Biology

Why study A-level biology?
Biology A-level will give you the skills to make connections and associations with all living things around you. Biology literally means the study of life and if that’s not important, what is? Being such a broad topic, you’re bound to find a specific area of interest, plus it opens the door to a fantastic range of interesting careers.

What are the careers or further education that this course be suitable for?

Possible degree optionsPossible career options

According to bestcourse4me.com, the top seven degree courses taken by students who have an A-level in Biology are:

• Biology

• Psychology

• Sport and exercise science

• Medicine

• Anatomy

• Physiology and Pathology Pharmacology

• Toxicology and Pharmacy Chemistry.

Studying A-level Biology at university gives you all sorts of exciting career options, including:

• Doctor

• Clinical molecular geneticist

• Nature conservation officer

• Pharmacologist

• Research scientist

• Vet

• Secondary school teacher

• Marine biologist

• Dentist.

Key Information Summary:

Course TitleBiology
Examination BoardAQA
Linear Qualification?Yes
Course Webpagehttp://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/as-and-a-level/biology-7401-7402
Entry Requirements

Minimum of two Grades at 6 in GCSE combined science (dual award)

or

Grade 6 in GCSE biology and Grade 6 in either GCSE chemistry or physics

In addition a Grade 5 in GCSE mathematics and a Grade 5 in English language or English literature

Contact TeachersMr R Bottrill: rbottrill@wilmslowhigh.cheshire.sch.uk

Course Details:
The AQA specification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills you will have acquired studying GCSE additional science or biology. It follows a logical sequence of topics including cells and biological molecules through to physiology and ecology, providing a balanced and coherent study of biology, in which principles are developed, revisited and reinforced throughout the course. The subject content is relevant to real world experiences and interesting to learn.

AQA biology is a linear course with terminal examinations at the end of the A-level year. There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practicals will be assessed.

Subject Content:
The A-level course has 8 topics:

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

An important part of the course will be taught through a 3 day residential field course in Anglesey.


Practicals:

Biology, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course you will carry out practical activities including:

  • using microscopes to see cell division
  • dissection of animal or plant systems
  • aseptic technique to study microbial growth
  • investigating activity within cells
  • investigating animal behaviours
  • investigating distributions of species in the environment.

These practicals will give you the skills and confidence needed to investigate the way living things behave and work. It will also ensure that if you choose to study a biology-based subject at university, you’ll have the practical skills needed to carry out successful experiments in your degree.

 

Assessment details:

There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long. At least 15% of the marks for A-level biology are based on what you learned in your practicals.

A Level – 2 Year Course
A-level Paper 1
Any content from topics 1 – 4 including relevant practical skills
Written paper – 2 hours
91 marks / 35% of the A-levelA-level Paper 2
Any content from topics 5 – 8 including relevant practical skills
Written paper – 2 hours
91 marks / 35% of the A-levelA-level Paper 3
Any content from topics 1 – 8 including relevant practical skills
Written paper – 2 hours
78 marks / 30% of the A-level

A-level grades are based only on marks from the three written papers. Practical skills assessed in the classroom will be given a separate endorsement to the A-level grade.


Entry Requirements:

We recognise the need for Biology A-level in many university courses and the increasing importance placed upon it, especially with the move to a linear qualification. These university courses often required the highest grades as a means of entry onto these courses.

Science entry requirements

Science GCSE coursePreferred gradesMinimum grades
Combined Science (dual award)Two Grades at 7 or higherTwo Grades at 6
Separate scienceGrade 7 or higher in GCSE biology and Grade 7 or higher in either GCSE chemistry or physicsGrade 6 in GCSE biology                      and Grade 6 in either GCSE chemistry or physics

Other requirements

In addition to these science entry requirements the science team will require a minimum of a Grade 5 in GCSE mathematics and a minimum grade of a 5 in GCSE English language or English literature.

This does mean that the student who enters the course with either a Grade 6 or a 7 will need to show a dedication, enthusiasm and a work ethic that is essential in order to achieve the high grades that the majority of university courses expect. We will consider these characteristics when reviewing a student’s access to the A-level Biology course by reviewing school reports during Year 11.