Subject Titles: 

Combined Science

Separate Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)

What will I study?

We study the 2016 specifications by Edexcel. From September 2016, there are 4 GCSE qualifications in science that students can take:


Separate Science (3 GCSEs) Combined Science (2 GCSEs)
GCSE (9-1) Biology
GCSE (9–1) Chemistry GCSE (9-1) Combined Science
GCSE (9–1) Physics

There will no longer be a single GCSE Science qualification.

All students whether studying Combined or Separate Science will:

  • 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 problemsolving skills 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

Biology topics:

Topic 1 – Key concepts in biology

Topic 2 – Cells and control

Topic 3 – Genetics

Topic 4 – Natural selection and genetic modification

Topic 5 – Health, disease and the development of medicines

Topic 6 – Plant structures and their functions

Topic 7 – Animal coordination, control and homeostasis

Topic 8 – Exchange and transport in animals

Topic 9 – Ecosystems and material cycles

Within each topic there are additional sub-topic areas only for separate science students (S)

Biology Core Practical work:

  • Investigate biological specimens using microscopes, including magnification calculations and labelled scientific drawings from observations
  • Investigate the effect of pH on enzyme activity
  • Investigate the use of chemical reagents to identify starch, reducing sugars, proteins and fats (S)
  • Investigate osmosis in potatoes
  • Investigate the effects of antiseptics, antibiotics or plant extracts on microbial cultures (S)
  • Investigate the effect of light intensity on the rate of photosynthesis
  • Investigate the rate of respiration in living organisms
  • Investigate the relationship between organisms and their environment using fieldwork techniques, including quadrats and belt transects

Chemistry topics:

Topic 1 – Key concepts in chemistry

Topic 2 – States of matter and mixtures

Topic 3 – Chemical changes

Topic 4 – Extracting metals and equilibria

Topic 5 – Separate chemistry 1 (S)

Topic 6 – Groups in the periodic table

Topic 7 – Rates of reaction and energy changes

Topic 8 – Fuels and Earth science

Topic 9 – Separate chemistry 2 (S)

Topics 5 and 9 are for students studying separate science only (S)

Chemistry Core Practical work:

  • Investigate the composition of inks using simple distillation and paper chromatography
  • Investigate the change in pH on adding powdered calcium hydroxide or calcium oxide to a fixed volume of dilute hydrochloric acid
  • Investigate the preparation of pure, dry hydrated copper sulfate crystals starting from copper oxide including the use of a water bath
  • Investigate the electrolysis of copper sulfate solution with inert electrodes and copper electrodes
  • Carry out an accurate acid-alkali titration, using burette, pipette and a suitable indicator
  • Investigate the effects of changing the conditions of a reaction on the rates of chemical reactions.
  • Identify the ions in unknown salts, using the tests for the specified cations and anions
  • Investigate the temperature rise produced in a known mass of water by the combustion of the alcohols ethanol, propanol, butanol and pentanol (S)

Physics topics:

Topic 1 – Key concepts of physics

Topic 2 – Motion and forces

Topic 3 – Conservation of energy

Topic 4 – Waves

Topic 5 – Light and the electromagnetic spectrum

Topic 6 – Radioactivity

Topic 7 – Astronomy (S)

Topic 8 – Energy – Forces doing work

Topic 9 – Forces and their effects

Topic 10 – Electricity and circuits

Topic 11 – Static electricity (S)

Topic 12 – Magnetism and the motor effect

Topic 13 – Electromagnetic induction

Topic 14 – Particle model

Topic 15 – Forces and matter

Within each topic there are additional sub-topic areas only for separate science students (S)

Physics Core Practical work

  • Investigate the relationship between force, mass and acceleration by varying the masses added to trolleys
  • Investigate the suitability of equipment to measure the speed, frequency and wavelength of a wave in a solid and a fluid
  • Investigate refraction in rectangular glass blocks in terms of the interaction of electromagnetic waves with matter Investigate how the nature of a surface affects the amount of thermal energy radiated or absorbed (S)
  • Construct electrical circuits to: investigate the relationship between potential difference, current and resistance for a resistor and a filament lamp and to test series and parallel circuits using resistors and filament lamps
  • Investigate the densities of solid and liquids
  • Investigate the properties of water by determining the specific heat capacity of water and obtaining a temperature-time graph for melting ice
  • Investigate the extension and work done when applying forces to a spring

How will I be assessed?

Combined Science

There are 6 exam papers at the end of year 11, 2 papers for biology, chemistry and physics, each 1 hour 10mins long and worth 16.7% of the final Combined Science grade.

Separate Science

There are 6 exam papers at the end of year 11, 2 papers for biology, chemistry and physics, each 1 hour 45mins long and worth 50% of the final grade of each separate GCSE, biology, chemistry and physics.


There will be a new 9–1 grading system, replacing A*–G. Foundation tier will cover grades 1– 5. Higher tier will cover grades 4-9.

There are no controlled assessments in the new qualifications, students will complete core practicals and be questioned on these as part of their written exams.

Questions assessing students’ use of mathematical skills will make up 15% of the assessments. There will also be some recall of equations required in physics.