CIE A Level Biology (9700) exams from 2022

Revision Notes

14.1.3 Kidney Structure

Structure of the Human Kidney

  • Humans have two kidneys
  • The kidneys are responsible for carrying out two very important functions:
    • As an osmoregulatory organ they regulate the water content of the blood (vital for maintaining blood pressure)
    • As an excretory organ they excrete the toxic waste products of metabolism (such as urea) and substances in excess of requirements (such as salts)


The position of the kidneys and their associated structures

The function of the kidneys & their associated structures table

The function of the kidneys and their associated structures, downloadable AS & A Level Biology revision notes

  • The kidney itself is surrounded by a fairly tough outer layer known as the fibrous capsule
  • Beneath the fibrous capsule, the kidney has three main areas:
    • The cortex (contains the glomerulus, as well as the Bowman’s capsule, proximal convoluted tubule, and distal convoluted tubule of the nephrons)
    • The medulla (contains the loop of Henle and collecting duct of the nephrons)
    • The renal pelvis (where the ureter joins the kidney)

Exam Tip

Make sure you can identify all the structures mentioned on this page if you are presented with a diagram of the kidney and its associated structures, or a diagram with a vertical cross-section of the kidney itself.


Alistair graduated from Oxford University in 2014 with a degree in Biological Sciences. He has taught GCSE/IGCSE Biology, as well as Biology and Environmental Systems & Societies for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. While teaching in Oxford, Alistair completed his MA Education as Head of Department for Environmental Systems and Societies.

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