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IGCSE Biology

Online distance learning course with study materials, tutor support and guaranteed exam place included.

The National Extension College


£495 VAT exempt
Payment options

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over... Read more

Study method
Online, self-paced
150 Hours
Access to content
18 Months
GCSE Biology
Professional What's this?
Additional info
  • Exam(s) / assessment(s) not included in price & must be purchased separately
  • Tutor is available to students
  • TOTUM card is available to purchase separately What's this?

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Curious about our natural world? Study IGCSE Biology online and start to unravel some of nature’s most fascinating secrets.

From the tiniest microscopic cell to vast, complex ecosystems – studying biology enables you to explore and understand life on Earth, in all its forms.

By exploring our natural world, you’ll begin to consider some of the big challenges we face. From preventing and curing disease to sustaining a healthy planet for future generations, biologists have a crucial role to play!

Supported by an expert personal tutor, you’ll explore topics using our online resources and through practical experiments you can do at home. As you progress, key connections that exist in our natural world will be revealed and you’ll consider the impact biology has on our everyday lives.


GCSE Biology
Awarded by Pearson


Why study Biology?

What is DNA? How do plants reproduce? How does the human heart work? How are humans impacting biodiversity? Through our IGCSE Biology online course you’ll build knowledge of key biological concepts and put theory into practice using 11 core practicals which are suitable for home study.

Studying IGCSE Biology online opens up exciting future choices. Perhaps you’ll continue to study this fascinating subject at A level and beyond – gaining the qualifications you need to secure your dream career?

Course content

Section 1: The nature and variety of living things

  • Characteristics of living things
  • Animals and plants
  • Fungi and protoctists
  • Bacteria and viruses

Section 2: Structure in living organisms

  • From cells to systems
  • Cell structure
  • Biological molecules
  • Enzymes
  • Movement of substances

Section 3: Nutrition, respiration and gas exchange

  • Plant nutrition and growth
  • Food and diet
  • The digestive system and digestion
  • Respiration
  • Gas exchange

Section 4: Transport in living things

  • The need for transport systems
  • Moving food and water in plants
  • Blood and immunity
  • The heart and circulation

Section 5: Excretion

  • Excretion in plants
  • The organs of excretion in animals
  • The urinary system

Section 6: Coordination and response

  • Responding to the environment
  • Response to stimuli in plants
  • The nervous system
  • Homeostasis and temperature regulation
  • Hormones

Section 7: Reproduction

  • Reproduction in plants
  • Reproduction in humans
  • Roles of hormones in reproduction and development

Section 8: Inheritance

  • Chromosomes and DNA
  • Protein synthesis
  • Genetic variation and evolution
  • Monohybrid inheritance
  • Mitosis and meiosis

Section 9: Ecology and the environment

  • Organisms in the environment
  • Feeding relationships
  • Cycles within ecosystems
  • Human influence on the environment

Section 10: Using biological resources

  • Crop plants
  • Micro-organisms in food production
  • Fish farming
  • Selective breeding
  • Genetic modification and cloning

Your tutor

You’ll have access to support from a personal tutor. All NEC tutors are subject experts, with experience of supporting online learners.

Meet Donal who is just one of our first-class biology tutors:

“My lifelong fascination with biology has led to a varied and interesting career. I worked at the Natural History Museum on insect taxonomy and the Commonwealth Institute for Biological Control where I studied the control of insect and plant pests using natural enemies. I also worked in government fisheries laboratories in England and Ireland and for ADAS on insects in field margins. In addition to teaching for the NEC I am an associate lecturer at the Open University, mainly in ecology and evolution. Previously, I was a teaching fellow for the OU developing new courses, and subsequently a staff tutor in Cambridge and Birmingham.”

What you need to know

Exam board

  • Edexcel 4BI1


  • Online learning with support from a personal tutor


  • Complete at your own pace
  • Approx. 120-150* hours plus time for completing assignments

*The specification suggests that 150 hours is needed. You’ll also need time to complete assignments and prepare yourself for exams and some courses like English literature involve a lot of reading. Everyone is different so it’s impossible to say with certainty how long a course will take you, but you should expect to spend longer than 150 hours. Taken across the length of time we recommend, this equates to approximately 4 hours per week. This will increase if you choose to take it over a shorter time frame or may be less if you are retaking a subject and have covered a lot of of the course content.


  • 11 assignments (one introductory) – these do not contribute towards your final grade
  • 14 core practicals


  • No additional set texts required


  • Internet access
  • Computer operating system and browser to support learn@nec

What's included?

Our course fees are open and honest to help you plan for any additional costs.

Your course fee includes:

  • Access to learn@nec
  • All the course materials you need to complete the course
  • Support from a personal tutor for up to 18 months from your date of enrolment
  • Assignment marking
  • Guaranteed exam place
  • NEC’s guide to study skills: How to Succeed as an Independent Learner
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar guide
  • Time planner to help you plan your study timetable
  • Information on how to apply for exams

Your course fee does not cover:

  • Exam entry fees
  • Equipment for core practicals

Optional extras:

  • Additional past paper marking
  • Revision tutorial
  • Optional tutorial
  • Additional review

Exams and assessment

Exams (two):

  • 61% of marks (2 hours)
  • 39% of marks (1 hour 15 minutes)

There is no non-exam assessment (NEA) for this course.

Additional support if you're under 18

We know that our younger students often need an extra helping hand with their studies. In our experience, learning online works best when the parents are involved, so when you enrol your child with NEC, you’ll have a unique set of services to help you to support your child.

This includes:

  • Your own log in to learn@nec to access the course so you can view the course materials and other information for yourself.
  • Access to your child’s gradebook to help you to monitor progress and provide appropriate and timely intervention and support
  • You’ll receive emails and forum posts so that you have all the examination and assessment updates/information provided by the NEC team
  • Dedicated Parent Portal Pages and targeted blogs with updates/information/help and advice on many aspects of home education.
  • Access to the Kudos career platform for young learners to explore career choices.

Who is this course for?

Our Biology IGCSE course is ideal if you:

  • Are keen to learn more about how plants, animals and bacteria function.
  • Appreciate nature and want to learn more about life on planet Earth.
  • Enjoy working scientifically: making predictions, testing theories and evaluating and communicating your findings.
  • Would like to build your observational, investigative and problem-solving skills, to improve your employability.
  • Have career aspirations in health, STEM or conservation related fields.


  • No formal qualifications are required for this course
  • An ability to read and write in English

Career path

  • Studying biology or STEM subjects at A level or university.
  • A range of rewarding careers in fields such as medicine, physiotherapy, nursing, veterinary science, zoology, microbiology, marine biology, pharmacology, forensic science, ecology, conservation and education.

Questions and answers

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