How A Level Biology Online Is Structured

How A Level Biology Online Is Structured

Embarking on the A Level Biology journey with Cambridge Home School Online (CHS) means diving into the heart of the living world, guided by the comprehensive AQA 7402 Biology specification. This meticulously structured course unfolds over two enriching years, designed to ignite curiosity and deepen understanding in students with a keen interest in the biological sciences.

At the core of this educational voyage are eight pivotal topics, each unfolding the intricate tapestry of life from the molecular level to the complexity of ecosystems. The curriculum is thoughtfully segmented over Years 12 and 13, ensuring a balanced and immersive learning experience.

Curriculum and Course Structure

Year 12: Building the Foundation

In the initial phase, students delve into:

  1. Biological molecules: The building blocks of life, where students explore the structure and function of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, laying the groundwork for understanding biochemical processes.
  2. Cells: The fundamental units of life are examined in detail, from cell structure to the vital processes of cell division and transport mechanisms.
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment: This topic addresses how organisms interact with their surroundings, including gas exchange in humans and plants, as well as nutrient and water uptake.
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms: Students unravel the mysteries of genetics, from DNA replication and gene expression to the principles of inheritance and genetic diversity.

Year 13: Expanding Knowledge and Understanding

The journey continues with advanced topics that challenge students to apply their foundational knowledge:

  • Energy transfers in and between organisms: A look into photosynthesis, respiration, and ecosystems, illustrating how energy fuels life’s processes.
  • Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments: This covers nervous and hormonal communication and how organisms adapt to their environments.
  • Genetics, populations, evolution, and ecosystems: Students explore the mechanisms driving evolution and ecological interactions within populations.
  • The control of gene expression: An exploration of how genes are regulated in cells and organisms, an area pivotal to understanding modern biotechnologies and medical advancements.

A Level Biology Topics Overview

Year 12 Topics Year 13 Topics
1. Biological molecules 5. Energy transfers in and between organisms
2. Cells 6. Organisms respond to changes in their environments
3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment 7. Genetics, populations, evolution, and ecosystems
4. Genetic information, variation, and relationships between organisms 8. The control of gene expression

Each topic is not just a chapter in a textbook but a window into the vast and dynamic field of biology, designed to prepare students for the AQA A Level examinations and beyond. The CHS curriculum, with its depth and breadth, serves as an ideal stepping stone for future studies in medicine, environmental science, genetics, and many other disciplines that form the bedrock of modern society.

Teaching and Learning Methods

In the realm of online education, the approach to teaching and learning is paramount. Cambridge Home School Online (CHS) harnesses the power of digital platforms to bring the fascinating world of biology to students’ fingertips. The methods employed are designed not only to impart knowledge but also to engage, inspire, and prepare students for academic and real-world challenges.

Interactive Live Lessons

At the heart of CHS’s online biology course are the live lessons conducted by subject specialist teachers. These sessions are interactive, allowing students to engage directly with their instructors and peers, mirroring the dynamism of a physical classroom in a virtual space. The real-time nature of these lessons enables immediate feedback and clarification of concepts, ensuring a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Recorded Lectures and Digital Resources

Complementing the live sessions are recorded lectures and a wealth of digital resources available on the CHS platform. This includes video presentations, study guides, past papers, and more. Students can access these materials at any time, allowing them to review complex topics and enhance their learning at their own pace. This flexibility is one of the key advantages of online education, accommodating different learning styles and schedules.

Homework, Assessment, and Reporting

Homework is an integral part of the learning process, reinforcing lessons taught and fostering independent study habits. Students are expected to complete at least one piece of homework per subject each week, with the guideline that for every hour of taught content, an additional hour should be dedicated to independent study. This balance ensures that students not only absorb the information presented in live lessons but also engage with the material actively, deepening their comprehension and retention.

Assessment is continuous and multifaceted, comprising homework, short tests, and internal mock exams. These assessments serve not only to gauge progress but also to provide vital feedback for improvement. Students undergo Level 5 internal assessments in June, followed by Level 6 internal mock assessments in November and March. This rigorous assessment schedule ensures that students are well-prepared for their final A Level examinations.

Family Involvement and Support

CHS recognises the invaluable role of family support in a student’s educational journey. Through a dedicated family Teams account, parents can closely monitor their child’s progress, maintain open lines of communication with teachers, and be more involved than traditional annual parent consultation evenings would allow. This partnership between the school, students, and their families creates a supportive environment conducive to academic success.

Practical Skills and Assessments

A Level Biology is a subject rich in practical knowledge and experimentation, essential for a deep understanding of the scientific concepts taught. Cambridge Home School Online (CHS) recognises the importance of practical skills, even within an online learning environment, and has devised innovative approaches to ensure students gain these vital experiences.

Integration of Practical Skills

Given the online nature of the course, direct laboratory work may not be feasible. However, CHS employs several methods to bridge this gap. Students are encouraged to watch detailed video demonstrations of experiments, providing visual and theoretical insights into practical biology. These videos often cover key experiments from the AQA specification, ensuring students are familiar with essential practical techniques and procedures.

For those eager to engage in hands-on activities, CHS provides guidance for safe, home-based experiments. While direct supervision is not possible, these activities are designed with safety in mind, allowing students to explore practical biology within their own environments. It’s important to note that any practical work undertaken at home is done so at the student’s and guardian’s discretion, ensuring safety remains a priority.

Theoretical Application of Practical Knowledge

In addition to video demonstrations and optional home experiments, CHS emphasises the theoretical understanding of practical work. Students learn to design experiments, analyse data, and draw conclusions, skills that are not only crucial for exams but also for real-world scientific inquiry. This approach encourages students to think like scientists, applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills to various scenarios.

Assessments and Examination Preparation

Assessments at CHS are designed to mirror the expectations of the final AQA A Level examinations, ensuring students are thoroughly prepared. The course includes:

  • Paper 1: Covering topics 1 to 4 with an emphasis on relevant practical skills.
  • Paper 2: Focusing on topics 5 to 8, again highlighting practical skills.
  • Paper 3: A comprehensive exam covering all topics, including practical skills and a synoptic essay.

These examinations test not only students’ knowledge of biology but also their ability to apply this knowledge in practical and theoretical contexts.

Science Practical Endorsement

For students aiming to pursue science-related degrees at university, particularly where laboratory work is involved, CHS offers guidance on obtaining the Science Practical Endorsement. This separate endorsement, while not required for the A Level qualification itself, may be a prerequisite for certain university courses. CHS advises students and parents to liaise with local examination centres for the preparation and completion of this endorsement.

Extracurricular Activities and Real-World Applications

The study of biology extends far beyond the confines of textbooks and online classrooms. Cambridge Home School Online (CHS) recognises the value of real-world experiences and extracurricular activities in deepening students’ understanding and passion for biology. Engaging in activities beyond the curriculum not only enhances learning but also fosters a well-rounded educational journey.

Engaging with Nature

Biology is, at its core, the study of life. CHS encourages students to step outside and engage with the natural world around them. Activities like bird watching, gardening, or even participating in citizen science projects can provide invaluable practical insights into ecological concepts and biological processes. Such experiences enrich students’ understanding of topics covered in the course and foster a lifelong appreciation for the natural world.

Extracurricular Clubs and Societies

Participation in biology-related clubs and societies offers students the chance to explore their interests in more depth. Schools and local communities often host clubs such as a horticultural society, zoology club, or even a ‘mad scientist’ society. These groups provide a platform for discussion, experimentation, and collaboration with peers who share similar passions. For students studying online, virtual clubs and forums dedicated to science and biology can offer similar benefits, allowing for networking and exchange of ideas with a wider, global community.

The Duke of Edinburgh Programme and Outdoor Adventures

Programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) offer an excellent opportunity for students to challenge themselves, learn new skills, and experience adventure. The DofE programme, in particular, encourages young people to explore the outdoors, undertake expeditions, and engage in community service, all of which complement the study of biology by offering hands-on experiences and fostering a sense of responsibility towards the environment and society.

Competitions and Academic Challenges

Participating in competitions such as the Biology Olympiad can significantly enhance a student’s academic profile, providing a platform to showcase their knowledge and compete with peers at a national or international level. These competitions encourage in-depth study and application of biological concepts, pushing students to excel and think creatively.


A Level Biology Online, as offered by Cambridge Home School Online, is not just about passing exams; it’s about cultivating a deep-seated interest and understanding of the living world. By complementing online studies with extracurricular activities and real-world applications, students can achieve a well-rounded education, preparing them not only for higher studies and careers in the biological sciences but also for a lifelong journey of discovery and learning.


What subjects are covered in A Level Biology?

A Level Biology encompasses a broad range of topics aimed at providing students with a comprehensive understanding of life and living organisms. The curriculum typically includes the study of biological molecules, cell structures and functions, how organisms exchange substances with their environments, and genetic information. Advanced topics may cover energy transfers, responses to internal and external changes, genetics, evolution, ecosystems, and gene expression regulation.

How is the A Level Biology curriculum structured?

The A Level Biology curriculum is usually structured over two years. The first year lays the foundational knowledge with subjects such as biological molecules and cells, while the second year builds on this foundation with more complex topics like energy transfers and genetics. This structured approach ensures a gradual deepening of understanding, preparing students for examinations and future studies.

What are the benefits of interactive live lessons in online biology courses?

Interactive live lessons in online biology courses offer real-time engagement with educators, mirroring the interactive nature of traditional classrooms. These sessions allow for immediate feedback and clarification of complex concepts, enhancing students’ understanding and retention of the material. Such an interactive approach is pivotal in online education, ensuring students remain engaged and motivated.

How important are practical skills in A Level Biology, and how are they taught online?

Practical skills are crucial in A Level Biology, aiding in the understanding of theoretical concepts through hands-on experience. Online courses may incorporate video demonstrations of experiments and encourage students to conduct safe experiments at home. Additionally, a strong emphasis is placed on the theoretical application of practical knowledge, with students learning to design experiments, analyse data, and draw conclusions.

What role do extracurricular activities play in complementing A Level Biology studies?

Extracurricular activities significantly enrich A Level Biology studies by providing practical insights and real-world applications of the curriculum. Engaging with nature, participating in biology-related clubs and societies, and taking part in programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh can enhance understanding, foster a deeper appreciation for biology, and develop skills beyond the academic curriculum.