Biology is an important and amazing subject because it is the study of life. It involves investigating the variety and complexity of living organisms from microscopic bacteria to multicellular animals, including humans. In addition, Biology involves the study of how humans’ and other mammals’ bodies function in order to stay healthy, how diseases can develop and how medicines and surgery can be used to treat them, and how advances in scientific knowledge are transforming the field of medicine. The study of how humans fit into and impact upon the world around them is also a very important aspect of Biology.
Topics studied for GCSE include: inheritance and evolution; adaptation and ecosystems; proteins and respiration; control in organisms; nerves and hormones; organisms and their environments; cell division; and the transport of materials for biological processes. At AS Level, topics studied include: biological molecules (including enzymes, DNA and RNA), cell structure and division, cell membranes, the immune system; exchange and transport systems; protein synthesis; and the diversity; classification and variation of organisms. Topics studied at A2 Level include: respiration and ATP; energy transfer and nutrient cycles; stimuli and responses; homeostasis; ecosystems; populations and evolution;, mutations and gene expression; genome projects and gene technology.
The curriculum is delivered either in small groups or in one-to-one sessions, and teaching is tailored to the individual learning styles of each pupil. Teaching takes place in a low arousal learning environment, where the sensory needs of each pupil are prioritised. Similarly, reasonable adjustments are made regarding the processing of verbally presented information, as well as any difficulties in fine motor control when recording information. AS biology is usually studied in one academic year, and includes six assessed practicals followed by a written AS Level examination.
After successfully passing at AS Level, students can continue into a second year, following the A Level curriculum. This includes a further set of six assessed practicals, in addition to the final written examination. In both AS and A Level examinations 25% extra time is provided, as well as any other necessary access arrangements, depending on the individual need of each student.
Biology is an excellent foundation (and in many cases, a prerequisite) for university courses and careers such as medicine, physiotherapy, veterinary sciences, nursing and midwifery, bioinformatics, zoology, paramedic studies and conservation.
For syllabus details go to: www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science