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Biology A Level at Sherburn High School

Course description

Biology is an innovative and inspiring subject working from context to content. Whilst challenging, it is thought provoking and it tells us about the world around us and how we fit in to it. Have you ever wondered how we replaced the 40,000 skin cells we lose every minute? How we discovered the function of each brain region? How can DNA be used in forensic science? These are just a few examples of the kind of questions that as biologists we attempt to answer.

Course content

First Year Units – AS Qualification There are 4 topics in the AS course.
Topic 1- Lifestyle, Health and Risk. This topic focusses on how lifestyle and health is linked with cardiovascular diseases and the risks associated.
Topic 2 – Genes and Health. Develops understanding of the role of genes in the context of cystic fibrosis.
Topic 3 - The Voice of the Genome. This topic concentrates on the cell cycle and how development is controlled.
Topic 4 – Biodiversity and Natural Resources. The focus of this topic is how organisms become well adapted and reasons why organisms are the brink of extinction.

Second Year Units – A Level Qualification There are 4 topics in the A Level course.
Topic 5 – On the Wild Side. This topic investigates the effect of climate change on the environment.
Topic 6 – Immunity, Infection and Forensics. This topic concentrates on analytical techniques used in forensics and the immune response in the body.
Topic 7 – Run for your Life. This topic is centred around the biochemical requirements for respiration.
Topic 8 – Grey Matter. Brain imaging and regions of the brain are explored in this topic alongside the structure and function of the nervous system.

Study methods
The course is supported with a textbook and a website which has animations, tutorials, interactive test and end of topic tests, plus links to useful websites. There is practical work incorporated throughout the course.

Entry requirements

We would recommend that you achieve a grade A or above in GCSE Additional Science or a grade B in Biology and one other Science. You also need at least a grade C in both Maths and English


Paper 1 and 2 are assessed by written examinations of 1hr 30 minutes each (80 marks) and each contributes 50% towards the final AS mark. Paper 1 assesses understanding from topic 1 and 2 and paper 2 assesses understanding from topic 3 and 4. The examinations will include questions that target mathematics and conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental methods.

Paper 1, 2 and 3 are assessed by written examinations of 2hrs (100 marks). They each contribute 33.3% towards the final mark. These papers consist of questions from all 8 topics covered over the 2 years. The examinations will also include questions that target mathematics and conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental methods. Additionally, an internally assessed practical endorsement is completed throughout the 2 year course. This assesses the competency of practical skills.

Future opportunities

Biology is an A level which works well both as a science and a complementary subject to many other disciplines. It can lead to employment or higher education opportunities in biological sciences, biochemistry, pharmacology, genetics, agriculture, dentistry, medicine, research, ecology and the environment, food industries and many more.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 10 March 2017
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