OCR A Level Biology A - H420 - Specification

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A LEVELSpecificationBIOLOGY AH420For first assessment in 2017ocr.org.uk/alevelbiologya

We will inform centres about any changes to the specification. We will alsopublish changes on our website. The latest version of our specification willalways be the one on our website (ocr.org.uk) and this may differ fromprinted versions.Copyright 2014 OCR. All rights reserved.CopyrightOCR retains the copyright on all its publications, including the specifications.However, registered centres for OCR are permitted to copy material from thisspecification booklet for their own internal use.Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations is a Company Limited byGuarantee. Registered in England. Registered company number 3484466.Registered office: 1 Hills RoadCambridgeCB1 2EU.OCR is an exempt charity.

ContentsIntroducing A Level Biology A (from September 2015)Teaching and learning resourcesProfessional development1Why choose an OCR A Level in Biology A?1a.1b.1c.1d.2The specification overview2a.2b.2c.2d.3Forms of assessmentAssessment objectives (AO)Assessment availabilityRetaking the qualificationAssessment of extended responsesSynoptic assessmentCalculating qualification resultsAdmin: what you need to know4a.4b.4c.4d.4e.4f.4g.5Overview of A Level in Biology A (H420)Content of A Level in Biology A (H420)Content of modules 1 to 6Prior knowledge, learning and progressionAssessment of OCR A Level in Biology A3a.3b.3c.3d.3e.3f.3g.4Why choose an OCR qualification?Why choose an OCR A Level in Biology A?What are the key features of this specification?How do I find out more information?Pre-assessmentAccessibility and special considerationExternal assessment arrangementsAdmin of non-exam assessmentResults and certificatesPost-results servicesMalpracticeAppendices5a.5b.5c.5d.5e.5f.5g. OCR 2016A Level in Biology AOverlap with other qualificationsAvoidance of biasHow Science Works (HSW)Mathematical requirementsHealth and SafetyPractical endorsementRevision of the requirements for practical 58585959596061697077i

Introducing A Level Biology A (from September 2015)This specification allows teachers to adopt a flexibleapproach to the delivery of A Level Biology. The coursehas been designed to enable centres to deliver thecontent modules (Modules 2–6) using the frameworkprovided, or to design a customised course. Practicalwork undertaken to support teaching of the contentwill serve to cover the requirements of the practicalskills module (Module 1), which is assessed in thewritten examinations and through the PracticalEndorsement.The specification is divided into topics, each containingdifferent key concepts of biology. Throughout thespecification, cross-references indicate the relevanceof individual learning outcomes to the mathematicaland practical criteria that are embedded in theassessments.Meet the teamWe have a dedicated team of people working on our ALevel Biology qualifications.Find out more about our Biology team atocr.org.uk/scienceteamIf you need specialist advice, guidance or support, getin touch as follows: 01223 553998 scienceGCE@ocr.org.uk @OCR scienceThis specification incorporates the Ofqual GCE SubjectLevel Conditions and Requirements for Biology.Vertical black lines indicate a significant change to the previous printed version.ii OCR 2016A Level in Biology A

Teaching and learning resourcesWe recognise that the introduction of a newspecification can bring challenges for implementationand teaching. Our aim is to help you at every stage andwe’re working hard to provide a practical package ofsupport in close consultation with teachers and otherexperts, so we can help you to make the change.Designed to support progression for allOur resources are designed to provide you with arange of teaching activities and suggestions so you canselect the best approach for your particular students.You are the experts on how your students learn andour aim is to support you in the best way we can.We want to Support you with a body of knowledgethat grows throughout the lifetime of thespecification Provide you with a range of suggestions soyou can select the best activity, approachor context for your particular students. Make it easier for you to explore andinteract with our resource materials, inparticular to develop your own schemesof work. Create an ongoing conversation so we candevelop materials that work for you. OCR 2016A Level in Biology APlenty of useful resourcesYou’ll have four main types of subject-specific teachingand learning resources at your fingertips: Delivery Guides Transition Guides Topic Exploration Packs Lesson elements.Along with subject-specific resources, you’ll also haveaccess to a selection of generic resources that focuson skills development and professional guidance forteachers.Skills Guides – we’ve produced a set of Skills Guidesthat are not specific to Biology, but each covers a topicthat could be relevant to a range of qualifications – forexample, communication, legislation and research.Download the guides at ocr.org.uk/skillsguidesActive Results – a free online results analysis serviceto help you review the performance of individualstudents or your whole school. It provides access todetailed results data, enabling more comprehensiveanalysis of results in order to give you a more accuratemeasurement of the achievements of your centre andindividual students. For more details refer toocr.org.uk/activeresultsiii

Professional developmentTake advantage of our improved ProfessionalDevelopment Programme, designed with you in mind.Whether you want to come to face-to-face events,look at our new digital training or search for trainingmaterials, you can find what you’re looking for all inone place at the CPD Hub.Watch out for details at cpdhub.ocr.org.ukTo receive the latest information about the trainingwe’ll be offering, please register for A Level emailupdates at ocr.org.uk/updatesAn introduction to the new specifications:We’ll be running events to help you get to grips withour A Level Biology A qualification.These events are designed to help prepare you for firstteaching and to support your delivery at every stage.iv OCR 2016A Level in Biology A

1 Why choose an OCR A Level in Biology A?1a. Why choose an OCR qualification?Choose OCR and you’ve got the reassurance thatyou’re working with one of the UK’s leading examboards. Our new A Level in Biology A course has beendeveloped in consultation with teachers, employersand higher education to provide students with aqualification that’s relevant to them and meets theirneeds.We’re part of the Cambridge Assessment Group,Europe’s largest assessment agency and a departmentof the University of Cambridge. Cambridge Assessmentplays a leading role in developing and deliveringassessments throughout the world, operating in over150 countries.We work with a range of education providers, includingschools, colleges, workplaces and other institutionsin both the public and private sectors. Over 13,000centres choose our A levels, GCSEs and vocationalqualifications including Cambridge Nationals,Cambridge Technicals and Cambridge Progression.Our SpecificationsWe believe in developing specifications that help youbring the subject to life and inspire your students toachieve more.We’ve created teacher-friendly specifications based onextensive research and engagement with the teachingcommunity. They’re designed to be straightforwardand accessible so that you can tailor the delivery ofthe course to suit your needs. We aim to encouragelearners to become responsible for their own learning,confident in discussing ideas, innovative and engaged. OCR 2016A Level in Biology AWe provide a range of support services designed tohelp you at every stage, from preparation through tothe delivery of our specifications. This includes:1 A wide range of high-quality creative resourcesincluding:odelivery guidesotransition guidesotopic exploration packsolesson elementso and much more. Access to Subject Specialists to support youthrough the transition and throughout thelifetime of the specifications. CPD/Training for teachers including face-toface events to introduce the qualifications andprepare you for first teaching. Active Results – our free results analysis serviceto help you review the performance of individualstudents or whole schools. ExamCreator – our new online past papersservice that enables you to build your own testpapers from past OCR exam questions.All A level qualifications offered by OCR are accreditedby Ofqual, the Regulator for qualifications offered inEngland. The accreditation number for OCR’s A Level inBiology A is (601/4260/1).1

1b. Why choose an OCR A Level in Biology A?1We appreciate that one size doesn’t fit all so we offertwo suites of qualifications in each science:interesting to teach and administer within all centres(large and small).Biology A – Provides a flexible approach to teaching.The specification is divided into topics, each coveringdifferent key concepts of biology. Teaching of practicalskills is integrated with the theoretical topics and theyare assessed through the written papers. For A levelonly, the Practical Endorsement will also support thedevelopment of practical skills.Our new A Level in Biology A qualification buildson our existing popular course. We’ve based theredevelopment of our A level sciences on anunderstanding of what works well in centres largeand small and have updated areas of content andassessment where stakeholders have identified thatimprovements could be made. We’ve undertaken asignificant amount of consultation through our scienceforums (which include representatives from learnedsocieties, HE, teaching and industry) and through focusgroups with teachers. Our papers and specificationshave been trialled in centres during development tomake sure they work well for all centres and learners.Biology B (Advancing Biology) (a new course forOCR) – Learners study biology using a context-basedapproach. Ideas are introduced within relevant andinteresting settings which help learners to anchor theirconceptual knowledge of the range of biological topicsrequired at GCE level. Practical skills are embeddedwithin the specification and learners are expected tocarry out practical work in preparation for a writtenexamination that will specifically test these skills.All of our specifications have been developed withsubject and teaching experts. We have worked in closeconsultation with teachers and representatives fromHigher Education (HE) with the aim of including upto-date relevant content within a framework that isThe content changes are an evolution of our legacyoffering and will be familiar to centres alreadyfollowing our courses, but are also clear and logicallylaid out for centres new to OCR, with assessmentmodels that are straightforward to administer. We haveworked closely with teachers and HE representativesto provide high quality support materials to guide youthrough the new qualifications.Aims and learning outcomesOCR’s A Level in Biology A specification aims toencourage learners to: develop essential knowledge and understandingof different areas of the subject and how theyrelate to each other develop and demonstrate a deep appreciationof the skills, knowledge and understanding ofscientific methods2 develop competence and confidence in a varietyof practical, mathematical and problem solvingskills develop their interest in and enthusiasm forthe subject, including developing an interest infurther study and careers associated with thesubject understand how society makes decisions aboutscientific issues and how the sciences contributeto the success of the economy and society (asexemplified in ‘How Science Works’ (HSW)). OCR 2016A Level in Biology A

1c. What are the key features of this specification?Our A Level in Biology A specification is designed witha content-led approach and provides a flexible way ofteaching. The specification: identifies Practical Endorsement requirementsand how these can be integrated into teachingof content (see Section 5f) retains and refreshes the popular topics fromthe legacy OCR Biology qualification (H421) exemplifies the mathematical requirements ofthe course (see Section 5d) is laid out clearly in a series of teaching moduleswith additional guidance added where requiredto clarify assessment requirements is co-teachable with the AS levelhighlights opportunities for the introduction ofkey mathematical requirements (see Section 5dand the additional guidance column for eachmodule) into your teaching embeds practical requirements within theteaching modules identifies, within the Additional guidancecolumn how the skills, knowledge andunderstanding of How Science Works (HSW) canbe incorporated within teaching. mock examinations service – a free serviceoffering a practice question paper and markscheme (downloadable from a secure location).1Teacher supportThe extensive support offered alongside thisspecification includes: delivery guides – providing information onassessed content, the associated conceptualdevelopment and contextual approaches todeliverytransition guides – identifying the levels ofdemand and progression for different key stagesfor a particular topic and going on to providelinks to high quality resources and ‘checkpointtasks’ to assist teachers in identifying learners‘ready for progression’lesson elements – written by experts, providingall the materials necessary to deliver creativeclassroom activities Active Results (see Section 1a) ExamCreator (see Section 1a) OCR 2016A Level in Biology AAlong with: Subject Specialists within the OCR science teamto help with course queries teacher training Science Spotlight (our termly newsletter) OCR Science community a consultancy service (to advise on PracticalEndorsement requirements) Practical Skills Handbook Maths Skills Handbook.3

1d. How do I find out more information?1Whether new to our specifications, or continuingon from our legacy offerings, you can find moreinformation on our webpages at: www.ocr.org.ukVisit our subject pages to find out more about theassessment package and resources available to supportyour teaching. The science team also release a termlynewsletter Science Spotlight (despatched to centresand available from our subject pages).4You can contact the Science Subject Specialists:ScienceGCE@ocr.org.uk, 01223 553998Join our Science community: http://social.ocr.org.uk/Check what CPD events are available:www.cpdhub.ocr.org.ukFollow us on Twitter: @ocr science OCR 2016A Level in Biology A

2 The specification overview2a. Overview of A Level in Biology A (H420)Learners must complete all components (01, 02, 03 and 04).Content OverviewAssessment OverviewBiological processesContent is split into six teachingmodules:(01)100 marks Module 1 – Development ofpractical skills in biology2 hour 15 minuteswritten paper Module 2 – Foundations inbiologyBiological diversity Module 3 – Exchange andtransport Module 4 – Biodiversity,evolution and disease Module 5 – Communication,homeostasis and energy Module 6 – Genetics,evolution and ecosystemsComponent 01 assesses contentfrom modules 1, 2, 3 and 5.Component 02 assesses contentfrom modules 1, 2, 4 and 6.Component 03 assesses contentfrom all modules (1 to 6).(02)100 marks2 hour 15 minuteswritten paperUnified biology(03)70 marks1 hour 30 minuteswritten paperPractical Endorsementin biology(04)(non exam assessment)237%of totalA level37%of totalA level26%of totalA levelReportedseparately(seesection 5f)All components include synoptic assessment. OCR 2016A Level in Biology A5

2b. Content of A Level in Biology A (H420)2The A Level in Biology A specification content is dividedinto six teaching modules and each module is furtherdivided into key topics. Each module is introducedwith a summary of the biology it contains and eachtopic is also introduced with a short summary text.The assessable content is divided into two columns:Learning outcomes and Additional guidance.2.1.4 EnzymesThe Learning outcomes may all be assessed in theexaminations (with the exception of some of the skillsin section 1.2 which will be assessed directly throughthe Practical Endorsement). The Additional guidancecolumn is included to provide further advice ondelivery and the expected skills required from learners.3.1.1 Exchange surfacesReferences to HSW (Section 5c) are included in theguidance to highlight opportunities to encourage awider understanding of science.The mathematical requirements in section 5d, are alsoreferenced by the prefix M to link the mathematicalskills required for A Level Biology to examples ofbiology content where those mathematical skills couldbe linked to learning.The specification has been designed to be co-teachablewith the standalone AS Level in Biology A qualification.The first four modules comprise the AS Level in BiologyA course and learners studying the A level continuewith the content of modules 5 and 6. The internallyassessed Practical Endorsement skills also form part ofthe full A level (see module 1.2).A summary of the content for the A level course is asfollows:Module 1 – Development of practical skills in biology1.1Practical skills assessed in a written examination1.2 ractical skills assessed in the practicalPendorsement2.1.5 Biological membranes2.1.6 Cell division, cell diversity and cellularorganisationModule 3 – Exchange and transport3.1.2 Transport in animals3.1.3 Transport in plantsModule 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease4.1.1 Communicable diseases, disease prevention andthe immune system4.2.1 Biodiversity4.2.2 Classification and evolutionModule 5 – Communication, homeostasis and energy5.1.1 Communication and homeostasis5.1.2 Excretion as an example of homeostatic control5.1.3 Neuronal communication5.1.4 Hormonal communication5.1.5 Plant and animal responses5.2.1 Photosynthesis5.2.2 RespirationModule 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems6.1.1 Cellular control6.1.2 Patterns of inheritanceModule 2 – Foundations in biology6.1.3 Manipulating genomes2.1.1 Cell structure6.2.1 Cloning and biotechnology2.1.2 Biological molecules6.3.1 Ecosystems2.1.3 Nucleotides and nucleic acids6.3.2 Populations and sustainability.6 OCR 2016A Level in Biology A

Assessment of practical skills and the Practical EndorsementModule 1 of the specification content relates to thepractical skills learners are expected to gain throughoutthe course, which are assessed throughout thewritten examinations and also through the PracticalEndorsement (see Section 5f).Practical activities are embedded within the learningoutcomes of the course to encourage practicalactivities in the classroom which contribute to theachievement of the Practical Endorsement (Section 5f) OCR 2016A Level in Biology Aas well as enhancing learners’ understanding ofbiological theory and practical skills.Opportunities for carrying out activities that couldcount towards the Practical Endorsement are indicatedthroughout the specification. These are shown inthe Additional guidance column as PAG1 to PAG11(Practical Activity Group, see Section 5f). There area wide variety of opportunities to assess PAG12throughout the qualification.72

2c. Content of modules 1 to 6Module 1: Development of practical skills in biologyThe development of practical skills is a fundamentaland integral aspect of the study of any scientificsubject. These skills not only enhance learners’2understanding of the subject but also serve as asuitable preparation for the demands of studyingbiology at a higher level.1.1 Practical skills assessed in a written examinationPractical skills are embedded throughout all thecontent of this specification.Learners will be required to develop a range ofpractical skills throughout their course in preparationfor the written examinations.1.1.1 PlanningLearning outcomesAdditional guidanceLearners should be able to demonstrate andapply their knowledge and

Biology A – Provides a flexible approach to teaching. The specification is divided into topics, each covering different key concepts of biology. Teaching of practical skills is integrated with the theoretical topics and they are assessed through the written papers. For A level only, the Practical Endorsement will also support the development of practical skills. Biology B (Advancing Biology .

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