What will I study at KS4?
You will follow a three year key stage four programme.
At the beginning of year nine you will begin studying the AQA GCSE Combined Science course with lessons in biology, chemistry and physics. You will have six lessons of science each fortnight in year nine, and receive approximately three pieces of homework a fortnight.
At the end of year nine if you are in set one or set two you will be given the option of studying Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate sciences in years ten and eleven. All pupils in years ten and eleven will study either Combined Science or the separate sciences at GCSE.
Combined Science is a core subject at GCSE. If you study Combined Science you will have nine lessons of science a fortnight; three with a specialist biology teacher, three with a specialist chemistry teacher and three with a specialist physics teacher. You will receive between one and two pieces of homework a fortnight from each of your science teachers.
You will be awarded the equivalent of two GCSEs in Combined Science.
Combined Science - Biology
In cell biology you will explore how differences between types of cells enables them to perform their jobs. You will also study the phenomenon that has led to the development of stem cell technology, allowing doctors to repair damaged organs by growing new human tissue from stem cells.
In the organisation topic you will learn about the human digestive system which provides the body with nutrients and the respiratory system that provides it with oxygen. You will also study the human circulatory system, including how the heart works and what the blood is made up of. You will also learn how a plant’s transport system works to provide the plant with everything it needs.
In the infection and response unit you will learn that pathogens are micro-organisms that can cause diseases. This section will explore how we can avoid diseases by reducing contact with them, as well as how the body protects us against pathogens.
In bioenergetics you will investigate the key processes of respiration, which helps to keep all organisms alive, and photosynthesis which provides plants with the food they need.
In the homeostasis and response unit you will explore the structures and functions of the nervous and hormonal systems and how they enable us to respond to changes in our environment.
In the inheritance, variation and evolution unit you will learn about what causes the variation amongst animals and plants, how natural selection takes place and how species evolve. You will also investigate the process of genetic modification which has allowed scientists to transfer genes from one organism to another, and so give an organism new characteristics.
In the ecology unit you will learn that all species live in ecosystems made up of communities of animals and plants. These organisms depend on each other and have adaptations to help them survive in particular conditions. You will also explore how humans are threatening the variety of animal and plant life as well as natural habitats and consider some of the actions that need to be taken to ensure our future health, prosperity and well-being.
Combined Science - Chemistry
In the atomic structure and the periodic table unit you will learn how the periodic table and models of atomic structure were developed and use this knowledge to show how scientific ideas and explanations develop over time as new evidence emerges.
In the bonding, structure and the properties of matter topic you will study the structures and bonding of different materials and see that atoms can be arranged in a variety of ways.
In quantitative chemistry you will learn how chemists use analysis to determine the formulae of compounds and the equations for reactions.
In the chemical changes unit you will study what happens during different chemical reactions and use this knowledge to predict what will be formed when different chemicals react together.
In the energy changes unit you will study how the interaction of particles involves the transfer of energy due to the breaking and formation of bonds. You will learn whether certain reactions release or take in energy and use this information to predict how the temperature will change in these reactions.
In the rate and extent of chemical change unit you will study the different factors that can affect the rate of different chemical reactions.
In organic chemistry you will study the chemistry of carbon compounds. These are chemicals that contain carbon, such as fossil fuels.
In the chemical analysis unit you will carry out many of the tests scientists use to detect specific chemicals.
In the chemistry of the atmosphere unit you will learn that the earth’s atmosphere is dynamic and forever changing. You will study how the problems caused by the increasing levels of air pollutants require scientists and engineers to develop solutions that help to reduce the impact of human activity.
In the using resources unit you will learn about the industries that use the Earth’s natural resources to produce useful products. You will study how pollution, disposal of waste products and the changing use of the land on earth is having a significant effect on the environment.
Combined Science - Physics
In the energy unit you will study how the idea of energy has developed over time. You will learn about the importance of energy in our everyday lives and the impact the use of fossil fuels is having on global warming. You will consider ways to reduce our dependence on non-renewable fuels, and so change our energy usage.
In the electricity topic you will learn about the differences in the structures of conductors, semiconductors and insulators and develop your understanding of different electrical circuits.
In the particle model of matter unit you will learn how this model is used to predict the behaviour of solids, liquids and gases. You will study these principles and recognise how engineers use them when designing vessels, such as submarines and spacecraft, so they can withstand high pressures and changes in temperature.
In the atomic structure unit you will learn about the different types of ionizing radiation and the properties that can make them hazardous but also useful, for example in medical treatment. You will discover that early researchers suffered from their exposure to ionising radiation, and that this led to changes in the rules regarding how people are protected from radioactive materials.
In the forces topic you will consider the different types of forces and their effects on objects, which enables engineers to design a great variety of machines and instruments. You will also study how recent developments in artificial limbs have used the analysis of forces to make movement possible.
In the waves unit you will study how waves carry energy from one place to another and can also carry information. You will learn that many modern technologies such as imaging and communication systems show us how we can make the most of electromagnetic waves.
In the magnetism and electromagnetism unit you will learn that electromagnetic effects are used in a wide variety of devices. You will investigate how engineers make use of the fact that a magnet moving in a coil can produce an electric current and also that when current flows around a magnet it can produce movement. You will discover that this can be used in a number of applications such as trains, cranes and door bells.
If you choose Triple Award Science you will study the three separate sciences; Biology, Chemistry and Physics in greater detail and depth than you would if you were to follow the Combined Science course.
You will study the sciences separately in years ten and eleven, and have a specialist teacher for each subject. You will have fourteen lessons of science a fortnight, and will receive between two and three pieces of homework a fortnight from each of your science teachers.
You will then be awarded three science GCSEs at the end of your studies; one in Biology, one in Chemistry and one in Physics.
The topics studied in Combined Science are the same as those studied in the separate sciences. However, if you do choose to study the separate sciences you will study many of these topics in greater detail and develop your knowledge and understanding of each of the subjects.
In Biology you will study the applications of monoclonal antibodies and their uses in cancer treatment and pregnancy testing. You will learn about the structure of the brain and eye and how these organs function, as well as how our bodies maintain a temperature of 37oC and why this is so important for our survival.
In Chemistry you will study the science of nanotechnology, carry out titration practicals and use flame tests to identify different chemicals.
In Physics you will study how nuclear power is developed from fission and fusion reactions and the use of gears, levers and pressure in designing machines. You will also study how our developing knowledge of lenses and dark matter have helped us to gain a better understanding of our universe. This leads you into an additional unit of Space Physics, which is only studied in the Physics GCSE, where you will study the big questions about where we are, where we came from and what is causing the universe to expand ever faster.
These new scientific concepts and developments will form an integral part of your studies if you choose the separate sciences at GCSE. The studying of the separate sciences allows you, therefore, to gain a much broader understanding of a range of scientific topics.