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Biology A Level (See Option Blocks on our website) at Notre Dame High School

Course description

What kind of student is this course suitable for?

  • Are you interested in the study of living organisms?
  • Do you enjoy carrying out laboratory practicals & investigations or fieldwork?
  • Are you interested in the “new” developments of biology such as gene technology, forensic science or the impact of biology on society?
  • Do you need biology for a career in medicine (  including nursing, pharmacy, psychology, veterinary science, dentistry ), environmental science, food sciences, land management, biotechnology, and many other areas?

Course content

  1. Biological molecules

  2. Cells

  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment

  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

  5. Energy transfers in and between organisms

  6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

  7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

  8. The control of gene expression

Entry requirements

You must have studied GCSE Combined Science (grade 6,6) or Biology GCSE (grade 6), and be competent in Mathematics (grade 5 or above).


Personal qualities needed include:

  • An enquiring mind

  • Self-motivation and the ability to work independently and collaboratively

  • The capacity for hard work

  • Good time management skills

  • Good practical skills

  • A willingness to learn facts




There are 3 separate papers which cover different sections of the overall subject content.



Paper 1

What's assessed

  • Any content from topics 1–4, including relevant practical skills


  • Written exam: 2 hours
  • 91 marks
  • 35% of A-level


  • 76 marks: a mixture of short and long answer questions
  • 15 marks: extended response questions





Paper 2

What's assessed

  • Any content from topics 5–8, including relevant practical skills


  • Written exam: 2 hours
  • 91 marks
  • 35% of A-level


  • 76 marks: a mixture of short and long answer questions
  • 15 marks: comprehension question


Paper 3

What's assessed

  • Any content from topics 1–8, including relevant practical skills


  • Written exam: 2 hours
  • 78 marks
  • 30% of A-level


  • 38 marks: structured questions, including practical techniques
  • 15 marks: critical analysis of given experimental data
  • 25 marks: one essay from a choice of two titles

Further information

What sort of Key Skills will I develop?


  • Discussion
  • Practical write-ups
  • Using reference sources

Information Technology

  • Using word processing to produce written reports
  • Using spreadsheets to analyse data

Application of number

  • Collection and presentation of data
  • Carrying out calculations and processing data
  • Interpreting results

Problem Solving

  • Planning practical investigations


Working with Others

  • In practical activities

The A Level Biology course we follow has 12 required practicals that all students must undertake in order to fulfil the practical element. The skills and competencies undertaken in these practicals are assessed and students are required to keep evidence of these.

Attendance on our field course at the Cranedale Centre at the end of Y12 will be required for all students studying A level Biology since we undertake the relevant skills for required practical 12.

Biology is a very versatile subject and can cross the tradition sciences-arts divide. It can be combined with other sciences such as Chemistry and Physics, humanity subjects such as Geography, or social sciences such as Psychology. For further information, see the Examinations Board website at and the Institute of Biology Careers Information website at

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 07 November 2018
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