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GCSE Biology - Years 9, 10 & 11


AQA GCSE Biology: The specification and assessment structure can be found at the link:

What will I study?

The GCSE Biology specification is organised into 7 main areas which is taught as 18 separate topics through years 9 to 11.  These will cover the very small components of biology to the very large components. This will include cells and cell division, tissues and organs, diseases, biological processes, systems of the body, variation and evolution, adaptations, biodiversity and ecosystems.

What Skills and Qualities are required?

To be successful at GCSE you need to be hardworking, analytical and resilient. You may not get the answer correct first time of trying but those who persevere will make good progress. You will require imaginative, logical and critical thinking to be able to complete investigative approaches. You will be expected to develop your questioning technique so that you can ask focussed questions to aid the teaching you receive.

How will I learn?

The courses emphasise explanations, theories and modelling in Science along with the implications of Science for society. Strong emphasis is placed on the active involvement of students in the learning process and the specifications encourage a wide range of teaching and learning activities, with particular focus on practical and mathematical skills. You will be provided with home access to an e-book specifically designed with the new examination format in mind as well as having access to traditional textbooks in the classroom.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed via a range of means throughout the course. CAT’s will be completed as per the school’s assessment calendar, but you will also have smaller topic tests, weekly homework that will involve a variety of tasks from research, presentations, practising exam-based questions and analysing and evaluating practical work. You will be expected to actively and sensibly participate in 10 required practical tasks throughout the course.

At the end of the course there will be 2 written examinations worth 100 marks each. These examinations will be made up of a mixture of multiple choice, short answer, extended response, mathematical and practical based questions.

Where could it lead?

GCSE Biology naturally leads to A-level â€‹Biology which is the core A-Level for Degrees in â€‹biological sciences, medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, environmental sciences, biomedical science, dentistry, forensic science and physiotherapy.

Additional requirements/information


Year 09

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1 Cell Biology

Cell structure

Animal and plant cells


Using microscopes

Drawing and measuring

Mathematical calculations

2 Transport in cells



Active transport

Growth, differentiation

Stem cells

Working scientifically 

Planning, recording and analysing data

Spring Term
1 Organisation and digestive system

Tissues and organs

Chemistry of food

Practical skills
2 Organisation and digestive systems

Human digestive system 


Working scientifically

Planning, recording and analysing 

Evaluating methods and data 

Summer Term
1 Organising animals and plants 

Circulatory system including the heart

Breathing and gas exchange 

Further development of application skills
2 Transport systems Transport in plants  Mathematical calculations 

Year 10

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1 Communicable Disease

Animal and plant diseases 

Viral and bacterial diseases

Working scientifically 

Evaluating research

2 Preventing and treating disease



Developing drugs 

Monoclonal antibodies 

Application skills 

Analysing data

Spring Term
1 Non communicable diseases and photosynthesis



Diet, exercise and disease

Evaluating data and claims
2 Respiration and human nervous system

Response to exercise 
Reflex actions 

The brain

Working scientifically 

Mathematical skills 

Presentation of data

Summer Term
1 Hormonal Coordination

Controlling blood glucose 

Menstrual cycle 

Plant hormones

Application skills



Adaptations interdependence and competition

Competition and adaptations in animals and plants

Distribution and abundance of organisms

Investigative skills 

Fieldwork using sampling techniques

Year 11

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1 Homeostasis in action


Controlling body temperature

Working scientifically 

Planning, recording, analysing and evaluating methods and data

2 DNA and genetics Protein synthesis  
Spring Term
1 Variation and evolution

Natural selection

Selective breeding 

Genetic engineering 


History of genetics and evolution 

Fossils and extinction

2 Adaptations, interdependence and communities 


Adaptation in plants and animals

Feeding relationships 

Cycling and decomposition 

Summer Term
1 Biodiversity and ecosystems


Global warming 

Food production 

Maintaining biodiversity



Resources Topic Type of assessment

Cell structure and transport

Cell division

Exam style questions

Cell structure and transport

Cell division

Organisation and the digestive system

Organising animals and plants

End of year examination

Organising animals and plants

Communicable diseases

Test (exam style questions)
CAT 4 All disease topics and photosynthesis Test (exam style questions)
CAT 5 All GCSE topics covered so far

End of year examination


Homeostasis in action


Test (exam style questions)
CAT 7 Paper 1 (chapters 1-9) Mock examination
CAT 8   GCSE Assessment Objectives

Main Resources

Resource Details Term
Text books

AQA Science Biology new GCSE (Oxford University Press)

Recommended reading

GCSE Biology AQA revision guide by CGP

GCSE Biology AQA revision guide (Oxford University Press)

Recommended websites (all pupils will have a login to this resource)

GCSE BBC Bitesize


Enrichment opportunities

Activity Day and time or term
Year 11 Revision sessions From April

Where Next