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Biology at St Peter's Catholic School and Specialist Science College

Course description

Biology is a fascinating and popular subject at A-Level which delves into exciting topics from molecular cell level to the study of ecosystems. The course is very rewarding and challenging and as a Specialist Science College, we will develop many skills essential for a successful career.

AS-Level teaching is based around three main topic:
- Biology and Disease
- The Variety of Living Organisms
- Investigative Skills Assingment

The lessons, 4 hours per week, are held in fully equipped, sixth form Biology laboratories with opportunity for heart and lung dissections early on in the course. Your practical and problem solving skills are developed throughout your lessons and independent study. Biology is taught on a topic basis and each topic is supported with a supervised study booklet, which supplements classwork and promotes independence. Work is set and examined at regular intervals.

Course content

At St Peter's Catholic School we follow the AQA AS-Level Biology Specification which includes the following content.

Unit 1 - Biology and Disease
Disease caused by infectious pathogens
The digestive system
Cells on a molecular level
Circulatory system and associated diseases
Repiratory system and associated diseases
Immune defence mechanisms

Unit 2 - The Variety of Living Organisms
Genetic and environmental factors of genetic diversity
DNA and sequence structure
Cell cycle
Multicellular system organisation
Adaptations and classification

Unit 3 - Investigative Skills Assignment

Investigating biological problems
Demonstrating competent manipulative skills and analysing raw data
Graph construction and interpretation
Drawing conclusions
Limitations identified and suggesting methods to overcome them

At St Peter's Catholic School we follow the AQA A2-Level Biology Specification which includes the following content.

BIOL4 topics are as follows -
Energy and Ecosystems
Nutrient Cycles
Ecological Succession
Inheritance and Succession

BIOL5 topics are as follows -
Response to Stimuli
Muscle Contraction
Feedback Mechanisms
Genetic Control of Protein Structure and Function
Control of Gene Expression
DNA Technology

BIOL6 practicals and papers will be based on 2 areas of BIOL4 and/or BIOL5

Entry requirements

AS-level Biology is a challenging and demanding subject. At the heart of the subject should be a genuine interest in Biology. success at the end of the year
is determined by commitment and perseverance which can only be achieved by keeping up to date with the work at all times.

Throughout the course great emphasis is placed on the development of the necessary study skills. Effective time management and organisational skills are essential ingredients for success. Students are encouraged to seek individual support from their teachers whenever needed.
If you are interested in studying AS Level Biology  at St Peter's School you will require:
At least a C grade in GCSE English and Mathematics.
A B grade or above GCSE Biology or an A in Additional GCSE.

The entry requirements are set in order to best prepare students for the challenge of AS Level Biology and ensure a good baseline knowledge.

For A2 study at least a grade B at GCSE Separate Award Biology and minimum grade D at AS Biology are required.


At St Peter's we issue a baseline assessment of GCSE knowledge to understand the needs of each individual student, regardless of their education background. We build on this prior knowledge and adopt techniques which continually assess understanding and progress throughout each lesson. Regular homework is set and linked to the exam board specification and your teachers will monitor your supervised study work booklets. Your friendly and approachable AS Biology teachers run support workshops after school where students can attend on an individual needs basis. At the end of each topic there is an exam and grades from the exam will ensure intervention strategies are implemented to ensure all students remain on target. Learning mentors are also available for help and guidance during supervised study periods.

Exam Board: AQA

AS Study:

Unit 1 -  Biology and disease
Examination paper (60 raw marks / 100 UMS)
5 – 7 short answer questions
2 longer questions (a short comprehension and a structured question requiring
continuous prose)
1 hour 15 minutes
33.3% of the total AS marks
Examination taken in January

Unit 2 - The variety of living organisms
Examination paper (85 raw marks / 140 UMS)
5 – 7 short answer questions
2 longer questions involving the handling of data and How Science Works
1 hour 45 minutes
46.7% of the total AS marks
Examination taken in June

Unit 3 – Internal Assessment Investigative and practical skills in AS Biology
Centre Marked Route T (50 raw marks/60 UMS)
Practical Skills Assessment (PSA – 6 raw marks)
Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA – 44 raw marks)
20% of total AS marks
Examined in June

Each unit may only be retaken once.

A2 Study:

78% externally assessed examinations, 22% internally assessed and externally moderated coursework.
1 hour 30 minutes written examination in January or June - BIOL4 - 33% of A2 mark
2 hour 15 minutes written examination in June - BIOL5 - 45% of A2 mark
2 ISA coursework pieces (assessed practical and exam paper) completed in December and February - highest mark entered - BIO6T - 22% of A2 mark

Future opportunities

We support all of our students in their quest to achieve places at their preferred universities, including Oxford and Cambridge applicants, for a wide variety of courses. Former students of AS Biology at St Peter's have succeeded in progression for disciplines such as:

Veterinary science
Biological Sciences
Marine Biology
Forensic Science

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Peter's Catholic School and Specialist Science College directly.

Last updated date: 09 January 2015
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