Biology A Level

About the Course

Many recent and ground breaking medical advances would not have been possible without a fundamental understanding of Biology and its applications. Understanding how body organs and organ systems work together affects lifestyle choices and the way we live. Learning how cells communicate with each other, how cellular processes are controlled and co-ordinated, and what regulates cell growth helps you understand the impact of common disease pathogens along with identifying the ways drug therapies work to counteract them. A solid appreciation of the interaction between a population, community and ecosystem leads to an improved understanding of conservation and importance of organism diversity. At a molecular level, studying the function and properties of DNA means the ever advancing applications of DNA technologies such as genetic fingerprinting, PCR, cloning and gene therapy can be studied and their uses evaluated. Biology is truly fascinating and rewarding A Level which builds on practical, interpreting scientific data and evaluating skills so informed opinions can be generated to make sense of the ever increasing medical advances and biological processes in the world we live in.

Exam Board



High B grades in Biology or Core and Additional Science examinations and Level 5 in Maths GCSE.

Course Content

Year 1: biological molecules (structure of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, enzymes, DNA structure and replication, ATP, role of water and inorganic ions in cells). Cells (eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell structure, cell magnification, cell replication, diffusion and transport mechanisms, immune system, Viral infections such as HIV and ways of detecting it). Organisms exchange substances with their environment (surface area to volume ratio, gaseous exchange, digestion and absorption, transport of substances in plants and animals). Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms (Genetics, DNA and protein synthesis, cell division, adaptations and natural selection, taxonomy, biodiversity). A Level : Energy transfers in and between organisms (photosynthesis, respiration, energy in ecosystems, nutrient cycles). Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (survival and response, receptors, heart and nervous control, nerve impulses, skeletal muscle, homeostasis, control of blood sugar, control of water). Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems (Inheritance, populations, evolution, ecosystems). The control of gene expression (DNA mutations, gene expression, transcription and translation, genes and cancer, genome projects, recombinant DNA technology, genetic fingerprinting). Mock exam for year 1 (results from this are not carried over into the students' final A level qualification) Paper 1 and paper 2 exam: 1 hour 30 minutes each. Content from topics 1 to 4 (year 1 only) Each paper has 75 marks (65 marks short answer questions and 10 marks comprehension question) A Level qualification: Paper 1 exam: 2 hours. Content from topics 1– 4 (year 1 only) including relevant practical skills. 91 marks (76 marks are a mixture of short and longer answer and 15 marks are extended response), 35% of A level Paper 2 exam: 2 hours Content from topics 5–8 (A level only), including relevant practical skills 91 marks (76 marks are mixture of short and long answer and 15 marks are comprehension) 35% of A-level Paper 3: 2 hours Content from topics 1–8 (year 1 and A level), including relevant practical skills 78 marks (38 marks: structured questions, including practical techniques, 15 marks critical analysis of given experimental data, 25 marks: one essay from a choice of two titles) 30% of A level In addition to the examinations, students will carry out a minimum of 12 compulsory practicals in lessons, that generate information, skills and data needed for the relevant examinations. These form an essential part of the understanding.

Beyond the Classroom

It is recommended that students undertake wider reading of the subject in Biology and other related journals and keep up to date with relevant advances in topics covered. Students may benefit from specific work experience but it is not a requirement of the course.

Your Future

Many jobs/careers in Science accept Biology as part of the entry requirements and some request it as an essential. Careers in Biology include the following areas: research; health care (veterinarian, nurses, doctors, Biomedical scientists, midwifery); environmental management and conservation; Biotechnology; Forensic Science; Politics - scientific advisors; journalism - scientific writing/reporting; apprenticeships in Horticulture and animal care; Zoology.

Contact Department

Staff Contact: Mrs L Lo
A paper copy of the information on our website is available on request to the School.