Biology is the study of life, from the complexities of the human body to much simpler protozoa. An essential choice if you plan to go on to study medicine, nursing or physiotherapy, in this course you will learn about genes and health, biodiversity, forensics and more.
Would you prefer to pay for your course by instalments? Please see the ‘How to enrol’ section below for details of our low cost, interest free finance available.
Are you intending to take your exams next summer? Please refer to our information on fast tracking and studying your course within one year.
This course is one of our new Gold Star A levels. Find out more about them here.
GCSE Science (double award) or GCSE Biology (minimum grade C) or Intermediate GNVQ Science or a BTEC First in Science, and GCSE Maths or equivalent, is strongly recommended for this course.
Hours of study
As a guideline, you should allow for between 300 and 350 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 24 months from the date of enrolment.
Exams and assessment
- 2 hours, 33.3% of marks
- 2 hours, 33.3% of marks
- 2 hours, 33.3% of marks
- The A level exams are written, with no practical element, but throughout the exam you will be expected to use your understanding of practical theory to answer questions. You will have gained this knowledge through the 18 core practicals within your course.
Non-exam assessment (NEA):
- In addition to the A level, you will have the opportunity to gain a practical skills endorsement to demonstrate practical skills as well as knowledge. This assessment is separately endorsed, will be reported as a separate grade, and will not contribute to the result of the A level qualification. For some university programmes, like medicine, you will need to have the endorsement as well as the A level. Please refer to this page for more detailed information about how to take your practical skills endorsement through NEC.
NEC's tutor-marked assignments:
- 1 introductory assignment
- 9 assignments
Active e-book versions of these texts will be included free with your course:
- Salters-Nuffield AS/A level Biology Student Book 1, University of York Science Education Group, Pearson Education 2015
- Salters-Nuffield A level Biology Student Book 2, University of York Science Education Group, Pearson Education 2015
Maths Skills for A Level Biology, James Penny, Oxford University Press 2013
Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:
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learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.
How to enrol
How to enrol
There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
- Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above
- Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team
- Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.
How can you pay?
It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.
Amount of credit:
Duration of agreement:
Rate of interest:
0% APR representative.
The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.
Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to www.dekopay.com/faq or visit www.dekopay.com.
Section 1 - Lifestyle, health and risk
- What is cardiovascular disease?
- Who is at risk of cardiovascular disease?
- Risk factors for cardiovascular disease
- Biochemistry involved in cardiovascular disease
- Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
Section 2 - Genes and health
- The effects of cystic fibrosis on the lungs
- Why is CF mucus so sticky?
- The roles of proteins and enzymes
- How is the CFTR protein made?
- How is cystic fibrosis inherited?
- Testing for CF
Section 3 - Voice of the genome
- Cells and their components
- In the beginning
- From one to many: the cell cycle
- How development is controlled
- Genes and environment
Section 4 - Biodiversity and natural resources
- Why are there so many different species?
- How did organisms become so well adapted?
- Classification and speciation
- Plant cells and tissues
- Making use of biodiversity in plants
- On the brink
Section 5 - On the wild side
- What is an ecosystem?
- Ecosystems rely on energy transfer
- Global climate change
- Predicting and coping with future climate change
- Adapt or die
- Getting the balance right
Section 6 - Infection, immunity and forensics
- Forensic biology
- Cause of death
- The body's response to infection
- Could the infections have been prevented?
- Are there treatments for AIDS and TB?
Section 7 - Run for your life
- Getting moving
- Energy for action
- Peak performance
- Breaking out in a sweat
- Overdoing it
- Improving on nature
Section 8 - Grey matter
- The nervous system and nerve impulses
- Reception of stimuli
- The brain
- Visual development and making sense of what we see
- Learning and memory
- Problems with synapses
- Genetic modification: risks and benefits
Thank you for your interest in this course.
Please fill out your details below, and you will receive an email containing a link to download the course sample.
What our students say...
"I have found that the learn@nec site has been very easy to use and I am able to access course material quickly and easily. I particularly like how there is a course checklist where you can keep track of your progress and are able to see how many topics you have to complete so I can designate my time for each subject accordingly."
— NEC A level Biology student