as evolution and speciation. Factors affecting distribution of organisms, succession and conservation.
• Control of Gene Expression – How gene expression is controlled; cancer and DNA technology.
• Practical Skills – as with the Year 12 course, students will do further practical activities to include 6 compulsory tasks which will be assessed as part of the end of year written examinations.
Assessment for A Level Biology
Three 2 hour written examinations at the end of Year 13.
Paper 1 assesses the four Year 12 topics and practical skills (35%)
Paper 2 assesses the further four Year 13 topics and practical skills (35%)
Paper 3 assesses all eight topics and practical skills (30%)
Practical endorsement in Biology – non-examination assessment, internally assessed.