This is an academically challenging course which is highly respected by universities. This course will give you the skills, knowledge and understanding to make decisions about the way Biology affects your everyday life by applying concepts to contemporary areas of Biology and highlighting its relevance to scientific developments. Pupils will be expected to: demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures; apply knowledge and understanding in a theoretical and practical context as well as interpreting both qualitative and quantitative data; analyse, interpret and evaluate scientific information, ideas and evidence, including making judgements, reaching conclusions and developing and refining practical design and procedures. Additionally, this is an experimental subject, so your education involves both learning concepts in a traditional setting as well as a great deal of practical work.
7 in GCSE Biology or 7-7 in Combined Science. If taking Combined Science we would expect your mark in the Biology component to be of at least 7 standard.
In Year 1: Biological molecules; Cells; Organisms exchange substances with the environment; Genetic information, Variation and relationships between organisms. In Year 2: Energy transfers in and between organisms; Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments; Genetics, Populations, Evolution and Ecosystems; Control of gene expression.
Pupils will complete required and additional ‘teacher’ practicals throughout the two-year course, designed to help develop investigative skills, experience using a variety of practical equipment and reinforce concepts encountered in the AQA specification. This practical work will include a three-day residential field trip to a field studies centre in Surrey where the pupils will complete the majority of their learning on the Ecology topics.
The course is assessed by three written examinations. All papers will consist of a mixture of short and long answer questions, extended response, comprehension question and essay for the final paper. Throughout the papers there will also be questions related to practical techniques and the final paper will include critical analysis of given experimental data. A separate assessment of ‘practical competency’ will assess the ability of pupils in practical skills at A-level over a series of 12 core practicals. The Practical Grade is reported as ‘Pass’ or ‘Not reported’ but does not affect the overall A-level grade.
The qualification builds on the knowledge, understanding and process skills that you achieved in GCSE Combined Science and Biology. In A-level Biology you will need to be able to communicate effectively, carry out research, work independently and critically think about problems. Lesson activities include pupil presentations, pupil discussion, completion of written questions, creating models of biological processes, role-play, competitions and more traditional teacher-led presentations. Increasingly, flipped learning is incorporated into the curriculum so pupils arrive at lessons already well versed in the basics of the topic they will be learning about in detail. In addition, there is an increased weighting of mathematical skills within the Biology course. Each pupil will have two teachers each year, each teacher delivering eight lessons a fortnight. Practical work fits seamlessly into long-term plans where appropriate, to consolidate knowledge from lessons.
Biology is suitable for you if you have an interest in, and enjoy Biology, want to find out about how biological processes operate and the impact they have on the world. In addition, A-level Biology is a highly respected qualification which will help you to progress onto further studies in Higher Education or support other qualifications, such as Medicine or Veterinary Science, or enter Biology-based employment. Specific areas of study which benefit from or require Biology include: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Biochemistry and any variation of a Biology degree.
Dr K R Damberg, Head of Sciences and Biology