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Biology AS/A Level at Hall Cross Academy

Course description

Many recent and ground breaking medical advances would not have been possible without a fundamental understanding of Biology and its applications.

  • Understanding how your organs and organ systems work together affects lifestyle choices and the way we live.
  • Learning how cells communicate with each other, how cellular processes are controlled and co-ordinated, and what regulates cell growth helps you understand the impact of common disease pathogens along with identifying the ways drug therapies work to counteract them.
  • A solid appreciation of the interaction between a population, community and ecosystem leads to an improved understanding of conservation and importance of organism diversity.
  • At a molecular level, understanding the function and properties of DNA means the applications of DNA technologies such as genetic fingerprinting can be studied and their uses evaluated.
  • Biology is an exciting and rewarding A Level which uses practical, interpreting scientific data and evaluating skills to make informed opinions and sense of the ever increasing technological advances in the world we live in.

Course content

AS Level

Biological molecules (structure of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Enzymes, DNA structure and replication, ATP, role of water and inorganic ions in cells)

Cells (Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell structure, cell magnification, cell replication, diffusion and transport mechanisms, immune system, Viral infections such as HIV and ways of detecting it)

Organisms exchange substances with their environment (surface area to volume ratio, gaseous exchange, digestion and absorption, transport of substances in plants and animals)

Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms (Genetics, DNA and protein synthesis, cell division, adaptations and natural selection, taxonomy, biodiversity)


A Level

Energy transfers in and between organisms (photosynthesis, respiration, energy in ecosystems, nutrient cycles)

Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (survival and response, receptors, heart and nervous control, nerve impulses, skeletal muscle, homeostasis, control of blood sugar, control of water)

Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems (Inheritance, populations, evolution, ecosystems)

The control of gene expression (DNA mutations, gene expression, transcription and translation, genes and cancer, genome projects, recombinant DNA technology, genetic fingerprinting)

Entry requirements

High B grades in Biology or Core and Additional Science and B grade in Maths GCSE.


AS and A Level Biology are assessed separately in linear examinations.

At the end of the AS course, students are awarded an AS grade and an A level grade at the end of the A level.

The exam board is AQA and examinations for AS and A level can be found below:

AS qualification:

Paper 1 and paper 2 exam: 1 hour 30 minutes each Content from topics 1 to 4
Each paper has 75 marks (65 marks short answer questions and 10 marks comprehension question)
Paper 1 and 2 are each 50% of AS

A Level qualification:

Paper 1 exam: 2 hours Content from topics 1– 4, including relevant practical skills 91 marks (76 marks are a mixture of short and longer answer and 15 marks are extended response), 35% of A-level

Paper 2 exam: 2 hours Content from topics 5–8, including relevant practical skills 91 marks (76 marks are mixture of short and long answer and 15 marks are comprehension) 35% of A-level

Paper 3: 2 hours Content from topics 1–8, including relevant practical skills 78 marks (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) 30% of A-level

In addition to the examinations, students will carry out 12 minimum compulsory practicals that generate information and data needed for the relevant examinations. These are carried out in lessons and form an essential part of the understanding of the units covered.

Future opportunities

Many jobs/careers in Science accept Biology as part of the entry requirements and some request it as an essential. Careers in Biology include the following areas:

  • Research
  • Health care (Veterinarian, Nurses, Doctors, Biomedical Scientists, Midwifery)
  • Environmental management and conservation
  • Biotechnology
  • Forensic Science
  • Politics - Scientific advisors
  • Journalism - Scientific writing/reporting
  • Apprenticeships in horticulture and animal care
  • Zoology

Further information

It is recommended that students undertake wider reading of the subject in Biology and other related journals and keep up to date with relevant advances in topics covered. Students may benefit from specific work experience but it is not a requirement of the course.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Hall Cross Academy directly.

Last updated date: 17 May 2016
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