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Biology A Level at Heanor Gate Science College

Course description

U nd erst a ndi n g bi ol o gy is essential in many scientific areas like cell biology, medicine, medical research, biochemistry, genetics, food production and ecology and many more.

The work they do is vital to us all and the future of our planet.

Biologists are concerned with all these issues. The AS/A2 course develops many of the topics covered at Key Stage 4 and introduces some of the exciting areas of Biology in the contemporary world. You will study, for example, genetics, environmental issues and aspects of human health.

Students will learn how to investigate and develop a wide range of experimental skills.


Course content

This year we have started the new Edexcel SaltersNuffield A level biology (SNAB) A2 2015 specification for all students. These qualifications are linear, meaning that students will sit all the exams at the end of their AS course or the A2 course. The course can be taken as a 4 section AS course or an 8 section A2 course. Even though the new A levels are separate from the AS course, common content means we will be giving all students the opportunity to sit the AS exam at the end of year 1 giving them an extra high level qualification and helping them in their application for University entrance .

The new course is a context based course meaning you will get the chance to apply it to real life situations linking the biology to the real world. The courses are divided into the following 8 sections:

AS/A level

  • Section 1. Lifestyle, health and risk

In this section you will learn what cardiovascular disease is, who is at risk, the risk factors involved and how to reduce the risks. You will also learn the physiology of the heart and cardiovascular system and the practical applications of study.

  • Section 2. Genes and health

In this section you will learn about genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and how it affects the body and lungs. You will also learn about the mutations involved in this disease and how genetic material (DNA) codes for proteins. In addition you will learn how we pass on these genes to our offspring and how the disease can be carried. This will include the physiology of the lungs.

  • Section 3. Voice of the genome

In this section you will study how life begins and how its development is controlled. You will also look at how the environment can manipulate the way genes are turned on or off (epigenetics). This will include a detailed look at cell physiology.

  • Section 4. Biodiversity and the natural environment

Here you will learn why there are so many different species and how they are adapted to their environments. You will also look at biodiversity and extinction . This part of the course may include a visit to the zoo.

A level only

  • Section 5. On the Wild Side

In this section you will explore the role of photosynthesis as a primary driver of ecosystems. You will then look at whether climate change will lead to extinction of species or evolution by natural selection. It also looks at the evidence for climate change and its effects on plants and animals.

  • Section 6. Immunity, Infection and Forensics

Here you will study the role of the forensic pathologists and the variety of analytical techniques used to determine identity and the time and cause of death of an organism, including humans. You will look at how pathogens use a variety of routes into their hosts and how hosts combat infections by studying the evolutionary battles that take place between invading pathogens and their hosts.

  • Section 7. Run for your Life

Here you will explore the physiological adaptations that enable animals and humans to undertake strenuous exercise. This includes the biochemical requirements for respiration and the links between homeostasis, muscle physiology and performance.

  • Section 8. Grey Matter

Here you will look at how the working of the nervous system and the brain. You will study how imbalances in brains chemicals can lead to conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Entry requirements

For AS Biology you should have achieved at least grade B or above in GCSE Double Science (not BTEC) or grade B or above in Biology.


Two written papers 1.5hr each carrying 50% of the overall AS marks.

Three written papers 2hr each carrying 33% of the marks each for A Level.

For AS and A2 there will be a comprehensive practical requirement covering all aspects of the course

Financial information

There will also be a field study element to this course with trips to the zoo and a hands on genetics day at a leading laboratory where you will get to apply what you have learnt.

Future opportunities

An A level qualification in Biology could prepare you to study Biology or one of the Biological Sciences in Further o r H i g h e r e d u c a t i o n . Alternatively you could choose a more vocational course leading to a career in medicine, clinical sciences, veterinary medicine, animal health, horti culture or agriculture. As Biology enables you to understand the physiology of the human body, it is also useful for careers involving Sports Science and the care of children or elderly people.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Heanor Gate Science College directly.

Last updated date: 06 September 2016

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