Biology is the study of living things, ranging from bacteria and yeasts that both nourish and threaten our health, to the plants that provide oxygen and the range of mammals and fish that walk the land and swim in the oceans.

A-level explores the breadth of Biology, from molecules, through cells to organisms, at a time when it is now possible to generate simple living organisms from DNA sequences and edit our own genomes to cure complex diseases.

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What will I learn?

Year 1: You will study the heart and circulation, looking at research into risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. You will study biomolecules, cell transport and genetics as well as developing skills for presenting an argument on ethical issues. You will investigate how organisms develop from a single fertilised egg to a whole multicellular organism, including DNA, protein synthesis and epigenetics.

Year 2: You will study ecosystems, biological forensics, DNA profiling, infectious diseases and the issues surrounding global warming. You will look at respiration, homeostasis, the nervous system, visual development, hormones and how the Human Genome Project is helping to find new treatments for brain disorders.

How is it assessed?

A-level Biology is assessed entirely by written exam at the end of the two-year course. You will sit three 2-hour exam papers, two of which focus on specific subjects while the third and final paper is an opportunity to explore your scientific understanding in new situations and contexts. Your practical skills will also be assessed in class throughout the 2 years to develop the skills to achieve the A-level Biology practical endorsement which sits alongside your final A-level grade.

Next steps

Biology is an essential subject if you are interested in a career with a medical or bio-medical bias e.g. medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, forensic science, or biochemistry.

Biology is an important and useful subject for anyone interested in careers in conservation, biotechnology, sports science and psychology. In addition there are a large number of biology related university degree courses from Marine Biology to Microbiology and Zoology.