AQA 7401
  • The course is split into 4 sections, 1-4.


    Biological molecules All life on Earth shares a common chemistry. Despite their great variety, the cells of all living organisms contain only a few groups of carbon-based compounds that interact in similar ways. Molecules studied in depth include; Carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids and water. Practical opportunities include tests for biological molecules, serial dilution of glucose solution, experiments investigating the properties of enzymes, using chromatography to separate and identify amino acids.


    Cells All life on Earth exists as cells with common basic features. We look at how cells arise from other cells by binary fission in prokaryotic cells and by mitosis and meiosis in eukaryotic cells. All cells have a cell-surface membrane and this is involved in the control of transport of substances into and out of the cell. The cell-surface membranes are also involved in cell signalling, with embedded proteins acting as antigens which can trigger immune responses. Practical opportunities include root tip squashes to see chromosomes during mitosis, collecting and using data to work out the concentrations of solution.


    Organisms exchange substances with their environment The internal environment of a cell or organisms differs from its external environment. The cell plasma membrane plays a key role in exchange of substances. In multicellular organisms tissue fluid is also involved in the exchange process and in large organisms mass transport is necessary in helping to maintain the relatively stable environment of the tissue fluid. Practical opportunities would include investigating the effect of changing the ratio of surface area to volume on diffusion rate, dissecting mammalian lungs and gills to examine the structure for gas exchange, using manometers and simple respirometers to measure volumes of air involved in gas exchange and investigating the effect of pH or bile salts on the rate of enzyme controlled reactions.


    Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms Biological diversity is reflected in the vast number of species of organisms, in the variation of individual characteristics within a single species and in the variation of cell types within single multicellular organisms. This topic looks at the factors responsible for these differences: genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of both. Genetic diversity within a species can be caused by gene mutation, chromosome mutation or random factors associated with meiosis and fertilisation. This genetic diversity is acted upon by natural selection, resulting in species becoming better adapted to their environment. Practical opportunities would include designing methods to carry out random sampling and looking at the effect of a factor on growth of an organism (probably a plant)!

  • This course encourages students to:

    • Develop their interest in and enthusiasm for this exciting, relevant and challenging subject.

    • Appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.

    • Develop a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of how science works. Emphasising the way in which scientists work and the contributions of science to modern society.

    • Develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other.
  • There is no optional section for this course.

  • Groups are taught two specialist teachers, 1 teacher delivers section 1 and 4, the other delivers sections 2 and 3.

  • Students are expected to have achieved at least an A grade GCSE in both Core and Additional Science or an A grade in biology.

  • This is now a linear qualification and so all assessments must be taken in the same year. Exams will be available for the first time in May/June 2016.

    There are two papers each contributing to 50% of the AS

    Paper 1 Any content + relevant practical skills 1 hour 30 minutes 75 marks consisting of: 65 marks of short answer questions 10 marks’ worth of comprehension questions

    Paper 2 Any content + relevant practical skills 1 hour 30 minutes 75 marks consisting of: 65 marks of short answer questions 10 marks’ worth of extended response

    There is no coursework element of the course. There is no practical endorsement required to gain the AS qualification.

    Pupils will be examined on their ability to: Understand and apply the content of the course, including the mathematical and practical skills. They will also be expected to draw together different areas of knowledge and understanding within one answer.

    There will be a range of questions, including those requiring extended responses. Extended response questions will allow students to demonstrate their ability to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning which is coherent, relevant, substantiated and logically structured. These questions may be written in English, extended calculations or a combination of both as appropriate to the question.

    Provision has been made for numerous opportunities to use practical experiences to link theory to reality and equip students with the essential practical skills they need.

  • A variety of teaching and learning methods are used.

    For example, note taking, past exam question practice, sequencing exercises, analyses, delivering presentations and watching video clips.

    Learning is also reinforced by practical experience and experimentation in the laboratory.

    End of topic tests take place roughly every four weeks.

    In addition, for more continuity to A2, there is a field trip which takes place following the AS exams. A significant proportion of Section 5 is covered on the course.