Combined Science - KS4


Progress Leader: Mrs A Howarth
Assistant Progress Leader: Mrs R Barry/ Mrs N Griffiths
Teaching Staff: Mrs D Preston, Mrs L Atkinson, Miss S Stocks, Mr A Carey, Mr R Johnston
Science Technician: Mrs L Mason
Link Governor: Mr J Gardner


GCSE study in combined science provides the foundations for understanding the material world. Scientific understanding is changing our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all students will be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. They will be helped to appreciate how the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a small number of key ideas relating to the sciences which are both inter-linked, and are of universal application. These key ideas include:

  •  the use of conceptual models and theories to make sense of the observed diversity of natural phenomena
  • the assumption that every effect has one or more cause
  • that change is driven by differences between different objects and systems when they interact
  • that many such interactions occur over a distance and over time without direct contact
  • that science progresses through a cycle of hypothesis, practical experimentation, observation, theory development and review
  • that quantitative analysis is a central element both of many theories and of scientific methods of inquiry.

These key ideas are relevant in different ways and with different emphases in the three subjects as part of combined science: examples of their relevance are given for each subject in the introductions:

GCSE specifications in combined award science should enable students to:

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
  • develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science, through different types of scientific enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
  • develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem-solving skills, both in the laboratory, in the field and in other learning environments
  • develop their ability to evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Biology, chemistry and physics should be studied in ways that help students to develop curiosity about the natural world, insight into how science works, and appreciation of its relevance to their everyday lives. The scope and nature of such study should be broad, coherent, practical and satisfying, and thereby encourage students to be inspired, motivated and challenged by the subject
and its achievements.


Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy specifications and all exam boards.

The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

  • AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas; scientific techniques and procedures.
  • AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas; scientific enquiry, techniques and procedures.
  • AO3: Analyse information and ideas to: interpret and evaluate; make judgments and draw conclusions; develop and improve experimental procedures.

The marks awarded on the papers will be scaled to meet the weighting of the components.
Students’ final marks will be calculated by adding together the scaled marks for each component.
Grade boundaries will be set using this total scaled mark. The scaling and total scaled marks are shown below.

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Biology Paper 1 available marks 70
Biology Paper 2 available marks 70
Chemistry Paper 1 available marks 70
Chemistry Paper 2 available marks 70
Physics Paper 1 available marks 70
Physics Paper 2 available marks 70

Total scaled mark: 420

Throughout Key stage 4 students will also focus on key skills. These include:

  • Knowledge and understanding of command words- describe, explain, compare & evaluate.
  • Planning valid investigations to include:
  • Identifying independent, dependent & control variables
  • How to represent data
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Calculating risks


Infection and response
Chemical Changes
*This section will explore how we can avoid diseases by reducing contact with them, as well as how the body uses barriers against pathogens. Once inside the body our immune system is triggered which is usually strong enough to destroy the pathogen and prevent disease. When at risk from unusual or dangerous diseases our body's natural system can be enhanced by the use of vaccination. Since the 1940s a range of antibiotics have been developed which have proved successful against a number of lethal diseases caused by bacteria. Unfortunately many groups of bacteria have now become resistant to these antibiotics. The race is now on to develop a new set of antibiotics.
*The concept of energy emerged in the 19th century. The idea was used to explain the work output of steam engines and then generalised to understand other heat engines. It also became a key tool for understanding chemical reactions and biological systems. Limits to the use of fossil fuels and global warming are critical problems for this century. Physicists and engineers are working hard to identify ways to reduce our energy usage. This unit will explore the different types of energy & calculations used.
*Understanding of chemical changes began when people began experimenting with chemical reactions in a systematic way and organizing their results logically. Knowing about these different chemical changes meant that scientists could begin to predict exactly what new substances would be formed and use this knowledge to develop a wide range of different materials and processes. It also helped biochemists to understand the complex reactions that take place in living organisms. The extraction of important resources from the earth makes use of the way that some elements and compounds react with each other and how easily they can be ‘pulled apart’. This unit will cover these important processes and students will explore how thy can be carried out in the lab.
*In this unit students will explore how plants harness the Sun’s energy in photosynthesis in order to make food. This process liberates oxygen which has built up over millions of years in the Earth’s atmosphere. Both animals and plants use this oxygen to oxidise food in a process called aerobic respiration which transfers the energy that the organism needs to perform its functions.
Conversely, anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen to transfer energy. During vigorous exercise the human body is unable to supply the cells with sufficient oxygen and it switches to anaerobic respiration. This process will supply energy but also causes the build-up of lactic acid in muscles which causes fatigue.
Energy changes
Quantitative chemistry
* In this unit students will explore why electric charge is a fundamental property of matter everywhere. Understanding the difference in the microstructure of conductors, semiconductors and insulators makes it possible to design components and build electric circuits. Many circuits are powered with mains electricity, but portable electrical devices must use batteries of some kind. Electrical power fills the modern world with artificial light and sound, information and entertainment, remote sensing and control. The fundamentals of electromagnetism were worked out by scientists of the 19th century. However, power stations, like all machines, have a limited lifetime. If we all continue to demand more electricity this means building new power stations in every generation but what mix of power stations can promise a sustainable future?
*Students will learn that energy changes are an important part of chemical reactions. The interaction of particles often involves transfers of energy due to the breaking and formation of bonds. Reactions in which energy is released to the surroundings are exothermic reactions, while those that take in thermal energy are endothermic. These interactions between particles can produce heating or cooling effects that are used in a range of everyday applications. Some interactions between ions in an electrolyte result in the production of electricity. Cells and batteries use these chemical reactions to provide electricity. Electricity can also be used to decompose ionic substances and is a useful means of producing elements that are too expensive to extract any other way.
* Throughout this unit students will learn that cells in the body can only survive within narrow physical and chemical limits. They require a constant temperature and pH as well as a constant supply of dissolved food and water. In order to do this the body requires control systems that constantly monitor and adjust the composition of the blood and tissues. These control systems include receptors which sense changes and effectors that bring about changes. In this section we will explore the structure and function of the nervous system and how it can bring about fast responses. We will also explore the hormonal system which usually brings about much slower changes. Hormonal coordination is particularly important in reproduction since it controls the menstrual cycle. An understanding of the role of hormones in reproduction has allowed scientists to develop not only contraceptive drugs but also drugs which can increase fertility.
*Students will learn how to use quantitative analysis to determine the formulae of compounds and the equations for reactions. Given this information, students can then use quantitative methods to determine the purity of chemical samples and to monitor the yield from chemical reactions. Chemical reactions can be classified in various ways. Identifying different types of chemical reaction allows chemists to make sense of how different chemicals react together, to establish patterns and to make predictions about the behaviour of other chemicals. Chemical equations provide a means of representing chemical reactions and are a key way for chemists to communicate chemical ideas.
The rate and extent of chemical change
Organic chemistry
*Students will understand that chemical reactions can occur at vastly different rates. Whilst the reactivity of chemicals is a significant factor in how fast chemical reactions proceed, there are many variables that can be manipulated in order to speed them up or slow them down. Chemical reactions may also be reversible and therefore the effect of different variables needs to be established in order to identify how to maximise the yield of desired product. Understanding energy changes that accompany chemical reactions is important for this process. In industry, chemists and chemical engineers determine the effect of different variables on reaction rate and yield of product. Whilst there may be compromises to be made, they carry out optimisation processes to ensure that enough product is produced within a sufficient time, and in an energy-efficient way.
*Students will study how the Sun is a source of energy that passes through ecosystems. Materials including carbon and water are continually recycled by the living world, being released through respiration of animals, plants and decomposing micro-organisms and taken up by plants in photosynthesis. All species live in ecosystems composed of complex communities of animals and plants dependent on each other and that are adapted to particular conditions, both abiotic and biotic. These ecosystems provide essential services that support human life and continued development. In order to continue to benefit from these services humans need to engage with the environment in a sustainable way. In this section students will explore how humans are threatening biodiversity as well as the natural systems that support it. We will also consider some actions we need to take to ensure our future health, prosperity and well-being.
* Students will learn that the chemistry of carbon compounds is so important that it forms a separate branch of chemistry. A great variety of carbon compounds is possible because carbon atoms can form chains and rings linked by C-C bonds. This branch of chemistry gets its name from the fact that the main sources of organic compounds are living, or once-living materials from plants and animals. These sources include fossil fuels which are a major source of feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Chemists are able to take organic molecules and modify them in many ways to make new and useful materials such as polymers, pharmaceuticals, perfumes and flavourings, dyes and detergents.
*Students will understand why engineers analyse forces when designing a great variety of machines and instruments, from road bridges and fairground rides to atomic force microscopes. Anything mechanical can be analysed in this way. Recent developments in artificial limbs use the analysis of forces to make movement


Chemical analysis
Inheritance & selection
Chemistry of the atmosphere
*Students will learn how analysts have developed a range of qualitative tests to detect specific chemicals. The tests are based on reactions that produce a gas with distinctive properties, or a colour change or an insoluble solid that appears as a precipitate. They will understand how instrumental methods provide fast, sensitive and accurate means of analysing chemicals, and are particularly useful when the amount of chemical being analysed is small. Forensic scientists and drug control scientists rely on such instrumental methods in their work.
* Students will understand how wave behaviour is common in both natural and man-made systems. Waves carry energy from one place to another and can also carry information. Designing comfortable and safe structures such as bridges, houses and music performance halls requires an understanding of mechanical waves. Modern technologies such as imaging and communication systems show how we can make the most of electromagnetic waves
* In this unit students will discover how the number of chromosomes are halved during meiosis and then combined with new genes from the sexual partner to produce unique offspring. Gene mutations occur continuously and on rare occasions can affect the functioning of the animal or plant. These mutations may be damaging and lead to a number of genetic disorders or death. Very rarely a new mutation can be beneficial and consequently, lead to increased fitness in the individual. Variation generated by mutations and sexual reproduction is the basis for natural selection; this is how species evolve. An understanding of these processes has allowed scientists to intervene through selective breeding to produce livestock with favoured characteristics. Once new varieties of plants or animals have been produced it is possible to clone individuals to produce larger numbers of identical individuals all carrying the favourable characteristic. Scientists have now discovered how to take genes from one species and introduce them in to the genome of another by a process called genetic engineering. In spite of the huge potential benefits that this technology can offer, genetic modification still remains highly controversial.
*Students will understand that the Earth’s atmosphere is dynamic and forever changing. The causes of these changes are sometimes man-made and sometimes part of many natural cycles. Scientists use very complex software to predict weather and climate change as there are many variables that can influence this. The problems caused by increased levels of air pollutants require scientists and engineers to develop solutions that help to reduce the impact of human activity.
Magnetism & electromagnetism
Using resources
*Students will learn how electromagnetic effects are used in a wide variety of devices. Engineers make use of the fact that a magnet moving in a coil can produce electric current and also that when current flows around a magnet it can produce movement. It means that systems that involve control or communications can take full advantage of this.* Students will understand how industries use the Earth’s natural resources to manufacture useful products. In order to operate sustainably, chemists seek to minimise the use of limited resources, use of energy, waste and environmental impact in the manufacture of these products. Chemists also aim to develop ways of disposing of products at the end of their useful life in ways that ensure that materials and stored energy are utilised. Pollution, disposal of waste products and changing land use has a significant effect on the environment, and environmental chemists study how human activity has affected the Earth’s natural cycles, and how damaging effects can be minimised.
Course complete


CERN trip to Geneva
STEM club
Science club
Eco club
Revision sessions available weekly at lunchtimes and after school


Students are required to gain a grade 6 or above to study biology, chemistry or physics at AS/A2 level. There are many BTEC course available that require a grade 9-5.


Support your child with homework. Ask them questions about what they are learning about in science & how it applies to the real World around them. Watch documentaries with them and talk about how the World is changing and the impact that humans are having on the world.


Museum of Science & Industry
Natural History Museum
Knowsley Safari Park
Chester zoo
Blackpool zoo
Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
The Sealife Centre
Blue planet Aquarium


Gadget Show on Discovery Science
Brain Games on National Geographic
Nat Geo Extreme Wild on National Geographic
Modern Marvels on History
Prehistoric on Animal Planet
Ancient Aliens on History
Superhumans on History
Megascience on Discovery Science
Science of stupid on National Geographic
Magic of science on Discovery Science


Horrible Sciences
Catalyst Magazine
Bad Science Series
KS3 CGP Revision Guides
BBC Operation Ouch
500 Things You Should Know about Science
Richard Hammond Blast Lab
Focus Magazine

BBC Bitesize
GCSE pod


Applied Science

• Aeronautical engineer
• Biomedical engineer
• Civil engineer
• Chemical engineer
• Educational technologist
• Electrical engineer
• Engineering technician
• Engineering technologist
• Petrochemical engineer
• Mechanical engineer

General science

• Forensic scientist
• Government scientist
• Healthcare science
• Inventor
• Psychologist
• Research fellow
• School science technician
• Scientist

Life science

• Biologist
• Biomedical scientist
• Botanist
• Herpetologist
• Medical laboratory scientist
• Microbiologist
• Neuroscientist
• Clinical pharmaceutical scientist
• Zoologist

Natural science

• Archaeologist
• Astronaut
• Astronomer
• Biochemist
• Chemist
• Ecologist
• Geographer
• Naturalist
• Oceanographer
• Palaeontologist
• Pathologist

Jun 28
Y7 are having a wonderful time on the London STEM trip 🚀🛸
Jun 13
Trip letter for Miss Baines' Y10 class. Deadline is 3rd July 🚀🛰🛸
Apr 07
Here are some fantastic heart models made by Y9.3 👏❤ #creative #homework #heart
Apr 01
Y9 have been learning all about the components of blood and have used bioviewers to look at samples 🔬👨‍🔬
Mar 16
Y7.3B have had a great time making parachutes during yesterday's lesson. Amazing work guys 👏 #scienceweek