A Level Biology (Reformed 2015)

 

What is Biology?

Biology explores and investigates living creatures and the processes that occur in nature. It aims to understand how organisms work and interact with each other by exploring the disciplines of biochemistry, physiology, genetics, health and ecology.

What sort of student does it suit and what will you get out of the course?

Potential Biology students will need a solid grounding in basic scientific and mathematical theory and should have some experience in using basic laboratory equipment. The course is vital to students wishing to pursue careers in most scientific disciplines, such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Microbiology, Genetics, Sports Science and Environmental Science. The course aims to develop skills in observation, analysis and manipulation of data and in writing clearly and scientifically, but also seeks to improve knowledge and understanding of topical issues related to the subject.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

The MPW approach aims to give students a comprehensive grounding in the basic principles of each topic and then gives opportunities to develop a wider understanding of the subject by reading about relevant current affairs. This is backed up by setting regular homework and weekly timed assignments based on past exam questions. Many topics are directly reinforced by practical work carried out during class time.

AS specification

AQA 7401 

 

Topic 1 – Biological Molecules

  • Monomers and polymers
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Nucleic acids
  • ATP
  • Water
  • Inorganic ions

Topic 2 – Cells

  • Cell structure
  • All cells arise from other cells
  • Transport across membranes
  • Cell recognition and the immune system

Topic 3 – Organisms exchange substances with their environment

  • Surface area to volume ratio
  • Gas exchange
  • Digestion and absorption
  • Mass transport

 Topic 4 – Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

  • DNA, genes and chromosomes
  • DNA and protein synthesis
  • Genetic diversity can arise as a result of mutation or during meiosis
  • Genetic diversity and adaptation
  • Species and taxonomy
  • Biodiversity within a community
  • Investigating diversity 

Assessment

Paper 1

  • 50% of the total AS marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Covers and content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

 Paper 2

  • 50% of the total AS marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Covers and content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

Reading list 

AuthorTitlePublisher
Toole and Toole AQA Biology AS/Year 1 Student Book Oxford University Press

A Level

MPW approach to A2 study

The A-level course aims to build on the knowledge and understanding developed during the AS course. The importance of wider reading is further emphasised in order to make links between areas of theory covered. Once again, this is backed up by setting regular homework and weekly timed assignments based on past exam questions. Emphasis is particularly placed on developing skills to effectively answer synoptic questions.

A2 Specification Number
AQA 7402 

 

Topic 5 - Energy transfers in and between organisms

  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration
  • Energy and Ecosystems
  • Nutrient cycles

Topic 6 - Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

  • Stimuli
  • Nervous coordination
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Homeostasis

Topic 7 - Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

  • Inheritance
  • Populations
  • Evolutions may lead to speciation
  • Populations in ecosystems

Topic 8 - The control of gene expression

  • Alteration of the sequence of bases in DNA
  • Gene expression
  • Using genome projects
  • Gene technologies

Assessment

 

Paper 1

  • 35% of the total A-level marks
  • 2 hours
  • Covers any content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

Paper 2

  • 35% of the total A-level marks
  • 2 hours
  • Covers any content from topics 5-8, including relevant practical skills

Paper 3

  • 30% of the total A-level marks
  • 2 hours
  • Covers any content from topics 1-8, including relevant practical skills

Reading list

AuthorTitlePublisher
Toole and Toole AQA Biology AS/ Year 2 Student Book Oxford University Press

 

Further details can be found at http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/as-and-a-level/biology-7401-7402

Jonathon

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
Exeter University (Business Management)

I chose MPW because of the academic support provided by the college, which was instrumental in helping me throughout the challenging nature of my one-year A level courses. The weekly Timed Assignments and assistance provided by the Personal Tutor system helped me in areas I had previously struggled. Playing for the college football team was a great release from the challenging academic nature of the year and it helped me build friendships with other students in the college.

Shivali

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Leeds University (Dentistry)

The best part about studying at MPW is the friendly, encouraging and supportive classroom environment that MPW provides.  It makes asking for help and reaching your potential easy and enjoyable. The college really helps students to believe in themselves.  The Personal Tutor system is great because it is available for you to use to whatever extent you might need whether that be having weekly meetings or meeting every now and then for a quick catch up to analyse my current progress.  The weekly Timed Assignments have also enabled me to build my confidence in the build up to my exams.  They help you to feel comfortable in an exam environment, as well as enable you to consolidate the material you need to recall in the final exams

Annabel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AB

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations and History)

“Having not achieved the grades I wanted or needed in my A levels at my previous college I decided that retaking would be the best option for me.  I have found the small classes at MPW to be a real asset, and that, coupled with the fantastic teaching, has certainly enabled me to grow academically. Further to this, both the academic support and the university guidance provided by the college have been exceptional.”

Renee

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A

Progressed to
Manchester University (Dentistry)

After failing to get into Dental School last year I lost a lot of confidence and was worried that I might never get into my dream course.  The one-to-one support you get from MPW is so much more efficient compared to the main stream schools and colleges. The individual help you get for applying to University which includes interview support is amazing. No matter if you are a resit or a first time student, no one judges you and as long as you are hardworking and want to be a success.

Jake

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*A

Progressed to
Oxford University (Mathematics)

I joined MPW because I wanted to be part of a close knit community that focuses on helping students attain the grades they are really capable of.  Each student is assigned a Personal Tutor who assists them in all aspects of student life.  I would recommend the individual and personally tailored care given to any student looking to expand their academic horizons.  The encouragement and support has allowed me to aim high and achieve results that I had previously thought weren't possible. 

Cordelia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
King’s College London (Dentistry)

MPW gave me a second chance in pursuing a career in dentistry. The small class sizes and weekly timed assessments gave me and my tutors a clear indication of my progress.  The rigorous teaching schedules, structured and tailored to my personal needs, was exactly what I needed. MPW placed heavy focus on exam technique as the key to achieving the required higher grades. Being able to talk with my tutors at any time in the day was an invaluable aid. It was also clear how much the teachers took a personal interest in the development of each individual student.

Josephine

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of Warwick (Management)

I joined MPW having not fulfilled my academic potential during my AS level exams at my previous school. I decided to retake my AS year at MPW and it was the best decision I ever made. The tutors at MPW have pushed me to achieve my maximum potential and have greatly improved my academic performance. The best part of studying at MPW is the weekly timed assignments as they ensure that you continuously review and revise work as well as helping you to make weekly improvements on exam technique.

Olivia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
Bristol University (Dentistry)

Throughout my time at MPW I have been provided with constant support.  The college has prepared me for not only my exams but also the university interviews I attended.  It has been an amazing experience from start to finish.  The friendly and welcoming environment created by the staff and students made it an ideal setting for me to concentrate on achieving my targets.

Alex

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
University of Birmingham (Law)

I came to MPW with very low self-confidence after under-achieving at AS level at my previous school, and have left with greater confidence about my academic ability and with a definite degree of clarity about what I hope to achieve in terms of my career. My experience at my previous school was that those with Oxbridge potential receive the most support and attention. This is not the case at MPW. I have found that it does not matter about that what the student's potential may be, each student receives the same amount of help to achieve their goals.