A Level Course Outline
Why study Biology A level?
Biology is the study of life and living processes. It is the science that, as human beings, we can relate to the most, because much of what there is to learn relates directly to us.
The second year of the course builds on the important foundations which were taught during the first year of study. Many more connections will be laid out between topics as the course unfolds, and making these connections will be very satisfying.
It is 50 years since the structure of DNA was deciphered by Watson, Crick and Franklin. This discovery led to an explosion in our understanding of what makes life tick.
Many new technologies have arisen directly from their work, for example: DNA fingerprinting and mapping the genome; genetic testing; cloning; genetic manipulation and stem cell technologies. We are only now just beginning to unravel the potentials these will provide for humanity.
The course represents the first serious attempt to incorporate this new knowledge into A-level. It also aims to give students more of an insight into the mechanisms of scientific research (the so called 'How Science Works' element), as well as an understanding of the knowledge and principles.
Together they form an excellent preparation for further study of the Biosciences at university level. With all of this discovery, there has never been a more exciting time to study Biology.
What are the challenging aspects of the course?
Content is split into six teaching modules:
Module 1 - Development of Practical skills
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
*Contribution to overall A-level grade.
Components 01, 02 and 03 assessed in summer of second year
Evidence of practical skill collected over the two years
Structure of the Course
This course will be taught for 6x 1hour lessons per week. Homework is set weekly. Lessons will be a mixture of theory and practical. Mock exams take place each month, in addition to formative weekly tests. Reading around a variety of journals such as New Scientist or Nature and good quality broadsheet newspapers is essential.
A-level Biology A for OCR Student Book (Science A-level for OCR) by Ann Fullick Paperback Oxford University Press ISBN-13: 978-0198351924
The Selfish Gene 40th Anniversary edition. By Richard Dawkins
For students with particular interest in evolution and genetics.
Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are By Robert Plomin
For students with a particular interested in the link between genetics and psychology.
Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life By Edward O. Wilson
For students particularly interested in biodiversity, ecology, climate change, broader environmental issues and conservation biology.
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor By Adam kay
Essential reading for studets considering a career path in medicine.
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