Why study Biology at A Level?

Biology is the study of life, covering everything that we are and how we function. From understanding the distant evolutionary past to our future survival, advances in biological fields from ecology to medicine and biotechnology will be vital for the human race in the coming decades.

Studying Biology A level will teach you the basics of the subject, inform you about the issues that affect all living things on the planet today and help you to understand more about the functioning of your own body. As well as opening the door to future study in the biological and related sciences, it will also help develop your analytical and investigative skills and provide you with the tools to critically evaluate Science and how it is represented in the press.

Essential for study of medical and biological subjects at university (for which many courses may also require a minimum of AS study in Chemistry), Biology also combines well with almost all other subjects. Several of this year’s leavers have successfully gained places to study medically or biologically related subjects at university.

Experiments, Practical Work, and Biology beyond the Classroom

Biology is a practical subject best illustrated through hands-on laboratory work. The new A level course embeds a wide range of experiments and investigations to develop of biological techniques and a variety of study skills. By the end of the course, students will be confident in planning their own practical work and in critically evaluating their own and others’ experimental designs and data.

Students will have the opportunity to carry out field work in the School grounds and the local countryside where they study the effects of various biotic and abiotic factors on species diversity.

Students have the chance to take part in the Intermediate Biology Olympiad in the Summer of Year 12 and the Senior Biology Olympiad in the Lent term of Year 13, as well as being stretched and stimulated in Biochemistry, MDV, and Ethics sessions.

Course and Assessment

The specification consists of 8 units: Biological Molecules; Cells; Exchange; Genetics & Diversity; Energy Transfer; Homeostasis and Response; Genetics, Populations and Evolution; Control of Gene Expression.

There is no coursework or controlled assessment. Instead practical skills are developed over the two years of the A level and the progress and mastery of these skills tracked and monitored through the completion of a practical folder.

There are twelve ‘core’ practical investigations that students will complete, as well as many others that will also be carried out throughout the course.

The A level is examined at the end of the course with students sitting three 2 hour papers. Paper 1 is on material from Units 1-4; Paper 2 is on material from Units 5-8; and Paper 3 is on all material from Units 1-8 including a focus on all relevant practical skills.

Studying Biology at Dean Close gives you the opportunity to gain an excellent understanding of a subject that underpins all human, animal and plant life and the chance to experience it at first hand, through practical work and field study, as well as to hear perspectives from experts in the field.

Matt Wilkes Head of Biology