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AS/A level Biology at Forge Valley School

Course description

Biology is the scientific study of organisms, including humans, and how they interact with the environment. The subject develops students’ understanding of a broad range of specialist areas within Biological Sciences including: Biochemistry; Cytology; Histology; Anatomy and Physiology; Botany; Ecology, and; Biotechnology (including Genetics).  Students build on detail, knowledge and skills developed through the GCSE Science courses so should have a clear idea about the basic principles of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and How Science Works already.

We are all very experienced Biologists and teachers with a history of high achievement in several successful schools prior to creating a new team here at Forge Valley. Results put the department above national average for student progress at both AS and A-level and are linked to immeasurable improvement in the quality of teaching and learning made from September 2015 to now. The staff team includes: Tim Storer, Sophie Hazelby, Jennifer May and Kirsty Isle. Our team are all experienced and meticulous practitioners that have many years of experience as A-level Biology teachers. All members of the Biology department are respected by both their colleagues and the students for their work in and beyond lessons in supporting students of all abilities and age groups to achieve well in Biology.

Course content

AS level is subdivided into 4 units of study:

1 Biological molecules

2 Cells

3 Organisms exchange substances with their environment

4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

+ 6 required practical investigations, mathematical skills and How Science Works questions.

For the full specification, sample questions and further guidance: Subjects - Biology -  AS and A level à Biology (7401, 7402)

Entry requirements

Five or more GCSEs Grade 9-4/A*-C or equivalent, including Grade 4 in English.

Grade 6 in Science Core and Additional or Grade 6 in Biology PLUS Grade 5 in Mathematics.



2 Written examinations on any content from topics 1– 4, including relevant practical skills

Paper 1 - assessed written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes ••75 marks ••50% of AS

Questions: 65 marks: short answer questions •• 10 marks: comprehension question

Paper 2 - assessed written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes ••75 marks ••50% of AS

Questions: 65 marks: short answer questions •• 10 marks: extended response questions

The full two year A-level course comprises all AS content and 4 further units of study. All students complete the AS level qualification in 1 year. Students may then choose to complete the full 2 year course.


Future opportunities

Advanced level Sciences are still widely revered as an indication of students’ higher level academic abilities by employers and educational providers.

As a sixth form we enjoy excellent links with universities and work experience providers to give our students chance to develop and demonstrate skills and knowledge beyond the constraints of the curriculum. We recognise that students should become confident and rounded in their abilities and knowledge in order to have a competitive ‘edge’ when making applications to higher level apprenticeships and universities.

Biology provides a solid background for most Natural Science degree programmes and is also ideal for those thinking about a career in the caring professions. A Level Biologists have a wide variety of options when choosing what to study at university. Although Biology A Level is not a direct prerequisite for Medicine and Biomedical studies, it is unusual (arguably surprising) if students do not take the opportunity to study the most directly relevant material at AS/A level.

Be aware that for many Biology courses at Universities, Chemistry is also required. For Psychology disciplines, A-level Biology may confer an advantage but is not essential.

Further information

We recommend that students consider selecting Chemistry and/or Psychology AS levels to complement their studies in Biology. However, Biology can also be taken as a separate Science subject as part of a broader curriculum.

Students taking Additional Science at GCSE will need to commit to independently learning the extra content of Biology GCSE (for AQA this would be unit B3, for OCR this would be units B5 and B6) in the Autumn term (or earlier) and interested students can collect a Biology Revision guide and list of recommended resources to support them in doing this. Teaching staff will support Additional Science students who want to take up AS Biology as a priority in term 1.

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: 08 October 2018
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