A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

B1 You and your genes Module summary

How humans and other organisms pass on information from one generation to the next, and some of the issues about genetics involved in this.

This is about the 2006 course. The 2011 modules are mostly similar. See the OCR 2011 specification.

This module summary and the downloadable module map, are taken from the GCSE Science Teacher and Technician Guide published by OUP. We are grateful to OUP for permission to publish these resources on this website.
>> Download Module Map B1 You and your genes (78 KB)

Why you and your genes?

That organisms can pass on detailed information from one generation to the next is a fundamental story in science. For each of us, inheritance also raises questions about our own development.

The story of inheritance (Science explanation)

In this module students learn basic concepts of inheritance: genes as units of inheritance, the interplay between genes and environment, and sexual reproduction as a source of variation. The module provides sufficient introduction to genetics for students to make sense of related ideas in GCSE Science. More complex ideas, such as the structure of DNA, mechanisms for protein synthesis, and cell division, are not required, and are covered in GCSE Additional Science modules. Family contexts are used throughout to engage students. Science Explanations are introduced, as they are needed by students to make sense of the issues each family is facing.

Variation (Science explanation)

Early lessons recap KS3 ideas of variation and introduce basic genetic concepts – chromosome and gene pairs, gender determination, alleles, and predicting inheritance patterns through genetic crosses. Studying single-gene characteristics is useful since it provides a simple context for students. However, it can give the incorrect impression that the majority of characteristics are determined in this way. The module’s early lessons try to emphasize the interplay between environmental factors and a number of genes in determining the vast majority of characteristics.

Ethical issues for individuals and society (Idea about Science)

The remaining lessons look at some new genetic technologies. Clearly these open up new possibilities for individuals and society. In doing so, they present significant ethical issues for citizens. Students explore some of the ideas people use to make ethical decisions with a simple framework (see Activity AB1.15 ‘Ethics’ in the OUP pack, which can be used when considering any ethical issue in GCSE Science).

Making decisions about science and technology (Idea about Science)

Since several ethical issues are covered in this module, they are not all looked at in the same amount of detail. The Ideas about Science developed when studying genetic testing of fetuses and embryos are applied to other contexts with less lesson time. If you prefer to focus on a different issue, perhaps to take advantage of current news reports, the lessons could be reordered to allow this.

Skills assessment

This module is an excellent opportunity for students to complete a Case Study skills assessment activity. This enables students to engage with issues that regularly appear in the media, such as genetic testing, gene therapy, and cloning research.

Health and safety

Issues covered in this module may be very sensitive for students. It is essential to know whether any student, close family member or friend are affected by a serious genetic disorder before beginning the module. Ask the class if anyone has heard of Huntington’s disorder or cystic fibrosis. Follow this up with individuals as necessary. Some students in this situation may be very comfortable discussing genetic disorders with their peers. Alternatively it may be necessary to omit some of the stimulus materials from the module, for example some of the video clips, which focus in depth on a particular genetic disorder.


See our guide to the OCR website for the GCSE Science specification to which this module relates.

Module B1 is on pages 9-12: this gives you the Science Explanations and the relevant Ideas about Science.

Read more about Ideas about Science in Appendix F pages 85-91. For this module you want Idea about Science 6 'Making decisions about science and technology'. You will find it especially useful to read the overview on page 85.