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St Paul's School
for Girls

Key Stage 5 - Biology

Biology Examinations Board: OCR Biology A:

Current Course Tutors: Mrs Rigg, Miss Staciwa, Miss Randell, Mrs Maxwell

Is it for you?

Do you have an enquiring mind and a sound work ethic. If you have an interest in a wide range of biology topics such as disease, the immune system, genetics, evolution, human biology and plant biology, to mention but a few, and if you enjoy carrying out investigations, then you will enjoy this course. Many girls go on to read biological related subjects at university. There is a big emphasis on developing practical skills and understanding the process of how science works. This is assessed in the written examination papers and a non-exam practical endorsement part of the course where a minimum of 12 practical activities have to be carried out to demonstrate practical competence. There is now no coursework for A level Biology. The course is designed to stimulate the enthusiasm of students and to present biology as a subject that is exciting, relevant and challenging.

Teaching Modules


Development of practical skills in biology

Planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation.

2.Foundations in biology

Cells, membranes, organisation, biological

molecules and enzymes.

3.Exchange and transport

Exchange surfaces, transport in animals and

transport in plants.

4.Biodiversity, evolution and disease

Disease and the immune system, biodiversity,

classification and evolution.

5.Communication, homeostasis and energy

Communication, homeostasis, excretion,

hormones, the nervous system, plant and animal

responses, photosynthesis and respiration.

6.Genetics, evolution and ecosystems

Cellular control, inheritance, genetic engineering,

biotechnology, cloning, ecosystems and


Exam 1

– Biological processes

2 hour 15 minutes written paper

37% of total A level (100 marks)

Exam 2

– Biological Diversity

2 hour 15 minutes written paper

37% of total A level (100 marks)

Exam 3

– Unified Biology

1 hour 30 minutes written paper

26% of total A level (70 marks)

Exams will assess content from a

combination of modules 1-6.


Practical Endorsement in Biology


Non-exam assessment.

12 practical activities

Reported separately to grade.


An integral part of the course is fieldwork. The students are encouraged to attend a residential course in the summer at the end of Year 12 in order to strengthen their understanding in this aspect. The cost is to be confirmed but is usually in the region of £250. There are other opportunities such as attending lectures at Birmingham University on current issues such as, ‘Stem cells.’

Entry Requirements

B in Biology or AA Combined Sciences

Due to the level of the language and mathematical content there is a recommendation (not a requirement) of a minimum grade B in GCSE Maths and English.

The new biology specification requires a higher level of mathematics than in previous years, and involves some level 3 mathematics, which is higher than GCSE level. So you need to be fairly good at mathematics. However, you do not need to study A level mathematics to study biology as all that you need will be taught on the biology course. 10% of the marks in the 3 papers sat in at the end of Year 13 will be based on higher mathematical skills, in addition to some marks for GCSE level mathematics.

Career Possibilities

In addition to providing a sound basis for careers in many non-related fields such as Law and Accountancy, A-level Biology may be a specific requirement for degree courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science and Biological Sciences. Other opportunities arise in Environmental Science and allied Medical Studies, such as Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Biochemistry.

Useful subject combinations:

Chemistry / Mathematics / Geography complement the study of biology at A Level. In addition, a student wishing to continue her studies at university should study Chemistry to give a wider choice of university options. The combination of Biology with Chemistry is essential to study Medicine, Pharmacy and Veterinary science.