Subject Lead for Art: Dr John Marks

Biology by Dr John Marks

To misquote Edwin Hubble, "Equipped with their five senses, humans explore the universe around them and call the adventure Science". We are all born with a desire to explore our surroundings and it is a fascination that most of us retain. In science we ask questions, we sometimes answer them but always come up with more new questions, just because we use our imagination and creativity. As a student I wanted to understand the brain, but was made to ask the question, "if we don't understand how a cell works, how could we understand a whole organ". That day I became a cell biologist. It is fantastic that we pass on our body of understanding from one generation to the next, who then use their inquisitive skills to build on it. The best thing about science is that we will never know all the answers. Science just grows.

Why Study Biology?

A level Biology will help you make sense of the living world. You will study cell biology, biochemistry, ecology the environment, human biology, neurobiology, genetics, and modern techniques such as genetic manipulation, genetic finger printing and PCR. Amongst the skills that this subject develops, literacy, numeracy, communication analysis and evaluation feature strongly, and these transferable skills are applicable to many areas of your future. You can progress to study a wide variety of courses at university, from agriculture to zoology. For medicine, veterinary science, and dentistry it remains very important.

Course Description

The A level course is split into eight units, covering the following topics:

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  4. Genetic information, variation, and relationships between organisms
  5. Energy transfers in and between organisms (A level only)
  6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (A level only)
  7. Genetics, populations, evolution, and ecosystems (A level only)
  8. The control of gene expression (A level only)

Students who satisfy the practical requirements of the course will be awarded a separate “Practical Endorsement” alongside their A level grade. This will not contribute to the grade but is important for students wishing to study science-based courses subsequently.

Field work will normally be undertaken at a Field Studies Council centre, where they have years of expertise and the necessary resources to maximise our students’ learning. We enrich the curriculum through our developing links with the University of Kent at Canterbury.

Beyond A level

Many of our students go on to study biology related courses at university. An increasing number of students each year are successful obtaining places in highly competitive universities. Other students use biology as a valuable and interesting subject that develops and demonstrates skills in literacy, numeracy, communication, analysis, and evaluation, which are essential in higher education, the workplace and life in general.

Entry Requirements

Grade 6 or higher in GCSE Biology or Grade 6-5 in GCSE Combined Sciences Dual Award (with high scores in the biology units). Owing to the mathematical content of the course, a good understanding of Mathematics is also important: we recommend grade 6 or above at GCSE.

Practical work lies at the heart of the sciences and this course provides numerous opportunities to use practical experiences to link theory to reality and equip students with essential practical skills. Students who satisfy the practical requirements of the course will be awarded a separate “Practical Endorsement” alongside their A level grade.

Technical Details
Exam Board AQA
Qualification Type A Level
Course Title Biology
Specification Code H446
  Number Duration Weighting of title A Level
External Exams (end of Year 13) 3 2 hours each Paper 1 - 35%
Paper 2 - 35%
Paper 3 - 30%