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Biology

AS Biology (consisting of 3 units)

Unit 1

  • Topic 1: Lifestyle, health and risk. This topic begins with a consideration of the structure and functions of a number of molecules, including water, carbohydrates and triglycerides. The structure and function of the cardiovascular system is also included as an introduction to the ways in which diet and lifestyle factors may affect the heart and circulatory system. Ideas about correlation, causation and the concept of risk to health are covered.
  • Topic 2: Genes and health. This topic begins with a consideration of the structure and functions of the cell membrane and gas exchange surfaces. The structure and
    properties of proteins, enzyme and nucleic acids lead to the genetic code. Principles of inheritance, gene therapy and genetic screening are included, giving opportunities for discussion of the social and ethical issues surrounding genetic screening.

Assessment is by a written paper lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is worth 40% of the AS.

Unit 2

  • Topic 3: The voice of the genome. This topic begins with an overview of cell structure and considers how cell ultrastructure is related to function. Cell division and cell aggregation to form tissues and organs are also included. The topic then considers meiosis, fertilisation, stem cells, gene expression and cell differentiation. The role of the genotype and the effect of the environment on phenotype is also stressed.
  • Topic 4: Biodiversity and natural resources. This topic begins with a comparison of the structure of a typical plant cell with that of an animal cell, and the structure and roles of cellulose and starch. The relationship between plant tissues, xylem and sclerenchyma, is also included. The topic continues with a consideration of the importance of plant products to humans, species diversity and how diversity arises through natural selection and evolutionary change. The role of zoos in the conservation of endangered species is also described.

Assessment is by a written paper lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is worth 40% of the AS.

Unit 3: Practical biology and research skill
Students write a report of between 1500 and 2000 words. This is either a record of a visit to a site of biological interest or a report of research into a biological topic. A possible visit could be to Howletts Zoo to link with the content of Unit 2 on the role of zoos in the conservation of endangered species. Students’ practical skills will also be assessed by the teacher throughout the year.

The report is marked by the teacher and moderated by Edexcel. Assessment is based on the content of Units 1 and 2. It is worth 20% of the AS.

A2 Biology (consisting of 3 units)

Unit 4

  • Topic 5: On the wild side. This topic builds the idea that photosynthesis is the primary process that underpins the majority of ecosystems. The topic continues by looking at whether climate change will lead to extinction of species or evolution by natural selection and looks at the evidence for global warming and its effects on plants and animals. By the end of the topic students should appreciate how scientific understanding can make us aware of our responsibilities as stewards of
    the environment.
  • Topic 6: Infection, immunity and forensics. This topic looks at how forensic pathologists use a wide variety of analytical techniques to determine the identity of a person or other animal and to establish the time and cause of death of an organism, including humans. It then considers how bacteria and viruses use a variety of routes into their hosts and how hosts have evolved barriers and internal mechanisms to combat infections.

Assessment is by a written paper lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes. It is worth 40% of the A2.

Unit 5

  • Topic 7: Run for your life. This topic begins with a study of muscle structure and function and respiration. The responses of the heart and respiratory system to exercise are included, with the concept of homeostasis and its importance in both the regulation of body temperature and at the molecular level. This is followed by the effects of both too much and too little exercise on the body, how medical technology is used in relation to sports and the use of performance-enhancing substances by athletes.
  • Topic 8: Grey matter. This topic begins by considering how plants detect and respond to changes in their environment. This is followed by the structure and function of the mammalian nervous system, including imaging techniques to investigate the brain. Then how
    imbalances in brain chemicals may result in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. The ethics of the Human Genome Project are discussed as are the risks and benefits associated with the use of genetically modified organisms.

Assessment is by a written paper lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes. It is worth 40% of the A2.

Unit 6: Practical biology and investigative skills
Students will complete a written report of an experimental investigation which they have devised and carried out. This investigation can be carried out in the laboratory but it is likely that we will allow our students to meet this requirement through an off-site fieldwork course.

This piece of work will be marked by the teacher and moderated by Edexcel. The assessment must be linked to the content of
the full GCE in biology. The work must reflect the standard expected at Advanced GCE level. It is worth 20% of the A2.

  • The Prince's Teaching Institute Leadership 2018
  • Ofsted Outstanding
  • PTI 18-19