Biology at A-Level
Exam Board: Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in Biology A (Salters-Nuffield) (9BN0)
Specification link: http://qualifications.pearson.com/content/dam/pdf/A%20Level/biology-a/2015/specification-and-sample-assessment-materials/9781446930885_GCE2015_A_BioA_spec.pdf
For more information about the individual topics, click here.
What is this subject about?
Biology is a modular course which builds on the biological principles and processes studied at GCSE. Students will develop a greater understanding of biological facts and principles and an appreciation of their significance in our changing world. Examples, of this include the use of gene therapy, how to determine the time of death of a human, and how hormones can switch genes on or off. A number of implications of the biology studied are discussed in detail, such as the ethics of performance enhancing drugs, the importance of stem cells and the use of key hole surgery alongside prosthetics.
What do you need to know before taking this course and who is this course suitable for?
To take A Level Biology, boys must achieve a minimum of an A grade in Biology GCSE.
What will I learn on this course?
During Year 12 students will complete the following four taught topics:
Topic 1: Lifestyle, health and risk discusses the importance of lifestyle choices for good health and considers ideas about correlation, causation and risk. The role of diet and other lifestyle factors in maintenance of good health is considered with particular reference to the heart and circulation and to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Topic 2: Genes and health introduces the relevant biology through the context of the genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF). The potential of gene therapy as treatment for CF is examined, along with discussion of the social and ethical issues surrounding genetic screening.
Topic 3: The voice of the genome follows the story of the development of multicellular organisms from single cells to complex individuals. The role of the genotype and environment on phenotype is considered alongside the role of epigenetics.
Topic 4: Biodiversity focuses on biodiversity and the wealth of natural resources used by humans. The meaning of biodiversity and how it can be measured is considered, along with how diversity has come about through adaptation and natural selection.
During Y13 students will complete the following four taught topics:
Topic 5: On the wild side builds an appreciation that photosynthesis is the primary process that underpins the majority of ecosystems, and provides students with an understanding of how ecosystems work. The topic continues by looking at whether climate change will lead to extinction of species or evolution by natural selection.
Topic 6: Infection, immunity and forensics looks at how forensic pathologists determine the identity of a person and establish the time and cause of death. This topic also investigates how hosts combat infection. This topic also investigates the evolutionary battles that take place between invading pathogens and their hosts. The topic ends by looking at hospital acquired infections, their prevention and control.
Topic 7: Run for your life is centred on the physiological adaptations that enable animals, including humans, to undertake strenuous exercise. The topic summarises the biochemical requirements for respiration and looks at the links between homeostasis, muscle physiology and performance.
Topic 8: Grey matter relates understanding of brain structure and functioning to the response to stimuli and the development of vision and learning. The contributions of nature and nurture are discussed, as is the ethics of using animals for medical research. It investigates how imbalances in brain chemicals may result in conditions such as Parkinson‟s disease and its treatment with drugs are investigated.
How is this course assessed?
Assessment consists of three externally examined papers, each being worth one third of the overall mark. Each has a total of 100 marks and is 2 hours long. The papers will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental methods.
Students must complete all assessment in May/June in any single year.
Paper 1: The Natural Environment and Species Survival. Paper code: 9BN0/01
This written paper will assess students understanding of Topics 1-6, and will contain multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.
Paper 2: Energy, Exercise and Co-ordination. Paper code: 9BN0/02
This written paper will assess students understanding of Topics 1-4 and Topics 7&8, and will contain multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.
Paper 3: General and Practical Applications in Biology. Paper code: 9BN0/03
This written paper will assess students understanding of Topics 1-8 and a pre-released scientific article will underpin one exam question. The paper will include synoptic questions that may draw on two or more different topics.