The aim of the Biology A-level specification is to ensure that students continue to develop their interest in and enthusiasm for biology, including developing an interest in further study and careers in biology. It is essential that before students are able to embark on these careers that students can appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society. Students will be expected to develop and demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of How Science Works. Students must be committed to developing essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of biology and how they relate to each other.
OCR Biology A is a two year linear specification, therefore, all three of the examinations will be taken at the end of the two year period. In addition, students will need to pass the OCR practical endorsement by evidencing the completion 12 core practicals.
Students with study three modules in their first year; Foundations in Biology, Exchange and Transport and Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease.
Foundations in Biology focuses on cells as the basic units of all living things. Students investigate the functioning of organisms due to the communication and co-operation between specialised cells. In addition, students explore cell division, a fundamental process, necessary for reproduction, growth and repair. Furthermore, students will study proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids which are key biological macromolecules with important roles in living organisms. Students will understand how humans make use of a wide variety of organisms for food, whereas other organisms cause disease.
In their Exchange and Transport module, students will extend this knowledge by considering that in order to survive; living cells need a supply of oxygen and nutrients which in single cells can enter by passive processes. However, once an organism reaches a critical size it requires specialised exchange surfaces and transport systems.
Finally in the module entitled biodiversity, evolution and disease, students will evaluate how evolution has generated a very wide variety of organisms. Students will apply their understanding to state that organism’s share a common ancestry and therefore classify the animals. Students will analyse the increasing recognition of the need to maintain biodiversity.
Students build on their knowledge and understanding from year one by studying an additional two modules; communication,homeostasis and energy, and genetics, evolution and ecosystems.
The first module is a diverse unit looking at how organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environment using responses that are controlled and coordinated electrically and/or chemically.
Students will also consider how metabolic processes produce waste products, many of which are toxic. And how these are excreted. Students will investigate why photosynthesis may be the most important biological process on earth and how respiration is one of the fundamental biological processes and takes place in all living things.
The final unit uncovers how genes control the way in which cells function. Students will investigate how natural processes which occur in cells have been harnessed and manipulated by humansfor our benefit and consider the ethical implications of such practice.
In addition, students will understanding how ecosystems work and how to manage them for sustainability. Students will consider how plants and animals respond to environmental stimuliand consider how these responses enhance the survival of the organisms.
Where could this take you?
There are many opportunities open to you if you have an A level in Biology, such as:
- Genetics and genetic engineering
- Working in industry: health, nursing, medicine and the life sciences
- Agriculture, scientific writing and journalism
A Level Chemistry promotes a meaningful understanding of concepts learnt at GCSE. Explanations of why chemical entities behave in such a way during chemical reactions. Moreover mathematical aspects of fundamental ideas are learnt at this level to better understand how atoms and molecules influence the order of the universe and an explanation to how science works. The course is structured to prepare pupils for university courses, particularly Medicine, Pharmacy, Biomedical Sciences, Biology and Chemistry however A level chemistry would allow pupils to enrol onto other courses not related to science for instance Business, Finance or Law. Final assessments are in the form of written examinations after two years. During the chemistry course, pupils develop their practical investigative skills building on theory and application to practical experimentation, which are assessed as written examination. The content of the course builds on concepts studied at GCSE science and more detailed explanations of chemistry is learnt along with mathematical calculations.
First year topics covered are divided into three categories; Physical, and Inorganic Chemistry.Physical chemistry covers the fundamental concepts such as Atomic Structure,Amount of substance, Bonding, Energetics, Kinetics and Equilibria. Inorganic chemistry covers Periodicity and the chemistry of groups 2, 7 and transition metals. Properties of period 3 are studied and their oxides. Practical experimentation is taught throughout the first year and practical skills are assessed after the two year course as written examination. Practical experiments include making volumetric solutions, titrations and energetic experiments.
Students build on their knowledge and understanding from the first year. The second year of the course involves looking at the organic chemistry. Organic chemistry, also knownas carbon chemistry is about the building blocks of all living things. Topics studied in this unit are such as alkanes, alkenes, alcohol, haloalkanes and carbonyl group chemistry. Various analytical techniques are studied to deduce the structure of organic compounds and the mechanism of certain organic reactionsare studied. Concepts are taught through experiments and development of practical skills, which are examined in written examinations.
Where could this take you?
This course is considered highly by all universities and a pre-requisition to many degree courses including medicine,dentistry, pharmacy, vetinary science, materials science, scientific journalism and writing, research and chemical engineering. Furthermore, many non-science related degrees will accept chemistry, since A level chemistry is regarded as one of the most difficult and demanding subjects learnt at post 16.
A Level Physics is a well rounded course that develops a passion for the subject as well as the theory and skills to progress into further education. Students who follow this program will tend to follow onto university courses in physics, engineering, one of the other sciences or related subjects, or to enter employment where a knowledge of physics would be useful.
Students undertake OCR GCE Physics A (H556)
The aims of this subject are to encourage candidates to:
- develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for physics, including developing an interest in further study and careers in physics;
- appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society;
- develop and demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of How Science Works;
- develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of Physics and how they relate to each other.
Students study three modules:
Module 2: Foundations of Physics. Module 3: Forces and Motion. Module 4: Electrons, Waves and Protons as well as completing work in Module 1: Development of Practical Skills in Physics.
Module 2 introduces students to the important ideas and conventions that permeate the fabric of physics, exploring units, vectors and studying uncertainty. Module 3 explores the mathematical modelling of motion allowing students to develop their understanding of forces and the application of Laws. Module 4 introduces and develops understanding of Electric current, Resistance, DC circuits, Waves and Quantum physics.
Students build on their knowledge and understanding from Year 1 by studying an additional two modules. Module 5: The Newtonian World and Astrophysics. Module 6: Particles and Medical Physics. As in Year 12, Module 1 is covered throughout the course.
Module 5 expands on topics studied in Module 3 by developing Newton's laws of motion and momentum, circular motion and oscillations as well as thermal physics and cosmology.
Module 6 introduces and develops ideas in more challenging areas of physics, namely: Electric and magnetic fields, capacitors and exponential decay, nuclear physics and medical imaging.
Assessment: Modules covered: Method: Weighting:
Modelling Physics 1,2,3,5 Written 37%
Exploring Physics 1,2,4,6 Written 37%
Unified Physics 1-6 Written 26%
Practical Endorsement 1-6 Assessment SeparateWhere could this take you?
An A level in Physics is viewed highly by universities as it trains its students in critical thinking and mathematical skills. Furthermore A level physics is considered a “hard” academic subject and will make applicants that possess a good grade more competitive when applying for university. Relevant degrees include: Physics, Engineering, Astronomy, Mathematics, any science degree, economics and computer science to name a few.