Biology is the study of life. Through the study of biology students apply the processes of science to explore the diversity of life and the inter-relationships between organisms and their environment. They become aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment.

Students are provided with the knowledge, skills and understanding to pursue further education, training and employment in biology-related fields, and to make judgements on contemporary issues in biology and science that impact on their daily lives and on society. The syllabus consists of approximately 70% biological knowledge, understanding and skills; the remaining 30% deals with the technological, political, social and economic aspects of biology.

The current syllabus has been developed in response to current knowledge and application of biology. Account has been taken of the need to include contemporary biological technologies such as DNA profiling and genetic screening. It aims to create in students an awareness of the application of biological knowledge to modern society and to develop an ability to make informed evaluations about contemporary biological issues.

The course covers a wide range of topics, including cell structure and diversity, metabolism, genetics and human and flowering plant anatomy and physiology. The general principles of ecology are studied, and one particular ecosystem is examined in detail. An ecology field trip is arranged in 5th Year to Fota Wildlife Park to study the woodland ecosystem.

Particular emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of biology, and there are 22 mandatory activities that each student must carry out for themselves.

Subject Content

The course is divided into three units
Unit 1 The study of life (Scientific method, Characteristics of life, ecology and food science)
Unit 2 The Cell (Genetics, cell division, osmosis and diffusion, photosynthesis, respiration and enzymes)
Unit 3 The organism (a study of body systems, plant biology and microbiology)

There are 22 mandatory practical activities. Three of these are examined each year in the Leaving Certificate exam, two of which have to be answered. A laboratory record of these activities has to be kept and available for inspection by The Department of Education and Science.

As of yet no marks are awarded for the laboratory notebook or the portfolio. There is a strong emphasis on social and applied aspects e.g. when studying the breathing system a breathing disorder is studied.

Exam Structure

The examination at higher and ordinary level is three hours duration. The exam paper is divided into three units.
Section A – Six short questions (answer five) 100 marks.
Section B – Three questions on practical activities (answer two) 60 marks.
Section C – Six long questions (answer four) 240 marks.

What type of student might Biology suit?

Students who enjoyed the study of the human body systems and plants in the Junior Certificate Science course might wish to consider studying biology at Senior Cycle. The course is a continuation of what was studied at Junior Cycle but in more detail.

Associated Careers?

The types of courses and careers where the study of Biology at second level might be helpful would include the following;

Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Nursing and associated careers.
Agriculture, Applied Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Botany, Ecology, Earth Science and Environmental Science, Genetics, Marine Science and Aquaculture, Microbiology and Zoology,
Psychologist, Astronomer, Teacher and Researcher.

Subject Requirement for 3rd Level?

It is counted as a science subject in any course which has a science subject as a requirement.


Listen to an Audio Podcast on this subject – Preparing for Leaving Cert Biology – 22 mins (Source – )