What is Biology?

A-level Biology is the study of life in all of its forms: large and small; living and dead; plants and animals. During year 1, your learning from GCSE will be developed so that you understand the intricate molecular details about the food groups we eat and the roles that each has once inside your body. You will learn how those letters in DNA can actually be interpreted to build living organisms. You will act as a medical professional at times by diagnosing and explaining lung and heart disease using ECG traces that you see in films. You will also learn about how biology has changed and evolved over centuries of new discoveries with the refinement of evidence. Success at year 2 will require the recollection of your year 1 learning to understand how cells communicate to keep an organism in balance and alive. You will also learn to predict the features that a baby may have due to their parent’s DNA. During the course you will gain a detailed understanding of several practical experiments, which are an opportunity to develop your independent learning and research skills.

Why study this course?

The most common course that students’ study alongside biology is chemistry, these subjects do complement each other very well and require similar skills. Maths and physics are also a good match as there are several maths for biology skills that you will need to master.

How is the course assessed?

We study OCR A-level biology A.

AS Level: You will sit two papers which will both assess any of the content from modules 1-4. They will be sat at the end of year 12.

A Level: You will sit three papers, all at the end of year 13.

As part of the full A Level course you will also receive a grade for your practical competence.  This will be assessed using 12 practical activities throughout the two years of the course. This is reported as a separate grade and does not count towards your overall A Level grade.


Who is the course suitable for?

Students who have an interest in the world around them and are keen to understand more about how it works. To be a successful biology student you need to have the ability to grasp concepts that can’t necessarily be seen, and you need to be motivated to work hard.

Progression options

Following the study of A-level biology you can have the opportunity to enter into a wide range of medical professions, ecology and botany, marine studies and oceanography.