A-level Biology is a challenging, rewarding course that will help you to develop skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career.
Biology involves the study of a wide range of exciting topics ranging from molecular biology to the study of ecosystems and from microorganisms to fin whales. Biology is never far from the headlines either
The human genome has been sequenced and we know the complete arrangement of the three thousand million bases that make up human DNA. In Kenya, roughly 4% of the population are living with AIDS and in South East Asia the skies are dark with smoke as the last Bornean rainforests are burned to grow oil palms.
Biologists are concerned with all these issues. They work in the fields of cell biology, medicine, food production and ecology.
The work they do is vital to us all.
In Year 1, you'll study 4 main topics:
Organisms exchange substances with their environment
Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms. These topics will give a solid grounding in Biology
Year 2 helps you build on that firm foundation and consists of the following 4 main topics:
Energy transfers in and between organisms
Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
The control of gene expression
In addition, a separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A level. This will be assessed by your teacher and will be based on direct observations of 5 skill areas in at least 12 different compulsory practicals. You will be awarded a pass or a fail for this aspect of the course at the end of Year 2.
In Year 1 there will be opportunities to take part in ‘Be a Biologist for a Day’ at the University of Sheffield.
In Year 2 there will be field work days where you will carry out one of your compulsory practical investigations from the topic on ecosystems.
The Academy’s general entry criteria of a minimum of five 4s at GCSE applies, including English Language and Maths. A minimum of 5 in Biology GCSE (or two grade 5s if you have done double award science at GCSE), is needed to study Biology at A Level.
Grade 5 in Maths is also desirable.
Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:
sport and exercise science
molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry
psychology – take a look at our psychology subject guide
There are a wide range of degree courses on offer, with numerous options to take one or more different subjects together. While many will offer core topics with a choice of modules, it is important to remember that there is no national curriculum at degree level and course content can vary significantly.
There is a wide number of science-related careers you can enter with a biological science degree. Additionally, some careers require a relevant postgraduate qualification. The key areas of employment include:
healthcare – public and private
pharmaceutics and biotechnology
environment and agriculture
scientific sales and marketing
technical media and journalism
Examples of related careers include the following:
healthcare scientist in clinical biochemistry, haematology, or immunology