Biology

Qualification: A-Level

Awarding Body:
AQA
Length of Course:
2 years

Biology is offered as a one year AS course that can be extended to an Advanced GCE qualification by studying the second part of the course (A2).

 Completed in Year 12  Started in Year 12 and completed in Year 13
 AS Level  A-Level
  • Biological molecules

Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, enzymes, DNA, ATP, water, inorganic ion

  • Cells

Cell structure, eukaryotes and prokaryotes, microscopy, mitosis, cell transport, immunity

  • Organisms exchange substances with their environment

Surface area to volume ratio, gas exchange, Digestion & absorption, Mass transport in animals and plants

  • Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

DNA, genes, & chromosomes, Protein synthesis, mutation, meiosis, genetic diversity and adaptation, species & taxonomy, Investigating biodiversity in communities

  • Energy transfers in and between organisms

Photosynthesis, Respiration, energy and ecosystems, nutrient cycles

  • Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

Survival & response, receptors, control of heart rate, nerve impulses, synaptic transmission, muscle contraction, homeostasis, blood glucose control, osmoregulation

  • Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

Inheritance, populations, evolution & speciation, populations in ecosystems.

  • The control of gene expression

Control of gene expression & cancer, mutation, non-coding DNA, regulation of transcription & translation, genome projects, recombinant DNA technology, genetic diagnosis, genetic fingerprinting

Assessment Assessment

Paper 1

All content and relevant practical skills

1 hour 30 minutes long, 75 marks

(65 marks short answer questions, 10 marks comprehension question)

50% of AS.

Paper 1

Any content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

2 hours long, 91 marks

(76 marks a mixture of short and long answer questions, 15 marks extended response questions),

35% of A-level.

Paper 2

All content and relevant practical skills

1 hour 30 minutes long, 75 marks

(65 marks short answer questions, 10 marks extended response questions)

50% of AS.

Paper 2

Any content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

2 hours long, 91 marks

(76 marks a mixture of short and long answer questions, 15 marks comprehension question)

35% of A-level.

Paper 3

All practical skills and all content topics 1-8.

2 hours long, 78 marks

(40 marks on practical, 38 marks structured questions including practical techniques, 15marks critical analysis of given experimental data,

25 marks one essay from a choice of two titles)

30% of A-level.

Mathematical requirements

Overall at least 10% of the marks in assessments for Biology will require the use of mathematical skills to at least the standard of higher tier GCSE maths. These skills include: arithmetic and numerical computation, handling data, statistical tests, graphs and geometry and trigonometry.

Practical skills assessment

Assessment of practical skills is a compulsory requirement of the course of study for both AS and A-Level Biology. It will appear on all students’ certificates as a separately reported result, alongside their overall exam grade.

  • A minimum of six prescribed practical activities will be carried out for AS Biology and 15% of marks on exam papers will relate to practical
  • A minimum of twelve prescribed practical activities will be carried out for A-Level Biology and 15% of marks on exam papers will relate to the practical skills carried out throughout the

Comparison with GCSE

The course builds on knowledge, understanding and process skills inherent in GCSE. The qualification is suitable for students who have an interest in Biology and for those students who want to use Biology to support other qualifications or progress into further studies.

The aims of the Course

  • To develop knowledge and understanding of the concepts of Biology
  • To develop an awareness of advances in technology related to Biology
  • To recognize the value of Biology in society
  • To be able to make sense of news items relating to Biological issues
  • To understand how Scientists interact with each other, and with society at large, in making use of new discoveries

Relevance to Further Study

Biology as a science subject can be combined with a wide variety of subjects including Chemistry, Psychology, Physics and Mathematics. It is accepted as a qualification for Medicine, Veterinary medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing and other medical careers. It is also accepted as a

qualification for Biomedical sciences, Biology, Biochemistry, Applied Science, Agriculture, Horticulture, Botany, Forensic Science, Psychology, Ecology, Environmental  science, Microbiology, Paleontology, Genetics, Cell and Molecular Biology, Anatomy, Biophysics, Marine Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology, Zoology and many others.

Entry Requirements

Grade 6 in GCSE Biology and one other GCSE science and Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics or Grade 6 in both Core and Additional Science and Grade 6 at GCSE Mathematics