GCSE | Biology

GCSE in Biology

The department

We fully believe that students should regularly carry out experiments and dissections, when appropriate, to contextualise theoretical learning and constantly improve their practical knowledge. Our team of highly qualified Biologists is supported by our technician. We have a well-stocked greenhouse ready for experiments and regularly make use of our beautiful grounds for ecological sampling. Our laboratories are well equipped with the latest data-handling, gel electrophoresis DNA purification equipment as well as smart boards and wireless access.

Selected alumni –

  • Tim Dudderidge (1993) is an urological surgeon with a main interest in prostate and bladder cancer, laparoscopy and robotic surgery, now at University Hospital Southampton.
  • Stephen Tsui (1982) is Clinical Director of Transplant Services and Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Papworth Hospital; he hit the headlines carrying out Britain’s first artificial heart transplant.
  • Prof Max Headley (1965) is a Professor of Physiology, University of Bristol, and featured in the Times Higher Education’s List of the UK’s 100 Leading Practising Scientists.


GCSE in Biology

Exam Board: OCR Gateway (Biology A)

Syllabus Code: J247

The aim of this course is to give students opportunity to:

  • Develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding of biology.
  • Develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem-solving skills, both in the laboratory, in the field and in other learning environments.
  • Develop their ability to evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

The course comprises six teaching topics:

  • Topic B1: cell level systems: structures of cells, respiration and photosynthesis.
  • Topic B2: scaling up: supplying the cell and challenges of size, gaseous exchange surfaces and transport systems.
  • Topic B3: organism level systems: co-ordination and control, the hormonal and nervous systems and maintaining internal environments.
  • Topic B4: community level systems: ecosystems, biotic and abiotic factors, relationships between organisms, adaptations to the environment.
  • Topic B5: genes, inheritance and selection: inheritance, natural selection and evolution
  • Topic B6: global challenges: monitoring and maintaining the environment, feeding the human race and monitoring and maintaining health

Students sit two examinations at the end of their Year 11 course:



  • Assesses content from Topics B1-B3
  • 1 hour 45 min – 90 marks
  • Worth 50% of total GCSE
  • Includes multiple choice questions and short answer questions and an extended six-mark level of response question



  • Assesses content from B4-B6 with assumed knowledge of Topics B1-B3
  • 1 hour 45 mins – 90 marks
  • Worth 50% of total GCSE
  • Includes multiple choice questions and short answer questions and an extended six-mark level of response question


Mathematical Content

At least 10% of the marks available in both papers are for mathematical skills these include but are not restricted to: ratios, fractions, algebra, probability, graphs, gradients, geometry, mean, median, mode, frequency tables, bar charts, histograms and standard form.


Working Scientifically

A range of practical experiences are a vital part of a scientific study at this level. A wide range of practical skills will be addressed through the course, which is required for the development of investigative skills. Students will be given the opportunity to practise their practical skills which will prepare them for the written examinations.

We would recommend that students wishing to study Biology at GCSE also study Physics and Chemistry.


If you have any queries about this course, please contact Head of Department: Gemma Sims.

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Berkshire, UK
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