In years 10 and 11 the students follow the AQA GCSE Biology Specification. The course introduces and develops the ideas and theories surrounding how organisms function and evolve. Each unit has at least one compulsory practical where the students draw on their laboratory skills learnt in Year 9. Understanding of these practicals is assessed in the exams. The majority of the course is taught in Year 10 so there is time for a full revision program of study at the end of Year 11 leading up to the Biology GCSE exams. Click on the unit titles for content via BBC Bitesize.
Autumn Term 1: Cell Biology (unit 1) covers basic concepts of the cell and the transport of substances across membranes.
Autumn Term 2: Organisation (unit 2) explains how the organism is adapted to maximise the transport of substances, which links back to the transport of substances across membranes covered in cell biology. Infection and response (unit 3) starts with how the body is adapted to stop the entry of pathogens.
Spring Term 1: Infection and response (unit 3) continues with how the body responds when they do gain entry. It also covers the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Spring Term 2: Infection and response (unit 3) continued. Bioenergetics (unit 4) focuses on the transfer of energy in respiration and photosynthesis and links back to the transport of oxygen, glucose and carbon dioxide covered in Organisation.
Summer Term: Homeostasis and response (unit 5) covers how the body reacts to external stimuli and the control of internal conditions. This links back to the transport and respiration topics found in cell biology, organisation and bioenergetics units.
Autumn Term 1: Inheritance, variation and evolution (unit 6) starts with how an organism is a product of its genes and the environment it develops in. Genes are linked back to the production of proteins at ribosomes from the Cell biology unit and how changes in the genes can lead to changes in enzymes, a type of protein, that were covered in the organisation unit. Evolution of species is linked back to the production of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Autumn Term 2: Ecology (unit 7) covers human impacts on the environment, how biomass gets transferred through ecosystems and the carbon, nitrogen and water cycles. The carbon cycle links back to respiration and photosynthesis from bioenergetics and the nitrogen cycle links back to the production of proteins in the organisation unit.
Spring Term 1: Ecology continued
Spring Term 2: Revision
Summer Term: Revision continued followed by GCSE assessment
GCSE Biology Assessment
Two exams, each 1 hour 45min long and contributing 50% of the overall grade:
- Paper 1 - units 1, 2, 3 & 4
- Paper 2 - units 5, 6 & 7
Students take both papers either at foundation level (grades 5-1) or at higher level (grades 9-4). Both papers contain a mixture of multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response questions.
In addition to the exams each student has to complete 10 required practical activities, which although not assessed, are a compulsory component of the course.