Biology A Level

Head of Department: Mrs Helen Blee

The structure of DNA was first announced in 1953, and since then work on molecular Biology has continued at an ever increasing rate. It is now obvious that regulation of gene activity is the next big area for investigation. The pace of activity is amazing. Commercially, biotechnology firms rely on this knowledge, and this expanding industry is a reflection of the importance of the discoveries already made. Given the rate of progress, it is impossible to predict where other developments may lead in the next decade. Students could hardly be studying Biology at a more exciting time.

What do you do in Biology?

A Level Biology looks at the whole range of topics that this subject covers. Many of them will be familiar from GCSE, but they are considered in greater depth.

Year 12 work includes Biological Molecules, Cell Structure, Gas Exchange, Digestion, Transport, Genetics and Diversity. In Year 13, Photosynthesis, Respiration and Ecology are followed by Nervous Systems, Homeostasis, and more Genetics. The course ends with Controlling Gene Expression and DNA Technology.

There are new requirements for practical work and this is now integrated into the course and assessed in the final exam. It is helpful, but not necessary, for pupils to study A Level Chemistry alongside A Level Biology.

At the end of Year 12, you will have the opportunity to undertake your own ecological investigation as part of the practical endorsement. This involves a field trip to the North Norfolk coast. Year 13 students have the opportunity to take part in the challenging Biology Olympiad competition and we have had a fine crop of medallists over recent years.

The Exam Board we use is AQA. There is no course work element for this specification. A Level: at the end of two years of study there will be three 2 hour exams. At least 15% of the marks are for what you learned in your practicals. Optional AS Level: After one year of study there will be two 1 ½ hour exams. It should be noted that the results of these exams do not contribute to the complete A Level.

Exam Results

Average of the A Level results in Biology achieved by Ipswich School students over the most recent three year period (2016, 2017 and 2018)

Biology- % A*- B = 69%