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Biology - AS / A level at Ipswich School

Course description

Biology has been at the cutting edge of scientific research for the whole of the second half of the twentieth century, and there is no sign that the rate of progress is declining. As we go into the 21st century biological sciences are a magnet for ever-increasing research funds as scientists attempt to understand a huge range of biological topics, from molecular biology including the whole human genome and its implications for human health, through to conservation. If work in molecular biology, human genetics, medicine, medical research, pharmaceuticals, boil-technology, agriculture, food science or one of dozens of different biological careers does not appeal then biologists, with their training in studying complex systems, are also found operating successfully in many other walks of life.

For those not intending to study science beyond the sixth form, Biology is a valuable science subject that is both relevant and accessible to sixth form students. Many of our students are following a sixth form Biology course because they enjoyed the subject at GCSE, and want to include some science in their sixth form studies.
Biology in the sixth form at Ipswich School builds on the knowledge and skills developed at GCSE.

Course content

At AS level there are modules on:

Biology and Disease, in which you will study the digestive and gas exchange systems, enzymes, active transport, and how disease can affect these vital functions.

The Variety of Living Organisms, including DNA, protein and carbohydrate structure, cell replication, transport, classification using information from a range of sources, and biodiversity.

An Investigative and Practical Skills assessment.

At A2, the course goes on to consider:

Populations and Environment. Ecology, photosynthesis and respiration feature in this module.

Control of Cells and Organisms which includes responding to stimuli, homeostasis, cell differentiation, protein synthesis, DNA technology and its applications, including diagnosis and genetic fingerprinting.
An Investigative and Practical Skills assessment.

Work in class is intended to promote understanding of the ideas and retention of key concepts. Practical work is designed to develop investigative skills, further illuminate concepts and extend understanding. Students use ICT to collect data, analyse results, obtain information and prepare presentations. A field weekend at the end of the AS year is used to illuminate key concepts in Ecology.

Future opportunities

Biological courses studies by students leaving the sixth form are diverse, and no attempt to list all the possibilities is made here.  However, Agriculture, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Environmental Health, Food Technology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Physiology have all been chosen by past students, in addition to medical subjects.  The range of subjects studied by non-specialist Biologists is much more diverse, and includes a very wide range of options, such as Engineering, Geography, Accountancy, Journalism or Psychology.

Further information

Sixth form Biology students fall into two main categories. The first group intend to study some form of biological science after leaving school. Included here are medical, veterinary and dental candidates. These students must pay careful attention to university course requirements, because for some, AS/A2 Chemistry will be essential. Careful reading of university prospectuses is vital to avoid errors.

Medical, dental and veterinary students should definitely study Biology at least to AS level. The work that is done in sixth form contains a great deal that is relevant to their future studies, and choosing this subject demonstrates commitment and interest. Also many Higher Education institutions insist on it. Candidates should expect to be asked for three grade A passes or equivalent points at the end of their A2 courses. They will need to have many A* and A grades at GCSE too.

The second group of students take Biology as a single science on its own with a wide mixture of other subjects. They do not intend further biological study on leaving school. This is often a successful option, providing a valuable science qualification when required.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 20 May 2014
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