AS Science in Society: course outline and link to resources

AS Science in Society (AQA)

Why study AS Science in Society?

Science in Society is a distinctive post-16 course. Its main intention is to develop the knowledge and skills that you need in order to grapple with issues related to the science and technology that you meet now and will meet in your adult and working life. The course was developed jointly by AQA, the Nuffield Curriculum Centre and the University of York Science Education Group:

  • It helps to broaden the curriculum for arts and humanities students.
  • It allows science students to reflect on their studies in a wider context.
  • It develops students’ scientific literacy and critical thinking skills when reading, writing and talking about science.
  • It reflects current developments in higher education and provides a sound basis for progression to courses in ‘science communication’, ‘science and the media’ and ‘philosophy of science’. The problem-based learning and consideration of relevant issues also makes this a good additional qualification for students seeking entry to medical and similar professional courses.

Unit 1 SCIS1 Exploring key scientific issues (60% of AS)

2 hours written paper: 90 marks (120 UMS) June only.

A number of compulsory structured questions, including comprehension, data analysis and data response questions. Some of these questions will require longer answers in continuous prose.

Unit 2 SCIS2 Reading and writing about science (40% of AS)

Internal assessment: 60 marks (80 UMS) June only.

Two pieces of writing: a critical account of scientific readings and a study of a topical scientific issue.

AS Contexts

(Unit 1) AS Exploring key scientific issues

  • The germ theory of disease
  • Infectious diseases now
  • Transport issues
  • Medicines
  • Ethical issues in medicine
  • Reproductive choices
  • Radiation: risks and uses
  • Lifestyle and health
  • Evolution
  • The Universe
  • Who we are and where we are: Are we alone?

AS Reading and research

(Unit 2) Reading and writing about science

  • Critical account of scientific reading
  • Study of a topical scientific issue

AS How Science Works

(Units 1 and 2)

  • The methods of science
  • Data and their limitations
  • Establishing causal links
  • Developing and testing scientific explanations
  • Science as a human activity
  • The scientific community
  • Science and society
  • Relationships between science and society
  • Assessing impacts of science and technology: risk and risk assessment
  • Making decisions about science and technology

AS Science explanations (Unit 1)

  • The germ theory of disease
  • Cells as the basic units of living things
  • The gene model of inheritance
  • Radiation and radioactivity
  • Chemical substances and chemical reactions
  • Energy: its transfer, conservation and dissipation
  • The theory of evolution by natural selection
  • The interdependence of species
  • The scale, origin and future of the universe


Main resources:

Resources are available via my blog here: and filed in the category Science in Society.

The specification is available here:

There are also many excellent resources designed for the course on the Nuffield Foundation website here:

You will also find it helpful to read science magazines regularly such as:

New Scientist: and

Scientific American:

Quality newspapers

These will give you more depth and background to news stories:


The BBC has a massive range of output, TV, radio and web-based.

An up-to-date listing of TV programmes on science and nature themes:

BBC Radio 4 is an excellent spoken word channel and many programmes are available to listen again. Here is an up-to-date listing of recent radio programmes:


About Eddie Playfair

I am a Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC) having previously been a college principal for 16 years and a teacher before that. I live in East London and I blog in a personal capacity about education and culture. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
This entry was posted in Learning resources, Science in Society and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s