Qualification: AS/A-Level | Exam board: AQA
The Biology course will provide you with a strong foundation for further studies in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, as well as a range of bio-science degrees such as biomedical sciences, biology, ecology and zoology related subjects.
You will gain a detailed understanding of the physiology of the systems of the human body, an introduction to biological molecules, cell structure and function, energy processes, control mechanisms and genetics. In addition to this you will study plant physiology, ecological systems and evolution. The Biology course provides a commitment to practical skills which should form a distinctive part in any science, equipping students with the necessary skills for university, apprenticeship and employment opportunities.
Students from both AS and A-Level courses will have the opportunity to carry out a number of practical investigations, including genetic analysis techniques used in industry.
Year one content
You will begin by investigating the structure and properties of biological molecules and move on to a study of cell ultrastructure through microscopy. This is followed by an introduction to the workings of the immune system. You will then be taken through an in-depth study of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems in relation to gas exchange and transport mechanisms in both plants and animals.
For the latter part of the course in year one you will explore how DNA is responsible for the variation between organisms within and between species which leads to developing an understanding of evolution and natural selection. This is finally applied to studies in classification and biodiversity.
A compulsory field trip at the end of the second term is designed to train you in the practical techniques of ecology field work. Six compulsory practicals (internally assessed) will be undertaken which form a basis for examination at the end of the second year. Basic study skills and presentations will be encouraged and will form an important area of support throughout the course.
The new curriculum in Biology means that for A-Level students, qualifying exams for first and second year studies are taken at the end of the second year. Students wishing to study to AS Level only will study alongside the A-Level students for the first year, but will take their qualifying exams at the end of their first (and only) year.
Year two content
The second year begins with an introduction to the physiology of the nervous system, hormones and their functions, followed by kidney and liver function.
You will then investigate the biochemical mechanisms of respiration and photosynthesis, before moving on to genetic processes such as cellular control, mitosis and meiosis, followed by analysis and evaluation of genetic engineering techniques. The course ends with investigations into ecology and conservation.
You will attend a compulsory field trip connected with advances in genetic engineering and the human genome project, and you will have the opportunity to attend a day long biology conference in London. As in the first year, six internally assessed practicals will be undertaken which will form part of the terminal examination.
You could go on to study one of a range of subjects at degree level, including medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, biology, zoology, ecology, biomedical sciences and healthcare.
You will be supported throughout the year by experienced sixth form Biology teachers as well as the pastoral Bedford Sixth Form team. Over the two year course there will be the chance to partake in numerous enrichment activities such as visits to the Sanger Institute, attend up to the minute Biology in Action talks at Warwick University and experience an ecological day trip to try out Biological techniques in situ.
You will be regularly assessed throughout the year to ensure you are performing to your potential.
An initial assessment at the beginning of the year will ensure that your skills are up to the required standard. A bridging course will support you if some skills needs are identified.
AS – Two exams of 1 hour 30 minutes each in length
Paper 1 focuses on content from all 4 AS topics and is worth 50% of the total AS grade.
Paper 2 also focuses on content from all 4 AS topics and is worth 50% of the total AS grade.
A2 – Three exams of 2 hours each in length
Paper 1 focuses on the 4 AS topics and is worth 35% of the final A-Level grade.
Paper 2 focuses on the 4 A2 topics and is worth 35% of the final A-Level grade.
Paper 3 focuses on all 8 AS and A2 topics and is worth 30% of the final A-Level grade.
This will be assessed through the successful completion of six practicals in your first year and six further practicals in the second.
It will be marked as a pass or fail grade alongside your A-Level result.
Students who succeed on this course are:
- A creative thinker
- Scientifically minded
Some of our subjects are subject to standard entry requirement and some have additional requirements. Please see below:
Subject specific entry requirements
- 2x 6 in Science & 5 in Maths
Standard entry requirements
- At least five GCSEs at grades 9-4 including English Language and Maths (one Vocational or Technical qualification at Merit or above may be counted)
- At least grade 4 (or Merit for Vocational or Technical qualifications) in any subject(s) that you have taken at GCSE and wish to continue studying at Level 3
- Average GCSE (best 8) of at least 4 (38 on the old points table)
- Grade 4 (or Merit), at least, in any subject previously studied
- Students will take either 3 A-Level subjects or 1 Diploma subject with 1 A-Level