GCSE Biology Course, Distance Learning, Home Study | Oxford Open Learning

GCSE Biology

GCSE Biology by distance learning – The Course

Each lesson of the GCSE Biology course begins with a set of clearly stated objectives and an explanation of its place in the overall programme of study. Effective learning is encouraged through frequent activities and self-assessment questions, and there are a large number of simply drawn and easy-to-copy illustrations. There are eight tutor-marked assignments, two major progress tests and three practice exam papers. No previous study of Biology is required.

Key Topics Covered

The Biology GCSE course is divided into three modules.

Biology GCSE Course – Module 1

  • How do human bodies respond to changes inside them and to their environment?
  • What can we do to keep our bodies healthy?
  • How do we use / abuse medical and recreational drugs?
  • What causes infectious disease and how can our bodies defend themselves against them?
  • What determines where particular species live and how many of them there are?
  • Why are individuals of the same species different from each other?
  • What new methods do we have for producing plants and animals with the characteristics we prefer?

Biology GCSE Course – Module 2

  • What are animals and plants built from?
  • How do dissolved substances get into and out of cells?
  • How do plants obtain the food they need to live and grow?
  • What happens to energy and biomass at each stage in a food chain?
  • What happens to the waste material produced by plants and animals?
  • What are enzymes and what are some of their functions?
  • How do our bodies keep internal conditions constant?
  • Which human characteristics show a simple pattern of inheritance?

Biology GCSE Course – Module 3

  • How do dissolved substances get into and out of animals and plants?
  • How are dissolved materials transported around the body?
  • How does exercise affect the exchanges taking place within the body?
  • How do exchanges in the kidney help us to maintain the internal
  • Environment in mammals and how has Biology helped us to treat kidney disease?
  • How are microorganisms used to make food and drink?
  • What other useful substances can we make using microorganisms?
  • How can we be sure we are using microorganisms safely?

The Syllabus

The Biology GCSE course prepares students for the AQA GCSE Biology syllabus 4411.  We have chosen this syllabus as it is the most suited to Home Schooling.


Assessment is by three written papers (75%) and a practical assessment (25%).

Practical Skills / Coursework

This part of the assessment has two elements:

  1. The practical skills assessment (PSA) assesses the student’s ability to work in an organised and safe manner whilst working practically. It can be carried out at any time during the course.
  2. The investigative skills assignment (ISA) assesses the student’s ability to undertake a task and collect, process and evaluate data. The ISA can be carried out at any time during the course. Students carry out the ISA set by AQA, then take a written test under controlled conditions. The test asks questions concerning the data collected during the practical task as well as that provided as part of the test.

Last Examination date

This Biology GCSE course was examined for the last time in June 2012.  Students who wish to take exams in 2013 and beyond should enrol on Oxford Open Learning’s excellent new Biology IGCSE course.

Stay Connected