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

B3 Life on Earth Module summary

Evolution and biodiversity: our relationship with other life on Earth

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 B3 Life on Earth (74 KB).

Why life on Earth?

Our place on Earth and in the Universe is a fundamental question for human beings. Our impact on Earth in the relatively short time human beings have inhabited the planet has been enormous, and may threaten the sustainability of life on Earth for future generations.

How did life begin and evolve on Earth? (Science explanation)

In this module students are presented with some different explanations for the origin of life on Earth, and its evolution, including Darwin’s explanation of natural selection. These contexts illustrate how explanations arise and may, or may not, become accepted.

Human evolution (Science explanation)

The evolution of multi-cellular organisms led to complex body communication systems, illustrated by a comparison of nervous and hormonal systems.

Biodiversity (Science explanation)

Living organisms are dependent on their environment and each other for survival. Biodiversity is recognized as an important natural resource, which is increasingly threatened by human activity. Students learn about the cause of species extinction and consider whether extinctions should be a global concern.

Developing explanations (Idea about Science)

Scientific accounts of the origin of life on Earth, and human evolution, illustrate how scientists develop explanations based on evidence. The importance of imagination and creative thought in this process is highlighted through the story of Charles Darwin. The developing explanation of human evolution highlights how new evidence may have implications for current scientific conclusions.

The scientific community (Idea about Science)

The scientific community is large, dynamic, and diverse. Several contexts in this module show examples of why scientists may disagree with an explanation or be reluctant to discard an explanation even when new data appears to contradict it.

Skills assessment

New evidence for the process of human evolution, the possibility of life on another planet in the Solar System, and where life originated on Earth are regularly being reported. This module offers several opportunities for students to complete a Case Study.

Health and safety

The topic of evolution can be very sensitive for some students.

Advance preparation

Fieldwork will need to be planned before the module, and may require some small pieces of equipment to be purchased in advance.


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

Module B3 is on pages 35-9: 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 3 ‘Developing explanations’ and 4 ‘The scientific community’. You will find it especially useful to read the overview on page 85.