Biology

Biology

Introduction - why study Biology?

Biology is a dynamic subject that dominates Science coverage in the media. It addresses key concepts that everybody should understand, such as how the human body works and how life evolved. The aim of the Biology Department is to instil a desire to understand and question the complexities and workings of the natural world.

Biology opens the door to careers in academic research, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, conservation and environmental monitoring. It is also commonly a pre-requisite for potential medicine, veterinary and nursing applications.

Form 5 (Pre-Q):

Pre-requisites: The Pre-Q is a two-year course and will test all of the topics covered in both the Form 4 and Form 5 Biology Syllabus. This knowledge will be taught as part of the Science course covered by all students in Form 4.

Course description/aims: The topics covered in Form 4 are:

  • Cell Membranes and movement of molecules
  • Ecology
  • Inheritance

The topics covered in Form 5 are:

  • Characteristics and classification of living organisms
  • Organisation of the organism
  • Movement in and out of cells
  • Biological molecules
  • Enzymes
  • Nutrition in both plants and humans
  • Transport in both plants and animals
  • Diseases and immunity
  • Gas exchange in humans
  • Respiration
  • Excretion in humans
  • Coordination and response
  • Drugs
  • Reproduction
  • Inheritance
  • Variation and selection
  • Organisms and their environment
  • Biotechnology and genetic engineering
  • Human influences on ecosystems

Methods of Assessment:School examinations:

  • 1 x 1 hour examination - end of Term 1
  • 1 x 2 hour examination - end of Term 2
  • 1 x 3 hour examination - end of Term 4 (Pre-Q)

The final examination will consist of:

  • 40 multiple-choice questions - 45 minutes
  • 80 marks of short answer questions - 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 40 marks based on experimental skill questions - 1 hour

Special equipment/costs: There is no special equipment required for the study of Pre-Q Biology. There is a write-on practical book that accompanies the course; the cost of this book is $15.

Continuation of subject: Students who achieve a raw mark of 60% or over in Pre-Q Biology will be able to follow the Cambridge AS Level course in Form 6.

Form 6 (NCEA):

Pre-requisites: There are no pre-requisites to study NCEA Level 2 Biology. However, students who have studied Pre-Q Biology will have an advantage when studying NCEA level 2 Biology.

60% or above in Pre-Q English or at least 10 credits in Level 1 English is recommended as NCEA Level 2 Biology requires interpretation, explanation and discussion.

Course description/aims:

  • 91153 - Carry out a practical investigation in a biology context, with supervision [4 credits, Internal]
  • 91155 - Demonstrate understanding of adaptation of plants or animals to their way of life [3 credits, Internal]
  • 91156 - Demonstrate understanding of life processes at the cellular level [4 credits, External]
  • 91157 - Demonstrate understanding of genetic variation and change 4 credits External
  • 91159 - Demonstrate understanding of gene expression [4 credits, External]
  • 91160 - Investigate biological material at the microscopic level [3 credits, Internal]

Methods of assessment:

  • 12 external credits will be assessed in a 3-hour examination. During the examination candidates are recommended to spend an hour on each of the 3 assessments being examined.
  • 10 internal credits are offered; these will be assessed during the year.
  • It is recommended that students look at each of the assessments in detail on the NCEA website prior to choosing Level 2 Biology.

Special equipment/costs: There is no special equipment required for the study of Level 2 Biology. There is a write-on practical book that accompanies the course; the cost of this book is $20.

Continuation of subject: The course acts as good preparation for NCEA Level 3 Biology.

Form 6 (AS):

Pre-requisites: Students who gain a mark of at least 60% in Pre-Q Biology will be guaranteed entry to this course. Students who have obtained a mark of less than 60% in Pre-Q will only be accepted at the discretion of the HOD.

Recommended achievement levels: It is recommended that students will also have Pre-Q Chemistry to at least a Grade C.

Course outline: Form 6 students entering Cambridge AS course sit the first half of the A Level course. The topics covered are:

  • Cell structure
  • Biological molecules
  • Enzymes
  • Cell membranes and transport
  • The mitotic cell cycle
  • Nucleic acids and protein synthesis
  • Transport in plants
  • Transport in mammals
  • Gas exchange and smoking
  • Infectious disease
  • Immunity

Methods of assessment: Form 6 students entering Cambridge AS Level Biology sit 3 external papers as follows:

  • Paper 1 Multiple choice questions [1 hour, 40 marks, 31% of Cambridge AS mark]
  • Paper 2 Structured questions [1 hour 15 min, 60 marks, 46% of Cambridge AS mark]
  • Paper 31/32 Advanced practical examination [2 hour, 40 marks, 23% of Cambridge AS mark]

Special equipment/costs: Cambridge AS students will need to buy a laboratory manual for $20.

Continuation of subject: Cambridge AS is the first part of a two-year A Level; most students will be expected to continue with the course into Form 7 if they achieve the requisite achievement level.

Form 7 (NCEA Level 3):

Pre-requisites: There are no pre-requisites or restrictions for entering the NCEA Level 3 Biology course.

Recommended achievement levels:

  • If students did not take NCEA Level 2 or Cambridge AS Biology in Form 6 then they will find Form 7 Biology challenging.
  • Grade C or above in Pre-Q English or at least 10 credits in Level 1 English is recommended as NCEA Level 3 Biology requires interpretation, explanation and discussion.

Course description/aims:

  • 91603 - Demonstrate understanding of the responses of plants and animals to their external environment [5 credits, External]
  • 91605 - Demonstrate understanding of evolutionary processes leading to speciation [4 credits, External]
  • 91606 - Demonstrate understanding of trends in human evolution [4 credits, External]
  • 91601 - Carry out a practical investigation in a biological context, with guidance [4 credits, Internal]
  • 91602 - Integrate biological knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue [3 credits, Internal]
  • 91604 - Demonstrate understanding of how an animal maintains a stable internal environment [3 credits, Internal]

Methods of assessment:

  • 13 external credits will be assessed in a 3-hour examination. During the examination candidates are recommended to spend an hour on each of the 3 assessments being examined.
  • 10 internal credits are offered; these will be assessed during the year.
  • It is recommended that students look at each of the assessments in detail on the NCEA website prior to choosing Level 3 Biology

Special equipment/costs: There is no special equipment required for the study of Level 3 Biology. There is a write-on practical book that accompanies the course; the cost of this book is $20.

Continuation of subject: Level 3 Biology provides students with the ability to continue the subject at a tertiary education level. Courses include: Agriculture, biotechnology, ecology, genetics, neurobiology, horticulture, food science, marine biology, medicine, nursing, conservation and the environment.

Form 7 (A2):

Pre-requisites: Students cannot enter A2 (the second half of the A Level) paper unless they have gained a C grade in AS in Form 6. Students who have obtained a D grade in AS may be allowed to attempt A2 Biology at the discretion of the Head of Biology.

Course outline:

  • Energy and Respiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • Homeostasis
  • Control and Co-ordination
  • Inherited Change
  • Selection and Evolution
  • Biodiversity, Classification and Conservation
  • Genetic Technology
  • Biodiversity and Conservation

Methods of assessment: Candidates will sit 2 examination papers:

  • Paper 4 Structured questions [2 hours, 100 marks, 38% of A Level]
  • Paper 5 Planning Analysis and Evaluation [1 hour 15 mins, 30 marks, 12% of A Level]

The A Level comprises of:

  • AS Paper 1 - 15%
  • AS Paper 2 - 23%
  • AS Paper 3 - 12%
  • A2 Paper 4 - 38%
  • A2 Paper 5 - 12%

Special equipment/costs: A2 students are required to purchase a laboratory manual at a cost of $25.

Continuation of subject: A2 Biology provides students with the ability to continue the subject at a tertiary education level. Courses include: Agriculture, biotechnology, ecology, genetics, neurobiology, horticulture, food science, marine biology, medicine, nursing, conservation and the environment.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our staff today.