Biology A Level

Head of Department

Ms F Wright

Why choose the subject?
Biology is an exciting and rapidly developing science. Being such a broad subject, you are bound to find a specific area of interest, plus it opens the door to a fantastic range of interesting careers. Biologists have a vital role to play in exciting developments for the future, working to produce new and innovative technologies in a variety of fields from medicine to climate change. Following a career in biology means you could help to tackle some of the big problems facing our society and help to improve our quality of life for the future.

Who is eligible?
Students who have a double science qualification should preferably have a grade 7 (or above), although those with a grade 6 will be considered. Students who have sat triple science awards should have a minimum of a grade 6 in Biology and ideally Chemistry.

Qualification Type: A Level (2 year) or AS Level (1 year)

Specification: Year 2023/2025 Advanced Level Award Examination Board: AQA

For info about the AS Level click here

The A-Level course is divided into 8 topics.
The Year 1 topics are:
• Biological Molecules
• Cells
• Organisms exchange substances with their environment
• Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

In Year 2 the topics covered are:
• Energy transfers in and between organisms
• Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
• Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
• The control of gene expression

Wider Skills
Biology, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course you will carry out many 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 organisms behave and work. It will also ensure that if you choose to study a Biology-based subject at university, you will have the practical skills needed to carry out successful experiments in your degree. The Biology Department is well-resourced and is supported by skilled and highly qualified technicians, allowing us to offer exciting and challenging practical activities.

There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practicals will be assessed.

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. The exams include a range of different question styles from structured short answer questions to a synoptic essay bringing together different areas of the specification. At least 10% of the marks will require use of maths skills. These will be applied in the context of biology and will be at the standard of at least Higher Tier GCSE maths.

A-Level Biology is a very diverse course and encompasses all aspects of the Biological Sciences from Biochemistry to Behaviour. There is a clear progression of knowledge and skills from GCSE to A-Level.

Students who study A-Level Biology develop a wide range of important and transferable skills including practical, analytical, mathematical and presentation skills. They experience use of a wide variety of apparatus and techniques from chromatography to electrophoresis.

An important aspect of the course is the ability and willingness to work independently when required, and read around the subject to develop a depth and breadth of knowledge that goes beyond the specification. Taking A-Level Biology offers students a variety of opportunities from undertaking ecology field work to competing in national competitions such as the Biology Olympiad.

This course is commonly studied with:
As an A-Level subject, Biology complements several other A-Level courses, including Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology and Geography.

Future Careers:

In addition to being a very interesting course, studying A-Level Biology gives you all sorts of exciting career options, including; Doctor, Clinical molecular geneticist, Nature conservation officer, Pharmacologist, Research scientist, Vet, Marine biologist or Dentist.

Students can study biology for just one academic year and achieve an AS qualification worth 40% of the UCAS points.

Year 2023/2024 Advanced Subsidiary Award Examination Board: AQA

The AS Biology specification is split up into 4 topics. Some of these topics will be familiar to you from GCSE and A level will build on the detail that you have already learnt. Other topics will be new to you.

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

Assessment will be in the form of two written papers, each 1 hour 30 minutes in length made up of short and extended response questions, and a comprehension question. There are 6 practical tasks which are required to be carried out by students during the Year and these will be examined within the written papers.