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A Level Biology at Newquay Tretherras School

Course description

Biology will provide you with the skills to succeed in life and is an investment in your future college course or career. It is a mysterious discipline as, there are numerous species still to be discovered; we are aware of less than half the species on this planet. Life is more complicated than any machines we have built; many inventions have come from reverse-engineering what we see in biological systems. Biology is at the forefront of ecological issues and global challenges. The development of modern medicine has at its base an understanding of cell structure and microbiology. Our knowledge of the human genome is increasing our potential to find further treatments for inherited diseases. This course is ideal for any students who wish to continue their study of Biology from GCSE Double or Triple Science.

Course content

Year 1 Biology A:
Module 1 – Development of practical skills in Biology
Students will develop key skills of planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation through practical tasks and investigations into aspects of Biology. These practical skills are required in preparation for the written examinations. They will not only enhance their learning of the subject but also serve as a suitable preparation for studying Biology at a higher level.

Module 2 – Foundations in Biology
This module provides the opportunity to use microscopy to study cell structure of a variety of organisms. Biological molecules such as carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes as biological catalysts, water and nucleic acids are studied with respect to their structure and function. This module also considers the way in which the structure of membranes relates to the different methods by which molecules enter and leave cells and organelles. The division and specialisation of cells is studied together with stem cells. This module covers concepts required throughout the remaining modules.

Module 3 - Exchange and Transport
This module provides the opportunity to study the structure and function of gas exchange and transport systems in a range of animals and plants. The significance of surface area to volume ratio in determining the need for ventilation, gas exchange and transport systems in multicellular organisms is emphasised.

Module 4 – Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease
In this module students study the biodiversity of organisms and how they can be classified. It emphasises the practical techniques needed to study ecology and maintain biodiversity. Pathogenic organisms are considered and the ways in which plants and animals have evolved defences to deal with disease. The relationships between organisms are studied considering variation, evolution and phylogeny.

Year 2 Biology A
In addition to the above modules, A2 Biology students will also study the following modules:

Module 5 – Communication, homeostasis and energy systems
It is important the plants and animals are able to respond to stimuli. This is achieved by communication within the body, which may be chemical and/or electrical. Both systems are covered in detail in this module. Communication is also fundamental to homeostasis with control of temperature, blood sugar and water potential being studied as examples. The biochemical pathways of photosynthesis and respiration are also considered.

Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
This module covers the role of genes in regulating and controlling cell function and development. Heredity and the mechanisms of evolution and speciation are also covered.

Some of the practical techniques used to manipulate DNA are considered and its use in therapeutic medicinal use. The use of microorganisms in biotechnology is also covered. Students gain an appreciation of the role of microorganisms in recycling materials within the environment and maintaining balance within ecosystems. The need to conserve environmental resources in a sustainable fashion is considered as is the impact of human activities.

Entry requirements

Students need a good qualification from GCSE Double or Triple Science. We require that students have achieved a minimum of grade B in all Biology GCSE external exam modules. It would also be preferable for students to have a grade B at GCSE English and Mathematics.


Year 12 Students will sit 2 papers that cover modules 1, 2, 3 and 4.
AS Paper 1 – Breadth in Biology
AS Paper 2 – Depth in Biology

A Level Students will sit a total of 3 papers that cover all 6 modules.
A Level Paper 1 – Biological Processes
A Level Paper 2 – Biological Diversity
A Level paper 3 – Unified Biology

A Level Practical Endorsement – Candidates complete a minimum of 12 practical activities to demonstrate practical competence. This will be teacher assessed and performance reported separately to the A Level grade.

Future opportunities

Biology is a fascinating and challenging subject. Biology A-level is essential to pursue any health-related career such as medicine or pharmacy. It opens up a variety of other pathways including work with microscopy, biochemistry, animals and the environment. Biology also offers many transferable skills such as communication, problem solving and self-reliance; these are relevant to a variety of non-scientific jobs and college courses.

Further information

A-level Biology is a big increase in demand from GCSE science and so independent learning and management of time are key skills required to succeed at A-level biology. Students must put in a number of hours every week outside of the classroom in order to consolidate their learning. Homework is set regularly and students will be given individual targets and feedback which they must respond to. Students are expected to carry out wider reading around their subject. Students will need to develop practical and investigative skills and also utilise analytical skills throughout the course. High numeracy and literacy skills are also vital to ensure student success.

Outside of the Classroom
Additional support to aid learning is available to students after school on a Tuesday; a member of staff will be available to help with any difficulties encountered during lessons. Recent trips have included Gyllingvase Beach to study zonation on a rocky shore and Eden to investigate the polymerase chain reaction. Students will also have the opportunity to take part in TASC activities such as trips to the medical schools at Plymouth and Exeter.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Newquay Tretherras School directly.

Last updated date: 27 April 2015

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    • I believe that Newquay Tretherras has a unique family identity, offering something special to its students. Our aim at Post 16 is to continue to provide you with an excellent education, combined with a wide range of opportunities to develop the qualities and personal social skills you need to make a successful transition to the next stage in your lives. We have an extremely positive Sixth Form ethos, and all students enjoy being part of a community in which they come first.

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