Biology A Levels


Cambridge AS and A level Syllabus at GEMS Wesgreen International School aims to provide the students an opportunity to develop attitudes relevant to biology such as; concern for accuracy and precision, objectivity and inquiry. Cambridge International AS and A Level Physics helps learners develop the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for successful university study.

Learning Outcomes

Students should be helped to understand how, through the ideas of biology, the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a number of key ideas which are of universal application and which can be illustrated in the separate topics set out below. These ideas include:

• Cells as the units of life

A cell is the basic unit of life and all organisms are composed of one or more cells. There are two fundamental types of cell: prokaryotic and eukaryotic.

• Biochemical processes

Cells are dynamic: biochemistry and molecular biology help to explain how and why cells function as they do.

• DNA, the molecule of heredity

Cells contain the molecule of heredity, DNA. Heredity is based on the inheritance of genes.

• Natural selection

Natural selection is the major mechanism to explain the theory of evolution.

• Organisms in their environment

All organisms interact with their biotic and abiotic environment.

• Observation and experiment

The different fields of biology are intertwined and cannot be studied in isolation: observation and enquiry, experimentation and fieldwork are fundamental to biology.

Ongoing Objectives

Throughout each unit, the students are given the opportunity to build on the objectives below:

  • provide an enjoyable and worthwhile educational experience for all learners, whether or not they go on to study science beyond this level
  • enable learners to acquire sufficient knowledge and understanding to:
  • become confident citizens in a technological world and develop an informed interest in scientific matters
  • be suitably prepared for studies beyond Cambridge AS
  • allow learners to recognise that biology is evidence-based and understand the usefulness, and the limitations, of scientific method
  • develop skills that:
  • are relevant to the study and practice of biology
  • are useful in everyday life
  • encourage a systematic approach to problem-solving
  • encourage efficient and safe practice
  • encourage effective communication through the language of science
  • develop attitudes relevant to biology such as:
  • concern for accuracy and precision
  • vobjectivity
  • integrity
  • enquiry
  • initiative

Unit Overviews

A LEVEL Term 1

Approximate length: 12 weeks

For blended learning we will provide video links, live demonstrations of practical investigation as well as access to the relevant worksheets and resources that all students will need.

12 Energy and respiration

13 Photosynthesis

14 Homeostasis

15 Control and co-ordination

16 Inherited change

Specific National Curriculum Objectives Covered:

Energy for biological processes

•   in cellular respiration, glycolysis takes place in the cytoplasm and the remaining steps in the mitochondria

•   ATP synthesis is associated with the electron transfer chain in the membranes of mitochondria and chloroplasts

•   in photosynthesis energy is transferred to ATP in the light- dependent stage and the ATP is utilised during synthesis in the light-independent stage Control systems

•   homeostasis is the maintenance of a constant internal environment

•   negative feedback helps maintain an optimal internal state in the context of a dynamic equilibrium. Positive feedback also occurs

•   stimuli, both internal and external, are detected leading to responses

•   the genome is regulated by a number of factors

•   coordination may be chemical or electrical in nature

A LEVEL Term 2

Approximate length: 11 weeks

For blended learning we will provide video links, live demonstrations of practical investigation as well as access to the relevant worksheets and resources that all students will need.

17 Selection and evolution

18 Biodiversity, classification and conservation

19 Genetic technology

Specific National Curriculum Objectives Covered:

Genetics and evolution

•   transfer of genetic information from one generation to the next can ensure continuity of species or lead to variation within a species and possible formation of new species.

•   reproductive isolation can lead to accumulation of different genetic information in populations potentially leading to formation of new species.

 •  sequencing projects have read the genomes of organisms ranging from microbes and plants to humans. This allows the sequences of the proteins that derive from the genetic code to be predicted.

 •  gene technologies allow study and alteration of gene function in order to better understand organism function and to design new industrial and medical processes.


•    the variety of life, both past and present, is extensive, but the biochemical basis of life is similar for all living things.

•    biodiversity refers to the variety and complexity of life and may be considered at different levels.

•    biodiversity can be measured, for example within a habitat or at the genetic level.

•    classification is a means of organising the variety of life based on relationships between organisms and is built around the concept of species.

•    originally classification systems were based on observable features but more recent approaches draw on a wider range of evidence to clarify relationships between organisms.

•    adaptations of organisms to their environments can be behavioural, physiological and anatomical.

•    adaptation and selection are major factors in evolution and make a significant contribution to the diversity of living organisms.


Formative: Throughout the units, the children will complete graded work, quizzes and investigation activities, which allows the teacher to assess the students’ attainment and inform their planning.

For each unit the students complete a pre and posttest. This allows us to see progress across the units and to inform our planning.

Summative: At the end of each term, we complete internal tests. This allows us to measure the students’ progress throughout the term and year.


Next Steps

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