Specifications that use this resource:

Comparison of content: Human Biology to Biology

Ofqual has proposed A-level Human Biology be discontinued following the summer 2016 examination series. We have therefore not produced a reformed Human Biology specification.

The new A-level Biology specification has been designed to continue the most popular aspects of our current Biology specification (2410), while introducing new content and updating where necessary, in order to create an involving course that prepares students for further study and employment. It is largely context-free to give the teacher freedom to teach the way they want, and has required practicals throughout the course to embed a solid understanding of practical techniques. The students practical competency will be assessed by the teacher and reported separately to the students eventual grade, which will be derived solely from the written units.

This document intends to support those currently teaching the Human Biology specification, who may switch to the new AS/A level Biology specification in the future. By showing the similarities and common topics we aim to give an idea of how much content is included in both. The topics of the current Human Biology are listed in bold, along with which module they are currently part of. Any overlapping or related content is listed in the right hand column.

This is intended as a general guide only and the full specification should be viewed thoroughly for the complete specification content in detail.

Comparison of content

HBIO1

Current Human Biology specification

New Biology specification

A balanced diet
The balanced diet, glycaemic index or load, the consequences of eating processed food, the role of gut bacteria, and the use of isotonic sports drinks. Not required.
What food is and what happens to it
Knowledge of large biological molecules is limited to carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, including their monomers, and the reactions that join them.
The context of digestion requires consideration of physiological conditions. Detail is provided of the structure and of exactly the level of detail required. Isomers of glucose are required knowledge, diagrams are provided. Digestion of these molecules in mammals with the absorption of the products of digestion, is covered in 3.3.3. Chromatography is not required. Food tests are required.
Enzymes
Background information on structure, mode of action, specificity and the factors that affect the rate of reaction are similar. Induced fit as a model of enzyme action.
Case studies involving lung disease and pancreatitis. Enzyme replacement therapy as a form of treatment. No case studies are required.
Cystic fibrosis
Gas exchange, ventilation, membrane and cell structure, and the passage of materials across membranes.
Set in the context of cystic fibrosis it includes the effect of the condition on the lungs, with detail required on its effect at cellular level. Gas exchange includes examples in fish, insects, single celled organisms and plants. Data analysis regarding different lung diseases is expected, and related to risk factors.
Structure and function of organelles (listed). Adaptations of specialist eukaryotic cells. Specialised cells are organised into tissues, organs, systems etc.
The importance and properties of water as a major component of cells.
Bacterial diseases
Both list the features of a prokaryotic cell.
Differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
Case studies on Salmonella and tuberculosis. The effect of antibiotics, and the development of MRSA. Knowledge of how resistance arises is not required. No case studies are required.
Viruses
Methods of studying cells including a consideration of light and electron microscopes, cell fractionation, and magnification.
Distinguishing between organelles and artefacts.
Concentration on HIV, including the spread of the disease, the development of AIDS, and reasons why antibiotics are ineffective. Details of the structure of viruses, and their status as acellular and non-living. Case study of the structure of HIV.
Our reaction to something foreign
The work on antigens and antibodies, and on the roles of B and T cells is broadly similar.
Details of antibody structure, together with the formation of the antigen-antibody complex. The use of antibodies in the ELISA test.
Immunity and vaccines
The contents of vaccines should be understood.
Passive immunity when antibodies are acquired via the placenta and lactation. The concept of herd immunity to protect individuals and populations. The differences between passive and active immunity.
Magic bullets
The use of monoclonal antibodies.
Case study of use in pregnancy tests. Ethical issues and methodology relating to the uses of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines should be discussed.
The heart
Both require knowledge of the gross structure of the heart, including the valve movements of the cardiac cycle.
Names are required of some other major blood vessels.
Cardiovascular disease
Risk factors are required by both, together with the structure of arteries, arterioles and veins.
Case studies of DVT, treatment of CHD, and the use of surgery and beta-blockers. Interpretation of data about heart disease in relation to the normal functioning of the heart.
Recognition of correlations and causal relationships.
Coronary heart disease
Both assume an ability to analyse and interpret data associated with CHD, including reference to risk factors such as life style.
Oedema
The structure and importance of capillaries is required by both, together with the formation of tissue fluid.
No reference is made to oedema.
Mass transport in plants, including the roles of xylem and phloem are required, together with translocation via mass flow.
The relationship between size and surface area: volume ratio. The development of systems to facilitate exchange in larger organisms.

HBIO2

Current Human Biology specification

New Biology specification

Nucleic acids - the key to life
The structure of DNA related to its function. There is plenty of information about the structure of DNA in both.
No need to link the names of scientists with particular investigations. Evaluation of the work of Watson and Crick
Growth and Repair
In both cases DNA replication should be described. Division by mitosis to produce new cells.
Details of DNA replication are supplied. Binary fission in prokaryotic cells, and the replication of viruses in host cells.
The work of scientists to validate the Watson and Crick model of DNA replication.
Details of DNA in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and in mitochondria and chloroplasts. Definition of 'gene', and the work of introns and exons.
The structure and function of RNA. DNA and protein synthesis. Details are supplied.
Cancer - mitosis out of control
Application of cell division in the context of cancer. The role of genes in this context. The moral and ethical issues associated with smoking. A brief consideration that uncontrolled cell division can lead to tumours and cancers. Mutagenic agents and types of mutation. The effects of smoking, and pollution.
Sex and cell division
The process of meiosis as reduction division, and as an introduction to variation in gametes. Neither require details of the stages of meiosis.
Case study of Down's syndrome Comparisons of mitosis and meiosis. The significance of meiosis in life cycles.
What's in a name?
Both require an understanding of the term 'species' and of taxonomic hierarchy. Both refer briefly to Homo sapiens. Phylogenetic classification is expected.
Biodiversity within a community, and how it is reduced by farming. The balance with conservation. Calculation of the index of diversity. The formula is supplied.
Theories of Lamarck and Darwin
No work on these theories is expected at AS. How genetic diversity leads to species diversity. The principles of selection. Case study of antibiotic resistance. Interpretation of data relating to how selection produces change within populations.
Once there were humans
No work is expected on the physical and cultural evolution of humans.
Human adaptations
How humans have adapted and the advantages of such adaptations. Not required.
Adaptations to vigorous exercise
Both require details of the gross structure of the human gas exchange system.
Details of the control of ventilation by the brain in the context of vigorous exercise. Adaptation of gas exchange surfaces by single-celled organisms, gills and leaves. Compromises created by gas exchange and limitation of water loss.
Changes in energy sources during exercise. Details are supplied of ATP structure, together with its use as a source of energy. The formation of ATP during photosynthesis or respiration.
Comparison of aerobic and anaerobic respiration as sources of ATP.
The role of haemoglobin in the carriage of oxygen are required by both. Details are supplied in the Biology specification.
Case study of people who live at high altitude. Adaptations of animals having different types of haemoglobin.
Adaptations of behaviour
Behavioural and sociological adaptations of humans. Not required.
Adaptations of our parasites
Case study of Toxocara. Not required.
Development of settled communities
The influence of human activities on the landscape. Not required.
Making other species work for us
Selective breeding. Not required.
Diversity should be investigated by comparisons of genetic diversity, and by quantitative investigations of variation within a species. Knowledge of gene technologies will not be tested, and students will not be required to calculate standard deviations in written papers.

HBIO4

Current Human Biology specification

New Biology specification

Reproduction and conception
The female reproductive system, birth and lactation. Contraception. Not required.
Patterns of human growth
Infancy, puberty and adulthood. Not required.
Genetic counselling and Medelian inheritance
Inheritance. Genotype, phenotype and alleles. Monohybrid inheritance. Sex-linkage and multiple alleles.
Case studies of cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anaemia and blood groups. No specifically named case studies. Dihybrid crosses, autosomal linkage and epistasis.
Genetic counselling. The use of Chi-squared tests.
Sex-linked conditions and their inheritance
Case study of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Relevant, but not named specifically.
Concept of the gene pool. The Hardy-Weinberg principle. Details of the formula are supplied.
Variation in the next generation
This section introduced some mathematical concepts. Required, but not specifically here.
Work on variation implied in evolution 3.7.3.
Where variation comes from
Mutations, which might rise from DNA replication, produce new alleles. Named point mutations.
Leads on to meiosis. List of mutations supplied. Mutagenic factors. Changes in one triplet code, and frame shifts. The relationship of the mutation to the encoded polypeptide.
Gene interactions, epigenesis, and variation in the phenotype. Transcription factors, notably oestrogen. Epigenesis, including its relevance in the development and treatment of disease. Interpretation and evaluation of data involving gene expression and genetic and environmental influences on phenotype.
Characteristics and uses of stem cells.
DNA and protein synthesis
The genetic code. The processes of transcription and translation.
The regulation of transcription. Case studies of testosterone, methylation of DNA and decreased acetylation of histones. The CFTR protein in cystic fibrosis. Moved to AS 3.4.2 where included are transcription in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and the role of the ribosomes. Data interpretation when supplied with data about the genetic code, and experimental work on the role of nucleic acids.
DNA and cancer
Characteristics of benign and malignant tumours. Factors involved in the development of tumours.
Interpretation of information regarding the role of genes and cancer treatment.
Enzymes control the rate of reactions in cells
Not required. Slightly linked to regulation of transcription and translation in 3.8.2.2.
Recombinant DNA
Isolation of fragments. Polymerase chain reaction.
In vivo culture of host cells to amplify DNA fragments. Gene therapy.
Amplification of DNA fragments. Evaluation of the use of recombinant DNA technology. Details of specific skills given, many are more recent applications of techniques already taught in Human Biology.
The role of gene libraries.
Genetically modified organisms
The use of DNA technology to create new strains and species of crop plants. Issues involving DNA technology in agriculture, industry and medicine.
Opposition to humanitarian aspects of DNA technology.
Genome projects
Sequencing projects have read the human genome, and some other genomes.
Details of what the genome tells, and what questions remain. Case study on the work of Sanger in vaccine production. Updating of information gained from genomes, and its application to vaccine development. Automation of sequencing methods.
Use of labelled DNA probes and DNA hybridisation to locate specific alleles of genes. Evaluation of screening.
The technique of genetic fingerprinting, and its use in forensic science, medical diagnosis, animal and plant breeding.
Perception and drugs
How drugs affect the functioning of the brain. Nor required. Slightly linked to the effects of drugs on a synapse in 3.6.2.2
Neurones and nerve impulses
The structure of myelinated neurones. The establishment of resting potential and the passage of an action potential along an axon. The importance of the refractory period. Factors that affect the speed of transmission.
Synapses
The detailed structure of a synapse and a neuro-muscular junction. Transmission across these junctions.. The effect of drugs on a synapse.
Detecting light - the eye
Details of the human retina to show functions of rods and cones. Connections to the optic nerve. The importance of optical pigments.
No need to study the structure of the eye as an organ.
The Pacinian corpuscle as an example of a receptor.
Perceiving - the brain
Visual perception. Not required.
Flight or fight - anger or fear
Comparison of nervous and hormonal systems. Case study of response to frightening stimuli. Control of heart ratevia the autonomic nervous system. Electrical activity in the heart.
Role of the nervous system
Part played by the hypothalamus in mediating physiological responses. Not required.
Role of the hormonal system
Physiological actions of adrenaline. Only when involved in the control of blood sugars.
Homeostasis
Control of the internal environment through negative feedback.
Control of blood water potential. The structure and function of the nephron.
Hypothermia
The processes of thermoregulation in a mammal. The importance of temperature regulation, but no detail required of the mechanisms of control.
Diabetes - a disease of our time
The control of blood glucose levels by hormones and enzymes. The causes and control of types I and II diabetes.
The health implications of uncontrolled diabetes. The position of the food industry in relation to increased incidence of type II diabetes.
Muscle contraction
Action in antagonistic pairs. The roles of actin, myosin, calcium ions, ATP and phosphocreatine.
Movement and the maintenance of posture. Not required.

HBIO5

Current Human Biology specification

New Biology specification

Evolution
The effects of selection. Changes in allele frequency. Allopatric and sympatric speciation.
Effect of human activities. The importance of genetic drift, natural selection. The importance of their effect on diversity of species.
Ecosystems and the stability of populations
Populations of different species form a community. The effect of abiotic factors.
Winners and losers
Domesticated and introduced plants and animals. Not required.
GM organisms
Please see above.
Environmental Impact Assessment. Not required.
Diet, crops and food allergies
Dietary change. Nut allergies and hay fever. Not required.
Allergies
Allergic response Not required.
Air pollution and respiratory illnesses
Case studies of asthma and bronchitis. Interpretation of data relating to respiratory diseases in AS 3.3.2.
Water pollution and illness
Beach quality. Case study of Cryptosporidium. Not required.
Succession
Ecosystems are dynamic systems. Succession from pioneer to climax community.
Relationships between species, population and community. Estimation of population size. Use of quadrats and the mark-release-recapture method. A lot of guidance is supplied.
Local wildlife
Case studies of brown field sites, wasteland and corridor habitats. Conservation of habitats frequently requires management of succession.
Waste disposal should be environmentally sustainable
Best Practical Environmental Option. The waste hierarchy. Polluter Pays Principle. Not required.
Carbon footprint
The impact of human activities on the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Not required.
Our climate is changing
Burning of fossil fuels. Global warming. Not required.
Plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
Both require a knowledge of the light dependent and light independent stages. Also energy transfers between trophic levels.
No details of electron transport and biochemical pathways needed. More detail is needed of both processes. A lot of guidance is supplied.
Factors that limit the rate of photosynthesis.
Links to energy transfers between trophic levels. A lot more detail required, support is given. GPP, NPP and their relationship to respiration. Biomass. Energy and its use through the trophic levels. Simplification of food webs to reduce energy losses.
Nutrient cycles, exemplified by the nitrogen cycle and the phosphorus cycle. The uses of fertilisers, and the environmental issues arising from their use.
Tree planting to off-set carbon emissions. Carbon sequestration. Evaluation of data relating to common agricultural practices to overcome limiting factors.
ATP synthesis via the electron transport chain. ATP synthesis via chemiosmosis.
Biofuels reduce the use of fossil fuels
Renewable energy sources. Not required.
Respiration adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere
Respiration produces ATP. Both need detail of aerobic and anaerobic respiration
An outline of the process is needed and listed. Plentiful detail is needed and supplied on aerobic and anaerobic respiration.
The human ecosystem
Populations of bacteria and fungi supported by the human body. Not required.
Ecology of the skin
Micro-organism community supported by the skin. Case studies on skin conditions. Not required.
Ecology of the gut
Case study of a community. Not required.
Antibacterial resistance
Evolution of resistance to antibiotics. Not required.

Specifications that use this resource: