APPLY NOW
A-Level

Biology

Return to all courses

Exam Board

OCR A

Entry Requirements

GCSE grades 6-6 in Combined Science or a grade 6 in Biology (if studied as a separate science) and a GCSE grade 6 in Maths.

Any student entering the course having achieved GCSE Maths grade 6 (not grade 7-9) will also be required to study the Core Maths programme in Year 12.

Assessment

  • 100% Exams
About this course FAQs An introduction to Biology Pathways Information

What is Biology?

Biology is described as the ‘Science of Life’ and biologists work in many different and diverse fields. Including cell biology, medicine, food production and ecology.

 

What will I study?

The Biology course is divided into six modules covering topics including cell biology, biochemistry, DNA structure, function and cell division, gas exchange in animals and transport in plants and animals, disease and the immune response.

You will study ecology, classification, and the biodiversity of the living world. The early work on biomolecules, the chemicals of life, will lead to later work on the biochemistry of photosynthesis and respiration. You will learn about genetic inheritance, control of gene expression, gene technology, cloning and biotechnology, and ecology.

 

Assessments

We study the OCR A Biology A-level specification. (Not OCR B)

As a linear course the external assessment is by three written papers at the end of Year 13 to achieve a graded A-level result.

 

Paper 1: Biological Processes

135 minutes

37% of marks

Modules 1, 2, 3 and 5

 

Paper 2: Biological Diversity

135 minutes

37% of marks

Modules 1, 2, 4 and 6

 

Paper 3: Unified Biology

90 minutes

26% of marks

Modules 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

 

In addition there is a non-graded Practical Endorsement which is awarded with the A level where there is evidence that students have developed a range of practical skills and techniques during the two-year course.

During the course there are Topic Tests every few weeks to assess the learning of recent work.

There are also linear Module Tests which test all the work covered to that point of the course. These are scheduled at the various times of Subject Assessments when “working at” grades are reported.

The Year 12 Exam is in the Summer Term and is the most important indicator of UCAS predicted grade.

In Year 13 a Mock Exam is taken in December and a further April Mock Exam of synoptic work is taken just ahead of study leave before the final exams.

The evidence for the Practical Endorsement is gathered throughout the course.

 

Trips, visits and enrichments:

  • Ecological study of Mary Stevens Park
  • Teacher-led preparation for UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test – an entry requirement for some medical and dentistry courses)
  • Optional forensics trip to Worcester University to the “Crime House”
  • Teacher-led enrichment on insights into Midwifery and Optometry.
  • Biology Olympiad and Intermediate Biology Olympiad competitions.
  • Volunteer work with Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust at Stambermill Nature Reserve as an enrichment option.

 

What can it lead to?

A level Biology is a key component in higher education applications for medicine, veterinary science, healthcare science, dentistry, nursing, horticulture, teaching, fisheries and conservation work.

FAQs

Is there an A-level in Human Biology?
No. Human Biology A-level was withdrawn as part of the changes made to A-levels in 2015.
What are the entry requirements to do A-level Biology at King Eds?
If you did Triple Sciences at GCSE then Biology GCSE grade 6. If you did Combined Sciences at GCSE then GCSE grade 6-6. You also need to achieve grade 6 in GCSE Maths There is no official requirement for a particular GCSE grade in Chemistry but historically students with less than grade 5 have not been able to access the biochemical parts of the Biology A-level course and has limited their success.
What topics are studied at A-level?
The topics will be familiar from GCSE; we start will cells, biological membranes, nucleic acids and enzymes. At A-level we study these topics in more detail than you will have previously studied.
Which other A-level subjects combine well with A-level Biology?
There are lots of possible combinations which students choose for their A-level programme. Many students also do Chemistry and either Mathematics or Statistics which might lead to Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Biomedical Science, and other similar career paths or science-based degrees at university. Biology also combines well with Psychology or Sociology and might lead to Nursing or Midwifery. Others choose Psychology and Physical Education for Sports Science or Physiotherapy paths. Some students do Biology with Geography or Geology if they are interested in ecology and conservation. This is in not an exhaustive list and there are a wide range of combinations chosen by students who go onto to be successful. Many universities do not accept Biology A-level with BTEC Applied Science so this combination is usually not recommended.
Is there any coursework?
No. The assessment of the qualification is through the three written exams at the end of the course. The Practical Endorsement skills build into a “portfolio” over the two years of the course; but it is not done as coursework and it does not count towards the final grade. The Practical Endorsement is awarded (or not) with the graded results from the three written papers.
Is Biology A-level difficult?
Biology A-level has a high volume of syllabus content, and a lot of skills need to be developed. No single aspect of the work is inaccessible to students with the entry requirements for the course, but students do need to be committed to the course to be successful. There is a requirement to work independently outside the classroom – 5 hours each week – and to organise your work. It is not a good idea to plan to learn the whole course content in the last few weeks before the exam; it has to be a long-term revision programme as an integral part of the learning process over the two years.
Is there support available?
Yes. Students’ learning is well-resourced, and teachers work hard to enable students to be successful. High quality teaching and classwork materials are supplemented by Topic Packs for every topic to support learning outside the classroom along with free access to the online “Tailored Tutors” videos which cover the whole specification. Following assessments students are provided with detailed feedback which includes teacher-made video clips question-by-question to explain the mark scheme. Students will find that their hard work is matched by the hard work of Biology teachers who are ambitious for them to reach their full potential.
Are there any animal dissections?
During the 2-year course there are dissections done in small groups of a lamb’s heart, a lamb’s kidney and mackerel gills. You may also see lamb’s lungs and the Optometry Enrichment includes the dissection of a lamb’s eye. Students find these opportunities very important in their learning process. However where there are ethical objections to dissections, e.g. where the student is a vegan, students can be either only observers or can leave the classroom during this activity. Students with fish allergies are also excused the gill dissection. Nearly all students are prepared to draw pictures from the photographs taken by their peers who have done the dissection. It is still possible to gain the dissection practical skill for the Practical Endorsement through the dissection of celery stems, perhaps using a microtome, to reveal the vascular system of the plant.
Can I use a tablet or laptop in class?
Absolutely. Most students still use pen and paper in lessons, but an increasing number of students prefer to use digital versions of the resources.
Do I need to buy a textbook?
No. All students have access to a digital version of the textbook through devices such as phones and tablets. Printed versions of the textbook are available for use during lessons in Biology classrooms and to loan from the college library.

Return to all courses

Apply for a place

If you wish to apply for a place at King Ed’s for September 2024, use this link to access our application portal. We look forward to hearing from you.

Apply now

Download Our Prospectus

Please click the button below to download a copy of our prospectus.

Download