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A Level Biology

Examination Board: OCR   

Studying Biology requires deep and broad thinking skills. During the course students are required to understand abstract ideas that cannot be seen, to explain mechanisms of systems and to make links between multiple areas of the specification. They also learn to focus on detail and to use scientific language appropriately. Students carry out a wide range of practical and mathematical techniques that will equip them for practical studies at University. Biology is fascinating and students really immerse themselves in the content coming out with a true passion for learning more. 

Biology A-level is fantastic when applying for any degree course as it provides evidence of specific thinking skills acquired through study of science. Many of our students go on to study subjects such as medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, natural sciences, biochemistry, physiology, biology, zoology, marine biology, psychology but also degrees such as law.

Course Content is split into six teaching modules:

  • Module 1 – The development of practical skills in biology
  • Module 2 – Foundations in biology
  • Module 3 – Exchange and transport
  • Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease
  • Module 5 – Communication, homeostasis and energy
  • Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems

Module 1 of the specification content relates to the practical skills learners are expected to gain throughout the course, which are assessed through written examinations and also through the Practical Endorsement. The Practical Endorsement is teacher assessed throughout the course, over a range of 12 core competencies, and is reported separately to the A-level grade as a Pass/Fail. An important section of this component is covered at a 5 day residential field trip to Slapton Ley in Devon during the autumn of year 13. Learners will also be assessed for their mathematical competence in quantitative skills.  

How this course is assessed  


What is assessed

Percentage of A2

Assessment method


 Biological processes

Content from modules 1, 2, 3 and 5

37% of A level

100 marks

2 hours 15 minutes

Written paper


Biological diversity

Content from modules 1, 2, 4 and 6

37% of A level

100 marks

2 hours 15 minutes

Written paper


Unified Biology

Content from all modules (1 to 6)

26% of A level

70 marks

1 hour 30 minutes

Written paper


Practical endorsement

Practical skills

Reported separately

Internal assessment

Essential Information

  • Students are expected to undertake 5 hours per week of self-study outside of scheduled lessons.
  • A scientific calculator is essential and a lab coat is optional.
  • Biology leads to many future courses/degree subjects, for example, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Pharmacology, Zoology, Biological Sciences, Marine Biology, Neurobiology and Natural Sciences.
  • Should you require additional information, please contact Mrs Cooke, or your daughter’s Biology teacher.   

How can parents help?

  • By encouraging pupils to take responsibility for their own learning, e.g. in personal organisation of notes and in study habits at home, such as making time for regular study.
  • Encouraging students to take an interest in science stories in the news,e.g.new drug developments, world disease.
  • Encouraging reading and use of scientific journals many of which are available in the LRC, e.g. ‘Scientific American’ or ‘New Scientist’.
  • Pointing out programmes of scientific interest, e.g. Horizon (BBC2) or Equinox (C4) or similar programmes.
  • Encourage students to undertake relevant work experience for their chosen career path during the summer holidays.
  • Visit sites of scientific interest, e.g. The Eden Project, The National History Museum.  

Inspiring Science at Beaconsfield High School

As part of our commitment to inspire greater achievement in science and to encourage more of our students to consider careers in STEM fields, the school has recently built three new state-of-the-art science laboratories. One of these is a dedicated A level teaching space, which will be used for some of our A level Biology lessons.