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KS4 Science


Course overview

Present Year 11 students study the AQA GCSE Biology course. This qualification is linear,  meaning that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course. In order to achieve this qualification, students must complete 10 required practical and two examinations at the end of the course.

GCSE study in biology provides the foundations for understanding the material world. Scientific understanding is changing our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all students should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. They are helped to appreciate how the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a small number of key ideas relating to the sciences which are both inter-linked, and are of universal application. These key ideas include:

  • the use of conceptual models and theories to make sense of the observed diversity of natural phenomena
  • the assumption that every effect has one or more cause
  • that change is driven by differences between different objects and systems when they interact
  • that many such interactions occur over a distance without direct contact
  • that science progresses through a cycle of hypothesis, practical experimentation, observation, theory development and review
  • that quantitative analysis is a central element both of many theories and of scientific methods of inquiry.

The GCSE specification in biology enables students to:

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding of biology
  • develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of biology through different types of scientific enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
  • 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 biology through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Subject topic areas:

  • 1. Cell biology
  • 2. Organisation
  • 3. Infection and response
  • 4. Bioenergetics
  • 5. Homeostasis and response
  • 6. Inheritance, variation and evolution
  • 7. Ecology
  • 8. Key ideas


GCSE exams in Biology

The exams include questions that allow students to demonstrate: • their knowledge and understanding of the content developed in one section or topic, including the associated mathematical and practical skills or • their ability to apply mathematical and practical skills to areas of content they are not normally developed in or • their ability to draw together different areas of knowledge and understanding within one answer. A range of question types will be used, including multiple choice, short answer and those that require extended responses. Extended response questions will be of sufficient length to allow students to demonstrate their ability to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning which is coherent, relevant, substantiated and logically structured. Extended responses may be prose, extended calculations,

Paper 1:

What's assessed:

Topics 1–4: Cell biology; Organisation; Infection and response; and Bioenergetics.

How it's assessed:

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
Foundation and Higher Tier
100 marks
50% of GCSE

Questions: Multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response.

Paper 2:

What's assessed:

Topics 5–7: Homeostasis and response; Inheritance, variation and evolution; and Ecology.

How it's assessed:

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
Foundation and Higher Tier
100 marks
50% of GCSE

Questions: Multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response.


Yr 10 - AQA Synergy Science 2021/2023 

 This year, our year 10 students will be starting the AQA Synergy Science GCSE course. 

 This course organises the learning into topics such as “Explaining change”, with many topics containing Biology, Physics and Chemistry. This is a combined science course, meaning that two GCSE’s are awarded. 

 Students will sit two 1 hour 45 minute papers covering year 10 work and Two 1 hour 45 minute papers covering Year 11 work.

 The subject areas covered are as followed: 

 4.1 Building blocks

4.2 Transport over larger distances

4.3 Interactions with the environment

4.4 Explaining change

4.5 Building blocks for understanding

4.6 Interactions over small and large distances

4.7 Movement and interactions

4.8 Guiding Spaceship Earth towards a sustainable future

4.9 Key ideas