Biology A Level
Almost every time you turn on the television or read a newspaper there is a biological issue under discussion. Often these can be controversial such as stem cell technology, cloning and genetic modification but also more generally related to our lifestyle and health and the wider environment. Being aware of the issues and the underlying biology enables you to make informed decisions and choices and raises awareness of the role we play in the world.
Biology is an extremely popular subject with many sixth form students enjoying the AS and A2 courses. We follow OCR (A), which takes real life situations, developing students' biological knowledge and understanding to fully appreciate the event or issue.
The course provides the opportunity to carry out research and practical work, improving essential skills for study of Biology beyond A level. Many of our students go on to further study at University, either a pure Biology degree or through more vocational courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, Physiotherapy, Forensics and Veterinary Science.
In recent years students in the department have worked with the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, doing school based research into the viability of seeds after they have been artificially aged, and take part in the Biology Olympiad. Several students have also had the opportunity to take Science based Open University short courses alongside their A level studies.
In recent years students in the department have taken part in the Biology Olympiad. Several students have also had the opportunity to take Science based Open University short courses alongside their A level studies. The Biology students also participate in field work at the end of Year 12, an invaluable opportunity to learn and use sampling techniques in a variety of habitats.
A Level Chemistry
Chemistry is the study of matter and energy and the interaction between them. Chemistry is everywhere in the world around you. It's in the food you eat, clothes you wear, water you drink, medicines, air, detergents, cosmetics .... you name it. Chemistry is sometimes called the 'central science' because it connects other sciences such as biology, physics, environmental science and geology to each other. A Level Chemistry is essential for careers in medicine, veterinary science, dentistry and pharmacy. It is also recommended for many degree courses in biological science, environmental science, biomedical science, agriculture, geology, forensic science and engineering. There are many reasons to study Chemistry even if you are not pursuing a career in science as Chemistry helps you understand the world around you and develop your analytical skills.
The course we follow is the AQA specification. This specification is divided into the 3 main disciplines of Chemistry, Physical, Inorganic and Organic. For AS there are 2 papers at the end of Year 1 which are 1.5 hours long. For A Level there are 3 papers at the end of Year 2 which are 2 hours long. Examinations include multi-choice, short answer and extended response style questions. There are also 12 assessed practical which will lead to practical endorsement if completing the A Level.
It is a necessary starting point to enjoy this course that the students are curious about the physical world and Universe we live in, and the underlying laws that make it behave and develop as it does. Physics ranges from the smallest objects imaginable to the largest and most dynamic structures of the Universe. It is far reaching in scope, but the emphasis is on the underlying laws and beautiful simplicity of the Universe at all levels and how this simplicity produces the complexity we perceive around us.
Both the AS and the A2 courses are based around a variety of ‘contexts’ which are used to bring out different elements of the Physics involved. This is an alternative to the traditional approach whereby each branch of Physics is taught as a separate entity. The advantage of this approach is that it puts the applications of Physics into a meaningful and motivating context for the students, while revisiting topics throughout the course which enables students to acquire the knowledge and skills in a spiral manner.
The AS course looks at mechanics, materials and lenses and waves, electricity and wave/particle duality, materials and nuclear particles and radiation. The A2 course revisits these topics and extends student understanding by introducing momentum and circular motion, electric and magnetic fields and particle physics and thermal physics, nuclear physics, oscillations, astrophysics and cosmology.
Studying Physics can lead to a wide range of courses and careers in such areas as Physics, Astrophysics, Medicine, all branches of Engineering, Radiography, Biotechnology, Space Physics, Health Physics and a qualification in Physics is highly regarded in all branches of Management and Finance due to the analytical and conceptually demanding nature of the subject. Physics is seen as a ‘high Currency’ qualification both for Further Education and in the job market.