An intellectually stimulating and engaging subject for those who wish to understand how biological systems and life itself works.
WHAT WILL YOU STUDY?
The Biology A-Level is designed to teach students how structure and function of biological systems can lead to a thorough understanding of life. The course offers a broad overview of biological concepts, including fundamentals such as the structure of DNA and cell organisation, complex systems such as the cardiac cycle including homeostasis and control, as well as detailed mechanistic characteristics of muscular control. The course also includes biochemistry and the study of pathways, including respiration and photosynthesis. Furthermore, the way organisms interact with their environment is investigated through ecology and the evolution of life is studied to appreciate the constant struggle for survival.
The Biology A-Level specification also includes multiple practicals designed to enhance the students’ knowledge and understanding of the theory. Scientific knowledge will be applied to new situations and students will learn how to critically evaluate scientific advances. Finally, there is strong emphasis on the ethical considerations related to biology and the students will learn to appreciate how society makes decisions about biology-related issues and how knowledge of the subject can enhance society, healthcare and the economy. Throughout the course students will be challenged to apply their knowledge, analyse data and reach conclusions that are backed by scientific theory.
In Year 6 you will study:
During Year 6 the curriculum focuses on Units 1, 2 and 3. Unit 1 includes the study of structural molecules including carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, as well as enzyme action. The structure and function relationships of cell membranes and cellular transport are taught. There is a strong emphasis on genetics, including the study of DNA, RNA, protein synthesis as well as inheritance and mutations. Unit 2 focuses on cellular structure, cell replication, and the use of stem cells. Biodiversity and natural selection are studied through varied examples and finally the uses of biology including plant products are evaluated. Unit 3 is comprised of experimental analysis, and students will learn how to critically evaluate experimental data to reach valid scientific conclusions.
In Year 7 you will study:
Year 7 continues with the foundations of the previous year, commencing with Unit 4 which includes the study of photosynthesis, energy and material transfer in ecosystems and evolution. Molecular biology techniques including DNA profiling and PCR are studied to understand how organisms can be analysed with modern methods. The unit concludes with immunology, and how there is an evolutionary race between people and infectious diseases. Unit 5 focuses on respiration, cardiac control, homeostasis and hormonal control. The impact of exercise is studied, as well as muscular structure. Brain structure and development are then studied, before concluding with the Human Genome Project and the prospects this opens up for future developments. Unit 6 will also examine experimental techniques and analysis.
ABOUT THE EXTERNAL EXAMINATION
The International Biology A-Level course is comprised of 6 external exams to be taken over the course of two years. In year one you will sit two 1 hour and 30 minute written exams for Unit 1 and 2 that will examine the curriculum. Each exam accounts for 40% of the AS grade. In addition, Unit 3 is a 1 hour and 20 minute exam that will test the students’ practical and experimental knowledge and skills. This accounts for the remaining 20% of the AS grade.
The exams in the second year follow a similar structure, with a total of three exams. Unit 4 is a written examination of 1 hour and 45 minutes, consisting of objective, structured and short answer questions. Unit 5 has a duration of 1 hour and 45 minutes and in addition to examining the curriculum it also includes questions on a pre-released article. Each of these exams account for 40% of the IA2 raw marks. Finally, Unit 6 is a 1-hour-and-20-minute exam that will examine practical biology and investigative skills acquired throughout the course. This accounts for the final 20% of the IA2 marks. All papers will include quantitative skills with at least 10% of the examination being mathematical skills.
WHAT CAN A-LEVEL BIOLOGY OFFER ME?
The Biology A-Level is designed to offer a deep knowledge of the multifaceted aspects of science and challenge the students with new concepts. It will not only broaden the scientific knowledge of course takers but will also develop their skills as investigators to adequately prepare them for a future in life sciences, including courses in medicine, biochemistry, microbiology, biomedical science, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and other science related disciplines.
Assessment is fair, balanced and aims to best prepare the students for the external examinations.
- A total of 2-3 tests per semester (70%)
- Experimental technique and analysis and Formative assessment (30%)
MAIN DIFFERENCE TO THE GCSE
The GCSE course offers an introduction to science and experimental design. The A-Level expands upon this foundation but offers a more detailed analysis of biological systems. It is a demanding course, requiring an interdisciplinary understanding of science and critical analysis. Students will be asked to not only recall and describe aspects of Biology, but will have to design, perform, analyse, interpret and critically evaluate experiments and scientific ideas.
- How to analyse complex biological systems – from the subcellular level of DNA to the macro system level including entire ecosystems
- How to design, perform, analyse and interpret experiments to investigate aspects of science
- How to do individual research
- How to critically evaluate experiments and scientific ideas
- How to apply knowledge gained to new systems
- How to critically evaluate the ethics involved in scientific advances and discoveries and how these impact society as a whole
Students with A-Level Biology may choose to follow further studies abroad or in Cyprus in Biology, Biochemistry, Botany, Forensic Science, Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Ecology, Landscaping, Sports Science, Physiotherapy, Biochemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Biomedical Engineering etc.