Why choose Biology?
Love life, love Biology: it's the study of all life's forms.
Apart from its value as a way of gaining entry to certain careers and courses, we believe that biology is a fascinating subject in its own right and one that we hope students enjoy studying. Biology has a higher profile today than perhaps at any other time and this is reflected in the number of people studying a biology-based course at college and university. Many of the important and often contentious issues which society must address relate to the biological sciences, particularly the role that humankind plays with respect (or lack of it!) to the rest of life. Ethical debates centre around animal experimentation, cloning, genetically modified crops, embryo and fertility research, and the human genome project and the use of its findings. High on the political agenda are health, pollution, environmental protection and food safety. I, heart disease, cancer, drug use and misuse and malnutrition all continue to present us with challenges.
Please note that confidence and ability in GCSE chemistry is essential as biology has a considerable biochemical content. Studying A level chemistry alongside biology does support the biology well but it is not essential. Some biological courses at university require chemistry but there are many that don’t and biology A level also goes well with maths, geography, psychology and PE. A willingness to use numerical techniques is also important so a competence in GCSE maths is essential.
We follow the OCR biology specification A. To view the details of this specification, please go to the OCR website.
Assessment consists of 3 written papers which will include questions based on experience of practical work so practical work is an essential component in the teaching of A level biology.
A feature of the specification is the practical endorsement, common to all science specifications. Students will carry out practical activities to develop their practical skills. Successful completion of these activities will be recorded on the certificate alongside the A level grade. The practical endorsement will not contribute to the A level grade but will ensure that practical work and the skills acquired will remain a vital component of A level to equip students for higher education and biological careers.
The content components are:
Cell biology; Biological molecules; Ecology and ecosystems; Respiration; Photosynthesis; DNA, RNA and protein synthesis; Cell division; Enzymes; Membranes and movement across membranes; DNA technology; Gas exchange; the Heart and circulation; Plant transport; Cell diversity and organisation; Disease and immunity; Homeostasis; the Liver and Kidney; Biodiversity, classification and evolution; Nervous and Hormonal communication; Genetics and inheritance; Animal and plant responses; Cloning and Biotechnology; Populations and sustainability.
"Biology has taught me many new and amazing things, even things that I have been able to use in day to day life!
Outside the Classroom
- All A level biology students have the opportunity to participate in local, one-day field courses.
- We have extensive links with local industry, research institutes, universities other educational institutions. We provide visits to places of biological interest and have a programme of speakers for enrichment and extension.
- The department has strong links with the Royal Society of Biology and other learned societies and many of their activities and events are attended by students. The department has its own Biology, Medical and Veterinary Medicine Societies.
- We offer our students the opportunity to participate in the Nuffield Award scheme and the Biology Olympiad. Our students help at the Cambridge Science Festival, Festival of Plants Day, Cambridge Big Biology Day and attend master classes in university departments and research institutes, amongst a wide variety of extra-curricular opportunities.
- Regular surgeries and support groups are available to help any student encountering problems with particular topics or skills. Student mentor schemes enable students having difficulties to get extra support from their peers.
- Members of the department are able to offer advice and guidance to students considering biology-based university courses including medicine, biomedical science, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, pharmacy, biological sciences, physiotherapy, physiology, environmental science, animal and plant sciences and lots more.
Some frequently asked questions
If at any time you have questions about biology at Hills Road, please do not hesitate to contact us. The College telephone number is 01223 247251.