Biology

AS and A2 LEVEL Biology
Aims of the course

DSCF0713The AS and A level specifications in biology encourage students to:

  • recall and show understanding of scientific knowledge, organise and communicate information in a variety of ways;
  • build on concepts and skills that will have been developed in the new GCSE specification;
  • analyse and evaluate scientific knowledge and apply it to unfamiliar situations;
  • demonstrate and describe practical techniques and processes;
  • be aware of advances in technology, including information technology, relevant to biology;
  • recognise the value and responsible use of biology in society;
  • sustain and develop their enjoyment of, and interest in, biology.

Course structure
Students study a modular course of 6 units leading to GCE A level qualification. The units covered in the AQA specification are as follows:

AS Outline

  • Biology and disease
  • The variety of living organisms
  • Investigative and practical skills in AS biology

A2 Outline

  • Populations and environment
  • Control in cells and in organisms
  • Investigative and practical skills in A2 biology

Assessment of the course
Modules are examined in June. The final qualification is calculated from the sum of the marks from the 6 units.
Assessed practical work counts for 20% of the final marks. For a full breakdown of the course see tables 1 and 2.

Course breakdown for GCE AS level biology
AS Examination

Unit 1 – Biology and disease – BIOL1
Examination paper (100 UMS) (60 raw marks)
5 – 7 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions, a short comprehension and a short structured essay
1¼ hours
33.33% of the total AS marks
16.67% of the total A-level marks

Unit 2 – The variety of living organisms – BIOL2
Examination paper (140 UMS) (85 raw marks)
7 – 9 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions (1 data handling and 1 assessing analysis and evaluation)
1¾ hours
46.67% of the total AS marks
23.33% of the total A-level marks

Unit 3 – Investigative and practical skills in AS Biology – BIOL3
AS Centre Assessed Unit (60 UMS) (50 raw marks)
Practical Skills Assessment (PSA) 6 marks
Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA) 44 marks
20% of the total AS marks
10% of the total A-level marks

Course breakdown for GCE A2 biology
A2 Examination

Unit 4 – Populations and environment – BIOL4
Examination paper (100 UMS) (75 raw marks)
6 – 9 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions (a short comprehension and a short structured essay)
1½ hours
16.67% of the total A-level marks

Unit 5 – Control in cells and in organisms – BIOL5
Examination paper (140 UMS) (100 raw marks)
8 – 10 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions (a data-handling question and a synoptic essay – choice of 1 out of 2)
2 ¼ hours
23.33% of the total A-level marks

Unit 6 – Investigative and practical skills A2 Biology – BIOL6
A2 Centre Assessed Unit (60 UMS) (50 raw marks)
Practical Skills Assessment (PSA) 6 marks
Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA) 44 marks
10% of the total A-level marks

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