Curriculum Leader: Dr M Hamilton
Exam Board: OCR
Specification Number: A Level H420
Biology has 6 modules. Modules 1 – 6 and the practical endorsement constitute the full A Level.:
Module 1 – Development of practical skills.
Module 2 – Foundations in Biology.
Module 3 – Exchange and transport.
Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease.
Module 5 – Communications, homeostasis and energy.
Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems.
A greater emphasis has been placed on practical skills and in particular competency in carrying out scientific experiments. The Biology department is required to ensure that these skills are developed and Edexcel have provided core practical activities that students carry out. The techniques included in these are included in exam questions in all examinations that students take at the end of Year 13. In addition to a grade, students are also awarded a Practical Endorsement. This is either a Pass or Fail and indicates how competently students can carry out experimental work.
Formal theory lessons and student-centred activities are used to explore biological topics. Students are required to carry out review and planning tasks between lessons. This involves reading, note-making, researching of topics or answering examination questions. Practical lessons and student presentations develop skills and enhance the learning of syllabus content.
Internal Assessment: Students take regular end of topic tests to assess their knowledge and progress, and to develop exam technique.
Three examinations are taken at the end of Year 13 that cover a combination of topics, practical knowledge and mathematical skills:
Paper 1: Biological Processes – 2h15, 100 marks
Paper 2: Biological Diversity – 2h15, 100 marks
Paper 3: Unified Biology – 1h30, 70 marks
Practical Endorsement to report student’s competency in carrying out experimental work.
Why Biology at St Albans Girls’ School?:
Students are taught by a team of highly skilled specialist teachers who have vast experience of teaching Biology A level. The department is well resourced and we regularly carry out a range of exciting practical activities. We also offer a range of super-curricular activities including visits to University Biology Departments, The Body Worlds Exhibition in London and students can take part in Journal Club. We are an extremely supportive department, with weekly support and catch up sessions offered to all students.
Expectations of students:
Students must be prepared to work independently and meet deadlines. They must remain focused in lessons and be well organised. Students need to develop the skills of reading for understanding and writing with precision. Students do not have to study A level Chemistry to do well in A level Biology as appropriate Chemistry concepts are taught within the course.
What equipment is needed?
A scientific calculator, ruler, pen and pencil are essential at all times.
A level Biology is required, or is desirable, for HE courses in many different disciplines. These include: agricultural science, anthropology, biochemistry, biophysics, dentistry, food science, forensic science, genetics, horticulture, medical physics, medicine, midwifery, nature conservation, nursing, ophthalmology, osteopathy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, radiography, speech therapy and veterinary science.
Students wishing to study biology beyond A level, may require an A level in Chemistry or Physics/Mathematics. For some courses this is advisable, for others it is essential.