Biology

Biology is the study of living organisms which includes their structure, functioning, origin and evolution, classification, interrelationships and distribution. The Biology Department aims to stimulate and excite pupils’ curiosity about and interest in the living world around them.

SPECIFIC AIMS OF THE DEPARTMENT

The Biology Department aims to:

  • develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of biological concepts;
  • develop in pupils the skills needed for the use of biological concepts in new and changing situations in a range of domestic, industrial and environmental contexts;
  • ensure that pupils are aware of advances in scientific and technological development, including those related to the environment, personal health and quality of life;
  • provide pupils with opportunities to develop and apply their knowledge and understanding of the nature of science and of the scientific process;
  • develop pupils’ understanding of the relationships between hypotheses, evidence, theories and explanations;
  • develop pupils’ awareness of risk and the ability to assess potential risk in the context of potential benefits;
  • enable pupils to develop and apply their observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem-solving skills and understanding in laboratory, field and other learning environments;
  • develop pupils’ ability to evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively;
  • develop pupils’ skills in communication, mathematics and the use of technology in scientific contexts; and
  • develop and sustain pupils’ enjoyment of and interest in Biology.

OVERVIEW OF KEY STAGE 3 CURRICULUM

At Key Stage 3, Biology is taught as part of a general Science programme. Please refer to the Science Subject Area section of this website for Key Stage 3 information.

OVERVIEW OF KEY STAGE 4 CURRICULUM

At Key Stage 4, the Biology Department offers Double Award Biology at GCSE Level. Pupils follow the CCEA specification. Biology is delivered over five lessons per fortnight in Year 11 and four lessons per fortnight in Year 12.

Unit 1: Living Processes and Biodiversity (11%)

In this unit, pupils study:

  • A Local Habitat
  • Ecological Relationships and Energy Flow
  • Human Activity and its Effects on the Environment
  • Photosynthesis
  • Human Nutrition and Health
  • Enzymes and Digestion
  • Respiration

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Pupils will have 1 hour to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 11. Pupils’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 2: Body Systems, Genetics, Microorganisms and Health (14%)

In this unit, pupils study:

  • Osmosis and Plant Transport
  • The Circulatory System
  • Microorganisms, Defence Against Disease, Medicines and Drugs
  • Chromosomes, Genes and DNA
  • Cell Division and Genetics

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Pupils will have 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 12. Pupils’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 3: Practical Skills Unit – Controlled Assessment (25%)

The scheme for Controlled Assessment is based on the Programme of Study for experimental and investigative Science at Key Stage 4.

In this unit, pupils are required to complete two Controlled Assessment tasks from two different Science subject areas.

Each Controlled Assessment task is made up of three parts:

  • Part A: Planning and Risk Assessment (Medium Control)
  • Part B: Data Collection (Limited Control)
  • Part C: Processing, Analysis and Evaluation (High Control – 1 hour exam paper)

One Controlled Assessment task will be carried out in Year 11 and the second task will be completed in Year 12.  Pupils’ work in this unit will be internally assessed and externally moderated.

OVERVIEW OF KEY STAGE 5 CURRICULUM

At Key Stage 5, the Biology Department offers Biology at AS and A2 Level. Students follow the CCEA specification. AS Biology is delivered over eleven lessons per fortnight and over ten lessons per fortnight at A2 Level.

At AS Level, students must successfully complete three modules. A further three modules must be successfully completed at A2 Level.

AS BIOLOGY

Unit 1: Molecules and Cells (40%)

This unit involves the study of:

  • Molecules
  • Enzymes
  • DNA Technology
  • Viruses
  • Cells
  • Cell Physiology
  • Continuity of Cells
  • Tissues and Organs

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 2: Organisms and Biodiversity (40%)

This unit involves the study of:

  • Transport and Exchange in Plants and Animals
  • Adaptations of Organisms
  • Biodiversity of Local Habitats

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 3: Assessment of Investigational and Practical Skills in Biology (20%)

This unit aims to give students the opportunity to carry out practical work, record data, and interpret and evaluate findings.

In this unit, students are required to carry out two investigations. This unit is assessed in the form of internal practical assessments. Practical assessments will take place during class time. Assessment of this unit will take place during Term One and again during Term Two. Students’ work in this unit will be internally assessed and externally moderated.

A2 BIOLOGY

Unit 4: Physiology and Ecosystems (40%)

This unit involves the study of:

  • Co-ordination and Control in Plants and Animals
  • Homeostasis
  • Immunity
  • Ecosystems

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 2 hours to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place in January of Year 14. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 5: Biochemistry, Genetics and Evolutionary Trends (40%)

This unit involves the study of:

  • Respiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • DNA and the Genetic Code
  • Gene Technology
  • Genes and Patterns of Inheritance
  • Evolution and Classification

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have two hours to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place in June of Year 14. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 6: Assessment of Investigational and Practical Skills in Biology (20%)

This unit aims to give students the opportunity to plan and carry out practical work, record data, and interpret and evaluate findings.

In this unit, students are required to plan and carry out one investigation. This unit is assessed in the form of an internal practical assessment. The practical assessment will take place during class time. Assessment of this unit will take place during Term Two. Students’ work in this unit will be internally assessed and externally moderated.

Extra-Curricular Provision

The Biology Department contributes extensively to the school’s extra-curricular provision. Extra-curricular activities include:

  • an AS field trip to the sea shore at Portaferry and a visit to the Exploris aquarium;
  • the UK Biology Olympiad for A Level students;
  • attendance at in-house lectures delivered by visiting speakers from Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Ulster;
  • attendance at lectures in Queen’s University, Belfast;
  • the BT Young Scientist Competition for GCSE students;
  • organisation of Biodiversity Days for feeder primary schools; and
  • project work as part of Eco-Schools to increase biodiversity within the school grounds.

FACILITIES AND RESOURCES

Facilities and resources within the Biology Department include:

  • 4 Biology Laboratories (with the use of other Science Laboratories)
  • 1 Computer Suite with 30 computers
  • 2 Preparation Rooms

Each Biology Laboratory has a computer, data projector and access to a printer. There is also an interactive whiteboard in two of the laboratories. Each teacher has an iPad. There are ten Sense and Control Data Harvesting Boxes with a range of sensors.

CAREERS INFORMATION

In the study of Biology, pupils have the opportunity to develop their communication skills, sense of enquiry, practical skills and powers of observation and interpretation. These qualities form an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers including:

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Science
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Marine Biology
  • Teaching
  • Forensic Science
  • Food Science
  • Food Engineering
  • Medical Research
  • Environmental Protection
  • Sustainable Energy Development.

USEFUL WEBSITES

GCSE

A-LEVEL