A level

Aim of the course 

Students learn best through experimentation, so we develop practical skills and confidence to directly explore questions in the laboratory. 

We teach the importance of questioning, developing skills to critically assess, while producing and analysing data to draw conclusions. 

We ensure students leave with the practical skills needed for a scientific university course. Students should be able to calibrate the eyepiece graticule of a microscope using a stage micrometre and know how to examine a range of histological material. They should also be confident handling a variety of biological equipment and performing a range of experiments from serial dilutions to dissection of material. 

Course outline  

The course is academically challenging, with a lot of material to cover. Students must read widely and be prepared to apply their knowledge to novel situations in exams. The course requires a very secure understanding of work covered at GCSE. 

In Lower Sixth, students cover the following modules:  

Module 1 – Development of practical skills in biology 

Module 2 – Foundations in biology 

Module 3 – Exchange and transport 

Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease 

In Upper Sixth, students cover the following modules:  

Module 1 (continued) – Development of practical skills in biology 

Module 5 – Communication, homeostasis and energy 

Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems 

Be inspired  

Sixth Formers take part in the British Biology Olympiad and have often proved highly successful. In 2023, students achieved a total of 12 Gold, 19 Silver and 26 Bronze awards. Lower Sixth Formers also took part in the Intermediate Biology Olympiad and students achieved 8 Gold, 12 Silver and 13 Bronze awards.

We help students secure summer placements within the field. For example, one student was offered a prestigious Nuffield Research Placement, which included studying molecular cloning of human tropomyosin genes into new vectors.  

We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Biology students are encouraged to consider delving into Misha Angrist’s Here is a Human Being,M Leroi’s Mutantsand Colin Tudge’s The Secret Life of Trees, among other works. 

Our Biology Society provides opportunities to go beyond A level study and gain knowledge and skills that prepare students for university interviews and study. Much of the activity is practical, from rat dissections to immunological experiments, and the society is a great way of furthering knowledge and gaining interesting experience to use in personal statements and interviews. 

We have three specialist advisors on our universities team supporting students wishing to go into medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine, helping them prepare them for admissions tests such as UCAT and BMAT. They also work one to one with students on their UCAS personal statements.

We provide similar support for those considering a university course in biology or natural sciences, including preparation for the NSAA.   

Assessment details   All three exam papers are taken at the end of the Upper Sixth. There is also an internally assessed Practical Endorsement element.

Examining board  



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