Biology A level

Course Information

Our Biology course can be studied as either an AS level or as a full A level qualification. It provides the basis for a well-rounded understanding of the latest theory of biological science, from the micro to the macro level.

The AS level course covers the fundamental aspects of biology, including cells, viruses and reproduction; biological molecules, classification and biodiversity, and exchange and transport.

If you study for the full A level, you’ll also learn about microbiology and pathogens, 41 Lessonsmodern genetics, ecosystems, energy for biological processes, origins of genetic variation and control systems.

Together, these modules will help to develop a knowledge of how biological processes work, deepening your understanding of topics like medicine and disease, evolution and natural selection, habitats and the environment.

The course includes 41 Lessons 14 Tutor-marked assignments and 5 practice exam papers

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Examining board and exams

The Biology A level course will prepare you for 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

The A level course is assessed by three written examinations:

  • Advanced Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics (1 hour 45 minutes, 30% of final mark)
  • Advanced Physiology, Evolution and Ecology (1 hour 45 minutes, 30% of final mark)
  • General and Practical Principles in Biology (2 hours 30 minutes, 40% of final mark)

Please note that the A level specification lists a number of practical skills to be internally assessed by teachers. The practical endorsement is recorded as a separate pass/fail on your certificate and does not affect your primary mark.  See the section on the Practical Endorsement for more details.

What can I do with a Biology A level?

Biology A Level is required for many Higher Education courses in medicine and healthcare. If you want to become a doctor, a vet, a pharmacist or a nurse for example, it’s a key subject that will lay the groundwork for all that you’ll need to learn.

However, there’s much more to biology than this. Anyone who wants to study or work in the natural world – whether in agriculture, animal care, forestry or landscaping – will benefit from understanding the biological forces that cause changes in nature.

Biology also combines well with social sciences, including archaeology, anthropology, psychology and sociology. If you’re interested in criminal investigation, particularly forensics, a background in biology and a good understanding of genetic theory will be useful.

Expertise in biology can open up interesting new perspectives on other academic subjects, too, making it a good candidate for a combined degree. As well as the other core sciences like chemistry and physics, biology may be combined with subjects like history, astronomy and climatology.

Of course, biology isn’t just an academic discipline – it’s also a highly practical one. Even if you’re not planning on going into higher education yet, a good Biology A level will be useful for careers in:

  • Food science and technology
  • Sports
  • Personal training
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Conservation
  • Health and safety
  • Agriculture

How much does it cost?

Our Biology A level course fee is £475 with a £95 deposit, payable in eight instalments of £47.50.

You will receive support from a fully-qualified tutor holding either a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or a degree in education.

This support includes:

  • Marking all assignments for the course
  • Written answers to specific study problems
  • Telephone contact, if required

When you begin this course, you will agree an examination date or dates with your Student Adviser. Your support period lasts up to this examination date.


Prerequisites

The specification assumes that you have obtained a grade C or above at (I)GCSE Biology or Double Award Science.

The Biology A level specification also assumes some of the Chemistry studied at (I)GCSE. This is covered by the course and textbook, but you will need to do some extra work if these ideas are new to you.

Mathematics – 10% of the marks are awarded for using Mathematics in a biological context.  The level corresponds to the higher tier mathematics GCSE.

The relevant areas of Mathematics are covered by the course and a dedicated chapter of the textbook.

The Practical Endorsement

The Biology A level specification 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 is not necessary to obtain a statement of practical competency to obtain the qualification

Most of the Oxford Open Learning Trusts students don’t do the practical competency.  However, if you wish to take the practical competency there are exam centres who are able to provide this service, although at a hefty price. Speak to your student adviser who will be able to provide you with a list of exam centres who can help.

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