Higher Line Biology
WHY CHOOSE BIOLOGY?
Biology is the study of life. We each have our own body, and Biology courses include many Human Biology topics. The wonderful natural woodland environment surrounding Stonyhurst provides further inspiration. There is a fine tradition of biology study at Stonyhurst – from Charles Waterton OS, famous Victorian naturalist and the first to describe objectively the effects of curare, to the many recent OS in modern biological fields. Indeed, could anyone NOT want to study Biology at Stonyhurst?
Biology is traditionally studied in conjunction with Chemistry and Physics, and indeed this remains a popular combination. However, perhaps some 50% of Stonyhurst Biologists study only one other Science or may have Biology as their only Science. Biology complements many other subjects – Geography and PE are obvious examples, but there are sensible combinations with Art, Maths, Economics (bio-industries are the modern growth area) and Theology too (incorporating Ethics).
GCSE Grades below B usually mean a candidate will struggle in Biology at AS/A2 level. Even those with the highest grades at GCSE can find it hard going – grade A at GCSE most certainly does NOT guarantee the equivalent grade at AS/A2. A real enthusiasm for the subject is prerequisite, along with the desire to learn. Indeed, candidates with Grade C at GCSE and the right attitude to hard work and a love of Biology are very welcome and should thrive.
FURTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Biology sometimes has a reputation as being the ‘easy science’. This is most certainly not the case, especially at AS/A2 level. Biology uses the English language most precisely out of all the Sciences, and candidates have to both read immense amounts of material and construct precisely-worded answers. The course also demands independent work and thought – pupils must not expect to be ‘spoon-fed’ on this course!
HIGHER EDUCATION AND CAREERS OPTIONS
Although much publicity centres around Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine as careers for A-level Biology students, there are many other possibilities. Recent Stonyhurst Biologists have gone on to study Marine Biology, Animal Behaviour, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Environmental Studies, Pharmacology, Neurophysiology and many, many other courses. Biology is regarded as an academically-rigorous subject and we include our fair share of Oxbridge students amongst recent OS.
We study the Edexcel Salters-Nuffield Biology (SNAB) course at Stonyhurst. This is the modern version of the very long-established Nuffield Foundation course and combines traditional practical-based learning through experiments with internet-based resources. Students are expected to be hands-on in the laboratory and need to develop sound practical skills, but they each have their own web account on the SNAB site through which they access materials, submit work and receive instructions from their teachers.
Topics are taught through a case-study structure but include recent updates in biochemistry, physiology and microbiology. Human biology features quite largely, but ecological studies and plant physiology are also important topics.