A Level Biology

Introduction – why choose this subject?

The A level Biology course covers a wide variety of concepts such as biological molecules, cells and immunology, organisms exchanging substances, energy transfers between organisms, organisms responding to change and genetics.


There are also 12 required practicals over the full 2-year course, as well as opportunities to complete supplementary practical work. Students will need to complete all the required practicals to receive their practical endorsement which forms part of their qualification. The practicals are designed to consolidate theory and to ensure that students going onto to scientific post 18 pathways have the relevant skills and qualities they need to be successful. The practical element of the course is also a brilliant opportunity to demonstrate working safely and effectively as part of a team and is often something students choose to highlight in future applications for university and apprenticeships.


The A level curriculum provides students with a much deeper understanding of the natural world around them. Students analyse biochemical pathways that are fundamental to a number of different life forms. They also deepen their understanding of natural defences against disease. Students are also regularly given recent examples from the world around us, as a vehicle for discussion about the impact of biological processes on our environment. A Level Biology is regarded highly by top universities, degree apprenticeships, and employers as it enables students to demonstrate so many key skills and qualities as they complete the course. Studying A level biology can give students access to studying university degrees in neuroscience, natural sciences, zoology, biomedical engineering, genetics, marine biology, nursing, midwifery and medicine.

How is the course assessed?

A Level Biology is 100% exam based. The units taught are:


Biological Molecules: All life on Earth shares a common chemistry of carbon-based compounds that interact in similar ways. This provides indirect evidence for evolution.


Cells: All life exists as cells, which arise from other cells via binary fission, mitosis and meiosis. Cell signalling and immunology.


Organisms exchange substances with their environment: Exchange systems in insects, fish and humans. Mass transport systems in plants (xylem and phloem) and humans (circulatory system and tissue fluid).


Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms: Biodiversity. Genes and genetic codes. Genetic diversity within a species


Energy transfers in and between organisms: Photosynthesis and respiration. Energy transfer in ecosystems. Nutrient cycles (nitrogen and phosphate)


Organisms respond to changes; Survival and response looking at receptors, control of heart rate, nervous coordination and skeletal muscles. Homeostasis and negative feedback including blood sugar and kidney functions.


Genetics, populations and ecosystems: Inheritance of alleles and population genetics. Evolution may lead to speciation. Investigating ecosystems and conservation


The control of gene expression: Cells control metabolic activities by regulating transcription, including epigenetics, and translation. DNA technology to diagnose and treat human diseases.


Paper 1

Units 1-4

Written exam 2 hours

91 marks, a variety of short and longer response questions


Paper 2

Units 5-8

Written exam 2 hours

91 marks, a variety of short and longer response questions


Paper 3

Units 1-8

Written exam 2 hours

78 marks

Section A: a variety of short and longer response questions with a focus on practical questions and data interpretation.

Section B: 25 mark essay


The course textbook is CGP A Level biology which can be purchased on parent pay.


Students will need;

  • Scientific calculator
  • Lever arch folder
  • Dividers

Homework and learning outside the classroom

Students also have a wonderful opportunity to take part in an overnight fieldwork visit to Boggle Hole on the east coast. Students are permitted entry to Dolby Forest to analyse the biodiversity in different areas of the forest before heading to the rocky shore to complete other techniques of biological sampling. Students stay in a youth hostel overnight and enjoy games on the beach in the evening as part of their visit.


Students are welcome to attend an A level Biology drop-in for extra help and support with their studies on a specified day/time each week.


Homework will involve past paper questions, Seneca work, practice questions, and preparation and research around required practical’s.

KS3 Science

KS4 Science

KS5 Science

Allerton High School
King Lane, Leeds
West Yorkshire LS17 7AG
ssat ssat Leading Edge Healthy Schools Ofsted