Biology Curriculum

First Year programme:
We offer a centralised science programme during the First Year that covers the foundation of all three sciences. The core skills required to excel in Science are highlighted during this year and there is a strong emphasis on practical work.

Second Year programme
We offer our own in-house scheme during the second year that covers the foundation of subject knowledge required to access the IGCSE qualifications. This is designed to build on the introduction to science provided during our First Year programme.
Topics covered include:
Controlling Life
Health and Disease
Plant Biology
Ecology

IGCSE
We follow Edexcel’s IGCSE in Biology (4BIO) and in Science (Double Award) (4SC0) specifications. These are single tiered qualifications that provide a more solid basis for further study than the standard GCSEs with increased rigour and more challenging subject content. Pupils start the course in their Third Year.
The topics covered are wide ranging including:
Organisms and Life Processes
Animal Physiology
Plant Physiology
Ecology and Environment
Variation and Selection
Microorganisms and Genetic Engineering
Triple award students will sit two papers in each of the sciences at the end of their Fifth Year. Double award scientists will sit a single paper in each of the sciences at the end of their Fifth Year.

A Level

Content
The OCR A Level Biology (A).  The course is linear (run over 2 years), and examined at the end of the two years. There will be no retakes available. In the Lower Sixth students will be taught the content of modules 2, 3 and 4. In the Upper Sixth students will be taught modules 5 and 6. Module 1 will be taught throughout both years of the course.

Content is split into six teaching 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

The first exam paper will assess content from modules 1, 2, 3 and 5.
The second exam paper will assess content from modules 1, 2, 4 and 6.
The third exam paper will assess content from all modules (1 to 6).

How the course is taught
You will be taught by two teachers in both the L6th and U6th years. There will be a balance between practical work and theory. The theoretical part of the course will cover all the main biological themes begun at GCSE, but will place considerable emphasis on the applications of biology in the modern world, particularly in the areas of genetic manipulation and human health and disease. In addition there will be a considerable emphasis on mathematical statistics throughout the course. The practical work will aim to develop your practical skills and scientific write-ups.

Expectations/Homework
Subject teachers set tasks according to an agreed work programme which helps students to manage their time. Students studying A-level Biology can expect 4-5 hours of homework a fortnight. Students are expected to keep up to date; the sequential nature of much of the course will cause intense difficulties for students who allow themselves to fall behind.

Preparatory Work
Students are provided with introductory material to study before embarking on the course. This is handed in at the very first lesson for assessment.

IB Biology (Higher & Standard Level)

Content
Core topics include:

  1. Cell biology
  2. Molecular biology
  3. Genetics
  4. Ecology
  5. Evolution and biodiversity
  6. Human physiology

The Higher Level requires a further breadth of study and in addition to the core topics you are required to study the following:

  1. Nucleic acids
  2. Metabolism, cell respiration and photosynthesis
  3. Plant biology
  4. Genetics and evolution
  5. Animal physiology

How the course is taught
The Higher Level course is normally taught by two subject teachers, while the Standard Level courses are taught by one teacher. In all courses students will be studying the underlying principles of Biology which include a detailed look at Biochemistry and Metabolic pathways. Students will have a balance between Biology theory and practical, in which they will complete a minimum of 40 hours practical work (Standard Level) or 60 hours (Higher Level). Students are supervised through the process of completing their Internal Assessment.

Expectations/Homework
Subject teachers set tasks according to an agreed work programme which helps students to manage their time. All students are expected to engage fully in lessons, keep up to date and to read and research widely in order to support their independent learning. IB students are expected to be resourceful and committed to intellectual enquiry.

The Extended Essay
Higher Level pupils may wish to consider Biology as the focus for their Extended Essay, particularly if they intend to study Biology or a closely related discipline at university. It is important that the extended essay has a clear biological emphasis and is not more closely related to another subject. Students are free to select any topic but it should be noted that the assessment criteria require students to either collect their own data, which will require a large allocation of their time to laboratory work or find access to secondary data (in which they will have to have a clear understanding of which method was employed to collect the data). The essay must be completed within 4000 words and will take approximately 40 hours. Up to five hours of staff supervision are available to assist with the planning, research and execution of the Extended Essay.

Preparatory Work
Students are provided with introductory material to study before embarking on the course. This is handed in at the very first lesson for assessment.