Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9 - 1) in Biology (1BI0) Paper 1 & Edexcel GCSE Combined Science (1SC0) Paper 1 Biology 1

Syllabus-specification CONTENT INDEX (NEW for Y10 starting September 2016, first exams from 2018 onwards)

'Old' Edexcel GCSE science courses for Y11 finishing Y11 2016-2017

INDEX for all links

Everything below is based on the NEW 2016 official syllabus-specifications for Y10 2016 onwards AND NOTE ...

(HT only) means higher tier only (NOT FT), (B means Edexcel GCSE biology only, NOT for Combined Science biology

 The Google [SEARCH] box at the bottom of the page should also prove useful


Revision summaries for Paper 1 Edexcel GCSE Biology and Combined Science Paper 1 Biology 1 (this page)

What's assessed in this paper?

SUMMARY Topic 1 – Key concepts in biology  (Topic 1, Combined Science Biology 1)

SUMMARY Topic 2 – Cells and control  (Topic 2 Combined Science Biology 1)

SUMMARY Topic 3 – Genetics  (Topic 3 Combined Science Biology 1)

SUMMARY Topic 4 – Natural selection and genetic modification  (Topic 4 Combined Science Biology 1)

SUMMARY Topic 5 – Health, disease and development of medicines  (Topic 5 Combined Science Biology 1)


Revision summaries for Paper 2 Edexcel GCSE Biology and Combined Science Paper 2 Biology 2 (separate page)

What's assessed in this paper?

SUMMARY Topic 1 – Key concepts in biology  (Topic 1 Combined Science Biology paper 2)

SUMMARY Topic 6 – Plant structures and their functions  (Topic 6 Combined Science Biology 2)

SUMMARY Topic 7 – Animal coordination, control and homeostasis  (Topic 7 Combined Science Biology 2)

SUMMARY Topic 8 – Exchange and transport in animals  (Topic 8 Combined Science Biology 2)

SUMMARY Topic 9 – Ecosystems and material cycles  (Topic 5 Combined Science Biology Paper 2)


SUBJECT CONTENT of the syllabus-specification:

TOPICS for Paper 1 Edexcel GCSE Biology and Combined Science Paper 1 Biology 1

Note: a B after the learning objective indicates it is for Edexcel GCSE Biology ONLY, NOT for Combined Science


Topic 1 – Overarching concepts in biology  (Topic 1 content is common to all the biology papers)

You should be able to ....

1.1 Be able to explain how the sub-cellular structures of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are related to their functions, including:

(a) animal cells - nucleus, cell membrane, mitochondria and ribosomes

(b) plant cells - nucleus, cell membrane, cell wall, chloroplasts, mitochondria, vacuole and ribosomes

(c) bacteria - chromosomal DNA, plasmid DNA, cell membrane, ribosomes and flagella.

 Introduction to plant and animal cell structure and function

1.2 Be able to describe how specialised cells are adapted to their function, including:

(a) sperm cells – acrosome, haploid nucleus, mitochondria and tail

(b) egg cells – nutrients in the cytoplasm, haploid nucleus and changes in the cell membrane after fertilisation

(c) ciliated epithelial cells

1.3 Be able to explain how changes in microscope technology, including electron microscopy, have enabled us to see cell structures with more clarity and detail than in the past and increased our understanding of the role of sub-cellular structures

1.4 Be able to demonstrate an understanding of number, size and scale, including the use of estimations and explain when they should be used

1.5 Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between quantitative units in relation to cells, including:

milli (10-3),  micro (10-6),  nano (10-9),  pico (10-12)

(HT only) Do calculations with numbers written in standard form

1.6 Core Practical: You should have investigated biological specimens using microscopes, including magnification calculations and labelled scientific drawings from observations.

1.7 Be able to explain the mechanism of enzyme action including the active site and enzyme specificity

1.8 Be able to explain how enzymes can be denatured due to changes in the shape of the active site

1.9 Be able to explain the effects of temperature, substrate concentration and pH on enzyme.

1.10 Core Practical: You should have investigated the effect of pH on enzyme activity

1.11 (HT only) Be able to demonstrate an understanding of rate calculations for enzyme activity

1.12 (HT only) Be able to explain the importance of enzymes as biological catalysts in the synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids and their breakdown into sugars, amino acids and fatty acids and glycerol

1.13B Investigating the use of chemical reagents to identify starch, reducing sugars, proteins and fats

1.14B Be able to explain how the energy contained in food can be measured using calorimetry

1.15 (HT only) Be able to explain how substances are transported by diffusion, osmosis and active transport

1.16 Core practical: You should have investigated osmosis in potatoes

1.17(HT only) Be able to calculate percentage gain and loss of mass in osmosis

Practicals you may have encountered

Investigating the effect of different concentrations of digestive enzymes, using and
evaluating models of the alimentary canal.

Investigating the effect of temperatures and concentration on enzyme activity.

Investigating plant and animal cells with a light microscope.

Investigating the effect of concentration on rate of diffusion.


Topic 2 – Cells and control

You should be able to ....

2.1 Be able to describe mitosis as part of the cell cycle including the stages interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase and cytokinesis

2.2 Be able to describe the importance of mitosis in growth, repair and asexual reproduction

2.3 Be able to describe the division of a cell by mitosis as the production of two daughter cells, each with identical sets of chromosomes in the nucleus to the parent cell, and that this results in the formation of two genetically identical diploid body cells

2.4 Be able to describe cancer as the result of changes in cells that lead to uncontrolled cell division

2.5 Be able to describe growth in organisms, including:

(a) cell division and differentiation in animals

(b) cell division, elongation and differentiation in plants

2.6 Be able to explain the importance of cell differentiation in the development of specialised cells

2.7 Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the use of percentiles charts to monitor growth

2.8 Be able to describe the function of embryonic stem cells, stem cells in animals and meristems in plants

2.9 Discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with the use of stem cells in medicine

2.10B Be able to describe the structures and functions of the brain including the cerebellum, cerebral hemispheres and medulla oblongata

2.11B (HT only) Be able to explain  how the difficulties of accessing brain tissue inside the skull can be overcome by using CT scanning and PET scanning to investigate brain function

2.12B Be able to explain some of the limitations in treating damage and disease in the brain and other parts of the nervous system, including spinal injuries and brain tumours 

2.13 Be able to explain the structure and function of sensory receptors, sensory neurones, relay neurones in the CNS, motor neurones and synapses in the transmission of electrical impulses, including the axon, dendron, myelin sheath and the role of neurotransmitters

2.14 Be able to explain the structure and function of a reflex arc including sensory, relay and motor neurones

2.15B Be able to explain the structure and function of the eye as a sensory receptor including the role of:

(a) the cornea and lens,   (b) the iris,   (c) rod and cone cells in the retina

2.16B Be able to describe defects of the eye including cataracts, long-sightedness, short-sightedness and colour blindness

2.17B Be able to explain how cataracts, long-sightedness and shortsightedness can be corrected

Practicals you may have encountered

Investigating human responses to external stimuli.

Investigating reaction times.

Investigating the speed of transmission of electrical impulses in the nervous system


Topic 3 – Genetics

You should be able to ....

3.1B Be able to explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of asexual reproduction, including the lack of need to find a mate, a rapid reproductive cycle, but no variation in the population

3.2B Be able to explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of sexual reproduction, including variation in the population, but the requirement to find a mate

3.3 Be able to explain the role of meiotic cell division, including the production of four daughter cells, each with half the number of chromosomes, and that this results in the formation of genetically different haploid gametes The stages of meiosis are not required

3.4 Be able to describe DNA as a polymer made up of:

(a) two strands coiled to form a double helix

(b) strands linked by a series of complementary base pairs joined together by weak hydrogen bonds

(c) nucleotides that consist of a sugar and phosphate group with one of the four different bases attached to the sugar

3.5 Be able to describe the genome as the entire DNA of an organism and a gene as a section of a DNA molecule that codes for a specific protein

3.6 Be able to explain how to extract DNA from fruit

3.7B (HT only) Be able to explain how the order of bases in a section of DNA decides the order of amino acids in the protein and that these fold to produce specifically shaped proteins such as enzymes

3.8B (HT only) Be able to describe the stages of protein synthesis, including transcription and translation:

(a) RNA polymerase binds to non-coding DNA located in front of a gene

(b) RNA polymerase produces a complementary mRNA strand from the coding DNA of the gene

(c) the attachment of the mRNA to the ribosome

(d) the coding by triplets of bases (codons) in the mRNA for specific amino acids

(e) the transfer of amino acids to the ribosome by tRNA

(f) the linking of amino acids to form polypeptides

3.9B (HT only) Be able to describe how genetic variants in the non-coding DNA of a gene can affect phenotype by influencing the binding of RNA polymerase and altering the quantity of protein produced

3.10B (HT only) Be able to describe how genetic variants in the coding DNA of a gene can affect phenotype by altering the sequence of amino acids and therefore the activity of the protein produced.

3.11B Be able to describe the work of Mendel in discovering the basis of genetics and recognise the difficulties of understanding inheritance before the mechanism was discovered

3.12 Be able to explain why there are differences in the inherited characteristics as a result of alleles

3.13 Be able to explain the terms:  chromosome, gene, allele, dominant, recessive, homozygous, heterozygous, genotype, phenotype, gamete and zygote

3.14 Be able to explain monohybrid inheritance using genetic diagrams, Punnett squares and family pedigrees.

3.15 Be able to describe how the sex of offspring is determined at fertilisation, using genetic diagrams

3.16 Be able to calculate and analyse outcomes (using probabilities, ratios and percentages) from monohybrid crosses and pedigree analysis for dominant and recessive traits.

3.17B Be able to describe the inheritance of the ABO blood groups with reference to codominance and multiple alleles.

3.18B (HT only) Be able to explain how sex-linked genetic disorders are inherited.

3.19 State that most phenotypic features are the result of multiple genes rather than single gene inheritance.

3.20 Be able to describe the causes of variation that influence phenotype, including:

(a) genetic variation – different characteristics as a result of mutation and sexual reproduction

(b) environmental variation – different characteristics caused by an organism’s environment (acquired characteristics)

3.21 Discuss the outcomes of the Human Genome Project and its potential applications within medicine

3.22 State that there is usually extensive genetic variation within a population of a species and that these arise through mutations

3.23 State that most genetic mutations have no effect on the phenotype, some mutations have a small effect on the phenotype and, rarely, a single mutation will significantly affect the phenotype

Practicals you may have done

Investigating the variations within a species to illustrate continuous variation and discontinuous variation.

Investigating inheritance using suitable organisms or models.


Topic 4 – Natural selection and genetic modification

You should be able to ....

4.1B Be able to describe the work of Darwin and Wallace in the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection and explain the impact of these ideas on modern biology

4.2 Be able to explain Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection

4.3 Be able to explain how the emergence of resistant organisms supports Darwin’s theory of evolution including antibiotic resistance in bacteria

4.4 Be able to describe the evidence for human evolution, based on fossils, including:

(a) Ardi from 4.4 million years ago

(b) Lucy from 3.2 million years ago

(c) Leakey’s discovery of fossils from 1.6 million years ago

4.5 Be able to describe the evidence for human evolution based on stone tools, including:

(a) the development of stone tools over time

(b) how these can be dated from their environment

4.6B Be able to describe how the anatomy of the pentadactyl limb provides scientists with evidence for evolution

4.7 Be able to describe how genetic analysis has led to the suggestion of the three domains rather than the five kingdoms classification method

4.8 Be able to explain selective breeding and its impact on food plants and domesticated animals

4.9B Be able to describe the process of tissue culture and its advantages in medical research and plant breeding programmes

4.10 Be able to describe genetic engineering as a process which involves modifying the genome of an organism to introduce desirable characteristics

4.11 (HT only) Be able to describe the main stages of genetic engineering including the use of:

(a) restriction enzymes,  (b) ligase,  (c) sticky ends,  (d) vectors

4.12B Be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering to produce GM organisms including the modification of crop plants including the introduction of genes for insect resistance from Bacillus thuringiensis into crop plants

4.13B Be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of agricultural solutions to the demands of a growing human population including use of fertilisers and biological control

4.14 Evaluate the benefits and risks of genetic engineering and selective breeding in modern agriculture and medicine including practical and ethical implications


Topic 5 – Health, disease and the development of medicines

You should be able to ....

5.1 Be able to describe health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO)

5.2 Be able to describe the difference between communicable and noncommunicable diseases

5.3 Be able to explain why the presence of one disease can lead to a higher susceptibility to other diseases

5.4 Be able to describe a pathogen as a disease-causing organism including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists

5.5 Be able to describe some common infections, including:

(a) cholera (bacteria) causes diarrhoea

(b) tuberculosis (bacteria) causes lung damage

(c) Chalara ash dieback (fungi) causes leaf loss and bark lesions

(d) malaria (protists) causes damage to blood and liver

(e) HIV (virus) destroys white blood cells, leading to the onset of AIDS

(f) stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter (bacteria)

(g) Ebola (virus) causes haemorrhagic fever

5.6 Be able to explain how pathogens are spread and how this spread can be reduced or prevented, including:

(a) cholera (bacteria) - water

(b) tuberculosis (bacteria) – airborne

(c) Chalara ash dieback (fungi) - airborne

(d) malaria (protists) - animal vectors

(e) stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter (bacteria) – oral transmission f Ebola (virus) – body fluids

5.7B Be able to describe the lifecycle of a virus, including lysogenic and lytic pathways

5.8 Be able to explain how sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread and how this spread can be reduced or prevented, including:

(a) Chlamydia (bacteria)

(b) HIV (virus)

5.9B Be able to describe how some plants defend themselves against attack from pests and pathogens by physical barriers including the leaf cuticle and cell wall

5.10B Be able to describe how plants defend themselves against attack from pests and pathogens by producing chemicals, some of which can be used to treat human diseases or relieve symptoms

5.11B (HT only) Be able to describe different ways plant diseases can be detected and identified, in the lab and in the field including the elimination of possible environmental causes, distribution analysis of affected plants, observation of visible symptoms and diagnostic testing to identify pathogens

5.12 Be able to describe how the physical barriers and chemical defences of the human body provide protection from pathogens, including:

(a) physical barriers including mucus, cilia and skin

(b) chemical defence including lysozymes and hydrochloric acid

5.13 Be able to explain the role of the specific immune system of the human body in defence against disease, including:

(a) exposure to pathogen

(b) the antigens trigger an immune response which causes the production of antibodies

(c) the antigens also trigger production of memory lymphocytes

(d) the role of memory lymphocytes in the secondary response to the antigen

5.14 Be able to explain the body’s response to immunisation using an inactive form of a pathogen

5.15B (HT only) Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of immunisation, including the concept of herd immunity

5.16 Be able to explain that antibiotics can only be used to treat bacterial infections because they inhibit cell processes in the bacterium but not the host organism

5.17B Be able to explain the aseptic techniques used in culturing microorganisms in the laboratory, including the use of an autoclave to prepare sterile growth medium and petri dishes, the use of sterile inoculating loops to transfer microorganisms and the need to keep petri dishes and culture vials covered.

5.18B Practical investigating the effects of antiseptics or antibiotics or plant extracts on microbial cultures

5.19B Be able to calculate cross-sectional areas of bacterial cultures and clear agar jelly using πr2

5.20 Be able to describe that the process of developing new medicines, including antibiotics, has many stages including discovery, development, preclinical and clinical testing

5.21B (HT only) Be able to describe the production of monoclonal antibodies, including:

(a) use of lymphocytes which produce desired antibodies but do not divide

(b) production of hybridoma cells c hybridoma cells produce antibodies as they divide

5.22B (HT only) Be able to explain the use of monoclonal antibodies, including:

(a) in pregnancy testing

(b) in diagnosis including locating the position of blood clots and cancer cells and in treatment of diseases including cancer

(c) the advantages of using monoclonal antibodies to target specific cells compared to drug and radiotherapy treatments

5.23 Be able to describe that many non-communicable human diseases are caused by the interaction of a number of factors including cardiovascular diseases, many forms of cancer, some lung and liver diseases and diseases influenced by nutrition

5.24 Be able to explain the effect of lifestyle factors on non-communicable diseases at local, national and global levels, including:

(a) exercise and diet on obesity and malnutrition, including BMI and waist : hip ratio calculations

BMI = weight (kg) ÷ (height in m)2

(b) alcohol on liver diseases

(c) smoking on cardiovascular diseases

5.25 Be able to evaluate some different treatments for cardiovascular disease, including:

(a) life-long medication

(b) surgical procedures

(c) lifestyle changes

Practicals you may have encountered

Investigating antimicrobial properties of plants.

Investigating the effect of exercise on breathing rate and heart rate.

Investigating the conditions affecting growth of micro-organisms (using resazurin dye).


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