Fast Track AS – Science in Society


Science in Society (SiS) is part of our portfolio of Fast Track AS-Level courses particularly designed to stretch and challenge the most aspirational and hard-working students. You will have met much of the science discussed in this course at GCSE. At AS-Level, this course aims to develop not your knowledge of scientific facts but the way in which we understand and discuss scientific ideas.

  • Who Is This Course For?

    Science in Society (SiS) is part of our portfolio of Fast Track AS-Level courses particularly designed to stretch and challenge the most aspirational and hard-working students. You will have met much of the science discussed in this course at GCSE. At AS-Level, this course aims to develop not your knowledge of scientific facts but the way in which we understand and discuss scientific ideas.

    SiS students should have an interest in the study of science beyond the classroom and how the media has a role in contributing to the development of scientific theories. Interacting with members of the public who may have a limited understanding of science is a large part of many scientific careers from medicine to pharmacology to astrophysics.

    Whatever your future career, understanding the presentation of science in the media – including all of the ways in which the facts can be obscured or manipulated – is an invaluable skill. Those students who wish to pursue a career in legislating, monitoring or governing applications of science would be well advised to take this course.

    Entry Criteria

    Students will need a profile of at least AAABBB from their top six GCSEs including at least a minimum of grade C from GCSE English Language. This course is only available to students on the College Flyers programme.

  • Course Details:

    Exam Board

    AQA

    Unit 1: Exploring key scientific issues

    Students will study topical issues in science as dictated by the exam board in preparation for the June exam:

    • The germ theory of disease
    • Infectious diseases now
    • Transport issues
    • Medicines
    • Ethical issues in medicine
    • Reproductive choices
    • Radiation: risks and uses
    • Lifestyle and health
    • Evolution
    • The Universe
    • Who we are and where we are: Are we alone?

    Unit 1 comprises 60% of the AS-Level course.

    Unit 1 is taught over the full year and is examined in June. Examples of scientific ideas taught in the first few weeks of the course include key milestones in the development of the germ theory of disease: the work of John Snow on the London cholera outbreak; Semmelweis’ work on hand washing in hospitals and Pasteur’s contributions to biology. This is complemented in the next topic, which includes more recent landmarks in the fight against infection.

    Later topics in the course study the universe and solar system and the science that is used to explore the universe without leaving earth. The final topic covers modern astrophysics in the search for extra-terrestrial life – is ET out there?

    Unit 2: Reading and writing about science

    Students will complete two pieces of writing for internal assessment.

    • The first piece of work is a critical account of a scientific reading, a book review of a popular scientific text, approx. 500-1000 words.
    • The second piece is a study of a topical scientific issue, requiring independent research on a controversial issue and the presentation of a balanced argument, approx. 1500-2000 words.

    Unit 2 comprises 40% of the AS-Level course. It is expected that students will select their own texts for this coursework from the library and scientific magazines and complete this coursework with minimal input from the teacher in lesson, taking account of feedback provided on submitted drafts.

    The complete specification, including previous exam papers can be found at www.aqa.org.uk

    How the course is delivered

    Students will have two hours per week of timetabled lessons with one teacher. As this is a fast-track course and students receive half the teaching they would in their other AS-Level subjects, there is an expectation that students will complete at least half of the work towards this qualification independently, including the coursework component. This will involve reading around the subjects studied to get a better idea of current views on these issues.

    An example might be the ethical implications of stem cell research – with so many different views on this contentious issue, students will be expected to review and explain these in their own independent study. Lessons will be varied, but may often be centred on debate or discussion of the impacts of science on society based on statements provided by the exam board. In-course assessment will be based on examination questions from previous examinations and the coursework component mark.

    Departmental Enrichment

    Attendance at enrichment activities is strongly recommended for this course. These are arranged by the Science and Health and Social Care Faculty and will take the form of external lectures and visiting speakers as part of the Café Scientifique programme, including visits arranged by other departments within the faculty. Science is a vast topic, and the more talks and additional opportunities you attend to broaden your understanding, the better! Look out for e-mails from subject teachers over the course of the year and public lectures at the University of Hull or on TV to start you off.

    What can I do now that would help prepare me for this course?

    The demands of this course are different to that of other sciences. To fully prepare for this course, it would be helpful to begin to look for stories about science and scientific developments in the media. These stories are all around us and often portray science in a biased way, but are likely the only source of scientific news for most of the general public. It will stand you in good stead if you have a firm idea of how science is generally portrayed and perceived by the media and therefore society as a whole.

    It would also be wise to select a few popular science books – explanations of scientific ideas presented to the everyday reader – in order to better prepare for the first piece of coursework where you will write a review of this text, explaining the science it contains in your own words.

  • Progression:

    Those students wishing to study this course will have a passion for the study of science, and as a result we anticipate a 100% pass-rate.