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Biology at The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe

Course description

Prospective A Level Biology students must possess a genuine and strong interest in the study of life in its many forms. The level of interest must be such that you will be motivated to spend at least five hours a week supporting the work covered in class with enough background reading and private study in order to be able to:

- Complete and reinforce class notes
- Write up class experiments and investigations
- Answer examination questions given as homework

Experience has shown that students without such an interest will find themselves unable to cope with the A Level examination specification, modules and practical work.

Course content

Module 1 – Development of practical skills in Biology
Skills of planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation

Module 2 – Foundations in Biology
Includes: Cell structure; biological molecules; nucleotides and nucleic acids; enzymes; biological membranes; cell division, cell diversity and cellular organisation

Module 3 – Exchange and transport
Includes: Exchange surfaces; transport in animals; transport in plants

Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease
Includes: communicable diseases; disease prevention and the immune system; biodiversity; classification and evolution

Module 5 – Communications, homeostasis and energy
Includes: communication and homeostasis; excretion as an example of homeostatic control; neuronal communication; hormonal communication; plant and animal responses; photosynthesis; respiration

Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
Includes: cellular control; patterns of inheritance; manipulating genomes; cloning and biotechnology; ecosystems; populations and sustainability

Entry requirements

Grade A in Biology or a high Grade B within 5 UMS marks of an A Grade Grade A/A in Science and Additional Science


Paper 1 Biological Processes - 2¼ hours
Section A – Multiple Choice
Section B – Structured questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills

Paper 2 Biological Diversity - 2¼ hours
Section A - Multiple Choice
Section B - Structured questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills

Paper 3 Unified Biology - 1½ hours
Structured questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills

Non Exam Assessment - Practical Endorsement for Biology
Teacher assessed component. Candidates complete a minimum of 12 practical activities to demonstrate practical competence

Future opportunities

Traditionally Biology is combined with Chemistry and either Physics or Mathematics for such careers as Medicine, Veterinary Science and Dentistry. For anyone considering any of these an A Level pass at an appropriate grade in Chemistry is essential. For those looking towards a Biology related degree some institutions require Chemistry to have been taken at A Level as well.

Veterinary Science and Medicine probably constitute the most competitive fields as regards university entrance so that only candidates with exceptionally good GCSE grades and outstanding personal qualities can view the prospects with justifiable optimism. The standard minimum offer for these subjects is AAA in the appropriate subjects – one of which is always Chemistry. Sixth formers should be confident of their ability to attain the necessary academic standards before becoming too emotionally or otherwise committed to one of these careers and they should act upon the advice of their teachers if they are to avoid the possibility of bitter disappointment at a later stage. Strong evidence of real motivation including some kind of first hand work shadowing is a must for prospective medics and vets. Dentistry is only slightly less competitive and seems in many ways to offer an attractive proposition as a career. The Medical Society at RGS (MedSoc) is set up to help suitable students along every step of the way towards securing a place at a medical, veterinary or dental school.

The area of Biological Sciences includes a vast array of university courses such as Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics, Plant Science and Zoology. Many students will find a degree course that matches their interests and aspirations.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe directly.

Last updated date: 09 June 2015
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