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Biology is rapidly changing, with new discoveries and ideas being reported on an almost daily basis. The advances in genetics, cell biology and medicine will impact on all our lives. The biology course at Lytchett aims to provide an in-depth understanding of these developments while maintaining a sense of wonder of the natural world.

Summary of course content

The OCR course is designed for those students who wish to develop their interest in and enthusiasm for biology. Key concepts are tackled, such as how genes control animal functions, conservation and how we deal with disease. Synoptic links between different areas are stressed in the course.

Topics covered

Foundations in biology
• Biological molecules
• Basic components of living systems
• Enzymes
• Plasma membranes
• Cell divisions

Exchange and transport
• Exchange surfaces and breathing
• Transport in animals and plants

Biodiversity, evolution and disease
• Classification and evolution
• Biodiversity
• Communicable diseases

Communication, homeostasis and energy
• Excretion as an example of homeostatic control
• Neural and hormonal communication
• Plant and animal responses
• Photosynthesis and respiration

Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
• Cellular control
• Patterns of inheritance
• Manipulating genomes
• Cloning and biotechnology
• Ecosystems
• Populations and sustainability


There are regular assessment tasks set within the class which consist of practical work; this is an integral part of the course. Over the period of the two years, students will complete twelve required practicals. Students may be awarded a practical endorsement attached to their A Level if these practicals are completed to the appropriate standard. The skills gained during the practical work will be assessed as part of the examination papers. Students complete three examination papers at the end of the course.

Paper 1: Biological processes – 100 marks, 2 hrs 15 min, 37% of total A Level
Paper 2: Biological diversity – 100 marks, 2 hrs 15 min, 37% of total A Level
Paper 3: Unified biology – 70 marks, 1 hr 30 min, 26% of total A Level

Methods of working

Students receive ten lessons in a two-week cycle shared between two teachers. A high emphasis is placed on practical work and its use in a biological context. The biology specification is taught through applications and real-life contextual content wherever possible. It is expected that, in addition to set homework, students will undertake a significant amount of self-study in their own time. A field trip forms an integral part of the course.

Skills acquired

Students will develop the ability to think logically and apply their knowledge to novel situations. They will also need to critically analyse data and draw conclusions from that information. Good practical skills are required to undertake experimental work.

Where the course leads

The course offers an excellent preparation for students entering work or higher education. Scientific careers, such as medicine, nursing, environmental work, veterinary science and agriculture, are an obvious link. A science qualification is useful to prospective employers, showing that you are numerate, capable of logical thought and good at problem solving.

Special entry requirements

A minimum of GCSE grade 6 in combined science or biology and a grade 5 in English and mathematics.