St Peter's School

Biology

BiologyThe Course

Studying Biology at A Level is helpful for the study of Chemistry and P.E. and will be of use in all science-based degrees. Furthermore, if you are considering a career in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physiology etc. then Biology is usually an essential entry requirement.

The Lower Sixth units cover the following topics areas:

  • The major groups of biomolecules including enzymes and nucleic acids including DNA replication and protein synthesis.
  • Cell ultrastructure, organisation, division (mitosis and meiosis) and diversity. Sexual reproduction in plants and mammals.
  • Classification, selection (artificial and natural) and evolution are explored, including the formation of new species and impact on biodiversity.
  • The final module looks at exchange in animals and transport systems of both plants and animals.

The Upper Sixth units cover the following topic areas:

  • The biochemistry and photosynthesis and respiration.
  • Microbial techniques and human response to infection are explored in detail.
  • Two topics centred on genetics and the origin of genetic diversity.
  • An exploration of modern gene technology and the implications on farming and biodiversity.
  • Hormonal coordination in plants and animals is studied followed by the roles of kidneys in excretion and the structure of the brain.
  • An in-depth look at nervous coordination including how the mammalian eye detects light.
  • The final topic focuses on the nature and sustainability of ecosystems (this links with the field course undertaken in the Christmas term of Upper Sixth) including specific examples of conservation practices.

Science Practical Endorsement

There is no formal coursework but specific practical skills are assessed using written exam questions.

Assessment

  • Paper 1 - 1hr 45m written paper
    Advanced biochemistry, microbiology and genetics - 30%
  • Paper 2 - 1hr 45m written paper
    Advanced physiology, ecology and evolution - 30%
  • Paper 3 - 2hr 30m written paper
    General and practical principles - 40%

Examination Board: Edexcel

Additional Notes

To cover the ecological content of the course, pupils will attend a residential field course in the Christmas term of the Upper Sixth year. Pupils will not be charged for the cost of the field trip.

The course (and the teaching of it) is designed to take into account the needs of a wide range of pupil abilities, ranging from those wishing to pursue Biology beyond school level to those who wish to study for Lower Sixth without continuing into the Upper Sixth year.