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subject overview

We follow the AQA syllabus in Biology. The course is split in three units at both AS and A2 stages.

Learners will take their terminal examination in June. They will study the following units at AS:

•Unit 1: Biology and Disease

•Unit 2: The Variety of Living Organisms

•Unit 3: Practical and Investigative Skills (20% of total AS marks, 10% of total A Level marks)

The learners will study the following units during the A2 units:

•Unit 4: Populations and Environment

•Unit 5: Control in Cells and in Organisms

•Unit 6: Practical and Investigative Skills (10% of the total A Level marks)

Unit Overview - Autumn term

Subject: Biology year 12


  • biological polymers and their monomers, including hydrolysis and condensation
  • word equations to summarise.
  • Practical: AT f Students could use, and interpret the results of, qualitative tests for reducing sugars, non-reducing sugars and starch. AT g Students could use chromatography, with known standard solutions.  They can link to required practical and introduce calibration curves and colorimetry and discuss the usefulness of calibration curves or standards
  • AT f – interpret the results of the emulsion test for lipids
  •  independently follow instructions for the emulsion test to test samples for lipids.
  • AT f – use and interpret the results of a biuret test for proteins
  • use molymods to make glycine molecules and then join them together to model condensation
  •  interpret graphs of energy changes during reactions, to identify activation energy
  • Required practical 1 – Investigation into the effect of a named variable on the rate of an enzyme-controlled reaction. AT a/AT l – use appropriate apparatus, including data loggers, to record quantitative measurements such as temperature and pH.
  • Develop the knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas and processes
  • development and application of knowledge and understanding about inorganic ions, their properties and their roles.
  •  Students could arrange organelles in order, with dimensions being given in different units and can represent the final, converted dimensions in standard form.
  • AT d/AT e – use optical microscopes to observe and draw pre-prepared microscope slides of specialised eukaryotic cells.
  • apply knowledge of organelles and their size to interpret results of what organelles would be in the pellet and supernatant after centrifugation
  • students could interpret the amount of DNA in a cell and link these to different stages of the cell cycle.
  • AT d and e – students prepare, observe and draw squashes of root tip cells eg from allium, garlic or hyacinth
  • Knowledge and understanding of viral replication.
  • AT b – use a colorimeter to record quantitative measurements
  • AO1/AO2  Required practical 3 : application of knowledge to explain trends and to understand serial dilutions


  • Explain the concept of condensation and hydrolysis. Explain what a monomer and polymer are.
  • Identify some biological polymers and the monomer from which they are made.
  • Moly mod modelling from structural formulas
  • link models to model condensation
  • Explain what is meant by a glycosidic bond and how they form through condensation
  • Describe how to perform the emulsion test for lipids.
  • Describe the general structure of an amino acid.
  • Describe the biuret test and how it can be interpreted.
  • Explain how dipeptides and polypeptides form.
  • Interpret energy level diagrams and identify the activation energy.
  • Explain the induced-fit model of enzyme action
  • Explain how temperature, pH, substrate concentration, enzyme concentration and the presence of inhibitors affect enzyme catalysis
  • Explain the significance of DNA to organisms.
  • Describe the structure of DNA and identify structural components from diagrams.
  • Describe the structure of ATP.
  • Explain the role of enzymes in hydrolysing and synthesising ATP.
  • Describe the properties that are important in water.
  • Explain the properties of water linked to the polar nature of the molecule.
  • Explain what is meant by the term inorganic ions and where they occur in the body.
  • Explain what is meant by a eukaryotic cell and the defining characteristics of a eukaryotic cell.
  • Explain the roles of different components and organelles within.
  • Identify examples of specialised eukaryotic cells.
  • Explain common adaptations that cells have to particular functions.
  • Describe the structural differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
  • Explain the role of plasmids, capsules and flagella.
  • identification of cell components in light and electron micrographs
  • Describe the processes of cell fractionation and ultracentrifugation.
  • Explain why the separation of cell components is important in studying cells and their components.
  • Explain the appearance of cells in each stage of mitosis.
  • Explain why viruses are not classified as being living organisms.
  • Describe the sequence of events by which viruses replicate.
  •  Knowledge and understanding of viral replication.
  • Identify key variables which affect membrane permeability.
  • Represent raw and processed data clearly using tables and graphs.
  • 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.


  • Identify some biological polymers and the monomer from which they are made.
  • Explain the concept of condensation and hydrolysis reactions in forming/breaking down polymers used in industry.
  •  They can link how polymerisation of α-glucose can form starch or glycogen.
  • Is the emulsion test quantitative or qualitative?
  • Explain the variety of functions that proteins have and why they are so important to the body.
  • The relationship between primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure and protein function.
  • The role of hydrogen bonds, ionic bonds and disulfide bridges in the structure of proteins.
  • Student research into proteins eg haemoglobin, collagen, relating structure to function. RASMOL could be used to research structure and apply knowledge.
  •  Students could research why the specificity of enzymes in catalysing reactions makes them useful in industrial processes and biosensors.
  • how structure relates to function and ask students to suggest why many scientists did not believe DNA to be the genetic code
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid is important in all living cells, as it carries genetic information.
  • Explain the significance of ATP in numerous processes within organisms, as a supplier of energy or phosphate.
  • Water is a major component of cells. It has several properties that are important in biology. In particular, water:
  • Inorganic ions occur in solution in the cytoplasm and body fluids of organisms, some in high concentrations and others in very low concentrations.
  • students will develop analogies of the cell and its organelles.
  •  Students will learn how to set up and use a microscope.
  • The role of cholesterol.
  • apply knowledge about the role of cholesterol to practical data about membrane fluidity

knowledge organisers

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.