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Biology A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

Biology A Level goes into much more detail than you will have covered at GCSE.  You will study biological molecules, cells, nutrition, gas exchange and transport systems in the first year. The second year builds on work completed in the first year and includes the biochemistry of respiration and photosynthesis, nervous systems, homeostasis, genetics, variation, populations, evolution and ecosystems.

Biology, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course you will carry out many practical activities including laboratory based investigations and ecological field studies. You will be awarded a Practical Endorsement along with your A Level Biology. Biology will give you the skills to make connections and associations with all living things around you. You will become confident in a variety of mathematical and problem solving skills and you will develop an understanding of how society makes decisions about biological issues.

Being such a broad subject, you are bound to find a specific area of interest, plus it opens the door to a fantastic range of interesting careers including Veterinary Science, Genetics, Forensic Science and many in Healthcare. 

Course content

AS Biology is one year long, with exams at the end. A Level Biology lasts two years, with exams at the end of the second year.

In AS and first year of  A Level the topics studied include:

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

In the second year of A Level the topics studied include:

  1. Energy transfers in and between organisms
  2. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
  3. Genetics, populations, evolution
  4. The control of gene expression


Biology, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course you will carry out practical activities including:

• using microscopes to see cell division

• dissection of animal or plant systems

• aseptic technique to study microbial growth

• investigating activity within cells

• investigating animal behaviours

• investigating distributions of species in the environment.

These practicals you will give you the skills and confidence needed to investigate the way living things behave and work. They will also ensure that if you choose to study a Biology-based subject at university, you will have the practical skills needed to carry out successful experiments in your degree.

Entry requirements

Minimum of 5 GCSEs grades A*- C including at least GCSE B in two relevant science subjects (i.e. Core Science and Additional Science OR Biology and Chemistry) and at least GCSE grade B in Mathematics and English Language.


Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods:

  1. You will be assessed regularly on your knowledge and understanding through weekly homework and regular tests.
  2. You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.
  3. You will have mock examinations in advance of your final exams.
  4. The AS has two exams at the end of the year. Both are 1 hour 30 minutes long. There are three exams at the end of the two years for A Level, all of which are 2 hours long. At least 15% of the marks in these papers are based on what you learned in your practicals and 10% will be questions requiring mathematics. The papers will have short and long structured questions, critical analysis of given experimental data and a choice of essays
  5. There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practicals will be assessed by your teacher and will contribute to the Practical Endorsement for Biology which is awarded separately on a Pass/Fail basis.

Future opportunities

Biology is a highly respected A Level that is valued for most degree subjects. It is also valued by employers worldwide. If you want to study Biology at university, or a biology related subject, it is recommended that you also study A Level Chemistry, as together these provide a great combination which broadens your options.

Biology opens up a wide range of opportunities for university level study, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, physiotherapy, veterinary science, zoology, radiography, agriculture and horticulture, marine biology, biochemistry, genetics, dietetics, nutrition, applied biology, botany, forensic science and many other possibilities.

Further information

The course is supported by a textbook and a Moodle site which has a range of resources to help you. In addition support outside of classes is available from your lecturers.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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