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Biology

Biology - A level

Biology at AS/ A level significantly develops many of the topics covered in GCSE. It allows students to explore biology in far more depth and gain a detailed understanding of why things happen in the biological world.

What will I learn?

The 'how science works' element of the biology course allows students to apply their knowledge to current scientific developments and to look at the evidence that led to some fundamental discoveries in the living world. Course content covers: 

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells
  3. How organisms exchange substances with their environment
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
  5. Energy transfers in between organisms (A level only)
  6. How organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (A level only)
  7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems (A level only)
  8. The control of gene expression (A level only)

What skills do I need?

The topics covered at AS and A level are at a much greater depth than those covered at GCSE and as a consequence, the approach to learning includes increased independent study, meaning students will be expected to:

  • read around the subject both prior to and after the lesson
  • researching given topics
  • be able to manage their time.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements are open to negotiation with individual students once final GCSE results are known, but as a general rule:

  • GCSE Grade B (or better) in both additional and core science - Grade A (or better) in GCSE additional science is advisable.
  • For students intending to take the full two-year A level course, Grade Bs (or better) in both GCSE courses are advisable.
  • Students will also need a Grade B/6 or above in mathematics at GCSE.

How is the course graded?

 

AS level A level
Paper 1 – 1 hour 30 minutes, 75 marks 50% of AS level Assessing any content from first four units assessed plus relevant practical skills. Paper 1 – 2 hours, 91 marks 35% of A level Assessing any content from topics 1-4, plus relevant practical skills
Paper 2 – 1 hour 30 minutes, 75 marks 50% of AS level Assessing any content from first four units assessed plus relevant practical skills. Paper 2 – 2 hours, 91 marks 35% of A level Assessing any content from topics 5-8, plus relevant practical skills
  Paper 3 – 2 hours, 78 marks 30% of A level Assessing any content from topics 1-8, plus relevant practical skills

A Level course information

Qualification & Board

AQA A Level Biology  

Course Content (for A level, how this follows on from GCSE)

Year 12 content includes:

Biological molecules, cells, organisms exchange substances with their environment, genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms.

Year 13 content includes:

Energy transfers in and between organisms, organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments, genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems, the control of gene expression.

Potential Career paths

• Doctor • Clinical molecular geneticist • Nature conservation officer • Pharmacologist • Research scientist • Vet • Secondary school teacher • Marine biologist • Dentist.

Assessments (inc. field work / assessed practicals)

3 exam papers:

Paper 1: Any content from topics 1–4, including relevant practical skills

2 hour written exam, 91 marks; 76 marks of short and long answer questions, 15 marks extended response. 35% of A level grade

Paper 2: Any content from topics 5–8, including relevant practical skills

2 hour written exam, 91 marks; 76 marks of short and long answer questions, 15 marks comprehension question. 35% of A level

Paper 3: Section A: Compulsory section: Practical skills and data analysis. Section B: Students enter for one of sections 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13.

2 hour written exam, 80 marks; 45 marks of short and long answer questions on practical experiments and data analysis. 35 marks of short and long answer questions on optional topic. 32% of A level.

Practical assessments have been divided into those that can be assessed in written exams and those that can only be directly assessed whilst students are carrying out experiments. A-level grades will be based only on marks from written exams.

A separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level. This will be assessed by teachers and will be based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams.

Core or Option

 Option

No Option Choices (GCSE only)

 

No. GCSE / A Level equivalent

 One