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Devonport High School for Girls

Head of Department

Mr D Prideaux, BSc (Hons), PGCE

Statement of Intent

The science curriculum at DHSG is designed to support our learners in their development to become scientifically literate citizens of the 21st century. We aim to engage their curiosity; to help them learn how to ask the right questions about the world around them and the society we live in. We will support them in developing the skills and knowledge required to investigate their questions and then to interpret and critically evaluated the answers they find. We achieve this through the study of the three traditional scientific disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, all of which are underpinned by practical principles and investigation and will include learning about how scientists work. 

We ensure that students have a firm scientific knowledge and skill base to progress with confidence through the Key Stages and finally progress into the wider world with the scientific tools required to pursue their individually chosen further study and future career pathways. We will teach our students how to use mathematics in science and not assume the transference of maths skills whilst ensuring our curriculum is assessable to all. 

In Biology, we encourage students to gain a deep appreciation and understanding of living organisms at every level:

  • at the cellular level, where the importance of the building block of life, and how it meets the different demands imposed upon them, is studied; 
  • at the organism level, and how the different organ systems in both plants and animals produce viable organisms that meet the challenges of survival;
  • at the ecosystem level, where different organisms interact to produce the complex and interdependent food webs found on Earth today. 

This is achieved at each Key Stage: 

  • Lower years: Adherence to the National Curriculum for Science (Biology); 
  • Middle years: AQA GSCE Biology or AQA Combined Sciences Trilogy (Biology); 
  • Upper years: OCR Biology A.

A Level Course Outline

A stimulating and enjoyable course that includes
opportunities for practical activities, both in the laboratory and on fieldwork. The syllabus includes consideration of examples from the development of biological principles through to the most modern gene technologies. The OCR Specification follows on from GCSE Biology or GCSE Triple Science and will build on knowledge, understanding and skills to prepare students for scientific careers.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

Biology is an essential entry requirement for courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Science, Ophthalmology, Biomedical Sciences, Dentistry, Microbiology, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Nursing. It also leads onto Teaching, Sport and Leisure, and Physiotherapy.

Course Content

Examination Board


Full details of the specification and assessment criteria can be found on the OCR website

Biology A - H020, H420

In terms of the course content there are four modules for the AS version of the course and six for the A Level, as listed below. All modules are assessed in the summer via a written examination with a practical endorsement for the A Level version of the course. The AS content is also covered in the A Level content and allows for co-teaching.

AS Level

Unit 1

Breadth in Biology – 50%


Unit 2

Depth in Biology – 50%

A Level

Unit 1

Biological processes – 37%


Unit 2

Biological diversity – 37%


Unit 3

Unified Biology – 26%


Unit 4

Practical Endorsement – Reported separately

Curriculum Programmes of Study 


Cycle Content

Year 12

Cycle 1

14 weeks



The basic components of living systems
Microscopy and magnification
Prokaryotes and eukaryotes
Ultrastructure of plant and animal cells
The structure of the plasma membrane
PAG 5 – Effect of temperature on membranes
Active transport, diffusion and osmosis
PAG 8 – Water potential
The biological significance of water
The Biochemistry of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids
PAG  9 – Qualitative testing
Cells and biochemistry 8 week assessment
Enzyme action
Factors affecting enzyme activity
PAG 4 – Effect of temperature on amylase
PAG 6 – Chromatography
The need for specialized exchange surfaces
Gas exchange in insects, fish and mammals
Blood and blood vessels
Tissue fluid
The heart
PAG 2 - Dissection

Cycle 2
11 weeks

The cell cycle
Mitosis and meiosis
DNA, membranes, gas exchange and transport in animals 8 week assesment 
Transport of oxygen and the Bohr effect
Transport in plants
PAG 5 - Potometer
Phloem loading and translocation
Plant adaptations to water availability
Assessment – all work to this point
Levels of organization
Animal and plant pathogens
Transmission of communicable disease
Cellular and humoral immunity 

Cycle 3
13 weeks

Classification and phylogeny
Types of variation
Evidence for evolution
Adaptation to environment
Chi square, Spearman Rank, Standard deviation, t-test
Assessment on classification, biodiversity and disease
Biodiversity and genetic biodiversity
Sampling and sampling techniques
PAG 1 – Lung tissue drawing
AS mock papers
Field trip to Wembury – PAG 3
Populations and sustainability
Competition and predator-prey relationships
Conservation or preservation
Ecosystems and ecosystem management
Biomass transfers through an ecosystem

Year 13


Cycle 1
14 weeks

Review Ecology and energy flows
Ecology assessment – ch 11, 23, 24
Weekly assessments on AS work
Mutation and variation
Control of gene expression and body plans
Variation and inheritance
Monohybrid and dihybrid inheritance.
Hardy-Weinberg equation
Evolution and speciation
DNA sequencing and analysis
Using DNA in PCR, electrophoresis and genetic engineering
Cloning in plants
Biotechnology and bioremediation
Culturing of microorganisms and PAG 7
Module 6 assessment
Temperature control
The pancreas and the adrenal glands

Cycle 2

11 weeks

Blood glucose control
Mock papers 2 and 3
Urine and diagnosis
The liver
The structure of the nervous system
The action potential and the synapse
The control of heart rate
PAG 11 – Daphnia
The brain
Autotrophic nutrition
The significance of ATP
Aerobic and anaerobic respiration
Respiration and photosynthesis assessment
PAG 12 – Elodea
Plant response to stress
Plant hormones

Cycle 3

4 weeks

Tropisms in plants
Muscle structure and function
PAG review