St Augustine's Catholic College

A Level Biology

Biologists are scientists who study the natural world and all the living things in it, from the largest mammals down to our very own microscopic DNA.

They try to understand how animals and organisms work (including us humans), how we evolved and the things that can make us sick or improve our health. Biologists use this knowledge to try to stop the spread of disease, track down natural resources, improve public health, animal care and conservation and work out the true impacts of things like pollution.

The AQA Biology AS course covers an exciting range of Biological topics including: human physiology and body systems, the impact of disease on their function and the defensive mechanisms of the blood. It also explores genetics and the diversity of life and relates them to the concept of classification.

The A Level year continues to develop these themes by introducing population biology and the study of ecosystems and genetic variation. As with the other sciences, biology helps you to build up research, problem solving, organisation and analytical skills.

If you choose to study biology, you will likely find yourself working on group projects, which will help you build your teamwork and communication skills too. Biology is a key subject for lots of STEM careers, particularly in healthcare, medicine and jobs involving plants or animals. There is a long list of careers and includes: nursing, dentistry, forensic science, psychology, physiotherapy, botany, environmental science, zoology, geology, oceanography, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, genetics and research.

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, director of education and training at the Society of Biology, says: “biology opens up exciting career possibilities. From conservation to cancer research, biologists are tackling important 21st century challenges, and we need skilled young people to be part of this.

“It is also important to remember that biology is excellent preparation for non-scientific careers, thanks to the skills it provides – everything from analytical thinking to writing reports.”

Course Content

These qualifications are linear. Linear means that students will sit all the AS exams at the end of their AS course and all the A Level exams at the end of their A Level course

AS Level

  1. Biological molecules

  2. Cells

  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment

  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

A Level extra content

  1. Energy in and between organisms

  2. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

  3. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

  4. The control of gene expression

With the restructure of the A Level courses the AS and A2 courses are decoupled meaning that the exam results for the AS course no longer count towards the A2 course however the AQA course has been developed so that students can progress smoothly from the AS course to the full A2 course.

Internally assessed coursework has been removed meaning that practical skills will be assessed within the written exams but there are key investigations that all students must partake in which will lead to a teacher assessed “practical endorsement in Biology” pass alongside the actual AS/A Level grade. This teacher assessment will be moderated by an external body. It is only awarded to the A2 course.


Previous trips have included a visit to @ Bristol for DNA fingerprinting; Broughton Burrows for ecology


AS Level Assessment

  • There are two 1.5 hour exams worth 50% which will assess content from all four

A Level Assessment

  • Paper 1 is a 2 hour exam assessing content from AS modules 1, 2, 3 and 4

  • Paper 2 is a 2 hour exam assessing content from A2 modules 5,6,7 and 8

  • Paper 3 is a 2 hour exam assessing content from modules 1-8 and Practical skills