Biology A Level

Board: OCR
Specification A: A Level (H420)

About this subject

What causes disease?  What is a genetic fingerprint? How does the heart work?  Is evolution scientific reality or ‘just a theory?’  Could you breed a bean plant that tastes of roast beef or chocolate, and if so, should you?  How does your immune system work?   Are all organisms related to each other, even humans?  Will dementia ever be curable?  These are some of the questions that you might encounter when studying Biology at A level.  Biology focuses on the study of living organisms, the way they relate to each other and to the environment.  Core modules address aspects of Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Ecology, Genetics and Physiology. The course provides a broad background in all strands of Biology.

Learning styles

Students are expected to have a genuine interest in social, ethical and economic implications of modern biological advances as well as a desire to learn more about themselves and the organisms around them.
A mixture of learning techniques will be employed, including class discussion, the use of study guides; structured home works, videos, projector presentations, practical experimentation, independent research, IT resources, classroom teaching, and field trips.

Subject Combinations and Progression

The A level in Biology would combine well with other science subjects to form a basis for the study of any scientific discipline at university.  Students interested in Veterinary Science, Medicine, or most Biological Science based degrees at university should combine A level Biology with A Level Chemistry.  Biology could add breadth to an Arts-based study programme if a student did not intend to study Biology beyond A level.

Subject Modules and Assessment

The A level course has three papers assessed at the end of year 2 and a separate practical endorsement.  There are no compulsory dissections.

Biological processes (37%)
Biological diversity (37%)
Unified biology (26%)
Practical endorsement (pass/fail)


Entry Requirements

Two grade 6’s from three Single Award GCSE Sciences with a 6 in Biology / 6,6 for Double Award GCSE Science and a 6 for GCSE Maths