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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.
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).
The new Biology A level includes a much greater emphasis on the analysis and evaluation of experiments, and 10% of marks awarded are for mathematical calculations. Strong GCSEs in Sciences, Mathematics and English are therefore recommended; the most successful students typically follow a programme of study that includes other science and/or Maths A levels.
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 intensive one-year A1 course aims to cover the full A level Biology syllabus and develop in students the skills needed to successfully answer the challenging A level Biology examination questions.
Since the syllabus content is considerable and the pace of lessons is brisk, students taking this course need to be highly motivated, and are expected to spend considerable time outside of lessons reading ahead, consolidating their knowledge, and completing past examination questions.
Most students choosing this option will have already completed their A Levels, but wish to improve their existing grade. In addition, this course is also likely to suit mature students who may have previously studied arts or humanities based subjects, but now wish to change direction and need Biology A level to pursue a science or medical degree 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 forms an integral part of the course to develop skills of planning, data analysis and evaluation, which will be tested in these papers. There is however, no practical exam, or internal assessment. Students can opt to study any single science 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 Biology Department is housed in its own well- equipped laboratories. Each teaching group is timetabled to have at least two sessions in the laboratory every week. Teaching is provided by a team of highly experienced and committed teachers.
Field work is an essential part of the course, forming one of the 12 compulsory PAG skills. All second year A level students (and A1 students who do not hold a practical endorsement) will spend one day sampling biodiversity on Hampstead Heath to meet this requirement of the course.
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.
The best advice is to aim to maintain a constant level of effort throughout the course; the first year of A level is a key year in which the topics studied lay the foundations required to understand the more complex biological processes covered in the second year.
Advanced level Biology is a demanding subject. There is a considerable amount of information to assimilate, and examination questions require application of knowledge and the ability to analyse and evaluate data. To achieve the highest grades, students need to develop a sound understanding of biological concepts and use this to make links between different topics. Completing work on time, reviewing class notes, seeking assistance and improving general knowledge of the natural world through reading and watching documentaries are all essential for success. We also strongly recommend that you subscribe to ‘Biological Sciences Review’ and 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 joined Brampton College this year as Head of Biology. After completing his PhD at UCL, Julian spent ten years in scientific research, investigating gene expression in embryonic development and the molecular basis of medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy and diabetes. For the last thirteen years Julian has taught A level Biology, during which he was Head of Science at St Helen’s. Throughout this time Julian has had the opportunity to support many students who go on to make successful applications to study Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science. Julian is passionate about instilling students with his own love and fascination for the life sciences, and feels privileged to be able to support young people to achieve their potential and realise their dreams.
John has taught and worked in sixth form colleges and schools in London for over 20 years, specialising as a teacher in A level Biology. He is also vastly experienced in supporting students through the university application process, having devised and overseen numerous programmes for students applying for competitive degrees such as Oxbridge and Medical School. He is an experienced lay member of admissions panels for medical school entry at UCL and other leading universities.
Anjana was born and raised in London to Indian parents, studied in Wembley before completeing a BSc in Biology at UCL. After university, she went travelling across Asia and Australia. After completing her PGCE, Anjana worked at the same secondary school she studied at for 9 years as a Biology and Chemistry teacher and Head of Year, followed by 2 years in Bangkok as Key Stage 4 Manager and Safeguarding Officer. She thoroughly enjoyed her experience in Thailand, especially learning how to scuba dive!
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 AAA 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 is currently studying Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London.
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