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Biology looks at how living organisms (both animals (including humans) and plants) function and interrelate. Much of the work involves many of the new developments in genetics and biotechnology. It should not be studied in isolation. Biology should be related, in a wider sense, to the needs of people. Relevant and important aspects of modern life are stressed, including those of a personal, social, environmental, economic and technological nature.

Over the course, we encourage students to question and develop themselves beyond simply being able to answer exam questions in the subject. The Biology course uses the principles in science to build students' wider subject knowledge and understanding thereby helping them create the appropriate links across the discipline to better articulate their understanding. Students deepen their knowledge and understanding of the core skill areas, but focus is paid to planning, analytical and evaluative skills. Students will understand how to use theories, models and ideas to develop scientific explanations. By the end of the course, they can use knowledge and understanding to pose scientific questions, define scientific problems, present scientific arguments and scientific ideas.

Exam board:
OCR A-Level Biology 

How the course will be examined:
At the end of the two-year course, there are three examination papers of 2 hours. These papers include two types of questions: closed − multiple-choice, labelling diagrams and some recall of knowledge types of question; open − labelling / drawing diagrams, short answers, calculations, extended response.

  • Paper one covers biological processes
  • Paper two broadly focuses on diversity in biology.
  • Paper three is a synoptic paper assessing any content across the two years

CPAC: as separate certification, the students undertake 12 assessed pieces of practical work. This is assessed by the teachers, but subject to board moderation.

What is the structure of the curriculum?

Year 12 Year 13

Terms 1 & 2

Biological molecules, including nucleotides and nucleic acids

Cell division

Cell structure

Cell membranes



Terms 3 & 4

Transport in animals

Transport in plants

Exchange surfaces and breathing

Communicable disease

Classification, evolution and disease



Terms 5 & 6

Neuronal communication

Communication and homeostasis


Terms 1 & 2

Respiration continued


Cellular control

Patterns of inheritance

Hormonal communication

Plant and animal responses



Terms 3 & 4

Manipulating genomes

Cloning and Biotechnology


Populations and sustainability


Terms 5 & 6


Why the curriculum is sequenced this way:

The OCR A A-level course allows students to develop relevant practical skills alongside essential knowledge and understanding of a range of biological concepts and scientific methods.

In year 12, we start by reviewing GCSE knowledge on cell structure and biological molecules. This provides a wide and varied subject content which gives a broad overview of biological sciences. In year 13, learners will continue to explore biology in detail, whilst studying respiration and photosynthesis. The programme requires that the understanding of the underpinning knowledge gained during year one is applied and built on, as the subject content could not be tackled otherwise. There is a substantial emphasis on synoptic application of knowledge within the year 13 subject content in Biology.

How is this course assessed?

  • End of unit tests involving past-paper style questions typically with 40-50 marks
  • Homework questions, often using exam style questions including closed multiple choice questions
  • Ongoing lesson assessment for learning as part of teaching
  • End of year examination.

How can I revise for this course?

  • Seneca learning quizzes
  • Websites include Maths made easy, A-level Biology online, Crash Course Biology.
  • A-Level Biology: OCR A Year 1 & 2 Complete Revision & Practice with Online Edition