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Biology A Level at Ralph Thoresby School

Course description

How does HIV cause the symptoms of AIDS? Can changes to our environment alter our genes? Why are some individuals diabetic? A-Level Biology is the study of organisms, how they function and why they change. The course requires students to explain these issues in complex detail and evaluate the role of a range of causal factors.  It requires excellent comprehension skills alongside a significant level of mathematical analysis.

Course content

A-Level Biology considers key issues in genetics, biological processes within organisms and their interaction with other organisms and their own environment.

Students will begin Y12 by looking at the building blocks of the study of Biology; cell theory and the fundamental compounds they contain. This encompasses the workings of the immune system, the structure of DNA and the role of proteins in structures as diverse as enzymes and components of the blood.

In genetics students will cover the development of genetic diversity within species and the role of mutations as a significant cause. The role of inheritance in processes such as evolution is considered, as well as the use of DNA technology in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

Knowledge of key biological reactions such as respiration and photosynthesis is significantly developed at A-Level, as is the understanding of the control of heart rate, muscular contraction and reflexes within organisms. Students will also study the role of organisms as part of a population and a wider ecosystem. 

Entry requirements

Students need 2 B grades or higher in GCSE Sciences.


GCSE Biology and GCSE Chemistry or Physics


GCSE Core Science and GCSE Additional Science

In addition students must have at least a B grade in GCSE Mathematics.


TThe course is linear and therefore assessed by 100% exam at the end of Y13:


Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

What’s assessed

Biological molecules Cells

Organisms exchange substances with their environment

Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Relevant practical skills

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

Relevant practical skills

Any content

Any relevant practical skills

How it’s assessed

Written exam – 2 hours

91 marks

35% of A-Level

Written exam – 2 hours

91 marks

35% of A-Level

Written exam – 2 hours

78 marks

30% of A-Level


76 marks; a mixture of short and long answer questions

15 marks; extended response questions

76 marks; a mixture of short and long answer questions

15 marks; comprehension question

38 marks; structured questions, including practical techniques

15 marks; critical analysis of given experimental data

25 marks; one essay from a choice of two titles


A separate endorsement of practical skills is taken alongside the A-Level. This will be assessed by teachers and is based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams. Students will build a portfolio of evidence covering the 12 required practical tasks, and be awarded a pass/fail grade as a separately reported result.

Financial information


Further information

For further information see Miss Head or send an email to 

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: 10 October 2016
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 Year A Level
  • Web url:

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