This course contains content from both the ‘AS’ and ‘A’ OCR A Biology specifications and includes:

  • An introductory session.
  • The coverage of Practical Activity Group 3 and two or three additional practical activities from Practical Activity Groups 6, 10, 11 and 12.
  • Practical endorsement which includes opportunities to assess students across all 5 CPACs with further opportunities to assess higher level competencies.
  • The opportunity to practice practical skills, apparatus and techniques and the chance to progressively develop and repeat skills and techniques.
  • The study of at least three different ecosystems.
  • Coverage of ecological content from Spec A: 4.2.1/4.2.2 and 6.3.1/6.3.2 with opportunities to make synoptic links to other units.
  • Coverage of a wide range of maths and graphical skills covered including Index of Species Diversity, Mark-Release-Recapture and up to three different stats tests.
  • Investigative skills.

Example Timetable

Day 1


Arrive Midday
  • Students greeted by FSC staff.
  • Welcome talk and Centre tour.
  • Pre-course meeting with FSC staff and teachers.
  • Allocation of wellies/waterproofs.

Afternoon and Evening

Introduction to Ecology (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Carry out immersive activities to connect them to local habitats.
  • Practice observational and sampling skills and pose relevant ecological questions needed in good field investigations.
  • Investigate the taxonomy, ecology and adaptations of some common species.
  • Agree on class and individual course objectives.

Day 2

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Biodiversity and Variation (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Use field sampling methods, such as random sampling, to investigate and calculate biodiversity in contrasting habitats.
  • Consider factors affecting biodiversity (e.g. agriculture and climate change) and the importance of maintaining biodiversity through conservation.
  • Build upon their knowledge of phylogenetic classification and modern techniques for identification.
  • Consider anatomical, physiological or behavioural adaptations of key species.
  • Estimate the size of a population using a mark-release-recapture activity.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods

Day 3

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Succession and Ecosystems (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Use field sampling methods, such as non-random sampling, to determine the distribution and abundance of organisms in a named ecosystem(s).
  • Understand concepts of primary succession from pioneer species to climax community and deflected succession.
  • Explore how ecosystems are maintained and dynamically change over time under the influence of abiotic and biotic factors.
  • Carry out a biological drawing of a named organism.
  • Further develop taxonomic skills and explore adaptations of key species.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods.

Day 4

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Energy and Ecosystems (A).

Students will:

  • Measure the abundance of different organisms from different trophic levels within an ecosystem (freshwater, marine or terrestrial).
  • Use primary and secondary data to quantify the efficiency of biomass transfer.
  • Further develop taxonomic skills and explore adaptations of key species.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods

Day 5


Investigative Skills (A).

Students will work in small groups to:

  • Plan and carry out a PAG 3 ecological investigation..
  • Choose how to use IT for data collection and analysis.
  • Carry out referenced PAG 12 research (this may happen before, during or after the course).


Depart at Midday
  • Review of the course.
  • Signposting further actions and opportunities with the FSC and beyond.
  • Final farewell from FSC staff.

Please note: to ensure safe and quality learning experience for students, the timetable may alter depending on weather conditions and local factors at centres.

How this course fulfills the specification

Specification Links

Practical and Maths Skills

Practical Activity Groups

Any of the investigations can be designed to cover the practical skills, apparatus and techniques needed for all three of the suggested PAG 3 activities or alternatives of them.
The course can also include practical activities from PAG 6 (6.1 Thin Layer Chromatography), PAG 10 (Investigation using a data logger), PAG 11 (Investigation into the measurement of plant or animal responses) and PAG 12 (Research Skills).
These can be integrated and contextualised into the whole day themes de-pendent on the habitats and species available.
There will also be opportunities to further practice apparatus and techniques (esp. a, e, h, k and l) through other practical tasks.

Practical Endorsement

There will be multiple opportunities to assess all 5 CPAC skills areas throughout the course including those that require demonstration of individual competency and some degree of choice (e.g. CPAC 2).
Students will be encouraged to use IT for data collection and analysis and to carry out referenced research (CPAC 5).

Maths and Stats Skills

The course will include a wide range of maths and graphical skills and can cover up to two of the following statistical tests: Student’s t test, Correlation Co-efficient and Chi- squared test.
The days that these tests work best with will depend on the available habitats and species at each Centre.
Students will also calculate Simpson’s index of diversity.

Added value of this course

  • Develop personal skills
  • Have fun
  • Be inspired by a passion for the subject
  • Build friendships

Why Choose FSC?

  • Expert tuition by fully trained staff

  • Stunning locations across the UK

  • Outstanding curriculum knowledge

  • Rigorous health and safety procedures

  • Support before and after your visit

  • Free places for visiting staff