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Biology A Level *FEES PAYABLE* at Padworth College

Course description

This course is taught over two years. Students wishing to study this course must have GCSE grade C or higher in biology, maths, English and preferably chemistry. As with the GCSE course, the complex scientific vocabulary demands confidence in English.

Over the two years, students explore ways in which living organisms are affected by and fight disease, find food, use energy, regulate their bodies, get rid of waste substances, exploit their environments and produce offspring. Students also study the impacts of certain biotechnological advances. Students are encouraged to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their studies (in preparation for university), but the course is clearly structured, with a variety of regular assignments and plenty of practical work and practice on past papers.

Skills and qualities that are developed include experimental design, observation, safe use of scientific apparatus, data analysis and statistics, exam technique, awareness of human effects on our planet and respect for all life.

Course content

Year 12

Topics covered include:

Unit 1: Biological molecules

  • The structure and function of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids
  • The properties of water as a biological molecule.

Unit 2: Cells

Year 13

Topics covered include:

Unit 5: Energy transfers in and between organisms

  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration
  • Energy and ecosystems
  • Nutrient cycles

Unit 6: Responding to changes in internal and eternal environments

  • Stimuli and responses
  • Receptors
  • Control of heart rate
  • Nervous coordination
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Homeostasis

Unit 7: Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

  • Inheritance
  • Populations
  • Evolution and speciation
  • Ecosystems

Unit 8: Control of Gene Expression

  • Gene mutations
  • Gene expression
  • Regulation of transcription and translation
  • Using genome projects
  • Gene technologies
  • Differences in DNA and diagnostics
  • Genetic fingerprinting
  • The structure of eukayotic cells, prokaryotic cells and viruses
  • Microscopy
  • The cell cycle and mitosis
  • Transport across cell membranes
  • Cell recognition and the immune system

Unit 3: Exchange of substances with the environment

  • SA:Vol ratio
  • Gas exchange
  • Digestions and absorption
  • Mass transport in animals and plants

Unit 4: Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

  • DNA, genes and chromosomes
  • DNA and protein synthesis
  • Genetic diversity, mutations and meiosis
  • Genetic diversity and adaptation
  • Species and taxonomy
  • Biodiversity and investigating diversity

Entry requirements

Mathematical Requirements

Overall at least 10% of the marks in assessment for biology will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills include arithmetic and numerical computation, handling data, algebra, graphs, geometry and trigonometry.


Practical Assessment

Practical work is at the heart of biology. Practicals will be assessed both during experimental work and in written exams.

Written Exams

The A Level specification comprises 3 external exams. Paper 1 covers content form units 1-4, Paper 2 covers content from units 5-8 and Paper 3 covers content from all units. Each paper also has questions on relevant practical skills.

The papers contribute 35%, 35% and 30% of total marks respectively.

Financial information

Fees may be charged for this course

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 04 November 2016
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Key information


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    • The College is housed in an attractive 18th century country house with modern boarding houses set on a 15 acre campus providing a secure and peaceful environment for study and recreation. We are only 15 minutes from the university town of Reading and just 40 minutes from Heathrow and London.