Biology A level

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Biology is the study of life: its organisms, its molecular basis, its origins and the ecosystems that it inhabits. Interesting in its own right, it also deals with topics of pressing human concern such as disease, habitat destruction and genetic engineering. The Oxford Open Learning course brings you right to the cutting edge of this exciting and rapidly developing discipline.


The following topics are for all students, including those who just wish to study the AS level course:

  • Biological Molecules
  • Cells, Viruses and Reproduction of Living Things
  • Classification and Biodiversity
  • Exchange and Transport

The following additional topics are for those who wish to study the full A level course:

  • Energy for biological processes
  • Microbiology and pathogens
  • Modern genetics
  • Origins of genetic variation
  • Control systems
  • Ecosystems

The full A level course is assessed by three written papers:

  • Paper 1 – 1 hour 45 minutes -Advanced Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics. 30%  of the final mark
  • Paper 2 – 1 hour 45 minutes Advanced Physiology, Evolution and Ecology. 30% of the final mark
  • Paper 3 – 2 hours 30 minutes – General and Practical Principles in Biology. 40% of the final mark

These papers also test knowledge of the 16 Core Practicals listed in the specification.

The A level (although not the AS) specification also lists a number of practical skills to be internally assessed by teachers. This assessment leads to a statement of “practical competency”  – simply a pass – which is reported alongside the grade on the final A level certificate. It will not be possible for you to be tested in this way. However, it is not necessary to obtain a statement of practical competency to obtain an A level grade and certificate, and lack of a pass in them has no effect. Please ask to speak to a Student Adviser if you would like any more information or help on this topic.


Biology A Level and Home Education FAQs

The course prepares students for the following two Edexcel specifications:

  • AS Biology B (Advanced Subsidiary GCE in Biology B): course code 8BIO
  • A Level Biology B (Advanced GCE in Biology B): course code 9BIO

When you start your course with us you will agree an examination date or dates with your Student Adviser.  Your support period is then up to this examination date.

Normally speaking we would expect students to have a minimum of 4 good GCSEs in order to start the Biology A level.  This must ideally include a grade C or above in Maths and English.

If you feel you have other qualifications  or experience which would enable you to start the course, please call one of our student advisers on 0800 0111 024 and we can discuss your suitability for the course.

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