Biology A level

Biology is the science that involves the study of life and living organisms, including their physical and chemical structure, function, development, and evolution.

We study biology from the smallest to the largest scales; from the structures and functions of biological molecules, through to cells, tissues, and organisms and to the entire global ecosystem.

At A level, we are able to develop many of the basic foundations covered at GCSE and take them a step further – increasing the breadth and depth of understanding in this hugely wide-ranging field.


A level biology

Awarding body


Entry requirements

Ideally grade 7 or above in Biology (as a separate science) or 7-7 (Dual Award/Combined Science) at GCSE – candidates with grade 6 or 6-6 will be considered; ideally grade 6 or above in both Maths and English GCSE.

Course outline

Biological molecules – the basic chemistry of living organisms, necessary knowledge for all further study of biology

Cells – the ultrastructure of cells as seen by electron microscopy; practical light microscopy

Organisms – exchange substances with their environment; gas exchange; circulation and digestion

Genetics – genetic information, variation, and relationships between organisms, including the study of DNA and RNA, mitosis, and meiosis

Energy – energy transfers in and between organisms; photosynthesis, respiration, and ecosystems

Organisms responding to changes – responses to internal and external environmental changes; homeostasis, the nervous and hormonal systems

Genetics, populations, evolution, and ecosystems – inheritance of characteristics, evolution, and speciation

The control of gene expression – DNA technologies and how genes are controlled and interact with each other


Three written examinations at the end of Year 13 – Paper 1 covers topics 1-4 (2 hours, 35% of total); Paper 2 covers topics 5-8 (2 hours, 35% of total); and Paper 3 covers the full specification (2 hours, 30% of total).

Practical endorsement – students will complete a minimum of 12 practical activities to demonstrate practical competence.


Why study biology?

Biology is of particular value to those hoping to pursue careers in medicine, dentistry, nursing and the health professions, scientific research, veterinary sciences, pharmacy, environmental sciences, forestry, and teaching.


“A level biology is an interesting subject covering a wide range of topics that help us understand more about the world”
Year 12 student

Potential career paths and further study

Biology is a key subject for lots of STEM careers, particularly in healthcare, medicine and jobs involving plants or animals. The list also includes: nursing, dentistry, forensic science, psychology, physiotherapy, botany, environmental science, zoology, geology, oceanography, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, genetics and research.

Biology is usually required or recommended for degrees in: biochemistry, chemical engineering, chemistry, geology, environmental science, materials science, nursing and midwifery, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, sports science, psychology and speech therapy.

It is also useful for: anthropology, psychology, civil engineering, geography, and teaching.

Chemistry at Teesdale Sixth Form
A level biology clarifies and expands on GCSE biology in an interesting way and it is rewarding to learn what you learned prior to A levels in greater depth.
Year 12 student