Accessibility links

Biology (GCE) at Shelley College

Course description

Why study Biology?

Biology is an exciting, relevant and challenging subject.

The study of life is inherently awe-inspiring and the scope of its applications is vast. Inventions and innovations in the biological sciences are moving our understanding forward rapidly, and the continued development and application of cutting-edge technologies makes Biology a massively dynamic field of study.

Through individual and group work, and using discussion, presentation and models, you will develop your understanding of a range of topics including biochemistry, immunology, cytology, genetics, evolution, ecology, behaviour, physiology and biotechnology.

The specification emphasises the continual development of your practical skills, in experimental planning and design, collection and analysis of data, and evaluation of procedures, which builds up to a practical assessment at AS and A2.

Entry requirements

The aim of our entry criteria policy is to ensure students are taking courses they are well suited to and are able to make progress in. We seek to provide courses well matched to the needs of our students, helping them to follow their chosen progression pathway.

Due to changes in the curriculum set-up for GCSE, AS and A Level which are currently taking place, we have reviewed our entry criteria from 2018/19 onwards and will continue to review this annually until all curriculum changes are effective.

We have also decided that for the 2018/19 entry students, those with a 4 at English or Maths GCSE will be offered the opportunity to resit that subject in order to achieve a Level 5.

Our main College entry requirements are as follows;

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five 4-9 grades at GCSE, including English and Maths (at least to Level 4) from five different subject areas.

Purely vocational pathway require a minimum of four 4-9 grades at GCSE, including English and Maths (at least to Level 4) from four different subject areas.

A BTEC qualification may be counted as equivalent to two GCSE passes if students choose to follow a vocational pathway (i.e, OCR Cambridge National in Sport).


There will be three pathways which students can follow based on an average grade produced from their seven best GCSE results. The calculation being used for this van be seen overleaf.


Average Grade

Programme of study


Average grade of 7 or higher

3 or 4 A Levels


Average grade of 5 to 6.9

3 A Levels or a mixed A Level and Vocational pathway


Average grade of less than 5

Mixed (A Level and Vocational) or Vocational pathway


The method for calculating your average grade and additional subject requirements are within our full entry criteria document which can be found on the Sixth Form section of our website:




The course is assessed by 3 exams of 2 hours each.

Paper 1 covers the AS topics of: Biological molecules, cells, organisms exchange substances with their environment, Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms, plus relevant practical skills.  It is worth 91 marks, from short/long answer and extended response questions. It carries 35% of the A level grade.

Paper 2 covers the A2 topics of  Energy transfers in and between organisms,  Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments, Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems, The control of gene expression, plus relevant practical skills.  It is worth 91 marks, from short/long answer and comprehension questions. It carries 35% of the A level grade.

Paper 3 covers all AS and A Level topics, plus relevant practical skills.  It is worth 78 marks, including structured questions, critical analysis of given experimental data and an essay question. It carries 30% of the A level grade.

Practical skills are taught formally throughout the course, with a Pass/Fail for the practical component.

Future opportunities

Career and future study options

An A Level in Biology can be the stepping stone to further studies in science including a university degree. It could lead to a fascinating career in one of the many scientific fields.


Animal technology




Drug development, sales and marketing

Sports Science and Physiology




Veterinary Science


How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 13 October 2017
Provider logo

Key information