Science programmesof study: key stage 4National curriculum in EnglandDecember

Science – key stage 4ContentsIntroduction3Working scientifically5Subject content – Biology7Subject content – Chemistry11Subject content – Physics142

Science – key stage 4IntroductionTeaching in the sciences in key stage 4 continues with the process of building upon anddeepening scientific knowledge and the understanding of ideas developed in earlier keystages in the subject disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.For some students, studying the sciences in key stage 4 provides the platform for moreadvanced studies, establishing the basis for a wide range of careers. For others, it will betheir last formal study of subjects that provide the foundations for understanding thenatural world and will enhance their lives in an increasingly technological society.Science is changing our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all studentsshould be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses ofscience. They should be helped to appreciate the achievements of science in showinghow the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in termsof a number of key ideas relating to the sciences which are inter-linked, and which are ofuniversal application. These key ideas include: the use of conceptual models and theories to make sense of the observeddiversity of natural phenomena the assumption that every effect has one or more cause that change is driven by interactions between different objects and systems that many such interactions occur over a distance and over time that science progresses through a cycle of hypothesis, practicalexperimentation, observation, theory development and review that quantitative analysis is a central element both of many theories and ofscientific methods of inquiry.The sciences should be taught in ways that ensure students have the knowledge toenable them to develop curiosity about the natural world, insight into workingscientifically, and appreciation of the relevance of science to their everyday lives, so thatstudents: develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through thespecific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics; develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science,through different types of scientific enquiry that help them to answer scientificquestions about the world around them; develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry,problem-solving skills and mathematical skills, both in the laboratory, in thefield and in other environments;3

Science – key stage 4 develop their ability to evaluate claims based on science through criticalanalysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively andquantitatively.Curricula at key stage 4 should comprise approximately equal proportions of biology,chemistry and physics. The relevant mathematical skills required are covered in theprogramme of study for mathematics and should be embedded in the science context.‘Working scientifically’ is described separately at the beginning of the programme ofstudy, but must always be taught through and clearly related to substantive sciencecontent in the programme of study. Teachers should feel free to choose examples thatserve a variety of purposes, from showing how scientific ideas have developedhistorically to reflecting modern developments in science and informing students of therole of science in understanding the causes of and solutions to some of the challengesfacing society.The scope and nature of their study should be broad, coherent, practical and rigorous, sothat students are inspired and challenged by the subject and its achievements.4

Science – key stage 4Working scientificallyThrough the content across all three disciplines, students should be taught so that theydevelop understanding and first-hand experience of:1. The development of scientific thinking the ways in which scientific methods and theories develop over time using a variety of concepts and models to develop scientific explanations andunderstanding appreciating the power and limitations of science and considering ethicalissues which may arise explaining everyday and technological applications of science; evaluatingassociated personal, social, economic and environmental implications; andmaking decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments evaluating risks both in practical science and the wider societal context,including perception of risk recognising the importance of peer review of results and of communication ofresults to a range of audiences.2. Experimental skills and strategies using scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses planning experiments to make observations, test hypotheses or explorephenomena applying a knowledge of a range of techniques, apparatus, and materials toselect those appropriate both for fieldwork and for experiments carrying out experiments appropriately, having due regard to the correctmanipulation of apparatus, the accuracy of measurements and health andsafety considerations recognising when to apply a knowledge of sampling techniques to ensure anysamples collected are representative making and recording observations and measurements using a range ofapparatus and methods evaluating methods and suggesting possible improvements and furtherinvestigations.5

Science – key stage 43. Analysis and evaluation applying the cycle of collecting, presenting and analysing data, including: presenting observations and other data using appropriate methods translating data from one form to another carrying out and representing mathematical and statistical analysis representing distributions of results and making estimations ofuncertainty interpreting observations and other data, including identifying patternsand trends, making inferences and drawing conclusions presenting reasoned explanations, including relating data to hypotheses being objective, evaluating data in terms of accuracy, precision,repeatability and reproducibility and identifying potential sources ofrandom and systematic errorcommunicating the scientific rationale for investigations, including the methodsused, the findings and reasoned conclusions, using paper-based andelectronic reports and presentations.4. Vocabulary, units, symbols and nomenclature developing their use of scientific vocabulary and nomenclature recognising the importance of scientific quantities and understanding how theyare determined using SI units and IUPAC chemical nomenclature unless inappropriate using prefixes and powers of ten for orders of magnitude (e.g. tera, giga,mega, kilo, centi, milli, micro and nano) interconverting units using an appropriate number of significant figures in calculations.6

Science – key stage 4Subject content – BiologyBiology is the science of living organisms (including animals, plants, fungi andmicroorganisms) and their interactions with each other and the environment. The study ofbiology involves collecting and interpreting information about the natural world to identifypatterns and relate possible cause and effect. Biology is used to help humans improvetheir own lives and to understand the world around them.Students should be helped to understand how, through the ideas of biology, the complexand diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a number ofkey ideas which are of universal application, and which can be illustrated in the separatetopics set out below. These ideas include: life processes depend on molecules whose structure is related to their function the fundamental units of living organisms are cells, which may be part of highlyadapted structures including tissues, organs and organ systems, enabling lifeprocesses to be performed more effectively living organisms may form populations of single species, communities of manyspecies and ecosystems, interacting with each other, with the environment andwith humans in many different ways living organisms are interdependent and show adaptations to their environment life on Earth is dependent on photosynthesis in which green plants and algaetrap light from the Sun to fix carbon dioxide and combine it with hydrogen fromwater to make organic compounds and oxygen organic compounds are used as fuels in cellular respiration to allow the otherchemical reactions necessary for life the chemicals in ecosystems are continually cycling through the natural world the characteristics of a living organism are influenced by its genome and itsinteraction with the environment evolution occurs by the process of natural selection and accounts both forbiodiversity and how organisms are all related to varying degrees.Students should be taught about:Cell biology cells as the basic structural unit of all organisms; adaptations of cells related totheir functions; the main sub-cellular structures of eukaryotic and prokaryoticcells stem cells in animals and meristems in plants7

Science – key stage 4 enzymes factors affecting the rate of enzymatic reactions the importance of cellular respiration; the processes of aerobic and anaerobicrespiration carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids as key biological molecules.Transport systems the need for transport systems in multicellular organisms, including plants the relationship between the structure and functions of the human circulatorysystem.Health, disease and the development of medicines the relationship between health and disease communicable diseases including sexually transmitted infections in humans(including HIV/AIDs) non-communicable diseases bacteria, viruses and fungi as pathogens in animals and plants body defences against pathogens and the role of the immune system againstdisease reducing and preventing the spread of infectious diseases in animals andplants the process of discovery and development of new medicines the impact of lifestyle factors on the incidence of non-communicable diseases.Coordination and control principles of nervous coordination and control in humans the relationship between the structure and function of the human nervoussystem the relationship between structure and function in a reflex arc principles of hormonal coordination and control in humans hormones in human reproduction, hormonal and non-hormonal methods ofcontraception8

Science – key stage 4 homeostasis.Photosynthesis photosynthesis as the key process for food production and therefore biomassfor life the process of photosynthesis factors affecting the rate of photosynthesis.Ecosystems levels of organisation within an ecosystem some abiotic and biotic factors which affect communities; the importance ofinteractions between organisms in a community how materials cycle through abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems the role of microorganisms (decomposers) in the cycling of materials throughan ecosystem organisms are interdependent and are adapted to their environment the importance of biodiversity methods of identifying species and measuring distribution, frequency andabundance of species within a habitat positive and negative human interactions with ecosystems.Evolution, inheritance and variation the genome as the entire genetic material of an organism how the genome, and its interaction with the environment, influence thedevelopment of the phenotype of an organism the potential impact of genomics on medicine most phenotypic features being the result of multiple, rather than single, genes single gene inheritance and single gene crosses with dominant and recessivephenotypes sex determination in humans genetic variation in populations of a species the process of natural selection leading to evolution9

Science – key stage 4 the evidence for evolution developments in biology affecting classification the importance of selective breeding of plants and animals in agriculture the uses of modern biotechnology including gene technology; some of thepractical and ethical considerations of modern biotechnology.10

Science – key stage 4Subject content – ChemistryChemistry is the science of the composition, structure, properties and reactions of matter,understood in terms of atoms, atomic particles and the way they are arranged and linktogether. It is concerned with the synthesis, formulation, analysis and characteristicproperties of substances and materials of all kinds.Students should be helped to appreciate the achievements of chemistry in showing howthe complex and diverse phenomena of both the natural and man-made worlds can bedescribed in terms of a number of key ideas which are of universal application, and whichcan be illustrated in the separate topics set out below. These ideas include: matter is composed of tiny particles called atoms and there are about 100different naturally-occurring types of atoms called elements elements show periodic relationships in their chemical and physical properties these periodic properties can be explained in terms of the atomic structure ofthe elements atoms bond either by transferring electrons from one atom to another or bysharing electrons the shapes of molecules (groups of atoms bonded together) and the way giantstructures are arranged is of great importance in terms of the way they behave reactions can occur when molecules collide and do so at different rates due todifferences in molecular collisions chemical reactions take place in only three different ways: proton transfer electron transfer electron sharingenergy is conserved in chemical reactions so can therefore be neither creatednor destroyed.Students should be taught about:Atomic structure and the Periodic Table a simple model of the atom consisting of the nucleus and electrons, relativeatomic mass, electronic charge and isotopes the number of particles in a given mass of a substance11

Science – key stage 4 the modern Periodic Table, showing elements arranged in order of atomicnumber