Biology A-Level | Surbiton High School
BIOLOGY
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Biology A-Level

Examination Board: AQA

There are many reasons why you may wish to study Biology at A-level, paramount amongst which might be your curiosity about the natural world and the enjoyment of experimental and investigative work. These experiments include plant and animal dissections, genetic engineering in bacteria and the use of choice chambers to investigate the behaviour of simple organisms. During the course, you will develop an understanding of biological principles and learn to appreciate the development and significance of biology in personal, social, environmental, economic and technological contexts. Furthermore, you will study the importance of experimental and investigative skills, and how to apply simple statistical tests to assess the significance of your findings. It is important in Biology that you allow the experimental results to speak for themselves rather than trying to fit them into a preordained pattern. Living organisms don’t always follow the rules.
Due to the significant Biochemistry content in the A-level Biology course, an aptitude for Chemistry is useful as it enables you to develop a deeper understanding and make links between topics. Being a capable mathematician is also an advantage as data is regularly recorded, handled and analysed. Likewise, you will need to be confident carrying out simple statistical tests on your data in order to evaluate any conclusions drawn.
An A-level in Biology can lead to many things. For example, you could go to university to study for a degree in Biological or Environmental Sciences. This is a very wide field and covers all the traditional branches of Biology and Ecology as well as courses leading to careers in the ever-expanding field of Biotechnology. If you are contemplating a career in medicine or veterinary science, then Biology is now regarded by many universities as a prerequisite. With your A-level Biology you could also consider many other areas of the medical profession, for example, physiotherapy, nursing and psychology.
After completing Year 12 Biology, students must participate in a compulsory residential trip. We travel to a UK Field Studies Council centre to explore various ecological habitats and carry out investigations into factors affecting species abundance and diversity in a variety of ecosystems. We stay in a dedicated centre and the students are taught and coached by experts in environmental field work. Previous locations have included the Pembrokeshire Coast, Exmoor National Park and the Surrey Hills.

A-level Biology topics for assessment

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
6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
8. The control of gene expression in different plants e.g. leaves from shade-tolerant and shade-intolerant plants or leaves of different colours

Learn more about life at Surbiton High Sixth Form.

A-level

Paper 1

What’s assessed?

Any content from topics 1– 4, including relevant practical skills
Assessment

Written exam: 2 hours
91 marks

35% of A-level
Questions
76 marks: a mixture of short and long-answer questions
15 marks: extended-response questions

Paper 2

What’s assessed?
Any content from topics 5 – 8, including relevant practical skills
Assessment
Written exam: 2 hours
91 marks
35% of A-level
Questions
76 marks: a mixture of short and long-answer questions
15 marks: comprehension question

Paper 3

What’s assessed?
Any content from topics 1– 8, including relevant practical skills
Assessment
Written exam: 2 hours
78 marks
30% of A-level
Questions
38 marks: structured questions, including practical techniques
15 marks: critical analysis of given experimental data
25 marks: one essay from a choice of two titles

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