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Biology A-Level at The North Durham Academy

Course description

Why study Biology:

Biology involves the study of a wide range of exciting topics, ranging from molecular biology to the study of ecosystems and from microorganisms to mammoths. Biology is never far from the headlines either . The human genome has been sequenced and we know the complete arrangement of the three thousand million bases that make up human DNA. In Kenya 350 people die every day from AIDS and in South East Asia the skies are dark with smoke as the last Bornean rainforests are burned to grow oil palms. Biologists are concerned with all these issues. They work in the fields of cell biology, medicine, food production and ecology and the work they do is vital to us all.

Exam Board

At North Durham Academy we use the AQA specification. This consists of 6 units:


Course outline:

AS (Yr 12)

F211 Cells, Exchange and Transport (Written Exam)

This module looks at the inner structure of cells and their functions. It considers how cell organelles interact and transfer materials between the cell and its surroundings. You will look at different mechanisms of transport in the body.

F212 Molecules, Biodiversity, Food and Health (Written Exam)

In this module you will look at the chemical structure of Biological molecules such as Carbohydrates and Proteins. You will look at the dietary intake of key molecules and their nutritional and health implications. Later on you will evaluate Darwin’s work on Natural Selection.

F213 Practical Skills in Biology (Internal assessment)

You will carry out a series of set investigations which will test your analytical and evaluative skills. You will be able to demonstrate your skills in using and manipulating apparatus.

A2 (Yr 13)

F214 Communication, Homeostasis and Energy (Written Exam)

In this module you will look at the complex series of reactions involved in Respiration and Photosynthesis. You will look at control mechanisms in the body and relate them to negative feedback loops.

F215 Control, Genomes and Environment (Written Exam)

In this module you will look at cellular control and how the biotechnology industry can utilise and manipulate this. You will also consider case studies for sustainable development in different ecosystems, recognising conflicts of interest and proposing solutions.

F216 Practical Skills in Biology (Internal Assessment)

You will carry out a series of set investigations which will test your analytical and evaluative skills. You will be able to demonstrate your skills in using and manipulating apparatus.

The complete specification, together with past exam papers, can be seen on the OCR website


How to apply:

To apply for a place at NDA16+ students should complete the application form available on our website.

Applications should be submitted as soon as possible. All applicants will be invited to discuss the course/courses applied for with a senior member of staff to ensure students are selecting the right course/courses. To help with the process we will also look at recent student reports and the attainment information provided by subject staff. Any offer of a place at North Durham Academy may well be dependant on students achieving specified GCSE grades.


Entry requirements


General Entry Criteria

The general criteria for entry to Year 12 of North Durham Academy’s 16+ courses are as follows:

  1. Most A Level and BTEC Level 3 courses: 5 separate GCSE subject passes at grades A* to C, including Maths and English.
  2. Meet the additional subject-specific requirements which are needed for some courses.
  3. For Maths, Science and Psychology courses, students will be required to complete a ‘Maths for Sixth Form’ course.
  4. Level 1/2 VRQ Courses: 4 GCSE grades at D or above preferably including Maths or English.
  5. Attend the Induction course in July and complete the Summer Bridging study packs relevant to the courses you want to study prior to enrolment.
  6. Agree to the conditions of the Sixth form Learning Agreement.

Any personal issues regarding entry criteria and extenuating circumstances can be raised and discussed at interview.


Entry Criteria:

Most students aiming to start A Level Biology will achieve grade B in Biology Triple Science GCSE or Grade BB in Core and Additional Science GCSE.


How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The North Durham Academy directly.

Last updated date: 16 March 2015

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1-2 years