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What is Biology?

The subject entails a detailed study of the mechanics of plant and animal life, both in theoretical and practical terms. It studies the physical and chemical structure, function, development and evolution of living organisms. Topics covered include biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, genetics and ecology. There is also a strong practical element to the course, which aids understanding of the theoretical material and contributes to the final grade. The practical skills assessed are those of planning, carrying out experiments and drawing conclusions. Human Biology covers much of the same material, but with a closer focus on issues such as the causes and control of various diseases in homo sapiens, and the interaction of physiological systems across the lifespan of an individual.

How is it studied?

AQA A-Level Biology is taught within the two-year, five-term and one year A-Level programmes.

Biology is a vast subject area, but the AQA A-Level specification covers the following core topic areas:

  • Biological molecules
  • Cells
  • How organisms exchange substances with their environment
  • Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
  • Energy transfer within and between organisms
  • How organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
  • Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  • The control of gene expression

OCR and Edexcel A-Level Biology are both available as one year or two-term retake programmes. 

How is A-Level Biology assessed?

Exam board: AQA 

Unit Modules Weighting Format
Paper 1 Any content from topics 1– 4, including relevant practical skills 35% / 91 marks Written exam: 2 hours

 

76 marks: a mixture of short- and long-answer questions

 

15 marks: extended response questions

Paper 2 Topics 5–8, including relevant practical skills 35% / 91 marks Written exam: 2 hours

76 marks: a mixture of short- and long-answer questions

 

15 marks: comprehension question

Paper 3 Any content from topics 1–8, including relevant practical skills 30% / 78 marks Written exam: 2 hours

 

38 marks: structured questions, including practical techniques

 

15 marks: critical analysis of given experimental data

 

25 marks: one essay from a choice of two titles

 

What do I need to study it?

A minimum of grade C (5) in GCSE Biology or GCSE Science or IGCSE Double Science (or equivalent).

What should I study with Biology?

Biology combines well with other science subjects (Physics, Chemistry and Psychology); Mathematics and Geography.

Questions about the course

Can I take A-Level Biology in one year?

As an A-Level retake student, yes and if you have completed AS-Level equivalent studies outside of the UK and can clearly demonstrate high ability in biology and academic English, yes.

What careers is Biology relevant to?

Medicine, dentistry, veterinary medical science, pharmacy, physiotherapy. Engineering also includes biomedical and environmental applications.

Accreditations