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Looking for a highly respected A-level with broad career options? Are you interested in the living world and how you fit into it? Would you like to know more about a dramatically changing subject, set to have a huge impact on the world over the next few decades? Do you enjoy problem solving? .......then biology could be for you.
So what exactly is biology?
Biology is the study of the structure and function of living organisms, their relationships with one another and with their environment. Studying it will enable you to better understand the workings of your own body and how you affect the world and other living things around you. It is almost impossible to open a newspaper, magazine or turn on the TV without coming across information about your health, or about the environmental effects of human actions such as energy production and industrial and personal pollution. In a more futuristic sense, we now have the ability to understand and alter the basic building block of biology [namely DNA] which could lead to the next industrial and medical revolution. Studying biology will enable you to fully understand the relevant issues of today so that you can join the debate about the future of life on our planet. There has quite possibly never been a better time to study biology.
What skills will I develop?
Biology is a substantially practical subject, so experiments will help to develop your manipulative skills, powers of analysis, ability to organise and present results and to conclude what they might mean. An ability to look at a research question and plan how an answer might be sort and to evaluate whether or not a particular method has been reliable enough to answer that question [and if not to suggest possible alternatives], are further examples of the skills acquired. Literacy skills developed will include discursive, analytical and evaluative writing, research skills, and verbal debate. Biologists need some mathematical skills such as understanding tabulated and graphical data, calculating percentages and ratios and rearranging simple equations. There is also the potential to develop technological skills either through practical or theoretical work. ICT can be involved in the collection of experimental results alongside more everyday skills of word processing, analysing data using statistical packages and spreadsheets, presenting information using power-point or excel and researching using CD ROMs or the internet.
Your future in biology
Apart from Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science, subjects which our Biology students have gone on to study include Anatomy, Biochemistry, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Psychology, Radiography, Sports Science and Zoology – a literal A to Z of careers. In addition, many students who are planning to study an arts subject at university but who feel that their education would be broadened by the inclusion of a science amongst their A or AS Level subjects, find the study of biology an interesting and rewarding experience. Biology as a subject is increasing in importance within the work force. Along with the obvious health related careers, the urgency of issues involving the state of the environment mean that your skills and knowledge will be highly in demand. Also, as mentioned before, the potential of biological knowledge in the next industrial [genetic] revolution is vast.
The course
At A-Level the course builds on the foundations laid at GCSE and includes the topics essential to understanding the fundamentals of all biological situations. These include details on how cells function, the nature of the molecules which living things are made up of and an introduction to how organisms are controlled genetically. The A-Level course enables you to apply these to many higher-level situations. These include the detailed biochemistry of processes such as photosynthesis and respiration, an in depth understanding of the environment and understanding the workings of the nervous system and homeostasis. Again a coursework element must be completed.
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