Curriculum Leader

Mrs S Giannini

Awarding Body

AQA Course Specification

Entry Requirements

A grade 6 or above in GCSE Biology and a grade 5 or above in GCSE Mathematics OR two grade 6's or above in GCSE Combined Science and a grade 5 or above in GCSE Mathematics.

Why choose Biology?

A-Level Biology is a captivating exploration of living organisms and how they interact with their environment. Biology involves the study of a wide range of exciting topics; from molecular biology to the study of ecosystems, from microorganisms to mammals.

Biology is a very popular and valuable subject at A-Level; it involves the development of understanding and techniques that are highly sort after by Further Education and employers. An A-level in Biology is a requirement or desired qualification for those wishing to study medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and many other science degree courses.

The course is designed to encourage students to develop essential knowledge and understanding in Biology, an understanding of scientific methods and an awareness of advances in technology. It emphasises the way in which scientists work and the contributions of science to modern society and develops the enjoyment of and interest in Biology. If you have an interest in the living world and how it works, then our stimulating and successful A-Level Biology course is a distinguished option at McAuley Sixth Form.

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What will I learn in A-level Biology and how will it be assessed?

The information below shows the topics you will study in A-level Biology.

First year of A-level

1. Biological molecules
2. Cells
3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Second year of A-level

5. Energy transfers in and between organisms
6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
8. The control of gene expression

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Additional Content Information

YEAR 1

1. Biological molecules
Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, ATP and water.

2. Cells
Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic cells. Viruses. Cell division. Cell recognition and immunology.

3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
Surface area. Gas exchange. Digestion. Mass transport in animals and plants.

4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
DNA, genes and chromosomes. Genetic diversity. Species and taxonomy. Biodiversity.

YEAR 2

5. Energy transfers in and between organisms
Photosynthesis. Respiration. Energy and ecosystems. Nutrient cycles.

6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
Survival and response. Receptors. Control of heart rate. Nerve impulses. Synaptic transmission. Skeletal muscles. Homeostasis and negative feedback. Control of blood glucose. Control of water potential.

7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
Inheritance. Populations. Evolution may lead to speciation. Populations in ecosystems.

8. The control of gene expression
Mutation. Stem cells. Epigenetics. Gene expression and cancer. Using genome projects. Recombinant DNA technology. DNA probes. DNA fingerprinting.

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How will Biology be assessed?

Year 12 Biology is assessed by regular internal tests followed by an end of year exam.

This is a new specification subject. The school’s policy is that students enrolling onto new specification courses will not be entered for external AS examinations at the end of Year 12.

A level Biology assessment (3 x 2 hour exams)

Paper 1: A 2 hour written exam. Any content from sections 1-4 including relevant practical skills. (35% of A level)

Paper 2: A 2 hour written exam. Any content from sections 5-8 including relevant practical skills. (35% of A level)

Paper 3: A 2 hour written exam. Any content from sections 1-8 including relevant practical skills and a synoptic essay. (40% of A level)

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Additional information

  • There are 12 required Biology practicals (6 in Y12, 6 in Y13) that will be carried out during the course. The practical work will be assessed in the written papers. 15% of the total marks will examine these practical skills.
  • 10% of Biology exams will assess mathematical skills at higher tier GCSE level.

This is a ‘new specification’ subject. The overall result for each student completing this course to full A level standard will be based on the final Year 13 A level examinations only.

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How will I learn?

You will learn through opportunities to:

  • Discuss your work in pairs and groups
  • Carry out practical work
  • Work independently on written tasks
  • Carry out research and work on group or individual projects
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Anthropology, Biochemistry, Dentistry, Environmental Science, Forensics, Geology, Healthcare, Journalism, Law, Medicine, Oceanography, Pharmacology, Psychology, Sports Science, Toxicology, Veterinary medicine, Zoology.

Biology can provide access to many degree courses. It requires students to display the full range of key skills and is highly regarded by Universities for its academic rigour.

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People will always require healthy food, novel medicines, clean water, sensibly-produced crops, and fuel that is carbon neutral. Without a work force well trained in the biological sciences, none of this will happen. Biology A level is an essential part of the progression to Biology-based careers.

For a Biology-based career the study of Chemistry at A level is highly recommended.

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Further Course Information

Students will receive textbooks, revision guides, model answer packs and past papers, most materials are available electronically. Students would benefit from reading related publications such as New Scientist and Biological Sciences Review.

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