A Level Biology

Specification link

The course we follow is OCR Biology A.

Course description

Biology A-level is a challenging course. However, pupils find it exciting and interesting as it contains material that is fundamental to science (e.g. biochemistry and evolution). There is also a strong practical element to the course as concepts are discovered through experimentation and pupils also complete a series of experiments that evaluate practical and basic mathematical skills.

The course begins with the chemistry of the body, including the structure of lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, DNA and enzymes. This section is hard (though fascinating!) and if you are thinking about taking Biology A-level you should have a good grasp of Chemistry to be able to cope with this! After that we study cells, cell division, gas exchange and transport in both animals (heart and circulation) and in plants. A study of our diet and how it relates to health and disease follows and we finish the course by looking at evolution and biodiversity.

Requirements

Pupils must have attained at least:

  • A level 8 in GCSE Biology AND in Chemistry
  • A level 8 in GCSE Maths and confidence in the manipulation of figures. Solid IT skills are desirable.

While not a strict requirement, it is worth saying that, due to significant overlap of content and ideas, the A-level Biology is easier when studied in combination with Chemistry and Maths

Successful study will require pupils to demonstrate:

  • Initiative – the course requires laboratory, fieldwork and project research
  • Independent learning – pupils will be expected to complete major projects and sections of the course in their own study time
  • Precision – the ability to handle biological terminology and structure written work carefully and accurately Enthusiasm – the course requires pupils to consider how topics relate to themselves, their ecosystem and the planet.

Assessment structure

The A-level Biology course is now fully linear, meaning that exams will take place at the end of the A2 year. Competently completing practical activities leads to an endorsement on their final certificate, but this does not affect their final grade. Understanding of practical and investigative processes will however be assessed in the terminal exams. An overview of the assessment structure is shown below-

ComponentModules AssessedMarks AvailableQuestion Style
11,2,3 and 5100Multiple choice and short answer
21,2,4 and 6100Multiple choice and short answer
31 to 670Multiple choice and short answer
4Non-exam assessment that rewards the development of practical competency in Biology

Potential careers

Biology is essential preparation for those considering careers as doctors, dentists, vets, biochemists, botanists, ecologists, zoologists. Biology degrees can also lead into a huge range of other careers. The following link provides some information-Royal Society of Biology careers page

Contact for more information

Mrs A G Edmunds (AGE@wellingtoncollege.org.uk)