Biology is the study of living things and life processes. In A level Biology you will look in detail at the functions of cells, organ systems, organisms, populations and ecosystems. Starting with the biological molecules that make up living things, you will explore the delicate balance needed for a healthy, functioning body and the interaction of diverse species in ecological settings.
Universities in the UK offer a wide range of biological degree courses. Many lead directly to employment, e.g. Veterinary Science, Pharmacology, Medicine, Dentistry, Food and Nutrition. Areas such as Biotechnology, Microbiology, Genetics and Environmental Science are becoming increasingly important in society. A biological degree may lead to jobs in research laboratories, medical diagnosis, ecological fieldwork, patient treatment, teaching, business and sales. Some degree courses in medical fields have tuition fees paid by the Department of Health. If your future career lies outside of science, studying A level Biology might help you to develop useful skills and ways of thinking.
Grades 6 and 6 in Combined Science or 6 in Biology and 6 in another science. Grade 6 in Maths.
You need to be passionate about science; inquisitive, analytical and inspired by the functions of living organisms. You must be willing to work hard and give time outside of lessons to deepen your understanding. You should have good practical skills and the ability to analyse data to spot trends and give explanations.
Links with Other Subjects
Good ability in Chemistry is highly desirable. Biology also complements subjects such as Psychology and Sports Studies. Maths skills to a high GCSE grade are essential. A Level Biology can be studied in combination with any other subject. If you are interested, you can do it.
Method of Assessment
Method of Assessment at AS level:
Paper 1: 1 hour 30 minute written paper 75 marks 50% of AS Level
Paper 2: 1 hour 30 minute written paper 75 marks 50% of AS Level.
Method of Assessment at A Level:
Paper 1: 2 hour written paper 91 marks 35% of A Level
Paper 2: 2 hour written paper 91 marks 35% of A Level
Paper 3: 2 hour written paper 78 marks 30% of A Level.
Main Syllabus Area:
Biological molecules - carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, enzymes, DNA replication, ATP.
Cells – structure of eukaryotic cells, prokaryotic cells and viruses, microscopy, transport across cell membranes, the immune system.
Exchange in living organisms – surface area to volume ratio, gas exchange, digestion and absorption, blood and circulation, transport in plants.
Genes and variation – DNA and genes, protein synthesis, genetic diversity and adaptation, species and taxonomy, species diversity.
Main Syllabus Area:
Energy transfers – photosynthesis, respiration, energy in ecosystems, nutrient cycles.
Coordination and control – detecting stimuli, nervous coordination, muscle contraction, homeostasis.
Genetics and populations – inheritance, population genetics, evolution, speciation, ecosystems.
Gene technology – regulation of gene expression, cancer, genetic modification, genetic fingerprinting, diagnosis of genetic diseases.