Sixth-form a-level-biology

IB: Group 4 -- Experimental Science

Biology: Higher & Standard Level

What could this course lead to?

There are many courses linked directly to Biology - e.g. Anatomy, Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Biology, Botany, Dentistry, Forestry, Genetics, Medicine, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Physiology, Veterinary Science and Zoology are all courses or careers which people follow having studied Biology at Sixth Form level. There are many others related to biology that the IB course will also help with; Chemistry, Geography, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, to name but a few.

GCSEs required

GCSE Science and Additional Science at grades C or above, or GCSE Biology at grade C or above, or equivalent qualifications from abroad (e.g. IGCSE, HKGCSE).

What will I be studying?

Biology is taught at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). It is one of the Group 4 subjects (Experimental Sciences) in the Diploma Programme.

At SL, the Biology course comprises topics in:

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Human Physiology

Additional HL topics are:

  • Nucleic Acids
  • Metabolism, Cell Respiration and Photosynthesis
  • Plant Biology
  • Genetics and Evolution
  • Animal Physiology


  • Neurobiology and Behaviour

Are there any trips or extracurricular activities linked to this course?

Students sometimes attend a field trip. In past years we have used the Field Studies Council Centre at Nettlecombe Court as a base. The School subsidises this, but there will be a charge for the field trip.

What benefits does this subject have for university entrance?

Biology is a highly regarded subject. Students of Biology often study it alongside chemistry, physics, or geography. As one of the ‘traditional’ sciences, universities will know that you have a knowledge of scientific theory and practice, designing and carrying out experiments and analysing results.

What skills or learning approach do I need for this subject?

Students should have an enquiring mind and be interested in the world around them. Biology is the study of living things so an interest in humans, animals and plants is helpful! The course has a strong practical element. A sound mathematical background at GCSE or similar is helpful, as basic statistics will be learned.

How does the Higher Level differ to the Standard Level?

Higher Level takes some Standard Level topics to a greater depth, and allows students to study other areas of Biology not covered by Standard Level.

How is it examined?

There are three written papers, which include multiple choice questions, short answer questions and essay questions. The written papers make up 80% of the total mark. The remaining 20% comes from assessed practical work, including the Group 4 project, which is done in combination with the other sciences.

Will I need to do coursework?

Yes. Coursework is internally assessed practical work. Students will be marked on a variety of skills, including experimental design, data collection and processing, concluding and evaluating and manipulative skills. Some marks also come from the Group 4 project, a joint science project undertaken with students from the other science subjects.

Examination method

Three written papers forming 80% of the total mark. The remaining 20% is from assessed practical work.

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 - 18 in Somerset

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