See Combined Science & Triple Award Science for more information.

A Level

Biology is the scientific exploration of the vast and diverse world of living organisms; an exploration that has expanded enormously in recent years to reveal a wealth of knowledge about ourselves and about the millions of other organisms with whom we share the planet. The Biology course encourages students to read widely and think constructively. Respect for all living organisms is encouraged throughout the course.

Coursework/Examination Requirement

3 examinations

The College expects students to have

Grade 5, 6 or above in Combined Science or Grade 5, 5, 6 in separate Sciences (Grade 6 must be in Biology). Minimum Grade 5 in Mathematics is also required.


Biology equips students with the ability to make connections in natural, social, economic, political and technological fields. These skills are transferable to most employment areas. Biologists have specific opportunities in, for example, the pharmaceutical industry, clinical and health professions, conservation, scientific research and plant pathology.

Course Content

Unit 1: Biological molecules

All life on Earth shares a common chemistry. Despite their great variety, the cells of all living organisms contain only a few groups of carbon-based compounds that interact in similar ways.

Unit 2: Cells

All life on Earth exists as cells. These have basic features in common. Differences between cells are due to the addition of extra features. All cells arise from other cells, by binary fission in prokaryotic cells and by mitosis and meiosis in eukaryotic cells.

Unit 3: Organisms exchange substances with their environment

The internal environment of a cell or organism is different from its external environment. The exchange of substances between the internal and external environments takes place at exchange surfaces.

Unit 4: Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Biological diversity - biodiversity - is reflected in the vast number of species of organisms, in the variation of individual characteristics within a single species and in the variation of cell types within a single multicellular organism.

Unit 5: Energy transfers in and between organisms

Life depends on continuous transfers of energy. In photosynthesis, light is absorbed by chlorophyll and this is linked to the production of ATP. In respiration, various substances are used as respiratory substrates. The hydrolysis of these respiratory substrates is linked to the production of ATP.

Unit 6: Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

A stimulus is a change in the internal or external environment. A receptor detects a stimulus. A coordinator formulates a suitable response to a stimulus.

Unit 7: Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

The theory of evolution underpins modern biology. All new species arise from an existing species. Common chemistry, physiological pathways, cell structure, DNA as the genetic material and a ‘universal’ genetic code.

Unit 8: The control of gene expression

Cells are able to control their metabolic activities by regulating the transcription and translation of their genome. Although the cells within an organism carry the same coded genetic information, they translate only part of it. In multicellular organisms, this control of translation enables cells to have specialised functions, forming tissues and organs.

Practical Endorsement

Twelve teacher assessed practical activities along with their associated skills to be completed during the two year course (graded Competent/Not yet competent).

Curriculum Learning Journey

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