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Biology at Bay House School and Sixth Form

Course description

How is DNA used as a template for making proteins? Exactly how does the cell membrane control what goes in and out of the cell? Did GCSE Biology leave you wanting to know more?

If so, you will enjoy the demands and detail of this fascinating A Level. The course will cover many  areas of biology: how cells work, genetics, plant biology, ecology, and aspects of human anatomy and physiology. The syllabus also looks at cutting-edge research into epigenetics and the use of stem cells.

Students will develop practical and mathematical skills throughout the course which will help to consolidate the theoretical work, and also ensure that valuable analytical, statistical and problem-solving skills are further developed to make them attractive candidates for any university degree course.

 

Course content

AS Level

The topics are the same both for the stand-alone AS qualification and the first year of the full A Level course.

  • Biological molecules

This topic develops an understanding of the structures and roles of key biomolecules essential for life including carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, enzymes, water, DNA, RNA, ATP and inorganic ions.

  • Cells

Cells are the structural and functional units of living organisms and so any biologist needs to study them in depth. This topic looks at the structures of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, viruses, microscopy, cell division, transport across membranes, cell recognition and the immune system.

  • Organisms exchange substances with their environment

To survive organisms need to take in substances, including oxygen and food, from the environment and pass substances eg carbon dioxide out. This topic focuses on gas exchange, digestion and absorption, the circulatory system and mass flow in plants.

  • Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

How does variation occur between organisms? In this topic students will learn about DNA, genes and chromosomes, DNA and protein synthesis, how diversity arises through mutations and meiosis, adaptation and natural selection, classification and methods of investigating diversity.

  • Practical Work

At AS there are six compulsory practicals. These will be an integral part of the AS course and will be tested as part of the written papers at the end of the course.

A Level Biology

Students who continue on from AS to A Level will study a further four topics in their Upper Sixth year. In the A Level examination at the end of the A Level year they will be tested on all content from both the AS and the A Level year. Their final A Level grade will be based entirely on their performance in these examinations.

A Level

All of the AS work plus:

  • Energy transfers in and between organisms

In this topic students will look at how energy enters an ecosystem and what happens to it. They will study the biochemistry of photosynthesis and respiration, energy in ecosystems and nutrient cycles including the nitrogen cycle and phosphorus cycle.

  • Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environment

Organisms need to respond to changes in the environment to survive. This topic explores how animals and plants respond. It includes detailed study of the nervous system, homeostasis and the different types of responses eg tropisms in plants.

  • Genetics, populations evolution and ecosystems

How do we inherit our characteristics from our parents? We will work out possible outcomes from genetic crosses. How do new species arise? We will explore the idea of evolution leading to speciation. And once we have different species how to they live together? We will study populations and communities within ecosystems.

  • The control of gene expression

In this topic students will look at what gene mutations are and how they are caused, how gene expression is controlled through regulation of transcription and translation, how a fault in the control of gene expression can lead to cancer and how we are using gene technology in society.

  • Practical work

There are six compulsory practicals that are part of the A Level course. An understanding of these practicals and the six from the AS course will be tested on the A Level examination papers.

Entry requirements

  • Double Science (Core and Additional) – BB

or

  • a B grade in GCSE Biology
  • English Language – C

and

  • Maths - B

Students who wish to take two or more from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Further Maths will need at least one A grade in a relevant science or Maths GCSE

Assessment

At the end of the AS course students will sit two papers each lasting 1 hour 30 minutes

At the end of the A Level year students will sit three papers each lasting 2 hours.

AS Level Paper 1

  • Any content from topics 1 to 4 including any relevant practical skills
  • 75 Marks (50% of the AS)
  • 65 marks from short answer questions
  • 10 marks from a comprehension question

AS Level Paper 2

  • Any content from topics 1 to 4 including any relevant practical skills
  • 75 Marks (50% of the AS)
  • 65 marks from short answer questions
  • 10 marks from extended response questions

A Level Paper 1

  • Any content from topics 1 to 4 including relevant practical skills
  • 91 marks (35% of the A Level)
  • 76 marks from a mixture of short and long answer questions
  • 15 marks from extended response questions

A Level Paper 2

  • Any content from topics 5 to 8 including any relevant practical skills
  • 91 marks (35% of the A Level)
  • 76 marks from short and long answer questions
  • 15 marks from comprehension questions

A Level Paper 3

  • Any content from topics 1 to 8 including any relevant practical skills
  • 78 marks (30% of the A Level)
  • 38 marks from structure questions including practical techniques
  • 15 marks from critical analysis of experimental data
  • 25 marks from an essay (choice of one from two titles)
     

Future opportunities

A Level Biology offers an excellent preparation for  many careers including medicine, nursing, marine biology, biochemistry and biomedical science.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Bay House School and Sixth Form directly.

Last updated date: 22 March 2016

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