Biology

Biology is the study of living things (organisms). Biologists study all of the different processes of life such as how organisms move, reproduce, sense their environment, grow, respire to provide energy, excrete their waste products and obtain their food and nutrition. Biology also involves studying ecosystems and how living things interact with each other and their environment. The main focus is on animals (especially mammals) and plants but we do also look at bacteria and fungi as they relate to the carbon cycle and health. So if you want to understand how your body works, how you stay alive and about all of the other living things which share planet Earth, then Biology will have the answers.

Year 9 Biology

Topics studied:

  1. Cell biology

Cells are the basic unit of all forms of life and structural differences between types of cells enables them to perform specific functions within the organism. These differences in cells are controlled by genes found on the chromosomes in the nucleus. For an organism to grow, cells must divide by mitosis producing two new identical cells. If cells are isolated at an early stage of growth before they have become too specialised, they can retain their ability to grow into a range of different types of cells. This phenomenon has led to the development of stem cell technology. This is a new branch of medicine that allows doctors to repair damaged organs by growing new tissue from stem cells. Substances need to move in and out of cells across cell membranes by diffusion or active transport and water moves by osmosis. Several organs are also adapted for diffusion, osmosis and active transport such as the root, leaves, gut, lungs and kidney.

Plant and animal cells (eukaryotic cells) have different features and organelles to bacterial cells (prokaryotic cells) which are much smaller in comparison. These organelles have structures that are related to their functions and cells themselves are specialised to do different jobs within tissues and organs. It is possible to study cells using light microscopes for lower magnification and resolution and electron microscopes for higher resolution.

  1. Principles of Organisation

Cells are the basic building blocks of all living organisms and a tissue is a group of cells with a similar structure and function. Organs are aggregations of tissues performing specific functions. Organs are organised into organ systems, which work together to form organisms.

The digestive system is an example of an organ system in which several organs work together to digest food. There are several enzymes that work in the digestive system including amylase, proteases and lipases to convert food into small soluble molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Enzymes catalyse specific reactions in living organisms due to the shape of their active site and each enzyme has its own optimal pH and temperature at which it works most efficiently.

The lungs are organs of the breathing system that are responsible for gas exchange with the blood by diffusion. The heart is an organ that pumps blood around the body in a double circulatory system and transports glucose from the gut and oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body for respiration. The natural resting heart rate is controlled by a group of cells that act as a pacemaker and artificial pacemakers are electrical devices used to correct any irregularities in the heart rate. Blood is a tissue consisting of plasma, in which the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are suspended and it is transported in the veins, arteries and capillaries of the circulatory system. In coronary heart disease layers of fatty material build up inside the coronary arteries, narrowing them. This reduces the flow of blood through the coronary arteries, resulting in a lack of oxygen for the heart muscle. There are many surgical procedures and drug treatments that can be used to treat and repair damaged hearts and in the case of heart failure a donor heart, or heart and lungs can be transplanted.

Health is the state of physical and mental well-being and diseases, infectious and non-communicable, are major causes of ill health. Factors including diet, stress and life situations may have a profound effect on both physical and mental health. Risk factors are linked to an increased rate of a disease and can be aspects of a person’s lifestyle or due to substances in the person’s body or environment. Scientists have identified lifestyle risk factors for various types of cancer which results from changes in cells that lead to uncontrolled growth and division.

Plant tissues in the leaf are also related to their functions and different types of plant cells also have adaptations. These cells and tissues are adapted to allow the plant to gain light, carbon dioxide and water to allow photosynthesis for growth

Skills that will be developed:

Working scientifically particularly the development of scientific thinking, experimental skills and strategies, analysis and evaluation and scientific vocabulary, quantities, units, symbols and nomenclature.

Mathematical skills will be developed such as arithmetic and numerical computation, handling data, algebra, graphs, geometry and trigonometry.

The use of apparatus and techniques will be developed through:

  • The development of investigative skills (devising and investigating testable questions, identifying and controlling variables, analysing, interpreting and evaluating data).
  • The development of practical skills such as using specialist equipment to take measurements, handling and manipulating equipment with confidence and fluency and recognising hazards and planning how to minimise risk.

Formal assessments: (at the end of the course):

Paper 1 lasting one hour and forty five minutes. (100 marks)

Paper 2 lasting one hour and forty five minutes. (100 marks)

Exam board and specification:

AQA is the exam board

GCSE Biology (8461) is the specification

Extended tasks/Coursework/Controlled Assessment

Eight required practicals assessing the required apparatus and techniques.

Lists of texts:

AQA GCSE Biology Student Book (OUP 3rd edition) by Ann Fullick (ISBN-13:9780198359371)

AQA GCSE Biology Student Book (Collins) by John Beeby & Anne Pilling (ISBN-13:978-0008175047)

AQA GCSE (9-1) Biology Student Book (Hodder) by Nick Dixon, Ali Hodgson (ISBN-13: 978-1471851339)

New Grade 9-1 GCSE Biology for AQA: Student Book (CGP) with Online Edition (ISBN-13: 978-1782945956)

New Grade 9-1 GCSE Biology: AQA Revision Guide (CGP) with Online Edition (ISBN-13: 978-1782945567)

On-line resources:

http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science

GCSEPOD

Specialist equipment needed

Scientific Calculator

Ruler

Year 10 Biology

Topics studied:

  1. Infection and Response

Pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses, fungi, protists and bacteria that cause infectious diseases in animals and plants. They depend on their host to provide the conditions and nutrients that they need to grow and reproduce. They frequently produce toxins and damage tissues and make us feel ill and we can avoid diseases by reducing contact with them. They may infect plants or animals and can be spread by direct contact, by water or by air.

The body uses barriers against pathogens but once inside the body our immune system is triggered which is usually strong enough to destroy the pathogen and prevent disease. When at risk from unusual or dangerous diseases our body’s natural system can be enhanced by the use of vaccination. Since the 1940s a range of antibiotics have been developed which have proved successful against a number of lethal diseases caused by bacteria. Unfortunately many groups of bacteria have now become resistant to these antibiotics and the race is now on to develop a new set of antibiotics which involves clinical trials.

Measles is a viral disease spread by coughing and sneezing showing symptoms of fever and a red skin rash and most young children are vaccinated against measles. A more serious, sexually transmitted virus is HIV which initially causes a flu-like illness. Unless successfully controlled with antiretroviral drugs the virus attacks the body’s immune cells. This results in AIDS when the body’s immune system becomes so badly damaged it can no longer deal with other infections or cancers. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) is a widespread plant pathogen affecting many species of plants including tomatoes. It gives a distinctive ‘mosaic’ pattern of discolouration on the leaves which affects the growth of the plant due to lack of photosynthesis.

Salmonella food poisoning is spread by bacteria ingested in food, or on food prepared in unhygienic conditions. In the UK, poultry are vaccinated against Salmonella to control the spread. Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacterium and was easily treated with the antibiotic penicillin until many resistant strains appeared. The pathogens that cause malaria are protists and they have a life cycle that includes the mosquito as a vector. Malaria causes recurrent episodes of fever and can be fatal and its spread can be controlled by preventing the mosquitos from breeding and by using mosquito nets to avoid being bitten.

Rose black spot is a plant fungal disease where purple or black spots develop on leaves, which often turn yellow and drop early and affects the growth of the plant as photosynthesis is reduced. It is spread in the environment by water or wind and can be treated by using fungicides and/or removing and destroying the affected leaves.

  1. Bioenergetics

Plants harness the Sun’s energy in photosynthesis in order to make food form water and carbon dioxide. The glucose produced in photosynthesis may be converted into starch, fat or oil for storage, used to produce cellulose, which strengthens the cell wall or to produce amino acids for protein synthesis using nitrates from the soil. Photosynthesis liberates oxygen which has built up over millions of years in the Earth’s atmosphere. Both animals and plants use this oxygen to oxidise food in a process called aerobic respiration which transfers the energy that the organism needs to perform its functions. Conversely, anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen to transfer energy. During vigorous exercise the human body is unable to supply the cells with sufficient oxygen and it switches to anaerobic respiration. This process will supply energy but also causes the build-up of lactic acid in muscles which causes fatigue.

  1. Homeostasis and Response

Cells in the body can only survive within narrow physical and chemical limits. They require a constant temperature and pH as well as a constant supply of dissolved food and water. In order to do this the body requires control systems that constantly monitor and adjust the composition of the blood and tissues. Homeostasis is the regulation of the internal conditions of a cell or organism to maintain optimum conditions for function in response to internal and external changes. It maintains optimal conditions for enzyme action and all cell functions. In the human body, these include control of blood glucose concentration, body temperature and water levels.

These automatic control systems may involve nervous responses or chemical responses and involve receptors which sense changes in the environment and effectors that bring about changes. The structure of the nervous system allows it to bring about fast responses and the hormonal system usually brings about much slower changes. The nervous system enables humans to react to their surroundings and to coordinate their behaviour. Information from receptors passes along cells (neurones) as electrical impulses to the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is the brain and spinal cord which coordinates the response of effectors which may be muscles contracting or glands secreting hormones.

The endocrine system is composed of glands which secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. The blood carries the hormone to a target organ where it produces an effect and compared to the nervous system the effects are slower but act for longer. The pituitary gland in the brain is a ‘master gland’ which secretes several hormones into the blood in response to body conditions. These hormones in turn act on other glands to stimulate other hormones to be released to bring about effects.

Blood glucose concentration is monitored and controlled by hormones secreted by the pancreas. If the blood glucose concentration is too high, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin that causes glucose to move from the blood into the cells. In liver and muscle cells excess glucose is converted to glycogen for storage. Type 1 diabetes is a disorder in which the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin. It is characterised by uncontrolled high blood glucose levels and is normally treated with insulin injections. In Type 2 diabetes the body cells no longer respond to insulin produced by the pancreas. A carbohydrate controlled diet and an exercise regime are common treatments. Obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Hormonal coordination is particularly important in reproduction since it controls the menstrual cycle. An understanding of the role of hormones in reproduction has allowed scientists to develop not only contraceptive drugs but also drugs which can increase fertility. Oestrogen is the main female reproductive hormone produced in the ovary. Testosterone is the main male reproductive hormone produced by the testes and it stimulates sperm production.

Skills that will be developed:

Working scientifically particularly the development of scientific thinking, experimental skills and strategies, analysis and evaluation and scientific vocabulary, quantities, units, symbols and nomenclature.

Mathematical skills will be developed such as arithmetic and numerical computation, handling data, algebra, graphs, geometry and trigonometry.

The use of apparatus and techniques will be developed through:

  • The development of investigative skills (devising and investigating testable questions, identifying and controlling variables, analysing, interpreting and evaluating data).
  • The development of practical skills such as using specialist equipment to take measurements, handling and manipulating equipment with confidence and fluency and recognising hazards and planning how to minimise risk.

Formal assessments: (at the end of the course):

Paper 1 lasting one hour and forty five minutes. (100 marks)

Paper 2 lasting one hour and forty five minutes. (100 marks)

Exam board and specification:

AQA is the exam board

GCSE Biology (8461) is the specification

Extended tasks/Coursework/Controlled Assessment

Eight required practicals assessing the required apparatus and techniques.

Lists of texts:

AQA GCSE Biology Student Book (OUP 3rd edition) by Ann Fullick (ISBN-13:9780198359371)

AQA GCSE Biology Student Book (Collins) by John Beeby & Anne Pilling (ISBN-13:978-0008175047)

AQA GCSE (9-1) Biology Student Book (Hodder) by Nick Dixon, Ali Hodgson (ISBN-13: 978-1471851339)

New Grade 9-1 GCSE Biology for AQA: Student Book (CGP) with Online Edition (ISBN-13: 978-1782945956)

New Grade 9-1 GCSE Biology: AQA Revision Guide (CGP) with Online Edition (ISBN-13: 978-1782945567)

On-line resources:

http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science

GCSEPOD

Specialist equipment needed

Scientific Calculator

Ruler

Year 11 Biology

Topics studied:

B2.5 Proteins – their functions and uses

Proteins have many functions, both inside and outside the cells of living organisms such as components of tissues, hormones, antibodies and catalysts. Protein molecules are made up of long chains of amino acids folded to produce a specific shape that enables other molecules to fit into the protein. Catalysts increase the rate of chemical reactions and enzymes are biological catalysts. The shape of an enzyme is vital for the enzyme’s function and high temperatures and certain pH can change the shape. Enzymes have many applications in the home and industry.

B2.6 Aerobic and anaerobic respiration

Respiration in cells can take place aerobically or anaerobically. The energy released is used in a variety of ways. The human body needs to react to the increased demand for energy during exercise.

B2. 7 Cell division and inheritance

Characteristics are passed on from one generation to the next in both plants and animals. Simple genetic diagrams can be used to show this. There are ethical considerations in treating genetic disorders.

B2.8 Speciation

Changes in the environment of plants and animals may cause them to die out. The fossil record shows that new organisms arise, flourish, and after a time become extinct. The record also shows changes that lead to the formation of new species.

Topics studied in separate biology only:

B3.1 Movement of materials in and out of cells

The cells, tissues and organs in plants and animals are adapted to take up and get rid of dissolved substances. Different conditions can affect the rate of transfer. Sometimes energy is needed for transfer to take place.

B3.2 Transport systems in plants and animals

Substances are transported around the body by the circulatory system (the heart, the blood vessels and the blood). They are transported from where they are taken into the body to the cells, or from the cells to where they are removed from the body. Modern developments in biomedical and technological research enable us to help when the circulatory system is not working well. Plants have separate transport systems for water and nutrients.

B3.3 Homeostasis

Humans need to remove waste products from their bodies to keep their internal environment relatively constant. People whose kidneys do not function properly may die because toxic substances accumulate in their blood. Their lives can be saved by using dialysis machines or having a healthy kidney transplanted. Water and ion content, body temperature and blood glucose levels must be kept within very narrow ranges.

B3.4 Humans and their environment

Humans often upset the balance of different populations in natural ecosystems, or change the environment so that some species find it difficult to survive. With so many people in the world, there is a serious danger of causing permanent damage not just to the local environments but also to the global environment unless our overall effect is managed carefully. Humans rely on ecosystems for food, water and shelter.

Skills that will be developed:

How Science Works will be developed by looking at key features such as:

  • The thinking behind the doing
  • Fundamental ideas
  • Observation as a stimulus to investigation
  • Designing an investigation
  • Making measurements
  • Presenting data
  • Using data to draw conclusions
  • Evaluation
  • Societal aspects of scientific evidence
  • Limitations of scientific evidence

Formal assessments (at the end of the course):

Unit 1: Biology 1 lasting one hour (100 UMS)

Unit 2: Biology 2 Paper 2 lasting one hour (100 UMS)

Unit 3: Biology 3 Paper 3 lasting one hour (100 UMS)

Unit 4: Controlled Assessment (100 UMS)

Exam board and specification:

AQA is the exam board

GCSE Biology (4401) is the specification

Extended tasks/Coursework/Controlled Assessment

Completion of an ISA

Lists of texts:

AQA Science GCSE Biology by Ann Fullick (ISBN-13: 978-0748796410)

GCSE Biology for AQA: Student Book with Interactive Online Edition (ISBN-13: 978-1847622204)

GCSE Biology AQA Complete Revision & Practice (ISBN-13: 978-1847626608) (https://www.cgpbooks.co.uk/School/books_gcse_science.books_gcse_science_aqa?range=old )

On-line resources:

http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science

GCSEPOD

Specialist equipment needed

Scientific Calculator

Ruler

Year 12/13 AS & A Level year 1 Biology (AQA)

Topics studied:

3.1 Biological Molecules

3.1.1 Monomers and polymers

3.1.2 Carbohydrates

3.1.3 Lipids

3.1.4 Proteins and enzymes

3.1.5 Nucleic acids are important information-carrying molecules

3.1.6 ATP

3.1.7 Water

3.1.8 Inorganic ions

3.2 Cells

3.2.1 Cell structure

3.2.2 All cells arise from other cells

3.2.3 Transport across cell membranes

3.2.4 Cell recognition and the immune system

3.3 Organisms exchange substances with their environment

3.3.1 Surface area to volume ratio

3.3.2 Gas exchange

3.3.3 Digestion and Absorption

3.3.4 Mass transport

3.4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

3.3.1 DNA, genes and chromosomes

3.3.2 DNA and Protein synthesis

3.3.3 DNA diversity can arise as a result of mutation or during meiosis

3.3.4 Genetic diversity and Adaptation

3.3.5 Species and taxonomy

3.3.5 Biodiversity within a community

3.3.6 Investigating diversity

Skills that will be developed:

Practical skills will be developed such as independent thinking, use and application of scientific methods and practices, numeracy and the application of mathematical concepts in a practical context, and instruments and equipment,

Mathematical skills will be developed such as arithmetic and numerical computation, handling data, algebra, graphs, geometry and trigonometry.

Competencies (CPAC) will be developed such as following written procedures, applying investigative approaches and methods when using instruments and equipment, safely using a range of practical equipment and materials, making and recording observations and researching, references and reports.

Formal assessments: (at the end of the course):

Paper 1 + Paper 2

What’s assessed

Any content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

What’s assessed

Any content from topics 1-4, including relevant practical skills

How it’s assessed

Written exam 1 hour 30 minutes

75 marks

50% of the AS

How it’s assessed

Written exam 1 hour 30 minutes

75 marks

50% of the AS

Questions

65 marks of short answer questions

10 marks comprehension question

Questions

65 marks of short answer questions

10 marks extended response questions

 

Specification

AS and A-level Biology (AQA AS 7401, A 7402)

Extended tasks/Coursework/Controlled Assessment:

Required practical 1 – Investigation into the effect of a named variable on the rate of an enzyme-controlled reaction

Required practical 2 – Preparation of stained squashes of cells from plant root tips; set up and use of an optical microscope to identify the stages of mitosis in these stained squashes and the calculation of a mitotic index.

Required practical 3 – Production of a dilution series of a solute to produce a calibration curve with which to identify the water potential of plant tissue

Required practical 4 – Investigation into the effect of a named variable on the permeability of cell-surface membranes

Required practical 5 – Dissection of animal or plant gas exchange system or mass transport system or of an organ within such a system

Required practical 6 – Use of aseptic techniques to investigate the effect of antimicrobial substances on microbial growth

Lists of texts:

AQA Biology AS Year 1 Student Book

Authors: Glen Toole, Susan Toole

Publisher: Oxford University Press (including Nelson Thornes)

ISBN-13: 978-0198351764

AQA A-level Biology Student Book

Authors: Glen Toole, Susan Toole

Publisher: Oxford University Press (including Nelson Thornes)

ISBN-13: 978-0198351771

AQA A-level Biology Year 1 Student Book

Authors: Pauline Lowry, Mark Smith

Publisher: Hodder Education

ISBN-13: 978-1471807619

AQA A-level Biology: Student Book 1

Authors: Mary Jones, Leslie Higginbottom

Publisher: Collins

ISBN-13: 978-0007590162

New A-Level Biology: AQA Year 1 & AS Complete Revision & Practice with Online Edition

ISBN-13: 978-1782942979 (https://www.cgpbooks.co.uk/School/books_a_level_biology_aqa)

On-line resources:

http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/as-and-a-level/biology-7401-7402

Specialist equipment needed

Lever arch file and dividers

Lab book (hard back lined A4)

Scientific Calculator

Ruler

Year 13 A Level Biology (AQA)

Topics studied:

3.5 Energy Transfer

3.5.1 Photosynthesis

3.5.2 Respiration

3.5.3 Energy and ecosystems

3.5.4 Nutrient cycles

3.6 Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments

3.6.1 Survival and response

3.6.2 Nervous coordination

3.6.3 Skeletal muscles are stimulated to contract by nerves and act as effectors

3.6.4 Homeostasis is the maintenance of a stable internal environment

3.7 Genetics and Populations

3.7.1 Inheritance

3.7.2 Populations

3.7.3 Evolution may lead to speciation

3.7.4 Populations in ecosystems

3.8 Control of gene expression

3.8.1 Alterations in the sequence of bases in DNA can alter the structure of proteins

3.8.2 Gene expression is controlled by a number of features

3.8.3 Using genome projects

3.8.4 Gene technologies allow the study and alteration of gene function allowing a better understanding of organism function and the design of new industrial and medical processes

Skills that will be developed:

Practical skills will be developed such as independent thinking, use and application of scientific methods and practices, numeracy and the application of mathematical concepts in a practical context, and instruments and equipment.

Mathematical skills will be developed such as arithmetic and numerical computation, handling data, algebra, graphs, geometry and trigonometry.

Competencies (CPAC) will be developed such as following written procedures, applying investigative approaches and methods when using instruments and equipment, safely using a range of practical equipment and materials, making and recording observations and researching, references and reports.

Formal assessments: (at the end of the course):

Paper 1 Paper 2 Paper 3

What’s assessed

·         Any content from Topics 1-4

·         Relevant practical skills

What’s assessed

·         Any content from Topics 5-8

·         Relevant practical skills

What’s assessed

·         Any content from Topics 1-8

·         Any practical skills

How it’s assessed

·         Written exam: 2 hours

·         91 marks

·         35% of the A-level

How it’s assessed

·         Written exam: 2 hours

·         91 marks

·         35% of the A-level

How it’s assessed

·         Written exam: 2 hours

·         78 marks

·         30% of the AS

Questions

76 marks A mixture of short and long answer questions

15 marks Extended response questions

Questions

76 marks A mixture of short and long answer questions

15 marks Comprehension question

Questions

38 marks Structured questions, including practical techniques

15 marks Critical analysis of given experimental data

25 marks One essay from a choice of two titles

 

Specification:

A-level Biology (7402)

Extended tasks/Coursework/Controlled Assessment:

Required practical 1 – Investigation into the effect of a named variable on the rate of an enzyme-controlled reaction

Required practical 2 – Preparation of stained squashes of cells from plant root tips; set up and use of an optical microscope to identify the stages of mitosis in these stained squashes and the calculation of a mitotic index.

Required practical 3 – Production of a dilution series of a solute to produce a calibration curve with which to identify the water potential of plant tissue

Required practical 4 – Investigation into the effect of a named variable on the permeability of cell-surface membranes

Required practical 5 – Dissection of animal or plant gas exchange system or mass transport system or of an organ within such a system

Required practical 6 – Use of aseptic techniques to investigate the effect of antimicrobial substances on microbial growth

Required Practical 7 – Use of chromatography to investigate the pigments isolated from leaves of different plants, e.g. leaves from shade-tolerant and shade-intolerant plants or leaves of different colours

Required Practical 8 – Investigation into the effect of a named factor on the rate of dehydrogenase activity in extracts of chloroplasts

Required Practical 9 – Investigation into the effect of a named variable on the rate of respiration of cultures of single-celled organisms

Required Practical 10 – Investigation into the effect of an environmental variable on the movement of an animal using either a choice chamber or a maze

Required practical 11 – Production of a dilution series of a glucose solution and use of colorimetric techniques to produce a calibration curve with which to identify the concentration of glucose in an unknown ‘urine’ sample

Required Practical 12 –   Investigation into the effect of a named environmental factor on the distribution of a given species

Lists of texts:

AQA A-level Biology Student Book

Authors: Glen Toole, Susan Toole

Publisher: Oxford University Press (including Nelson Thornes)

ISBN-13: 978-0198351771

AQA A-level Biology Student Book 2

Authors: Pauline Lowry, Mark Smith

Publisher: Hodder Education

ISBN-13: 978-1471807640

AQA A-level Biology: Student Book 2

Authors: Mike Boyle

Publisher: Collins

ISBN-13: 978-0007597628

New A-Level Biology: AQA Year 1 & 2 Complete Revision & Practice with Online Edition

ISBN-13: 978-1782942979 (https://www.cgpbooks.co.uk/School/books_a_level_biology_aqa)

On-line resources: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/as-and-a-level/biology-7401-7402

Specialist equipment needed

Lever arch file and dividers

Lab book (hard back lined A4)

Scientific Calculator

Ruler