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BTEC Applied Human Biology

Teacher in charge of Subject

Ms S Holmes
Head of Science


The Applied Human Biology BTEC is a new course which was first offered in 2018.  BTEC’s embody a fundamentally learner-centred approach to the curriculum, with a flexible, unit-based structure and knowledge applied in project-based assessments.  They focus on the holistic development of the practical, interpersonal and thinking skills needed to be able to succeed in employment and higher education.  This course offers the student an opportunity to study a broad-based curriculum focusing on health science. It is designed to support progression to higher education programs.

The qualification is equal in size to one A level and contains a large proportion of the content from A level biology but assessed in a combination of internal and external examinations.  The course suits learners who want to develop the understanding of disease processes within the human body and enjoy learning by completing a variety of vocational and practical tasks. Students must be interested in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and have the ability to work independently in order to be successful.

  1. Course Title

    BTEC Applied Human Biology

  2. Exam Board and Specification No.

    Pearson BTEC level 3 national extended certificate in Applied Human Biology
    Specification first teaching 2018 (603/3040/5) 360 GLH

What do I need to have studied/ have knowledge of?

The entry requirements discussed at interview for C6 highlighted the need to gain a level 5 in Science, Maths and English to study any of the science A levels.

Maths must can also be taken on either the higher or foundation paper. Students need to be aware that the course contains a large proportion of written coursework.

What will I learn on this course?

The aim of the Applied Human Biology course is to enable students to: 

  • Acquire essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other. 
  • Demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods involved when studying a science based subject. 
  • Develop a high level of competence and confidence in a variety of practical skills and data analysis and interpretation.
  • Nurture an interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject and to ultimately progress to careers in the health sector and to apply to health science university courses.
  • Gain an understanding of how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.

What key skills will I develop? 

  • Define scientific problems, present scientific arguments and scientific ideas. 
  • Carry out experimental and investigative activities, including appropriate risk management, in a range of contexts. 
  • Analyse and interpret data to provide evidence, recognising correlations and casual relationships. 
  • Evaluate methodology, evidence and data, and resolve conflicting evidence. 
  • Appreciate the tentative nature of scientific knowledge. 
  • Communicate information and ideas in appropriate ways using appropriate terminology.
  • Consider applications and implications of science and appreciate their associated benefits and risks. 
  • Consider ethical issues in the treatment of humans, other organisms and the environment. 
  • Appreciate the role of the scientific community in validating new knowledge and ensuring integrity. 
  • Use theories, models and ideas to develop and modify scientific explanations. 
  • Appreciate the ways in which science is used to inform decision making about issues to benefit society. 

How will I be assessed? 

There are three mandatory units, one internal and two external. Learners must complete and achieve at Near Pass grade or above in all mandatory units and achieve a Pass or above in all mandatory units. 

Learners must also complete at least one optional unit consisting of a number of pieces of coursework completed independently. The unit covered is on the topic of functional physiology. Assessments are available in January and June for external modules. 

Everyone taking this qualification will study three mandatory units, covering the following content areas:  

  • Unit 1: Principles of Applied Human Biology  
  • Unit 2: Practical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases  
  • Unit 3: Human Biology and Health Issues.  

The mandatory content allows learners to concentrate on the development of their knowledge and understanding as well as essential practical and research skills relevant in applied human biology and health science areas, over an extended period.  


What could this qualification lead to?

The qualification carries UCAS points and is recognised by higher education providers as contributing to admission requirements of many relevant applied human biology/health science courses. When combined with other qualifications within a two-year study programme, such as AS/A Levels or a BTEC National Foundation Diploma or a BTEC National Diploma in a complementary sector, learners can progress into higher education, such as:

  • BSc (Hons) in Occupational Health if taken alongside, for example, a Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care
  • BSc in Nursing or Midwifery if taken if taken alongside, for example, a Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Health and Social Care
  • BSc (Hons) in Sport Science if taken alongside, for example, a Pearson BTEC Level 3 in Sport
  • BSc (Hons) in Nursing if taken alongside, for example, A Levels in Psychology and Sociology

Learners should always check the entry requirements for degree programmes with the specific higher education providers. In addition to the applied human biology specific content outlined above, the requirements of the qualification will mean that learners develop the transferable and higher-order skills that are highly regarded by higher education and employers; for example, an opportunity to concentrate over an extended period on their research and investigative techniques – a key skill needed to progress successfully into higher education, employment or self-employment. This qualification also offers the opportunity to develop learners’ technical skills through a process of self-evaluation, practice and review, in preparation for entry to higher education. 

Employability skills

In the BTEC National units, there are opportunities during the teaching and learning phase to give learners practice in developing employability skills. Where employability skills are referred to in this specification, we are generally referring to skills in the following three main categories:

  • cognitive and problem-solving skills: using critical thinking, approaching non-routine problems applying expert and creative solutions, using systems and technology
  • interpersonal skills: communicating, working collaboratively, negotiating and influencing, self-presentation
  • intrapersonal skills: self-management, adaptability and resilience, self-monitoring and development.

There are also specific requirements in some units for assessment of these skills where relevant, for example, where learners are required to undertake real or simulated activities.

Transferable knowledge and skills for Higher Ed

All BTEC Nationals provide transferable knowledge and skills that prepare learners for progression to university. The transferable skills that universities value include:

  • the ability to learn independently
  • the ability to research actively and methodically
  • the ability to give presentations and be active group members.

BTEC learners can also benefit from opportunities for deep learning where they are able to make connections among units and select areas of interest for detailed study. BTEC Nationals provide a vocational context in which learners can develop the knowledge and skills required for particular degree courses, including:

  • reading technical texts
  • analytical skills
  • preparation for assessment methods used in degrees.

Additional events, trips or enrichment activities

There are day trips available as well as lectures by speakers from the Biological industry/working fields.  Furthermore, there is the opportunity for you to get involved in organising and co-ordinating a STEM club for KS3 students. 

Are there any additional costs for this course?

Resources required by the course will be fully outlined at the start of the course.  Resources do include: 

  • The main textbook plus any additional revision books
  • Photocopied worksheets and booklets 
  • Stationery including calculators 
  • Field trips/ Day trips

Who do I contact if I have any further questions?

Ms S Holmes:
Head of Science

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