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Why study Biology?

Biology is an amazing subject. How often do you hear Biology topics mentioned in the news and on TV? Which other subject lets you find out more about what keeps us alive and the importance of other animals, plants and the environment around us?
Studying Biology can lead to a variety of career options, such as Sports Science, Medicine, Environmental Science, Pharmacology, Physiotherapy and Biomedical Sciences. You will develop skills for learning, life and work. These can be applied to almost any degree or career choice.

The aim of the Biology department is to encourage an atmosphere of enjoyment and learning which develops positive attitudes.

The Biology department attempts to help pupils develop:-

  • Knowledge and understanding of key biological concepts.
  • Problem solving and practical skills.
  • Strategies for effective learning.
  • The ability to work with and to respect the rights, views and feelings of others.
  • The realisation that you must take responsibility for your own learning.
  • An awareness of factors which can affect health and safety
  • A realisation that humans must care for the environment and the organisms which inhabit it. 
  • An increased knowledge of biology-based careers.


S3 Biology - three periods in S3

The Third year course covers a range of topics related to the study of living things.

Learners will investigate: plant structure, reproduction and photosynthesis . Investigation of Human Body Systems will include respiration the digestive system, enzymes, homeostatic mechanisms, reproduction and life cycles. We will also discuss world issues regarding food and factors affecting health.

Learners will study topics such as ecosystems and biodiversity; investigating living and non-living factors, the importance of biodiversity, variation and the factors affecting population growth, behaviour and responses, energy, and nutrient cycles.

Use of the Greenhouse, school grounds and beyond will be a key feature in helping to enhance outdoor learning and working with external agencies will raise awareness of opportunities available in the World of Work ( .

Throughout our units, pupils will be exposed to a range of activities that will allow them to develop their Scientific skills. Opportunities exist for the pupils to further develop generic skills such as creating a presentation, summarising information (literacy), using data to understand the Science behind something (numeracy).

Each unit has a range of home learning activities and pupils are expected to complete these. They will be assessed regularly using both summative (end of unit) and formative (ongoing, within learning experiences) techniques.

S4 Biology –4 periods in S4

Pupils will be studying either National 4 or National 5 Biology.

The unit titles are the same for National 4 and 5 Biology, however, the content and complexity of the topics differs.

The units studied are:-

Cell Biology

Multicellular Organisms

Life on Earth

Please refer to the learning outcomes for each unit, which are available on the SQA website ( to gain an understanding of the course content at each level.

Each course gives a balanced insight into various aspects of Biology and as well as developing subject knowledge, gives the pupils a chance to develop their skills in Science and more generally.

As with all Biology courses, home learning is given regularly and this may be a formal written exercise or a research type task. These exercises will help develop knowledge and skills and prepare students for the examination in National 5, only.

Assessment will be conducted regularly, through check tests and end of unit assessments, but parents should be aware that in National 4 and 5 there are larger assessments that need to be completed for students to pass the course. In National 4 this is an Added Value Unit and in National 5 an Assignment.

The Added Value unit comprises a research task which students need to present and communicate their findings. They will keep a journal as they complete parts of this assessment.

The Assignment at National 5 counts towards 20% of the pupils’ mark for the course. This is therefore, a very important assessment. Guidance and advice will be given every step of the way, but pupils are asked to engage with the work and keep up with any deadlines issued.

Although National 4 Biology does not have an external exam, it is still a very useful course to study. Not only does it allow students to gain a wide understanding of contemporary Biology, it develops a range of Scientific skills which give students a bank of ‘tools’ to use in later life. Should students pass National 4 Biology, they could consider studying National 5 Biology in senior school.

Successful National 5 students are eligible to study Higher Human Biology in S5 or S6 but this will depend on the pass they have received at National 5 Biology.


Biology in Fifth and Sixth Year - 5 periods in S5 and S6       

During S5 and S6 students can study National 4 or 5 Biology or Higher Human or Advanced Higher.

Who studies what?

National 4 or 5 Biology is followed by students who have achieved a suitable pass or grade in another Science

Higher Human is followed by students who obtained a Grade 1 or 2 in National 5.  

Advanced Higher can be studied (at the Campus site) if a Grade A or possibly a Grade B is obtained in Higher Human Biology

All S5/S6 courses consist of:

  •     Three Units

  •     Unit assessment must be passed at the end of each Unit

  •     A practical report must be written to a certain standard

  •     A final written exam is sat in May

        Home learning and revision should take a minimum of ONE HOUR per week

Although work is checked regularly students are responsible for making their own notes using Departmental Student Guides and textbooks.

The BBC and Scholar sites provide useful sources of revision.  There is also a selection of summary notes and past papers available in bookshops and online.