“We have now been living with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, for the best part of a year. In that time, our knowledge has expanded dramatically, but there is still so much we don’t know – and even when we think we know things, the science can change fast.” (New Scientist). 

With the global pandemic high in the world’s mind, there has never been a better time to study the biological sciences.  As the above quote states, science can change fast especially when it comes to learning about living organisms.  A level biology is the first step on the journey you can make to becoming one of the scientists at the forefront of dealing with a crisis such as covid-19.  Without biologists we would not be able to develop the vaccine, so sorely needed to allow our lives to return to “normal”.  We would not have developed the drugs currently being used to treat those with the most serious of covid-19 symptoms.  Our scientists have even collaborated with Formula 1 engineers to design technology to aid the widespread use of ventilators for those in intensive care units.

The focus of A level biology is to give scientists a grounding in more advanced biological principles, in order that they can develop the problem solving and practical skills to be able to independently apply that knowledge.   Biology is at the core of many major scientific disciplines such as Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Biophysics. Even Exobiology – the question of life elsewhere in space – is a fast growing specialism. You will find biologists working all over the world in almost every setting imaginable: from research laboratories on Earth to the International Space Station, hospitals, offices, classrooms and factories to boats, planes, museums, jungles, caves, treetops, even at the heart of Government and in the City. Join us on this fascinating journey into the living world.

COURSE CONTENT AND AIMS

A level Biology allows students to develop a scientific curiosity and logical approach to answering problems. It does this by stimulating a natural interest in how the human body functions and how we fit into the world around us. Students will learn about everything from the Biochemistry of living things to the Ecological aspects of how all organisms fit together within the Earth community. Studying Biology A level enables the development of key skills such as how to be analytical, critical and logical while cultivating scientific interest and stimulating inquiring minds.

Consequently, Biology makes an interesting and useful addition to any subject combination for any potential career.

This is an extensive practical and theoretical course, ranging from the study of the basic building blocks of life to how living things interact in the environment. It embraces the study of biochemistry and cells, animal physiology including the nervous and immune systems, DNA and how changes to its structure have profound biological effects. The course also covers genetics, gene technology and control of gene expression, and biodiversity and ecology.

TRIPS AND VISITS

Biology in Action and/or Science Live: A level lecture days, to hear talks from prominent UK scientists – speakers this year included Lord Robert Winston and Professor Steve Jones.

A one-day field trip at the end of the year to study and put into practice ecology and field work sampling techniques.

PROGRESSION

This course is vital to many careers such as medicine, dentistry, science and veterinary science, but also opens up great opportunities in diverse fields. The search for plentiful, healthy foods, new medicines, and sustainable agriculture always requires the versatile, investigative and analytical skills of biologists, which are also valued in many non-scientific industry sectors. The course is suitable for progression to biological and some medical courses. Biology is required for courses such as medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine.  

ASSESSMENT

3 written papers, 2 hours each. Papers 1 and 2 are both worth 35% of the total mark and examine Topics 1-4 (first year topics) and Topics 5-8 (second year topics), respectively.

Paper 3 covers all 8 topics and is worth 30% of the final mark.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

For admission to A level Biology, our usual minimum requirements are:

  • Five GCSEs at grade 5 or above.
  • Students wishing to study Science or Maths at A level will need to achieve a grade 7.