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Biology A Level at Westcliff High School for Boys

Course description

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of biological facts, concepts and principles together with an appreciation of their significance.  Students will develop an understanding of the relationship between theory and practice and they will be expected to study environmental, economic, ethical and technical issues through guided, but independent, reading of text books, broadsheet newspapers and scientific journals such as New Scientist.  In this way students ought to develop an appreciation of living organisms and recognise the use and nature of biology in society.

Course content

The Advanced Subsidiary Curriculum: Unit 1: Biology and Disease (75 minute examination). 33.3%

This unit includes the digestive and gas exchange systems as examples of systems in which humans and other mammals exchange substances with their environment.   These substances are transported from one part of the body to another by the blood system.  An appreciation of the physiology of these systems requires candidates to understand basic principles including the role of enzymes as biological catalysts, and transport of substances across membranes. 

Unit 2: The Variety of Living Organisms (105 minute examination). 46.6%

This unit is about variation and this is influenced by genetic (DNA) and environmental factors.  Factors such as size and metabolic rate affect the requirements of organisms and this gives rise to adaptations such as specialised exchange surfaces and transport systems.  Classification is a means of organising the variety of life based on relationships between organisms and is built round the concept of a species. Variation that exists at the interspecific level contributes to the biodiversity of communities and ecosystems. 

Unit 3: Investigative and Practical Skills in AS Biology (Internal Assessment). 20% 

This unit will address the following aspects of the AS subject criteria. The ability to:

  • demonstrate and describe ethical, safe and skilful practical techniques, selecting appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods
  • make, record and communicate reliable and valid observations and measurements with appropriate precision and accuracy
  • analyse, interpret, explain and evaluate the methodology, results and impact of their own and others’ experimental and investigatory activities in a variety of ways. 
The A2 Curriculum: Unit 4: Populations and Environment (90 minute examination). 33.3%

This unit studies ecosystems through which energy is transferred and chemical elements are cycled.  The effect of humans and their activities on all environments are considered and these effects underpin the content of this unit leading to an understanding that sustainability of resources depends on effective management of the conflict between human needs and conservation.  It is expected that candidates will carry out fieldwork involving the collection of quantitative data from at least one habitat and will apply elementary statistical analysis to the results.

Unit 5: Control in Cells and Organisms (135 minute examination). 46.6% 

This unit includes homeostasis (control within the body), sensitivity in plants and the nervous system (the detection and response to external stimuli).  The bases of all these activities are due to the genome and consequently this unit involves the study of DNA, its role in the genetic code and its medical and technological applications.   This should lead to an appreciation of common ailments resulting from a breakdown of these control mechanisms and the use of DNA technology in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

Unit 6: Investigative and Practical Skills in A2 Biology (Internal Assessment) 20% 

This unit will address the following aspects of the A2 subject criteria. The ability to:

  • demonstrate and describe ethical, safe and skilful practical techniques, selecting appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods
  • make, record and communicate reliable and valid observations and measurements with appropriate precision and accuracy
  • analyse, interpret, explain and evaluate the methodology, results and impact of their own and others' experimental and investigatory activities in a variety of ways. 

 

Entry requirements

GCSE grade A in Biology or in the Biology component of Dual Award Science.

Assessment

There is one compulsory field trip in the A Level course.  The trip will be a residential course at Orielton Field Studies Centre, Pembroke, Wales.  This will consolidate the Ecology work of the AS specification and cover the essential aspects of A2.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Westcliff High School for Boys directly.

Last updated date: 09 June 2015

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