Biology GCSE

This course follows the AQA GCSE Biology syllabus. It is a linear syllabus suitable for the post-16 student. You will need a sound knowledge of Maths and English to succeed on this course and you will need to have knowledge of how you learn - your preferred learning style for example - as well as a knowledge and understanding of study skills. This is a busy and comprehensive written examination based course.

Course Content

The course will cover the following topics
Topic 1 Cell Biology
Cell structure
Cell division
Transport in cells
Topic 2 Organisation
Principles of organisation
Animal tissues, organs and organ systems
Plant tissues, organs and systems
Topic 3 Infection and response
Communicable diseases
Monoclonal antibodies (higher tier only)
Plant disease
Topic 4 Bioenergetics
Topic 5 Homeostasis and Response
The human nervous system
Hormonal coordination in humans
Plant hormones
Topic 6 Inheritance, variation and evolution
Variation and evolution
The development of understanding of genetics and evolution
Classification of living organisms
Topic 7 Ecology
Adaptations, interdependence and competition
Organisation of an ecosystem
Biodiversity and the effect of human interaction on ecosystems
Trophic levels in an ecosystem
Food production

You can sit the exams at either foundation tier or higher tier. If you take foundation tier, you can achieve grades within the range 1-5. If you take higher tier, you can achieve grades within the range 4-9. After Christmas, you will discuss with your tutor which tier you would like to take.

Safety Information
We want to keep you safe while you are at RHACC and as such all on-site classes will have additional hygiene procedures in place, as per government guidelines. Please note that if guidance changes, we may need to make changes to your course, such as reducing numbers attending onsite, or in the event of lockdown, postponing or moving the course online. Please act responsibly and do not attend the class if you display any of the symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in recent contact with someone who has. Please see government advice here.

Entry Requirements

To be eligible for this course you must be 19 or over on 31st August prior to the course start date.

In order to enrol onto this course you need to have established skills at Level 2 Maths and Level 2 English as a minimum. You should be ready to learn - in other words, take feedback (in a constructive manner), be able to listen, be able to communicate clearly and in an appropriate way, take and follow instruction and be prepared to work with a range of people in class. You will need to sit a computer based initial assessment to indicate and evidence your current level of Maths and English.

If you have been asked to complete an English and/or maths screening test, it is important that you read the following information -
The entry requirements for the GCSE Biology course on the screening tests are Level 2 English and Level 2 Maths
You should allow sufficient time for the screening test (up to 1 hour per test), so that you are not rushed.
You should take the screening tests seriously, as the tests results will determine which course/s you can enrol on.
If you do not achieve the required levels on the screening tests for your chosen course, then you will not be offered a place on the course.
It would be sensible to complete the screening tests on a separate day prior to the interview.
Please note we only allow one attempt at these screening assessments.
If you wish to practise for these initial assessments you can do so at

First Class Requirements

You should bring along an A4 writing pad as well as a selection of pens. You will also need to purchase a scientific calculator - preferably one of the Casio FX series, which will cost in the region of c£9.00 - though if you already have a scientific calculator, it should suffice for the course. Please discuss this with your tutor. You should also purchase the textbook for the course, which the tutor will advise you of in the first session. You will also need a 30 cm Ruler, and 2mm (light blue or grey) squared graph paper. You need to bring these resources with you to each session unless directed by the tutor.

Attendance Requirements

You attendance is required at each and every session. You are expected to have 100% attendance. If you feel you cannot commit to this expected level of attendance, then you should consider whether this is a suitable course for you. If you are unable to attend any one session then you are asked to notify the tutor in advance so that they can liaise with you on the work and topics, which will be covered during that session. We must stress though that attendance at every session is important for you as a learner and for your tutor as well as your classmates as it ensures continuity in the teaching and consequently in your learning. Because of the demands of the course, there is limited time for the tutor to spend on each topic. Hence, s/he will keep moving forward. This is why it is important for you as a learner to keep up with the homework and to work as a pro-active learner in the classroom; contributing in a positive and constructive manner and asking questions when you are unsure.
Please note that the Friday course has two sessions outside of the usual term time on Friday 20 December 2019 and Friday 29 May 2020.

Assessment Methods

Your assessment is through 2 x 1 hour 45 minute exam papers on different nationally set days. You will sit the exam papers in May and June, dates to be confirmed. Please note the exam dates and times will be different to your class day and time. Each paper is worth 50% of the marks. Paper 1 will assess topics 1-4: Cell biology, Organisation, Infection and response, and Bioenergetics. Paper 2 will assess topics 5-7: Homeostasis and response, Inheritance, variation and evolution, and ecology.

Further Study Options

GCSE Biology is an entry requirement for a significant number of HE courses and in particular Teacher Training courses. It is also a qualification required and sought by a significant number of employers.

Additional Information

Please be aware that there is a significant level of commitment required of you in order to successfully complete this course. If you are willing to commit to the course and the college in this way then we will support you through the course.

You will be expected to do at least 3 to 4 hours of homework per week.


Remote Learning:
Some of our courses are now delivered through remote learning, including video conferencing (using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype) and email contact with your tutor.

If your course is indicated as an ONLINE COURSE, you will need either a PC (with a camera and microphone), laptop, tablet, smartphone and access to the internet to be able to join the lessons. Lessons will run at the published time – so be ready and set up to join in.

We hope you will enjoy this new approach to learning – many of our learners have commented on how they are enjoying the classes and have improved their IT and digital skills in the process.

Please don't worry if some of this is new to you - you are not alone! See here for guidance on how to use our simple software. If you are experiencing any problems with connection or installing software for your online class please contact our eLearning support team via the Student Intranet Portal: We are here to help you.