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Level: Advanced (Level 3)Awarding Body: OCR

Why study Biology?

Biology is the study of life and living organisms. This Science encompasses a wide range of domains including genetics, microbiology, taxonomy, biochemistry, physiology but also ethology and ecology. Studying A level Biology will give you a basic understanding into the way the body works, an overview of the impact of the expression of the genome and epigenome on metabolism, an insight into how cells communicate or molecules interact or the use of microorganisms in industry and ecology. This will draw link between different domains of Biology and other scientific fields and also provide an opportunity to think of the area you are potentially more attracted to and would like to study further at University.

What can it lead to?

A level Biology can lead to many different careers. You can chose to study further and go into research, work in a laboratory or travel the world, studying different organisms or ecological phenomena. You can decide to go into scientific writing, or become a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company.

Previous St Charles students chose to become radiologists, nurses, physiotherapists, veterinary surgeons or garden curators. This very wide range of choice of careers means it is strongly advised to get work experience in different environments to get a better idea of the career that is right for you.

How is the course organised?

The course is organized into 6 modules

Module 1 – Development of practical skills in biology
Module 2 – Foundations in biology
Module 3 – Exchange and transport
Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease
Module 5 – Communication, homeostasis and energy
Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems

All papers will include elements of Module 1.

A level:  3 papers to be sat 10% Maths weighing

The A level exams are all synoptic and involve the drawing together of knowledge, understanding and skills learned in the different parts of the course, including AS. The Practical endorsement will be graded: Pass or Fail.

How is the course assessed?

Lessons consist of formal teaching, questions, discussions, seminars on topics of particular interest and practical work, which is done individually or in small groups. Students will also go on field trips to complete the biodiversity and ecosystem part of the course. Students are given a booklet to complete and learn from per module and homework is set every week. Tests are also set on a regular basis, with bigger end of module tests.  

Workshops in the Biology labs provide the opportunity for individual study and consultation with staff.  A variety of study aids are available in these sessions to improve understanding and exam performance. There will be particular emphasis on synoptic understanding in the second year of the course.

What do I need to qualify for this course?

Within the general requirement of 6 grade 5s at GCSE, for A Level Biology you will need

  • An average GCSE score of 5.6 or more (where C=5, B=6, A=7, etc)
  • 66 in Double Science  or minimum 66 if Triple Science with 6 in Biology
  • Maths grade 6 
  • English grade 5 

Students need to be keen and interested in Biology. Students choosing Biology need to have good Maths basics and are strongly advised to study Chemistry as well. Homework is set regularly and students are expected to spend at least 5 hours per week on Biology outside lesson time. Students are strongly recommended to read the scientific magazines available from the library in their study periods. Attendance at various extra-curricular lectures, universities open days and trips is encouraged to broaden knowledge and help with career choices.

Who are the teachers?

UntitledMiss Roquain is the main Biology teacher at St Charles College. She has studied Biochemistry and Cellular Physiology at Degree level. Miss Roquain conducted research on Alzheimer’s disease whilst completing a masters’ degree in Pharmacology of Aging and one in drug design. Miss Roquain has been working at St Charles College as a full time teacher since 2007.

Email cro@stcharles.ac.uk

Tel 02089687755 ext218

What do students say about the course?

“I really enjoy studying different fields of Biology so I can draw links between them and relate to specific examples, like how certain organisms react to the same stimulus in different ways, like how you cannot hear sound waves that bats respond to”

“I really like when we do group work and try to come up with conclusions to a problem together and share ideas”

“I particularly enjoy the physiology part of the course, understand drug interactions with specific receptors and neurotransmitters, it makes you think about why we behave in a certain way and how we adapt to the environment”

“I think what we learn is relevant to us. I know that diseases like tuberculosis is still a threat and understand how it can be prevented. I also learned about dialysis and I know someone who suffers from kidney failure. I understand what the people are going through better”

“It is interesting to see how a very small mutation in the DNA sequence can lead to such serious conditions"

Extra Curricular

The Biology department is part of the Society of Biology. We receive offers for scientific competitions, conferences and A level revision days.

We subscribe to weekly scientific journals and Science apps. Some of the journals are also available to read online.

Students have the opportunity to take part in field trips and workshops to debate ideas and actively put their knowledge into practice.