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Biology A Level at South Downs College

Course description

  • Practical skills and data handling
  • Carry out experimental and investigative activities, including appropriate risk management, in a range of contexts.
  • Analyse and interpret data to provide evidence, recognising correlations and casual relationships.
  • Evaluate methodology, evidence and data and resolve conflicting evidence.

You will be taught in well equipped and serviced laboratories where a variety of learning opportunities and teaching styles will be provided through lectures, problem solving, data handling, experimental and observational tasks.

The course also contains statistical analysis.

Course content

Year 1
Cells, exchange and transport

  • The cell is the basic unit of all living things. To understand how a whole organism functions, it is essential to understand the importance of cooperation between cells, tissues, organs and organ systems.
  • An understanding of how to use a light microscope is developed along with an understanding of why electron microscopes are so important in biology. Careful observation using microscopes reveals details of cell structure and ultrastructure.
  • As animals become larger and more active, the respiratory and transport systems become essential to supply nutrients to and remove waste from individual cells.

Molecules, biodiversity, food and health

  • Proteins, carbohydrates and lipids are three of the key groups of macromolecules essential for life, and the knowledge of how enzymes work allows an understanding of the action of metabolic poisons and some drugs.
  • Humans are surrounded by parasites and pathogens and have evolved defences against them; medical intervention can be used to support these natural defences. Y
  • ou will also study Biodiversity which is an important indicator in the study of habitats and classification and is used to impose a hierarchy on the complex and dynamic variety of life on Earth.

Year 2

Communication, homeostasis and energy

  • Organisms use hormonal and nevous systems to monitor and respond to any deviation from the body’s steady state.
  • Treatment of diabetes is used as an example of the use of medical technology in overcoming defects in hormonal control systems. The kidneys, liver and lungs are all involved in the removal of toxic products of metabolism from the blood.
  • Photosynthesis is the process whereby light energy from the Sun is transformed into chemical energy; this forms the basis of most food chains. This links to respiration which is the process whereby energy stored in complex organic molecules is transferred to ATP.

Control, genomes and environment

  • The way that DNA codes for proteins is central to our understanding of how cells and organisms function.
  • Over a prolonged period of time, organisms have changed and become extinct. The theory of evolution explains these changes. The ability to manipulate genes has many potential benefits, but the implications of genetic techniques are subject to much public debate.
  • Humans use artifical selection to produce changes in plants and animals and biotechnology uses microorganisms and enzymes to make useful products.

Entry requirements

5 GCSEs including English Language at C or above, Mathematics at C or above and B in Biology and Chemistry OR B in Additional Science.


The A level will be assessed through externally marked examinations in the summer term of the second year.

Future opportunities

A good A level pass in a science based subject will assist you to progress to a wide range of higher education courses and careers. This could include careers in fields such as health, sport and the enviornment.

Further information

You will need basic stationery and a scientific calculator.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact South Downs College directly.

Last updated date: 11 May 2016

Key information