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Biology A Level at PETROC

Course description

We follow the OCR Biology A (H020) specification. This challenging and stimulating study programme develops your understanding through the study of a wide range of topics, including Cellular Structure, Physiology, Biochemistry and Gene Technology. Biology is exciting, relevant, can be controversial and is frequently in the news. You will learn through a range of stimulating activities.

We have a suite of spacious, well equipped dedicated Biology labs. Our labs all have fully interactive whiteboards and wireless internet capability. Students have access to class sets of laptops. Biology resources include advanced apparatus which allows students to perform cutting-edge processes such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) used in DNA profiling. Home learning is supported by our continuously updated VLE.

Course content

In the first year there are four modules. The first module concentrates on the development of practical skills, such planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation. These skills are developed throughout the year through a wide range of practical investigations. The second module, Foundations in Biology, includes cell structure, biological molecules, enzymes, membranes and transport and the cell cycle. The third module, Exchange and Transport, looks at exchange surfaces, transport in animals and transport in plants. The final module, Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease, looks at diseases and immunity, biodiversity and classification and evolution.

In the second year there are two modules. The first, Communication, Homeostasis and Energy, includes excretion, neural and hormonal communication, plant and animal responses, photosynthesis and respiration. The final module is Genetics, Evolution and Ecosystems. This investigates cellular control, patterns of inheritance, manipulating genomes, cloning and biotechnology, ecosystems, populations and sustainability. These will also be supported by a number of relevant practical investigations.

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto a two-year A Level programme, all entrants must hold at least a grade 5 in GCSE Maths and a grade 5 in GCSE English Language, as well as at least 3 other GCSEs at grade C or above. Certain subjects require a minimum of GCSE grade B; these are detailed in this prospectus and on the Petroc website.
Continuation onto Year 2 of the A2 programme will be dependent on achieving at least a grade D at AS in the subjects being continued to A2.

A grade BB in Double Science, or a grade B in Biology.


Externally assessed exams are taken in May/June. There are two exams for AS Biology, both covering the whole course but one tests breadth of knowledge and one tests depth of knowledge. AS is a stand alone course and does not contribute to the full 'A' level grade, but AS is taught alongside the first year of the full 'A' level.

The full A level has three exams. The first examines module 1, 2, 3 and 5. The second assesses 1, 2, 4 and 6. The third paper is synoptic and covers all the topics learnt over the two years of the course.

In addition practical skills are assessed via the practical endorsement. This is reported separately and internally assessed throughout the two years. It is a pass or fail qualification.

Future opportunities

This A Level is highly regarded by universities and employers, and combines well with Chemistry, Psychology, Geography, Environmental Science and Sport Science. Many students go on to university to study for careers such as medicine, veterinary science, ecology, pharmacology, microbiology, conservation, dentistry or physiotherapy. You could also progress to Petroc's Foundation Degree in Human Biosciences. Biologists work in the pharmaceutical industry, health-related and medical technician roles, in agriculture or environmental research.

Further information

Q. Is the content different to GCSE?
A. The main topic areas will be very familiar to you but you will find there is a lot more detail.

Q. Is A Level Biology hard? 
A. Yes, it's a big step up from GCSE but your teachers will give you all the help and support you need.

Q. What about Human Biology? 
A. We no longer offer this because the Biology A level is highly regarded by all universities and employers. The current syllabus includes a large proportion of Human Biology topics.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 17 February 2017

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