What does the course aim to do?
To develop scientific skills and mental processes, for example analysis and criticism, in a framework of biological knowledge and understanding. As well as stimulating your natural curiosity, the course should prepare you for employment or higher education.
What will I be studying?
A-Level Biology involves studying the characteristics of living things in considerable depth, starting at the biochemical level with molecules and progressing through cells, tissues, organs, systems and organisms up to communities and how they interact with each other and the non-living factors around them such as soil and climate. The course also covers some of the most exciting areas of the biological sciences such as the nervous system, evolution, and genetics. There are a selection of practical activities as part of the course which will both develop and assess your abilities, and make up a practical endorsement qualification alongside your grade.
The course is split into 8 topic areas:
- Topic 1 – Biological molecules
- Topic 2 – Cells
- Topic 3 – Organisms exchange substances with their environment
- Topic 4 – Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
- Topic 5 – Energy transfers in and between organisms
- Topic 6 – Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
- Topic 7 – Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
- Topic 8 – The control of gene expression
How will I be assessed? (AQA)
Paper 1 – Topics 1-4 – 2 hours
35% of the A-Level
A mixture of short and long answer questions about the first four topics, along with some extended response questions and relevant practical skills.
Paper 2 – Topics 5-8 – 2 hours
35% of the A-Level
A mixture of short and long answer questions about the final four topics, along with some comprehension questions and relevant practical skills.
Paper 3 –Topics 1-8 – 2 hours
30% of the A-Level
A mixture of structured questions including relevant practical skills, some critical analysis questions and finally a choice of two titles for the essay question.
Am I suited to this subject?
Attitude is extremely important. We regard A-Level Biologists as students – people who are here to study. You will be expected to be highly motivated and to show this by conforming to expectations and deadlines and by a constructive approach to the achievements of the group as a whole.
The abilities and skills which you will need are largely those which you have already developed during your GCSE course but they will be raised to a higher standard.
If you have the required GCSE grades and the determination to progress you have reason to be optimistic about your future achievement.
Where will it lead in the future?
All science A-Levels are highly marketable. Biology itself is an excellent preparation for degrees in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Nursing, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Biomedical Sciences, Agriculture, Physiology, Genetics, Food Science and other related courses. Many students have found it to be a very useful training for careers in the paramedical services, industry and teaching.
How will I study?
Laboratory lessons will largely be practical and/or explanatory, where underlying concepts will be dealt with. You will then follow these up mainly in your own time with the aid of comprehensive textbooks, as essays, notes, practical reports and past examination questions. These then provide feedback to the teacher so that difficulties can be spotted early and not allowed to accumulate. The course includes 12 required practical activities will include an element of field work, but we do plenty of experiments on top of this minimum.
What will I need to do myself?
You will carry out much of the above work in your private study and homework time. A steady commitment is needed to keeping up with the course and your willingness to devote the requisite time and effort to homework will be a clear sign of your motivation.
Why should I come to Canon Slade to study Biology?
We have an experienced team of teachers who have a track record adding value to students’ grades at A-Level. We recognise the importance of Biology as a subject in the future and want to prepare students to be at the forefront of these developments. We also support or students to reach their potential through our Biology Clinic and other support systems.
Additional information from Mr R Walker (until January 2017) or Mrs R Eves (January 2017 onwards)