BiologyIn Biology we aim stimulate a sense of curiosity and understanding in pupils about their bodies, the world around them and, increasingly, how our species needs to be aware of what it needs to do to look after its environment. We use the course content to underpin this approach to their learning rather than just teaching them.

Biology involves the study of a wide range of exciting topics ranging from human biology and plant biology to ecology and the study of disease. Biology is a subject that is closely related to everyday life and is never far from the headlines.

Issues such as genetic engineering, viral disease and vaccination, biotechnology and global warming are some of the areas much in the news. These are explored during Years 9 to 11 along with the key topics that underly the subject. 

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GCSE - Years 9, 10 and 11

The GCSE course is followed from the start of Year 9 in order to give time to explore the subject in as practical and relevant a way as possible.


What will I learn?

There are any exciting, ground-breaking and interesting careers that use the relevant skills taught in Science. All students in Years 9 to 11 study GCSEs administered by the AQA exam board. The course enables students to gain three GCSE qualifications in the separate sciences or two GCSEs in Science and Additional Science, dependent on their ability.


How is the course structured and assessed?

All students are taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics throughout Years 9, 10 and 11 with examinations under the AQA GCSE exam board. Experimental work is an integral part of the study of the Sciences and is built into the teaching of each subject throughout the course. There is no controlled assessment for this, but there are a number of core practicals which are covered throughout the course in each subject that are assessed in the terminal exams.

Pupils have six lessons a week of science in Year 9 and will be taught an equal, consistent mix of the three sciences by one teacher. The main emphasis in Year 9 is to teach scientific thinking and processes, aiming to enhance the pupils skills in practical experimentation, as well as the application of theories and analysis of data. They will also be introduced to core further content in preparation for the GCSE courses in Year 10 and 11.

Before entering Year 10, students will choose which Sciences they study within the option blocks. It is compulsory for students to take at least one science option, and it is normal for students to choose two or all three sciences if they wish. They should consider their enjoyment of science, future studies and careers when making this decision, as well as the wider skills that are developed. 

In Years 10 and 11, pupils will have four lessons of each of the Sciences chosen within their 'option blocks' as they work towards the completion of their GCSE exams. Within their chosen topics of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, all pupils sit the same set of 1h 45min examinations structured into Papers 1 and 2 for each topic (for example, Physics Paper 1 is split into Topics 1-4, while Paper 2 covers the remaining Topics 5-8). 


The key aims of these Science courses include: 

  • Acquire scientific knowledge and understanding. 

  • Be able to apply one’s scientific knowledge and understanding. 

  • Sustain and develop an enjoyment and interest in the scientific world. 

  • Appreciate the practical nature of science, acquiring experimental skills based on correct and safe laboratory techniques. 

  • Developing an understanding of the world around us, our impact and how we can be more sustainable.

  • Appreciate the importance of accurate experimental work and reporting of scientific methods. 

  • Develop a logical approach to problem solving in a wider context. 

  • Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of real-life applications of science. 

  • Prepare pupils for more advanced courses in the three Sciences.

A Level

What do I need before starting this course?

The minimum entry requirements are a 7 grade (or high 6) in Biology GCSE or grades 7-7 in Dual Award Science. It’s important that you are confident in Chemistry and Maths; 6 grades in both these subjects at GCSE are required.

What will I learn?

Biology has four core themes that are all interlinked: How Structure relates to Function, Evolution, Cell Theory and How Organisms obtain Energy. As a subject you will, therefore, study it from molecular level and how cells function, right up to the level of the Biosphere (the zone on earth where life can exist). You’ll be challenged intellectually and learn about the internal regulation of the human body, the importance of photosynthesis to all life and how our species is manipulating the rest of Life on Earth both benefitially and detrimentally to all other species.

How is the course assessed?

Practical competency is assessed through the whole course and there are three two hour exam papers at the end of Year 13. In Year 13 you will undertake a Field Trip to Pembrokeshire over the first weekend of the Michaelmas Term half term. While this is not absolutely compulsory, it is strongly recommended students attend. They gain a flavour of university style education and cover most of the ecosystems and statistics as outlined on the syllabus. There is a cost to this trip. We also take our Sixth Form Biologists to Studland Nature Reserve in Dorset, The Edward Jenner Museum in Gloucestershire, and to ‘We The Curious’ in Bristol so they can analyse (in part!) their own genome.


Where next?