Biology at Sir Thomas Rich's School

Biology is the study of life and living processes. Biology is rewarding, challenging, interesting and above all relevant. It is the study of life - your future. Your knowledge of Biology may be used to understand and perhaps help solve many of today’s problems such as Illness, food production, conservation and the control of pollution. You will gain an awareness of some contemporary issues including organ transplantation, fertility control, genetic engineering and biotechnology. Biology may lead to work in the field of medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, veterinary studies, pharmacology, animal welfare, conservation or agriculture. In Biology at STRS we aim to develop a lifelong interest in scientifically important matters.

Key Stage 3

Biology is studied as part of Science in Year 7 and as a subject in its own right from Year 8 upwards.

Year 8 students have one double lesson and a homework a week. Topics studies in Year 8 include: Microbes and Disease, Food and Diet, Plants and Photosynthesis, Pollution and Sustainability and Animal Behaviour. At the end of Year 8 we visit Bristol Zoo to study animal behaviour.

Year 9 students have one double lesson and a homework a week. They study aspects of Human Biology up to GCSE level. Topics covered include: Digestion, Respiration and Breathing, Blood and Circulation, Skeleton and Joints and Diet and Deficiency Disease.


The Biology Department currently follow the Edexcel IGCSE Biology specification. We will changed to a reformed GCSE specification in September 2016. The GCSE is assessed entirely by written examinations at the end of Year 11. The course includes a large number of practicals and also develops investigation planning and analysis skills.

Year 10 topics include: cell biology, plant transport and photosynthesis, transport in plants, human health and disease, plant diseases, ecology, biodiversity and food production.

In July Year 10 students visit Slimbridge Wetlands Centre to carry out practical sampling techniques and look at the conservation work of the WWT.

Year 11 are currently still following the Edexcel IGCSE Biology specification topics include: Coordination (the nervous system and hormones), homeostasis, excretion, reproduction in humans, DNA, cell division, genes and inheritance, natural selection & evolution, selective breeding, genetic modification and cloning.

A Level

At A Level students study the OCR Biology A specification and will usually have two teachers specialising in different areas of the specification. This specification is divided into topics, each covering different key concepts in Biology. Applications of Biology are covered throughout the specification.

The OCR specification is divided into content led topics, each covering different key concepts of Biology. Applications of Biology are embedded throughout the course. Teaching of practical skills is integrated with the theoretical topics and they’re assessed through the written papers.

Throughout the course students’ practical skills will also be internally assessed through laboratory and field work. This will allow students to gain the Practical Endorsement.

We usually visit the Natural History Museum in Oxford in Y12 as part of the classification and evolution topic.

All students are expected to attend a four day residential field course in Y13 which is usually held at a field studies centre in Pembrokeshire.

Emphasis is on understanding and application rather than just recall.

Year 12 topics include: Cell Structure, Biological Molecules, Nucleotides, Enzymes, Biological Membranes, Cell Division, Cell Diversity and Cellular Organisation.

Exchange Surfaces (lungs, gills, leaves), Transport in animals, Transport in plants.

Communicable Diseases, Disease Prevention and the Immune System.

Biodiversity, Classification and Evolution.

Year 13 topics include: Excretion as an example of homeostatic control, Neuronal Communication, Hormonal communication, Plant and animal responses.

Photosynthesis, Respiration.

Cellular Control, Patterns of inheritance, Manipulating Genomes, Cloning and Biotechnology.

Ecosystems, Populations and Sustainability.