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Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology

Newsletter from the SNAB project team December 2007

Changes from September 2008

As you are aware, all A-levels have new specifications for teaching
from September 2008. This is because they have to conform with
new subject criteria produced by QCA.
The new Edexcel Biology specification has been developed by
Edexcel the awarding body in close consultation with the SNAB
team. Edexcel have a great deal of information about their new
specification on their website
There will be new Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology (SNAB)
materials matching the new specification. These materials have also
been developed by the SNAB project team, working with teachers
using the current materials.
The new materials for 2008 will be published by Edexcel
themselves. Edexcel’s resources are distributed by Pearson
Education. For more information see page 3. (Heinemann, the
publishers of the current SNAB material, and Edexcel are both
members of the Pearson publishing group.)

2008 changes
What are the two routes through the Edexcel specification?
From 2008 Edexcel is only offering one GCE Biology specification. (They are also only offering
one GCE Chemistry and one GCE Physics specification.) There are two different routes through the
new GCE Biology specification:
• the context-led (SNAB) approach
• a concept-led approach.
The concept-led approach contains the same content as the SNAB approach, but begins with a
study of the theories and principles of biology, and finishes with an exploration of their practical
applications. The two approaches are assessed by the same internal and external assessment.
Note that the topic summaries for the context-led SNAB approach start on page 45 of the Edexcel
Biology specification. The titles are the same for each, so make sure you are on pages 45-67 for the
SNAB version. Each topic is self-contained, so centres may offer a course based entirely on one or
other approach, or choose different approaches to different topics as students go through the course.

Are the SNAB contexts the same as before?

AS Topic 4 and A2 Topic 5 have new contexts, because changes to the QCA
subject criteria mean that the content has changed. Topic 4 ‘Biodiversity and
natural resources’ uses the story of the Brazil nut, agouti rodent, Euglossine
bees and orchids, a truly amazing story of adaptation and interdependence.
The focus in Topic 5 ‘On the wild side’ is the likely effect of climate change
on biodiversity.
Summary of content of the new Edexcel Biology specification for 2008

Unit Topic Content from the existing SNAB New content added or Content from existing
specification includes moved from other topics SNAB not included, or
moved to other topics

AS Unit 1 T1 Biological molecules; heart and Importance of water; Electrical activity of the
Lifestyle, Lifestyle, circulation; athero-sclerosis; blood practical work on vitamin C heart and ECGs
transport, transport, clotting; analysis of health risk content; Evaluate design of
genes and genes & data; risk perception; risk factors health risk studies
health health in CVD

T2 Genes Cystic fibrosis; gas exchange Development of theories for Protein synthesis detail
and surface properties; membrane replication
health structure and function; proteins,
enzymes; DNA, protein synthesis,
genetics and genetic screening
AS Unit 2 T3 The Cell structure; mitosis; meiosis, Fertilisation in flowering Details of transcription
voice gametes and fertilisation; plants; crossing over; tissue factors; outcomes of
of the independent assortment; stem formation; making decisions the Human Genome
genome cells, cell differentiation and gene about stem cell use, Project
expression; environment and polygenic inheritance
genotype interactions
T4 Bio- Plant cell structure, plant Biodiversity; endemism; Transpiration;
diversity fibre structure and function; adaptation; the concept genetically engineered
and polysaccharides; importance of of niche; natural selection plants; climate change;
natural water; plant mineral nutrition; and evolution; taxonomic carbon cycle
resources Importance of plant products to groupings; zoos, seedbanks
humans and conservation of
endangered species
AS Unit 3 Assessment of practical skills developed in Units 1 and 2, and a report of
Practical either a visit to a site of biological interest, or an issue relating to biology in a
biology & contemporary setting.
A2 Unit 4 T5 On the Ecology; photosynthesis, and Evidence for global Zoos; conflicts
wild side productivity; energy transfer; warming; the role of the between wildlife and
human influences on the scientific community in humans; conservation
environment; evolution; speciation validating new evidence; the legislation; taxonomy;
carbon cycle; enzymes genetic diversity
T6 Forensics; succession; DNA Microorganisms and carbon Negative feedback and
Infection, profiling, bacteria, viruses; cycle; genetic code and thermoregulation
immunity antibiotics; PCR; Infection and protein synthesis
and the body’s responses to infection;
forensics infection control
A2 Unit 5 T7 Run Muscle structure and function;
Energy, for your aerobic and anaerobic respiration;
exercise life control of cardiac output and
and ventilation; homeostasis;
medical technology; ethics of the
use of performance-enhancing
T8 Grey Nervous system and nerve Production of drugs by Visual perception;
matter impulse; nervous and hormonal GMOs, Human Genome classical conditioning,
coordination; detection of light; Project, and drug operant conditioning
the brain; critical window for visual development and insightful learning;
development medical imaging; polygenic inheritance
learning (only habituation); use
of animals in medical research;
drugs and synaptic transmission
A2 Unit 6 A written report on an individual experimental investigation, including
Individual presentation and analysis of numerical data.
New resources for 2008
The SNAB materials for the new GCE Biology specification are published
by Edexcel themselves. Available from March 2008, the materials include:
• AS and A2 Students’ books (price £19.50 each)
• AS and A2 ActiveBook site licence CD-ROM, allowing you to link
a digital version of the Students’ Books straight to the e-Spec (price
£100.00+vat each)
• SNAB Online AS and A2: 2-year student subscriptions (£20 each or £100
for a pack of 10. Discounts available for large centres)
Edexcel’s resources are distributed by Pearson Education.
For an evaluation pack (ISBN: 978 1 40587 772 5, price £19.50),
call 0800 579 579 or email
Visit for more information about the
specification and the resources.
How is ‘How science works’ incorporated?
The current (2005) SNAB specification already included a significant
amount of ‘How science works’. These is made more obvious in the new
specification, and there are some additions as well.

What about 2008 assessment?

The new QCA criteria require internal assessment of one Assessment of experimental and investigative skills
whole unit at each of AS and A2. They no longer permit will take place in the AS Unit 1 and 2 papers, and in the
units of assessment to be divided into two components. internal assessment of Unit 3. At A2 the use of these skills
is assessed in the individual investigation.
The context-led and concept-led approaches are assessed
by the same exams and coursework. In partnership with There will not be an A2 synoptic paper. Synoptic
Edexcel, we have developed a model that retains the assessment is now incorporated into the other A2 unit
underlying philosophy of SNAB. Experimental and exams. A pre-release article will still be a feature of the
investigative skills are developed during the AS course. assessment of Unit 5.

Edexcel information: the current course

Edexcel coursework consultancy service The 6133/02 Practical Work Review paper is sent to
During the year, centres can send three pieces of marked centres and should be issued to students one week in
coursework to the Assessment Manager for GCE Biology, advance of when they take the examination. Edexcel do
Damian Riddle. The pieces of coursework are sent to the not provide a second copy of this paper – this copy is
senior moderator for comments. Each piece of work must the only one they get. As candidates must have a clean
be accompanied by the completed marking grid which copy for the examination, centres should either tell their
can be downloaded from the Edexcel website (see the candidates not to write on this paper, or else issue their
back page). The coursework consultancy service is free of candidates with a clean copy (a photocopy is perfectly
charge. Download a booklet with instructions about this acceptable) for use in the examination.
from the Biology (Salters-Nuffield) page of the Edexcel
website. Assessment for students now in
Pre-release material AS and A2
The Unit 6 pre-release article goes up on the Edexcel Information on the assessment
website by the middle of March – centres should arrangements for the transition
download it from there. Edexcel are aiming to get it period between the 2000 (in
up as early as possible in 2008 as Easter is so early. SNAB’s case 2005) and 2008
Candidates may make notes on the copy they download specifications can be found on the
from the website, but this copy may not be taken into the Edexcel website at:
examination with them. Edexcel provide a clean copy
of the article, which is sent along with the exam papers. uk/gce2008/news/
This copy should be issued in the examination room for Information from Damian Riddle,
candidates to use during their exam. Edexcel Assessment Manager
Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology

Residential courses at York 2008 conversion courses

SNAB AS teachers’ courses There will be one-day courses for current SNAB centres,
to familiarise current users with the 2008 changes.
Mon-Tue 14-15 April and Thur-Fri 10-11 July
Teachers will review changes to the content, and see the
For teachers preparing to teach the (2008) AS course new resources. Once confirmed the spring dates and venues
for the first time. There will be sessions on the AS will be sent to centres and posted on the snabonline and
topics, planning your teaching of the AS topics and websites.
using activities and electronic resources
Edexcel Inset dates
SNAB A2 teachers’ course
For details on all the Edexcel courses and to apply see the
Wed-Thur 16-17 April 2008 Edxcel website
Sessions on the current A2 topics and the 2008 changes Edexcel 2008 launch information
to the A2 course. There is a powerpoint presentation and video (featuring
For more information and to download a booking form Nicola Wilberforce) on the Edexcel website. This will be
for any of these courses go to the project website useful for all those who couldn’t attend one of the Edexcel launch meetings. See

Publisher of 2005 materials: Heinemann Getting in touch with the SNAB project team
Heinemann tell us that their publications will remain in University of York SNAB Director: Anne Scott
print (and online) until the last retakes of the current AS Contact: Sandra Wilmott, Science Education Group,
and A2 specifications. Alcuin D Block, York YO10 5DD
Order/Inspection Dept, Heinemann Educational, 01904 432 524
FREEPOST (OF 1771), PO Box 381 Oxford OX2 8BR. Nuffield Curriculum Centre
tel 01865 888080 fax 01865 314029 SNAB Director: Angela Hall Contact: Sarah Codrington, 28 Bedford Square,
London WC1B 3JS helpline 020 7636 6776
Publisher of 2008 materials: Edexcel
To be distributed by Pearson Education Schools
Marketing Department, FREEPOST ANG2041, School and college support
Harlow, Essex, CM20 2YF. Nicola Wilberforce, Biology Department, Esher College,
tel 0800 579 579 fax 0870 850 5255 Weston Green Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey. KT7 0JB Local contacts see
Awarding body: Edexcel SNAB Project Director
190 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BH. Professor Michael Reiss
0870 240 9800. Institute of Education, University of London
Further information
Assessment Leader: Damian Riddle
Find out the latest on all of this via the SNAB public
for queries about assessment and exams
website Resources on this site 020 7190 5024
include a leaflet for students,
Subject leader: John Crew a Powerpoint presentation about the
for queries about the specification and support new course, CPD units and sample 020 7190 4330 lesson, and links to different parts of
Edexcel information the Edexcel website.
For copies of the specification, past exam papers
and coursework guide, and for information on the Front page sunflower photo by Lucy Hollis

coursework consultancy service visit the Edexcel