Biology A/AS Level

Biology is offered as a linear course at A Level. It is a subject in which significant advances occur frequently, particularly in the areas of Genetics and Biotechnology, and many of these cutting-edge developments are studied during the A Level Biology course. Moral and ethical issues are also considered, particularly through deliberation of how these affect the scientific community and society. These aspects combine to make the course a popular choice amongst students.

A Level Biology

The new A Level course provides students with an increased depth of both biological detail and investigative skills as a natural progression from GCSE.

The L6th year consists of four large topics: Biological Molecules, Cells, Exchange in Organisms and Genetic Variation. All topics will be assessed in preparation for the final papers at the end of U6th.

The U6th year consists of a further four large topics: Energy Transfers, Organisms Respond to Change, Genetics, Populations, Evolution and Ecosystems and Control of Gene Expression; this also includes studies of areas of Biology which are more sophisticated and technological. These four topics together with the four from the L6th year will be examined in the Summer of Year 13 and include some synoptic assessment of Biology as a whole.

Throughout the year students keep a practical log book as part of the new practical endorsement which involves investigations and practical work being carried out to develop and assess the students' skills and understanding of How Science Works. These skills will be assessed within the written examinations at the end of each year.

The Department is well equipped and possesses five laboratories one of which is aimed at sixth form teaching. We possess a wide range of high specification practical equipment to enable students to gain experience of practical techniques such as microbiology and biotechnology. We are fully wirelessly networked, and we have multi-media projectors and Smart Boards, as well as interactive microscopes and a set of laptops so that IT can be frequently used to aid teaching and learning.

All students are given individual access to a large library of electronic resources which are used as lesson support, revision aids, research material and extension work. These are interactive and can be highly tailored to meet the individual demands of our pupils.

A number of field trips supplement the A Level syllabus, including an electron microscopy visit to Plymouth University, ecology field work and evolution day at Paignton Zoo. There is also currently the opportunity to participate in a foreign trip during the summer holidays as well as competitions running throughout the year; Biology Olympiad, 6th Form Essay Prize, as well as specimen drawing and photography.

Examination Board: AQA

Specification available on the AQA website:

http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/biology/specifications/AQA-7401-7402-SP-2015.pdf

Assessment

L6th
  • Formal internal assessment comprising two written examinations (2 x 90 minutes)
  • Short answer, comprehension and extended responses.
U6th
  • Three written examinations (3 x 2 hours)
  • Short answer, long answer, comprehension, extended response, practical techniques, data analysis and essay.

Where it leads

A Level Biology is an important qualification for a wide range of degree courses including Veterinary Science, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Sports Science, Geography and, naturally, all Biological courses including Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Dietetics, Optometry and Orthoptics. For many of these degree courses A level Chemistry will be required alongside Biology

The Russell Group refer to Biology as a facilitating subject. If degree choice is undecided, the list of courses they recommend that will give the greatest flexibility or “facilitate” in the admissions processes are as follows: Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History, Languages, English

A-level Biology lesson     A-level Biology lesson
A-level Biology lessons

A-level Biology field trip     A-level Biology field trip

A-level Biology field trip
A-level Biology field trips