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What will I learn?

A Level Biology 7402 includes eight topics: Biological Molecules, Cells, Organisms Exchange Substances with their Environment, Genetic Information (variation and relationships between organisms), Energy Transfers In and Between Organisms, Organisms Respond to Changes in their Internal and External Environment, Genetics, Populations, Evolution and Ecosystems and The Control of Gene Expression.

Many of the topics covered will be familiar to you from GCSE – e.g., cells, enzymes, the heart and lungs and genetics; however, we will explore them in far greater detail, learning how scientific knowledge has developed, as well as learning about the experimental techniques behind important discoveries.

You will each be given access to the specification and specification checklists so that you know precisely what you need to know. There are many facts to learn and you will need to work independently to prepare for each lesson by reviewing your prior knowledge. You will be given notes which cover the main knowledge and understanding required for each specification point and then lessons will be spent discussing, modelling and expanding on these points, as well as doing practical work. You will use your textbook to reinforce the work covered in each lesson, by reading the relevant pages and doing the summary questions. You will be set homework based on past examination questions to develop your examination technique and you will be given regular tests to check your progress.

Why should I choose Biology?

Biologists are scientists who study the natural world and all the living things in it, from the largest plants and animals down to molecules, such as DNA. They try to understand how animals and organisms work (including humans), how we evolved and the things that can make us ill or improve our health. Biologists use this knowledge to do things like try to stop the spread of disease, track down natural resources, improve public health, animal care and conservation and work out the true impacts of things, such as pollution. Biologists deal with the natural world so their jobs can take them anywhere, from labs to zoos to ocean liners in the Arctic and fieldwork in the Amazon jungle.

Biology is a key subject for many careers, particularly in Healthcare, Medicine and jobs involving people, plants or animals including: Nursing, Dentistry, Forensic Science, Psychology, Physiotherapy, Botany, Environmental Science, Zoology, Geology, Oceanography, Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Teaching, Scientific Journalism, Genetics and Research.

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, Director of Education and Training at the Society of Biology, says: 'Biology opens up exciting career possibilities. From conservation to cancer research, biologists are tackling important 21st century challenges, and we need skilled young people to be part of this. It is also important to remember that Biology is excellent preparation for non-scientific careers, thanks to the skills it provides – everything from analytical thinking to writing reports.

What other subjects go well with Biology?

Biology will support your study of other sciences and, in particular, there is an overlap with Chemistry, as well as subjects such as Mathematics, Psychology and Geography. As a facilitating subject, it is accepted as a qualification for the widest range of further education courses by all the most highly respected institutions. Therefore, it is an excellent choice along with any other subject – for instance, study it with a language or an essay subject such as English at A Level and you might have even more choices for your career

Course details

For the A Level qualification, all examinations must be taken at the end of the two year course. There is no coursework or controlled assessment. Practical questions will, however, be present on the written A Level papers. These will test your understanding of experimental design, practical skills and techniques and analysis and evaluation of experimental data, as per the GCSE courses you are currently studying.

A separate endorsement of practical skills will be offered alongside the A Level qualification. You will be required to carry out twelve required practical activities set by the examination board and your skills and competencies will be monitored by your teachers. In addition to your overall grade, you will be given a 'pass' or 'fail' for the "Practical Endorsement".

If you are considering studying Biology, please talk to any of the Biology teachers, who will be happy to discuss the subject with you. We can show you the textbooks and the sort of questions you will be asked in the examinations. If you want to look at the whole specification, it can be found at: as-and-a-level/ biology-7401-7402/specification-at-a-glance

How will I be assessed?

Paper 1

• Any content from the topics taught in Year 1, including relevant practical skills.

• A written exam of 2 hours, worth 35% of A Level

Paper 2

• Any content from the topics taught in Year 2, including relevant practical skills

• A written exam: 2 hours, worth 35% of A Level

Paper 3

• Any content from topics taught in both years, including relevant practical skills

• A written exam: 2 hours, worth 30% of A Level

Beyond the classroom

As well as Biology specific activities, such as Biology Intermediate Olympiad (Y12) and Olympiad (Y13), Dissection Club and lectures offered at local universities, there are general science opportunities to extend your knowledge and to make you think. These include Science in Action and Journal Club (both in collaboration with Warwick School), or Cafe Scientifique, where you can lead or just join in. There are regular Careers talks and opportunities to talk to Old Girls who have or are studying science. The Thoughts from the Board and Science News boards are open to Sixth Formers to display their knowledge and interests. Sixth Formers are asked to help with Solving Science with Sixthformers and we welcome any other ideas of how you would like to demonstrate your enthusiasm for Biology.

Field work is also an integral part of A Level Biology and we will go on a residential field trip in June of Lower Sixth, to Slapton Field Studies Centre, Devon. This fantastic trip will allow you to see real habitats, develop your field work skills and work with your peers in the field. The cost is expected to be around £395 per pupil, including all tuition, accommodation and food for a four night stay. Dates for the trip in 2019 are not yet confirmed, but it is likely to be over a weekend, from Friday to Tuesday, in mid-June (term time).

For more information please contact Mr McCorquodale:

"I chose to do Biology predominantly because I want to study Medicine at university and Biology is essential to that study. However, I did, also, really enjoy Biology at GCSE, especially homeostasis and the heart. This, of course, reinforced my idea that I wanted to study Medicine. Biology also provides you with essential life skills, such as research." Rebecca, Sixth Former