Sixth Form Course Information


Course Details

Awarding Body: OCR 
Staff Contacts: Mr S Dewhurst (

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Key features of the course

Biology is the study of living organisms and how these interact with each other and their environments. Biology is really a multidisciplinary subject that is made of many different and interdependent fields. Biology explores how living systems are constructed, as well as how they develop, communicate, interact, reproduce, defend themselves, and shape the biophysical environment around them. Biologists are constantly looking to understand links between different disciplines of biology and in this sense evolution is a unifying concept in biology.

At Advanced Level, the subject is made up of major core components such as cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, genetics, ecology and evolution. At degree level these macro-sub disciplinary areas further divide into further interesting topics, such as medical genetics, microbial genetics, molecular genetics and ecological genetics, which are just are just some branches of genetics.  All of this demonstrates that biology really is the science that is undergoing an incredible and exciting revolution in our understanding, one that started in the 20th Century with the elucidation of the structure of DNA, and now continues in the 21st century with the completion of the Human Genome Project, and the emergence of disciplines such as proteomics, genomics and synthetic biology.  The subject of biology is never dull or static. For example, there is incredible excitement and anticipation around projects such the USAs BRAIN Initiative and the EU’s Human Brain Project, both of which seek to unravel and brain’s neuronal map. 

In this section

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A minimum of 5 GCSE’s at grade 4 or above (including English and Maths) and Separate Science – Biology Grade 6 or above or Combined Science Grade 7-6 or above
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What could this course
lead on to?

Students who study biology at A level learn the fundamentals of the cell, biochemistry, ecology, physiology and other key elements of subject so that they can go on to study subjects at degree level such as agriculture, biochemistry, biomedical science, genetics, ecology, medicine, dentistry, neurology, physiology and zoology.  

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Future prospects
and careers

Biology is a key subject for lots of STEM careers, particularly in healthcare, medicine and jobs involving plants or animals. The list is very long and includes: nursing, dentistry, conservation, cancer research, forensic science, psychology, physiotherapy, botany, environmental science, zoology, geology, oceanography, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, genetics and research.


Biology is excellent preparation for non-scientific careers, thanks to the skills it provides – everything from analytical thinking to writing reports.

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, director of education and training at the Society of Biology, says: “biology opens up exciting career possibilities. From conservation to cancer research, biologists are tackling important 21st century challenges, and we need skilled young people to be part of this.”

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What type of student is this
course suitable for?

An enquiring mind and an interest in the natural world and the functioning of living things (including humans) are essential for the study of Biology. A Level Biology suits students that can grasp and follow the sequence of a process and have an ability to problem solve. However these skills are developed through the A Level course. Good literacy and numeracy skills are also very important to achieve success in this course.


It is important to understand the assessment structure of the course. What percent are the units ? Are they internally or externally assessed ? Are they exams or coursework?
Unit 1
  • Development of practical skills in biology
  • Assessed as part of all 3 exams
Unit 2
  • Foundations in biology
  • Assessed as part of all 3 exams
Unit 3
  • Exchange and transport
  • Assessed as part of 2 of the exams
Unit 4
  • Biodiversity, evolution and disease
  • Assessed as part of 2 of the exams
Unit 5
  • Communication, homeostasis and energy
  • Assessed as part of 2 of the exams
Unit 6
  • Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
  • Assessed as part of 2 of the exams
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