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A level Biology Years 12 and 13


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AQA - The specification and assessment structure can be found at the link:

Biology at A level covers a wide array of exciting topics to enthuse, motivate and develop skills enabling students to pursue a whole range of careers in the future. Biology is never out of the news, whether it be another breakthrough in stem cell research, the impact of diseases on populations, the destruction of more and more fragile habitats and the discovery of new species on our planet.

The exam board students will follow is AQA. A lot more information can be found on their website but the main points about the course are summarised below:

  • There are three exams students will sit at the end of the two years.
  • All exams are 2 hours in length.
  • Paper 1 assesses year 1 content.
  • Paper 2 assesses year 2 content.
  • Paper 3 assesses all content from both years and includes a 25 mark essay.
  • There is a greater emphasis on application and the transfer of knowledge than previous specifications.
  • Modernisation of topics to keep up to date with an ever changing subject.
  • All papers will require students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of practical skills.
  • There is a practical endorsement element to the course which students need to pass.
  • At least 10% of the A Level Biology marks will be the assessment of mathematical skills.

Course Content

Year 1

  • Biological molecules.
  • Cells.
  • Organisms exchange substances in their environment.
  • Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms.

Year 2

  • Energy transfers in and between organisms.
  • Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments.
  • Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems.
  • The control of gene expression.

Additional Information

Each A Level Biology group is taught by two teachers working closely together to deliver each section of work. Lessons incorporate class discussion and debate, interactive presentations, written tasks where students have to apply their knowledge, practical activities and ICT tasks. The department provides students with textbooks and access to online teaching resources to complement lessons and the textbook.

Students interested in careers in medicine, biomedical science, veterinary science, dentistry, biochemistry, zoology, physiotherapy, sport science, environmental science, psychology, marine biology, scientific journalism, agriculture and physiotherapy are advised to consider Biology A level.

Year 12

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term

Biological molecules

Cell structure

Carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, enzymes

Animal, plant and bacterial cells


Transport across cell membranes

Immune system

Diffusion, osmosis, active transport  
Spring Term

Genetic variation

DNA, genes, genetic diversity

2 Exchange Gas exchange in plants and animals  
Summer Term
1 Transport Transport in plants and animals  

Post exams

Respiration and photosynthesis


Year 13

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term

Energy and ecosystems


Energy transfer and nutrient cycles

Genetic crosses


Response to stimuli

Populations and evolution

Populations in ecosystems

Plant growth factors, receptors, nervous system

Natural selection and speciation

Spring Term

Nervous system

Gene expression

Nerve impulse, muscle contraction

Regulation of transcription and translation



Recombinant DNA technology

Control of blood glucose, blood water potential, body temperature

Gene cloning, sequencing, genetic fingerprinting

Summer Term


Resources Topic Type of assessment

Cell structure and biological molecules(carbohydrates, lipids)

Microscopy and eukaryotic  structure and function

Exam style questions

Cell structure and biological molecules including: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Mitosis and the cell cycle

Exam style questions
CAT 3 All topics covered so far Mock Examination
CAT 4 Photosynthesis, respiration, energy and ecosystems and inheritance Exam style questions
CAT 5 All topics covered so far

Mock exam

2 papers (90 minutes each)

Paper 1 and paper 2

CAT 6 A level  

Main Resources

Resource Details Term
Text Book AQA AS Biology (Nelson Thornes)
AQA A level Biology (OUP)
Recommended reading

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Biological Sciences Review (need to subscribe for the year)

New Scientist

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

The Double Helix by James Watson

Genome by Matt Ridley

Recommended websites (online resource accessible for all students with a username and password provided by school) (follow the links for A level Biology)


Enrichment opportunities

Activity Day and time or term
Revision sessions From April

Where Next