GCE Biology

Starting in September 2016 there is a new revised GCE Biology specification.

It is recommended for pupils who are interested in this course to have studied GCSE Double Award Science, with good grades in their Biology modules.

Introduction

Studying AS or A level Biology will allow you to delve much deeper into the subject than when studying at GCSE level. Topics which may be familiar to you from GCSE are studied in much more detail and are updated with contemporary developments in the subject.

In addition, new topics such as biochemistry and molecular biology will help to give you a deeper understanding of the subject as a whole and make links between different areas of biology.

Why study Biology?

Biology is the study of life and, as complex living organisms ourselves, many of us are naturally drawn to find out more about how we work. Through exploring biology at this level, you can find out more about how organisms are built and how they function, as well as learning how they interact with each other and with their surroundings.

Not only will you discover how powerful electron microscopes have allowed us to explore plant and animal cells in detail, but you will learn about the molecules which make up these cells and see that, even at this level of organisation, structure is inextricably linked to function in biology.

In addition to this examination of the smallest units in biology, you will also study the ‘big picture’ by learning about communities and ecosystems, as well as the universal role of DNA in maintaining the variety of life on the planet.

CCEA have included a number of sections on contemporary developments in biology in order to make this a truly 21st century course. For example, you will learn about how a disrupted cell cycle contributes to the development of cancer, as well as finding out how some anti-cancer medications work to bring the disease under control.

What can I do with a qualification in Biology?

With this qualification, you could either go on to further study in biology or a wide range of other disciplines, or you could enter the world of work, where many of the skills you have developed will be highly sought after.

Knowledge of biological processes has implications for a wide range of fundamentally important areas, including health, food production, conservation and, increasingly, technology. Furthermore, a qualification in biology may be a recommendation or a prerequisite for entering further study in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary science, speech and language therapy, pharmacology, physiology, biomedical science, forensic science and agriculture. Through following this specification, you will develop skills that are valued in Further and Higher Education, including an ability to understand complex processes, analysis, evaluation of practices, problem-solving and research, as well as practical skills such as using a microscope, handling apparatus and fieldwork.

Many of these skills are also highly valued in the workplace, where the ability to take on board new concepts quickly and to suggest improvements to established practices can be very useful. The ability to understand data presented in a variety of forms, including text, tables and graphs, is also an important transferable skill which is developed through the study of biology at this level.


During the two year course the pupils will study the six following modules:

Content Content Summary Assessment Weightings

AS 1: 

Molecules and Cells

  • Molecules
  • Enzymes
  • Viruses
  • Cells
  • Cell physiology
  • Continuity of cells
  • Tissues and organs
  • External Assessment 
  • Written examination
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Students answer six to eight
    structured questions
    and write an essay

 

  • 37.5% of AS
  • 15% of A Level

 

AS 2: 

Organisms and 
Biodiversity

  • Transport and exchange mechanisms
  • The adaptation of organisms
  • Biodiversity
  • Human impact on biodiversity
  • External assessment
  • Written examination
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Students answer six to eight
    structured questions
    and write and essay
  • 37.5% of AS 
  • 15% of A Level

AS 3:

Practical Skills in AS
Biology

  • Specified practicals which support
    AS 1 and AS 2 content
  • External written examination
    assessing practical skills
  • 1 hour

           AND

  • Internal practical assessment
    (marked by teachers and 
    moderated by CCEA)
  • 25% of AS
  • 10% of A Level

A2 1:

Physiology,
Co-ordination
and Control,
and Ecosystems

  • Homeostasis
  • Immunity
  • Co-ordination and control in
    plants and animals
  • Ecosystems
  • External written examination
  • 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Students answer six to nine
    structured questions
    and write an essay
  • 24% of A Level

A2 2:

Biochemistry, Genetics
and Evolutionary Trends

  • Respiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • DNA as the genetic code
  • Gene technology
  • Genes and patterns of inheritance
  • Population genetics
  • Kingdom Plantae
  • Kingdom Animalia
  • External written examination
  • 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Students answer six to nine
    structured questions and 
    write an essay
  • 24% of A Level

A2 3:

Practical Skills
in Biology

  • Specified practicals which
    support A2 1 and A2 2 content
  • External written examination 
    assessing practical skills
  • 1 hour 15 minutes

           AND

  • Internal practical assessment
    (marked by teachers and 
    moderated by CCEA)
  • 12% of A Level