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Biology A Level at West Somerset College

Course description

Biology is the study of living organisms, how they work and how they interact with each other.

Biology at A Level will enable you to acquire a systematic body of biological knowledge and an appreciation of its significance. This course will help you gain some understanding of the dynamic and exciting nature of biology today, studying different areas and how they relate to each other along with an awareness of the ethical, technological and economic aspects of the subject.

The Biology A Level course helps students develop a number of skills: how to collect data and evaluate it, how to investigate facts and use deduction, how to put over your point of view effectively and how to take responsibility for your own learning.

Course content

In two years you will study biological molecules, cells, organisms exchanging substances with their environment, genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms, energy transfers in and between organisms, organisms responding to changes in their internal and external environments, genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems and the control of gene expression.

A Level Biology is a very demanding course and students should ensure they are prepared to work consistently to the best of their ability in order to meet these demands. This will include significant independent work.

Entry requirements

A* – B in higher tier GCSE science and higher tier additional science courses or in GCSE Biology course.

Assessment

All assessment takes place at the end of this two year course (summer of Year 13). The A level Biology course is assessed by sitting externally examined written papers. All examinations assessed in the summer of Year 13 (3 exam papers in total). Practical work will be continually developed throughout the course and students will carry out 12 core investigations over the course of the A level, with the aim being able to develop and demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of ‘How Science Works’. These practical skills are assessed in written papers.

  • 10% of the overall assessment of A Level Biology will contain mathematical skills equivalent to Level 2 or above.
  • At least 15% of the overall assessment of A Level Biology will assess knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to practical work.

Future opportunities

There are many careers that can directly stem from studying biology A Level when combined with other science A Levels such as chemistry or physics. These include: bioengineering, genetics, biochemistry, forensic science, neuroscience, conservation, botany, nursing and physiotherapy, medical physics, medicine and veterinary science. Biology A Level can also lead to some interesting degree options or careers, such as biology with a language, forensic anthropologist, forensic archaeologist, medical ethics, environmental consultant, science writer or editor, psychiatrist, biological illustrator, microscope photography and imaging specialist, wildlife cameraman or lawyer, to name but a few.

Further information

  • You will be provided with laboratory coats and given the opportunity to purchase recommended books or revision guides.
  • We benefit from excellent technician support and the biology department is well resourced with modern apparatus, glassware and hardware.
  • We pride ourselves on a strong, open and honest working relationship between teachers and students. Our students are kept informed of their progress via short topic tests and verbal feedback. We give students ample opportunity to practise their examination technique but also encourage interactive ways of learning and assessment.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact West Somerset College directly.

Last updated date: 03 October 2017

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years

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