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Biology GCSE (AQA 8461)

Course aim

The aim of this course is to cover the content of the AQA GCSE Biology course in a way that will increase learners’ understanding of living things and life processes and will encourage scientific thinking.

Course length & duration

The course will run over a total of 32 weeks from September to June. Classes will be held once or twice a week and the sessions will be 3 or 2.5 hours long respectively.

Course content

This course is for learners who are interested in the study of plants, animals and the human body and will cover the Foundation content of GCSE Biology. By the end of the course, learners should be able to:

  • Use scientific language with confidence.
  • Understand how scientific knowledge has developed over the years, and how scientific evidence is collected and analysed.
  • Plan and carry out scientific experiments, record results and draw conclusions from the results.
  • Understand the main life processes that enable plants and animals to survive.
  • Understand how the various organ systems in the human body work together to keep us healthy.
  • Understand what causes disease, and how diseases can be prevented or treated.
  • Describe how organisms relate to each other and to the environment.
  • Describe the effects of human activities on the environment.
  • Understand how characteristics are passed on from generation to generation through DNA when living things reproduce.

Entry requirements

This course is normally delivered over 2 years in schools. Therefore, it is very fast-paced, and learners need to have good English and maths skills in order to take this course. Ideally, learners should have a level 2 qualification in Maths and English. All learners will be expected to complete an assessment before enrolling on the course. Learners will be expected to do about 4 hours a week of independent study outside of classes. Learners will be expected to attend a 1:1 tutorial about once every 6 weeks, either before or after the lesson.


There will be 2 exams at the end of the course in May/June. These will be marked externally by AQA, and results will be available in August. The provisional exam dates are 14/05/19 and 07/06/19.

Learning strategies

During sessions, there will be a variety of learning strategies and opportunities including small group work, discussion, written work and practical experiments. Learners will also be able to use the internet for research. It is important that learners attend all sessions and make time to work at home every week in order to prepare, practise and consolidate their learning. BAES has its own Learner Zone website for learners to access at home or in a library for practice and revision.

Other information

The Biology GCSE course will start with a free compulsory three week introductory course with progression to the full GCSE course. Enrolment for the main course at the end of the introductory course will depend on whether the learner and their tutor feel that they are coping with the level and amount of work required and on good attendance and punctuality.

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