Subject Information - Biology

National 5

Head of Department: Mr Geoff Morgan

Course Progression: Biology

What could be more exciting than studying Biology? It is the science of Life itself! The study of Biology connects us to the world we are living in and reminds us of our interconnectedness with all other life forms. It provides opportunities to learn about the processes of all living things. By studying biology, students learn to make more informed decisions about their own health and about significant biological issues such as genetically modified crops, the use of antibiotics, and the impact of invasive species. Biology is at the heart of many social and economic issues, at the forefront of ecological issues, and the study of Biology opens up a diverse range of career opportunities.

Biology (S3-S4) National 5

The National 5 course develops an understanding in pupils of the way in which biological principles can be applied to the issues facing the individual and society. The course also encourages positive attitudes towards the interaction of humans with the environment.

The course aims to develop skills of scientific inquiry, information handling, analytical thinking, problem solving, communication and evaluation. Through practical and other activities the students will develop abilities to risk assess and use equipment and materials, develop an understanding of the importance of accuracy and develop abilities to review science-based claims in media reports.

The course content includes the following areas of Biology:

Cell Biology
Cell Structure; Transport Across Membranes, DNA and the Production of Proteins; Proteins and Enzymes; Genetic Engineering; Respiration

Life on Earth 
Biodiversity; Ecosystems; Distribution of Organisms; Photosynthesis; Energy in Ecosystems; Food Production; Evolution of Species

Multicellular Organisms
Producing New Cells; Control and Communication; Reproduction; Variation and Inheritance; Transport Systems in Animals and Plants; Absorption of Materials

Assessment

All pupils will sit a question paper worth 100 marks at the end of S4. In addition, the pupils are required to complete an assignment worth 20 marks. Both of these assessments are externally marked by the SQA.

Progression

  • SQA Higher Biology
  • SQA Higher Human Biology

 

Higher

Head of Department: Mr Geoff Morgan

Course Progression: Biology

Biology Higher

This course is a broad and up to date selection of concepts and ideas. It covers all of the major themes of biology (cells, evolution, genetics, homeostasis, energy and ecosystems). The course develops a deeper understanding of the underlying themes of biology: evolution and adaptation; structure and function; genotype and niche. The scale of topics ranges from molecular through to whole organism and beyond. In addition, within each area of the course, the most relevant applications of biological understanding are highlighted. The study of Higher Biology provides opportunities to develop investigative science and practical skills as well as skills in evaluating the impact of science developments on health and wellbeing, society and the environment.

The course content includes the following areas of Biology:

DNA and the Genome (40 hours)
Through the study of DNA and the genome, we explore the molecular basis of evolution and biodiversity. Contents include: structure of DNA; replication of DNA; gene expression; cellular differentiation; structure of the genome; mutations; evolution; genomic sequencing. This knowledge leads to an appreciation of the role genomics may have in the fields of medicine and health care.

Metabolism and Survival (40 hours)
This area considers the central importance of ATP synthesis by respiration and the challenges for organisms associated with maintaining this metabolism for survival in widely different niches. Contents include: metabolic pathways; cellular respiration; metabolic rate; Metabolism in conformers and regulators; Metabolism and adverse conditions; Environmental control of metabolism; Genetic control of metabolism. This knowledge provides an understanding of the use of recombinant DNA technology and related ethical considerations.

Sustainability and Interdependence (40 hours)
This area introduces the complex interactions between photosynthesis, achieving sufficient food production and maintaining sufficient biodiversity on the planet. Contents include: food supply, plant growth and productivity; plant and animal breeding; crop protection; animal welfare; symbiosis; social behaviour; components of biodiversity; threats to biodiversity. This area will lead to an appreciation of the role of difficulties in understanding and managing complex systems in a sustainable way.

Assessment

All pupils will sit a question paper worth 100 marks in May. In addition, the pupils are required to complete an assignment worth 20 marks. Both of these assessments are externally marked by the SQA.

Progression

• Advanced Higher Biology

Recommended Entry Requirements

Pupils will normally be expected to have attained one of the following awards or its equivalent:

  • National 5 Biology at Grade A or B
  • National 5 Mathematics at Grade A or B, or equivalent

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Higher Human Biology

Head of Department: Mr Geoff Morgan

Course Progression: Biology

Human Biology Higher

The Higher Human Biology Course enables learners to develop and apply knowledge and understanding of human biology, and an understanding of human biology’s role in scientific issues and relevant applications of human biology, including their impact on society and the environment. Learners also develop scientific inquiry and investigative skills, as well as scientific analytical thinking skills, including scientific evaluation, in a human biology context. The course contents are outlined below.

Human Cells
Through the study of human cells we cover major themes such as cell division, genes and inheritance, metabolism and muscle function. Topics covered include: division and differentiation in human cells; structure and replication of DNA; gene expression; mutation; human genomics; metabolic pathways; cellular respiration; energy systems in muscle cells.

Physiology and Health
Here we introduce the concepts of the function of organ systems through the study of human reproductive biology and the study of the normal and abnormal physiology of the cardiovascular system. Topics covered include: gametes production and fertilisation; hormonal control of reproduction; the biology of controlling fertility; ante- and postnatal screening; the structure and function of arteries, capillaries and veins; the structure and function of the heart; pathology of cardiovascular disease; blood glucose levels and obesity.

Neurobiology and Immunology
Here we study highly sophisticated communication systems and the mammalian immune system. Study of the immune system allows learners to consider the impact of living in dense populations that potentially allow the spread of disease. The study of the nervous system allows learners to gain an insight into the biological basis of psychology. Topics covered include: non-specific defences; specific cellular defences; immunisation; clinical trials of vaccines and drugs; divisions of the nervous system and neural pathways; the cerebral cortex; memory; the cells of the nervous system and neurotransmitters at synapses; communication and social behaviour.

Assessment

All pupils will sit a question paper worth 100 marks in May. In addition, the pupils are required to complete an assignment worth 20 marks. Both of these assessments are externally marked by the SQA.

Progression

• Advanced Higher Biology

Recommended Entry Requirements

Pupils will normally be expected to have attained one of the following awards or its equivalent:

  • National 5 Biology at Grade A or B
  • National 5 Mathematics at Grade A or B, or equivalent

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Advanced Higher

Head of Department: Mr Geoff Morgan

Course Progression: Biology

Biology (S6) Advanced Higher

The AH course extends the study of Biology beyond Higher level and concentrates on the two main areas of Cells & Proteins and Organisms & Evolution. The course is of considerable value to pupils who intend to study in any subject area of the Biological or Medical Sciences at college or university. It combines the theoretical aspects of biology with the laboratory and practical aspects through the Investigative Biology Unit.

The course is taught for nine periods per cycle in laboratories. A principal feature of the course is the requirement that each pupil independently undertakes a biological Investigation which develops his/her ability to plan, carry out and report on a piece of experimental, investigative work chosen by the pupil.

The course consists of three 40-hour units:

Cells & Proteins
This area builds on understanding of the genome from Higher Biology. Learners will develop knowledge and understanding of proteomics, protein structure, binding and conformational change; membrane proteins; detecting and amplifying a stimulus; communication within multicellular organism and protein control of cell division. The study of protein is primarily a laboratory-based activity, so the area includes important laboratory techniques for biologists.

This skills-based sequence covers health and safety considerations, through the use of liquids and solutions, to a selection of relevant separation and antibody techniques. In addition, much work on cell biology is based on the use of cell lines, so includes techniques related to cell culture and microscopy.

Organisms & Evolution
This area builds on understanding of selection in the context of evolution from Higher Biology. Learners will develop knowledge and understanding of evolution; variation and sexual reproduction; sex and behaviour and parasitism. It covers the role of sexual reproduction and parasitism in the evolution of organisms.

This area covers suitable techniques for ecological field study. Methods of sampling and the classification and identification of organisms are introduced. Evolution is considered from the impact of drift and selection on variation. The study of sexual behaviour provides opportunities to use the techniques of ethology. There are many opportunities to explore the systems approach required for the understanding of parasite biology. In addition, there are many opportunities to explore wider ethical issues relating to the importance of scientific knowledge and its application in challenging social and economic circumstances.

Investigative Biology
This area builds on understanding of the scientific method from Higher Biology. Learners will develop knowledge and understanding of the principles and practice of investigative biology and its communication. The Unit covers scientific principles and processes, experimentation and critical evaluation of biological research. Learners will do this through the key aspects of the scientific method, literature and communication and ethics; pilot studies, variables, experimental design, controls, sampling and ensuring reliability; evaluating background information, experimental design, data analysis and conclusions.

The collection of experimental data, in designing and carrying out their own investigation, will provide learners with an opportunity to develop planning and organising skills.

Assessment

For each area of the course there will be an end of topic or a prelim assessment occurring during November, February and April. In addition, there will be shorter assessments within each area and an Investigation. All pupils will sit an externally marked question paper in May.

Recommended Entry Requirements

Pupils will normally be expected to have attained the following awards or their equivalent:

  • Grade A or B Higher Biology/Higher Human Biology

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