Thursday, 17 October 2013

Understanding Biology A Level

The Society of Biology is celebrating Biology Week this week, with a range of educational events to encourage people to learn more about the life sciences. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out why this subject continues to fascinate so many people.

Biology helps us to understand everything from how our own bodies work to how we as a species fit into our world’s hugely complex ecosystem. Studying Biology, particularly at A level, is also a gateway to a wide range of career fields including the sciences and the healthcare professions.

You might think that studying a hands-on, core science like Biology at A level would require access to a laboratory or attending regular classes at a local college. However, it’s still entirely possible to enjoy the flexibility offered by distance learning when you study with NEC. If you enrol with our Fast Track service soon and get started quickly, you can even complete all your work in time for next summer’s exams.

Units on the NEC course investigate areas including genetics, plants, energy and exercise, the natural environment and research skills. The course is delivered through high-quality materials and supported by the expertise of hand-picked tutors, who provide guidance and feedback throughout the course.

Biology tutors Josie and Janet at NEC's 50th anniversary picnic
NEC Biology tutor Janet highlights some of the things you can learn from studying Biology: how an entire body can be built from DNA, what our distant evolutionary ancestors were like (think bacteria), why we don’t end up with fingernails growing out of our noses, why there is a chance of brown-eyed parents having blue-eyed children, why we can see a faint star more clearly when we look to one side of it, how leaves are responsible for ‘sucking’ water up tall trees, why mitochondria are known as the powerhouses of a cell, and why viruses are not considered to be living.

Fellow Biology tutor Josie explains how NEC handles the practical element of the course: ‘Of all the science courses, Biology is the easiest in which to carry out practicals, which in the NEC course have been modified so that you can carry them out at home with equipment and materials that can be obtained fairly easily online or at a pharmacist and other shops. For example, small glasses can be used instead of test-tubes and beakers.’

‘There are certain core practicals that you need to carry out if at all possible, because questions on these come up in the exams. A few core practicals, especially at A2 level, need specialist equipment so the NEC course gives specimen results for these that you can use when writing them up.’

NEC works with the awarding body Edexcel to make sure you can study this without needing to find a laboratory for the practical work, which can often be difficult. The practical work will form your coursework, which your NEC tutor will mark and authenticate and will then be submitted through NEC directly.

Minimising barriers to learning is at the core of NEC’s work, which is why this course has been specially designed to make the subject accessible to those who may be unable to find a laboratory or have limited time to complete the course.

Josie has seen first-hand how the increased flexibility of the NEC course has been invaluable to many learners. ‘One of my past students was crew in a submarine that was submerged for long periods, so he would surface at intervals with a pile of assignments to send off. His coursework involved getting some mates to exercise in the sub gym and measuring their vital signs! This just shows how flexible distance learning is.’

If you would like to learn more about the life sciences and believe our Biology A level course could help you to do so, get in touch and let us know. For more information about this and other courses, or to find out more about the work NEC does, visit our website or contact us. You can also sign up to our newsletter, subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the box to the right, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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