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Biology

Why Biology?

Biology gives an insight into how plants and animals (including humans) work and interact. We look at social issues including man’s influence on the environment e.g. over-fishing and ethical considerations raised in genetic engineering and gene therapy.

Summary of content

The WJEC A level in Biology provides a wide breadth of knowledge through a range of topics. These cover a range of issues from the internal workings of organisms, physiology, the interdependence of living things in ecology  to social issues including human influence on the environment and the ethical considerations of genetics.

The study of biology encourages an appreciation of these issues and their implications as well as providing an insight into the living world. The inclusion of optional topics allows learners to gain a deeper insight into a wider range of biological topics. It is intended that the use of a variety of approaches, including practical work, will stimulate interest, promote understanding and engender an overall appreciation and sense of wonder at the living world.

Practical work is an intrinsic part of biology, and is greatly valued by higher education. Practical skills will be developed throughout this course and the ability to undertake investigations will be encouraged.

Units

AS - Unit 1 - Basic Biochemistry and Cell Organisation

This unit includes the following topics:

  1. Chemical elements and the formation of biological compounds
  2. Cell structure and organisation
  3. Cell membranes and transport
  4. Biological reactions and regulation by enzymes
  5. Nucleic acids and their functions
  6. The copying and transmission of genetic information to daughter cells

Assessment: Written examination - 1 hour 30 minutes

Contribution: 20% of qualification

AS - Unit 2 - Biodiversity and Physiology of Body Systems

This unit includes the following topics:

  1. Organisms and their relationships through their evolutionary history
  2. Adaptations for gas exchange
  3. Adaptations for transport
  4. Adaptations for nutrition

Assessment: Written examination - 1 hour 30 minutes

Contribution: 20 % of qualification

A2 - Unit 3 - Energy, Homeostasis and the Environment

This unit includes the following topics:

  1. Importance of ATP
  2. Photosynthesis and the use of light energy to synthesise organic molecules
  3. Respiration and the release of chemical energy in biological processes
  4. Microbiology
  5. Population size and ecosystems
  6. Human impact on the environment
  7. Homeostasis and the kidney
  8. The nervous system

Assessment: Written examination - 2 hours

Contribution: 25 % of qualification

A2 - Unit 4 - Variation, Inheritance and Options

This unit includes the following topics:

  1. Sexual reproduction in humans
  2. Sexual reproduction in plants
  3. Inheritance
  4. Variation and evolution
  5. Application of reproduction and genetics

Choice of one option from three:

  • A. Immunology and Disease
  • B. Human Musculoskeletal Anatomy
  • C. Neurobiology and Behaviour

Assessment: Written examination - 2 hours

Contribution: 25 % of qualification

A2 - Unit 5 - Practical Examination

This unit gives learners the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to carry out an investigation and to analyse and evaluate experimental data. This will be carried out individually, under controlled conditions. The practical examination consists of two tasks:

  1. Experimental Task (20 marks)
  2. Practical analysis Task (30 marks)

Contribution: 10% of qualification

Go to Appendix B of spec. for details of practical techniques.

Go to Appendix C of spec. for details of mathematical requirements.

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