Biology is an exciting and rapidly developing subject with a central place in the future of our society. Every week Biology is in the news with developments in our understanding of genetics, evolution and disease.
A qualification in Biology aims to not only equip students with sound scientific knowledge and understanding of biological concepts and scientific processes but to also offer opportunities to explore the ethical and moral issues related to the effects of human activities on biological systems.
During the course you will have opportunities to:
- Develop greater understanding of biological facts together with an appreciation of their significance in the wider world.
- Develop greater expertise in the area of practical work and appreciation of the link between theory and experimental work.
- Continue to enjoy a personal interest in the study of living organisms and processes.
- Recognise the responsible use of Biology in society.
- Develop a deeper awareness of Biology in the changing world and its importance in modern life.
Biology will appeal to students who:
- Have an interest in the study of living organisms and biological processes
- Enjoy carrying out investigations in the laboratory and fieldwork
- Are interested in the developments of new applications of Biology, such as genetic engineering and gene sequencing and their impact on society
- Are looking towards careers in the health related professions, biotechnology, or ecology and the environment.
- Want to use Biology to support other subjects such as Geography or Psychology.
- Want to develop a wide range of transferable skills in the context of a science subject.
The GCSE Course
Brampton College offers Edexcel IGCSE Biology, as well as IGCSE courses in Chemistry and Physics. This is a linear course with two terminal examination papers. Practical work, forming an integral part of the course will develop skills of planning, data analysis and evaluation which will be tested in these papers. There is however, no practical test, or internal assessment task to do. Students can opt to study any single or combination of the three science subjects at GCSE.
This is an intensive course as students study the whole IGCSE syllabus over one academic year. It is suitable for students who have already studied GCSE for one or two years.
The AS and A2 (GCE) Course
We offer a two-year course, leading to an A level qualification in Biology. Students will be following the new OCR Biology A specification H420 (new in 2015). This can lead to an AS level, or a full A level qualification after two years. The AS exams lead to to a stand-alone AS qualification; they do not contribute towards a full A level grade. The new Biology A level has a greater emphasis on mathematical problem solving than previous courses, and it is recommended for students who have good GCSEs in Sciences, Mathematics and English.
This A level course does not have practical coursework included. Each science A level has a separate practical endorsement which students will work towards throughout the two year course. Assessment is by the student’s teachers, with external monitoring, and students will be awarded either a pass or fail for this component of the course. Learning through investigation and acquiring good practical skills are vital to prepare for the written examination papers as well as being an essential component of studying Biology at A level and beyond.
The full A level GCE qualification is made up of the following six units:
Module 1 – Development of practical skills in biology
Module 2 – Foundations in biology
Module 3 – Exchange and transport
Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease
Module 5 – Communication, homeostasis and energy
Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
These units will be assessed in three written papers, Biological processes, Biological diversity and Unified biology.
The A1 and A1 Legacy Course
Students who are joining us in September 2016 having already completed their A-level in Biology but who wish to work for another year to improve it to a higher grade will be able to study the legacy OCR specification (H421).
Students joining the college in September 2016 who have not previously studied Biology, or who have an AS qualification only, who wish to complete the A level in one year will be following the new H420 A2 Biology specification.
Both A1 courses would suit highly motivated students as the course is very intensive and the pace brisk. Students are expected to spend considerable time outside of the classroom reading ahead and consolidating their knowledge, as well as completing many past papers. Students choosing this option may have already completed their A Levels, perhaps even started University, and decided that they would like to add a science A Level to their qualifications.
Biology Departmental Features
The Biology Department is housed in its own two fully equipped laboratories with an extensive range of equipment close at hand. Each teaching group is timetabled to have at least two sessions in the laboratory every week. Teaching is provided by a highly experienced and committed team of teachers.
Biology Field Course
Attendance on a biology field course is essential for the understanding of ecology in both AS and A2 specifications. There will be a residential field trip for all students at the start of the second (or ‘A2’) year in September. This will also be attended by A1 students. Fieldwork presents an extremely valuable opportunity to gain real experience and teach aspects of the specification in a stimulating and memorable way
Regular tutorial sessions are available with subject teachers. There are also weekly test slots for students to be tested on work covered in the previous weeks. Teaching staff will go over these tests in lessons and will provide detailed feedback to students on their performance. Revision group sessions will be organised for selected topics during the year when possible.
How to be Successful
The best advice is to aim to maintain a constant level of effort throughout the course; the first year of A level is intended to bridge the gap between GCSE and advanced level Biology. It is a key year in which many of the foundations required for future success are laid.
Advanced level Biology is a demanding subject with a lot of information to assimilate and many links between topics. A good working knowledge is highly important to fully grasp the complexities of the subject and understand all of the interconnections between concepts. Completing work on time, reviewing class notes, seeking assistance and reading around the subject are all essential for success.
Top students achieve their grades by supporting their class work with extensive background reading of their own. You are also strongly advised to subscribe to ‘Biological Sciences Review’ and to regularly read scientific magazines such as ‘New Scientist’.
Teaching in the Biology department is provided by a highly experienced and committed team of teachers.
Julian Schofield, Head of Department
Rini has had had a lifelong passion for teaching, having worked as a private tutor alongside her Masters studies and then as a full-time teacher in a sixth form college. At University she completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences with Neurosciences followed by an MSc in Human Molecular Genetics. Rini loves teaching Biology and enhancing students’ interest in this fascinating subject. Outside the classroom her main hobby is running, completing her first half-marathon last October.
Nicky is a big biology fan and can’t get enough of the subject! She studied Biochemistry at Bristol University, followed by a PhD from Cambridge. Nicky continued her research career at UCL and Oxford University. Nicky has taught at several different schools in North London and has been Head of Biology at Henrietta Barnett School before moving to Brampton College.
Richard joins us this year as a highly experienced A-level and GCSE teacher of Biology. Previously as Head of Biology, then for many years Head of Sixth form at a very large North London School he has a wide knowledge of the higher education system. Coming from a medical family he decided to take Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia. A PGCE at Exeter University followed.
He has a real interest in the Natural World and the relevance of biology to the real world through medicine and biotechnologies.
He will be working part-time at Brampton as he will also have a role as Visiting mentor for A level Biology for the OCR exam board.
Many Biology students opt for Medicine or Dentistry degrees, and the college has a very good track record of helping students to gain access to these highly competitive courses.
My sister came to Brampton the previous year and left with A*A*A, so Brampton seemed like a viable option. And from the first interviews with teachers I had the confidence that I could excel at Brampton. I took A1 Biology and Chemistry, A2 Economics and AS Mathematics. Despite the struggles, I worked hard and made use of tutorials or help from teachers, who happily obliged. I maintained a balance between work and social life, making new friends and staying in touch with old ones. The culmination of my efforts came on results day, receiving my AAAa with great joy.
Now a gap year is my reward for the hectic year forgone! Brampton continued to support me through the application process. They gave me a job over the summer, I was able to visit Joy for help with my personal statement as well as interview prep, BMAT lessons and medical forum. Many at Brampton wondered why I was still there as they saw me wandering the corridors and my answer, for this incredible support network Brampton had given me, allowing me to successfully receive offers from two universities for medicine as well as one for Optometry. I chose Barts and the London, Queen Mary University, where I start in September. In my year off I’ve been working as a Pharmacy assistant, recently receiving my qualification as a MCA, tutoring, volunteering at an Infant School as well as making time to travel the world! I can’t wait to start uni! But the year out allowed me to concentrate on A levels last year and actually getting in and the UCAS process this year as well as having a lot of fun along the way!
Tasvee Karania got a hat-trick of A’s in Biology, Chemistry and Economics and has a place to study Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London.