Back to top

La Retraithe Sixth Form


Studying Biology at the La Retraite 6

Exam Board: AQA

Entry Criteria: A minimum of two Level 7 passes on the Combined course, or a Level 6 in Biology as a Separate science. We also recommend a Level 7 in Mathematics.

Why study this course?

Biology encompasses learning about living organisms and life processes from a molecular level to individual organisms, and the whole communities of species. There are thousands of careers and higher education options available to students with an A Level in Biology, including medicine, dentistry, biomedical and forensic science, ecology, science journalism, nursing, nutrition, physiotherapy, environmental science, food technology, marketing, clinical data management, teaching, and finance.

What will I learn?

This course starts by introducing the fundamental basis of life on earth. Through microscopy and cell theory you will learn about the ultrastructure of cells and the details about how new cells are generated for growth, repair, and reproduction. Issues such as the risk factors of cancer, the effects of heart disease, possible treatments for HIV and conserving biodiversity are covered. The theory of evolution is revisited and discussed in depth as well as the future of genetic engineering and genome projects.

How will I be taught?

Students learn through teacher-led explanations, videos, carrying out practical investigations, making models, researching, and creating presentations, taking part in discussions, quizzes, group work and by the completion of individual activities. There will be a minimum of 12 core practical investigations which will allow the development of skills to pass the non-examined practical skills module.

How many hours a week of private study are recommended?

As an A-level student, at least six hours of private study per week is expected to consolidate learning and to learn how to apply subject knowledge to different contexts.

You’ll enjoy this course if…

You are academically minded with a good understanding of GCSE Biology and Chemistry and are interested in how living things function and what happens when things go wrong. You will need to be self-motivated, independent and have an active approach to learning new concepts in lessons rather than being a passive learner who wants to take notes.

Course description

Year 12

Topic 1:  Biological molecules

Topic 2:  Cells

Topic 3:  Organisms exchange substances with their environment

Topic 4:  Genetic information, variation, and relationships between organisms.


Year 13

Topic 5:  Energy transfers in and between organisms

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

Topic 7:  Genetics, populations, evolution, and ecosystems

Topic 8:  The control of gene expression.



At the end of Year 13:

Paper 1:  Any content from topics 1– 4, including relevant practical skills. 76 marks: a mixture of short and long answer questions. 15 marks: extended response questions. External written examination, 35% of A level

Paper 2: Any content from topics 5–8, including relevant practical skills. 76 marks: a mixture of short and long answer questions. 15 marks: comprehension question. External written examination, 35% of A level

Paper 3: Any content from topics 1–8, including relevant practical skills. 38 marks: structured questions, including practical techniques. 15 marks: critical analysis of given experimental data. 25 marks: one essay from a choice of two titles. External written examination, 30% of A level

Core practical skills are a non-examination assessment and are reported separately.