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Biology International Baccalaureate *Fees payable* at Brentwood School

Course description

What is Biology?

Biology, put simply, is the study of life. The diversity of life on this planet never fails to surprise even the best-travelled observer. Under the microscope, the most innocuous-looking glass slide reveals a world of micro-organisms. The need for informed opinions about the natural world has never been greater.

Turn on the TV any night of the week and you will find a wealth of inspiring documentaries bringing the natural world to your sitting room. We study this amazing world day in, day out; with us, you will learn fascinating facts about it that we so often take for granted.

Biology offers students the academic satisfaction of problem-solving within a real life framework that they find both enjoyable and inspiring. At Brentwood, we have a hands-on approach to the teaching of Biology. Our facilities are excellent allowing all our students to participate fully in practical techniques. We emphasise investigative skills and fieldwork: we like to teach in context. On their residential field course, the Sixth Formers learn about ecology in the field, rather than in a classroom.

We also seek to ignite students' interest in the natural world and to inspire them to study the subject beyond the classroom, or to a higher level. Our Biology teachers have a broad range of specialist interests: from complex biochemistry, to the psychological basis of human behaviour. We encourage our students and support their interests, wherever they may lead them.

 

IB Biology (HL and SL)

Course Specific Objectives

Within Group 4, the aims of both Biology courses are to:

  •  Appreciate scientific study and creativity within a global context through stimulating and challenging opportunities
  • Acquire a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterise science and technology
  • Apply and use a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterise science and technology
  • Develop an ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise scientific information
  • Develop a critical awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities
  • Develop experimental and investigative scientific skills including the use of current technologies
  • Develop and apply 21st century communication skills in the study of science become critically aware, as global citizens, of the ethical implications of using science and technology
  • Develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations of science and technology
  • Develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge.

How the course is taught

 The Higher Level course is normally taught by two subject teachers, while the Standard Level courses are taught by one teacher. In all courses students will be studying the underlying principles of Biology which include a detailed look at Biochemistry and Metabolic pathways. Students will have a balance between Biology theory and practical, in which they will complete a minimum of 40 hours practical work (Standard Level) or 60 hours (Higher Level). Students are supervised through the process of completing their Internal Assessment.

Expectations/Homework

Subject teachers set tasks according to an agreed work programme which helps students to manage their time. All students are expected to engage fully in lessons, keep up to date and to read and research widely in order to support their independent learning. IB students are expected to be resourceful and committed to intellectual enquiry.

The Extended Essay

Higher Level pupils may wish to consider Biology as the focus for their Extended Essay, particularly if they intend to study Biology or a closely related discipline at university. It is important that the extended essay has a clear biological emphasis and is not more closely related to another subject. Students are free to select any topic but it should be noted that the assessment criteria require students to either collect their own data, which will require a large allocation of their time to laboratory work or find access to secondary data (in which they will have to have a clear understanding of which method was employed to collect the data). The essay must be completed within 4000 words and will take approximately 40 hours. Up to five hours of staff supervision are available to assist with the planning, research and execution of the Extended Essay.

Preparatory Work

Students are provided with introductory material to study before embarking on the course. This is handed in at the very first lesson for assessment

Course content

IB Biology (Higher Level)

Content

Core topics include:

  • Cell biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Evolution and biodiversity
  • Human physiology.

The Higher Level requires a further breadth of study and in addition to the core topics you are required to study the following:

  • Nucleic acids
  • Metabolism, cell respiration and photosynthesis
  • Plant biology
  • Genetics and evolution
  • Animal physiology. 

Optional Topics

In addition to the Core and Higher Level topics you must study the option topic Human Physiology. 

 

IB Biology (Standard Level)

Content

 Core topics include:

  • Cell biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Evolution and biodiversity
  • Human physiology. 

In addition to the Core and Higher Level topics you must study an option topic on Human Physiology. 

Entry requirements

IB Biology (Higher Level)

A minimum of an A grade in Biology Triple Science or an AA grade in Double Science Award, is required to study IB Biology at Higher Level 

IB Biology (Standard Level)

A minimum of a B grade in Biology Triple Science or a BB grade in the Double Award, with a B grade in the Biology paper of the Double Science Award, and a B grade in Mathematics is required to study IB Biology at Standard Level.

Assessment

IB Biology (Higher Level)

Internal Assessment

The Internal Assessment is worth 20% of your final Biology grade and is essentially an independent research question proposed and answered by you. You will design your own scientific method as well as collect your own data, present it in a suitable fashion and be able to comment on and evaluate your findings. Do not underestimate this part of the course; it will require at least 10 hours of your time in addition to on-going lessons.

External Assessment

 You will be assessed by three examinations at the end of the Upper Sixth in May.

  • Paper1, worth 20% of your overall grade, will consist of 40 multiple choice questions on core and Higher Level material, about 15 of which are common with Standard Level.
  • Paper 2 worth 36% of your overall grade, will consist of a data-based question, short-answer and extended response questions on the core and Higher Level content. You will be required to answer 2 of 3 extended response questions.
  •  Paper 3, worth 24% of your overall grade, will be split into 2 sections. In Section A, candidates will answer two to three short-answer questions based on experimental skills and techniques, analysis and evaluation, using unseen data linked to the core material. In section B. candidates will answer short-answer and extended-response questions from their chosen option. 

 

IB Biology (Standard Level)

Internal Assessment

The Internal Assessment is worth 20% of your final Biology grade and is essentially an independent research question proposed and answered by you. You will design your own scientific method as well as collect your own data, present it in a suitable fashion and be able to comment on and evaluate your findings. Do not underestimate this part of the course; it will require at least 10 hours of your time in addition to on-going lessons.

External Assessment

You will be assessed by three examinations at the end of the Upper Sixth in May.

  • Paper I, worth 20% of your overall grade, will consist of 30 multiple choice questions on core material.
  •  Paper 2, worth 40% of your overall grade, will consist of a data-based question, short-answer and extended response questions on the core content. You will be required to answer 1 of 2 extended response questions.
  • Paper 3, worth 20% of your overall grade, will be split into 2 sections. In Section A, candidates will answer two to three short-answer questions based on experimental skills and techniques, analysis and evaluation, using unseen data linked to the core material. In section B, candidates will answer short-answer and extended-response questions from their chosen option. 

 

Future opportunities

You will have the opportunity to go on a field trip to Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire. Not only is Dale Fort the sunniest place in Wales (averaging 1800 hours of sunshine a year) but it provides an opportunity to study marine flora and fauna on superb seashores that provide a stark contrast in diversity and distribution that is near unrivalled in the world. Our Sixth Form students have the opportunity to complete practical coursework (IB) and skills (both) and visit some unique ecological sites.

Other smaller field trips run throughout your two years in the Sixth Form. Below are just some of the trips we have taken in the past 5 years:

  • Trip to Colchester Zoo to study primate behaviour
  • Trip to UCL, London for A-level and IB Biologists
  • Trip to the Sanger institute, Cambridge to study research on genomics
  • Trip to the Science Festival, to study A Level specific topics. 

Further information

Studying Biology at IB opens you to a wide range of opportunities in Higher Education. The degree pathways listed below are just some of the choices of our recent IB Biology students

  • Biology
  • Dentistry
  • Human Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Natural Sciences
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports and Exercise Science
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Zoology.

Careers for Biology graduates

 As Biology provides many transferable skills there are a wide range of career opportunities open to graduates in Biology or similar degree disciplines including the more familiar Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Sciences as well as Bioengineering, Environmental Consultancy and Geoengineering. Over 85% of Biology (or similar degree discipline) graduates find employment or go into further post-graduate study'.  In a survey by the consumer company 'Which?' on graduate starting salaries, Biology related degrees provided five of the top eight including the top three (1. Medicine 2. Dentistry 3. Botany)2.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 20 December 2016

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