Challenge Your Mind


Biology - A Level

Special Entry Requirements:

In addition to the A Level entry requirements you need Grade 5 in GCSE Maths and grade 6 in GCSE Science

Course Introduction:

Please note that Biology is a linear A level and will be assessed at the end of two years of study. You will still sit exams at the end of your first year, but this will not count towards your overall A level grade.
We offer Salters-Nuffield Biology at AS level and A level. We aim to provide a course for students who are interested in science and who may wish to pursue a medical or science related course at University, as well as catering for students who enjoyed Biology at GCSE and who wish to pursue it further in combination with non-science subjects.

Course Modules:

The Salters-Nuffield Biology course has its own distinctive philosophy. It is about turning A Level students into mature and effective biologists who not only have the knowledge of biological principles but also the skills to use that knowledge. Topics are based on a storyline or contemporary issue such as risk and heart disease, with biological principles introduced when required to aid understanding of these issues.

First Year

Topic 1: Lifestyle, Health and Risk – This work is based on the heart and cardiovascular disease. We look at the heart, at diet and lifestyle, and we explore the concept of risks to health.

Topic 2: Genes and Health – This topic is centred round a disease called cystic fibrosis. We look at the causes of this disease at the level of DNA and at the level of the cell. We explore the ethical issues involved in gene therapy, a possible cure.

Topic 3: The Voice of the Genome – Here we explore how a single cell develops into a complex individual. We begin to understand what genes do and how they determine our characteristics. We look at stem cells and the controversies surrounding their uses.

Topic 4: Biodiversity and Natural Resources – How do plants overcome the problems of being rooted to the spot? They have evolved many solutions and we are able to exploit them for our own benefits. We look at drugs from plants and drug trials. Biodiversity, conservation and natural selection are also studied.

Second Year

Topic 5: On the Wild Side – Ecosystems, photosynthesis and energy flow are studied, as is the evidence for global warming and its consequences.

Topic 6: Infection, Immunity and Forensics – We look at how forensic pathologists can determine the cause and time of death. We study how viruses and bacteria invade their hosts, and how, despite our defences like the immune system, pathogens can still cause millions of people to die from infectious diseases.

Topic 7: Run for Your Life – Here we study the changes in the body when humans undertake strenuous exercise, medical technologies which allow more people to participate in sport, and the ethics of performance enhancing drugs.

Topic 8: Grey Matter – The brain and brain imaging are studied, as are the nature of Parkinson’s disease and the effects of ecstasy. The ethics of using animals in medical research are also debated.


First Year – The course is assessed by 2 examinations at the end of the first year, which involve short answer questions to test knowledge, understanding and your ability to apply these. Investigative and practical skills are developed throughout the course and assessed. For those taking the 2 year course these will be internally assessed.

Second Year – The course is assessed by 3 examinations at the end of the second year, covering biology studied during both years of the course. There is also a separate practical skills certificate.

Career Opportunities:

Destinations of our Biology students include

  • Studying Biology related degrees at University
  • Careers in the medical profession, veterinary science, or in a whole range of paramedical careers such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy or nursing.
  • Following a degree in a more specialised branch of Biology such as Marine Biology or Microbiology.
  • Many students use their Biology A Level (alongside, for example Psychology and Chemistry) to help them get onto a Degree in Forensics or Criminology.