What is Biology all about?

The study of Biology explores the diversity of life as it has evolved over time, and considers how living organisms function and interact. It explores the processes of life, from the molecular world of the cell to that of the whole organism, and examines how life forms maintain and ensure their continuity.

This study enables students to:

    • Develop knowledge and understanding of key biological models, theories and concepts – from the cell to the whole organism
    • Examine the interconnectedness of organisms, their relationship to their environmental context and the consequences of biological change over time, including the impact of human endeavours on the biological processes of species
    • Understand the cooperative, cumulative, evolutionary and interdisciplinary nature of science as a human endeavour, including its possibilities, limitations and political and sociocultural influences
    • Develop a range of individual and collaborative science investigation skills through experimental and inquiry tasks in the field and in the laboratory
    • Develop an informed perspective on contemporary science-based issues of local and global significance
    • Apply their scientific understanding to familiar and unfamiliar situations, including personal, social, environmental and technological contexts
    • Develop attitudes that include curiosity, open-mindedness, creativity, flexibility, integrity, attention to detail and respect for evidence-based conclusions
    • Understand and apply the research, ethical and safety principles that govern the study and practice of the discipline in the collection, analysis, critical evaluation and reporting of data
    • Communicate clearly and accurately an understanding of the discipline using appropriate terminology, conventions and formats


The study is made up of four units.

Unit 1: How do organisms regulate their functions?

Students examine the cell as the structural and functional unit of life, from the single-celled to the multicellular organism, including the requirements for sustaining cellular processes. Students focus on cell growth, replacement and death and the role of stem cells in differentiation, specialisation and renewal of cells. They explore how systems function through cell specialisation in vascular plants and animals and consider the role homeostatic mechanisms play in maintaining an animal’s internal environment.

Unit 2: How does inheritance impact on diversity?

Students explore reproduction and the transmission of biological information from generation to generation and the impact this has on species diversity. They apply their understanding of chromosomes to explain the process of meiosis. Students consider how the relationship between genes, and the environment and epigenetic factors influence phenotypic expression. They explain the inheritance of characteristics, analyse patterns of inheritance, interpret pedigree charts and predict outcomes of genetic crosses.

Unit 3: How do cells maintain life?

Students investigate the workings of the cell from several perspectives. They explore the relationship between nucleic acids and proteins as key molecules in cellular processes. Students analyse the structure and function of nucleic acids as information molecules, gene structure and expression in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and proteins as a diverse group of functional molecules. They examine the biological consequences of manipulating the DNA molecule and applying biotechnologies.

Unit 4: How does life change and respond to challenges over time?

Students consider the continual change and challenges to which life on Earth has been, and continues to be, subjected to. They study the human immune system and the interactions between its components to provide immunity to a specific pathogen. Students consider how the application of biological knowledge can be used to respond to bioethical issues and challenges related to disease.


There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. However, students who enter the study at Unit 3 may need to do preparatory work based on Unit 1 and Unit 2, as specified by the teacher. Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4.



Satisfactory Completion

Demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit.

Levels of Achievement

Units 1 and 2

School-based assessment consisting of coursework, assessment tasks and an exam

Units 3 and 4

  • Unit 3 school-assessed coursework: 20 %
  • Unit 4 school-assessed coursework: 30%
  • End-of-year examination: 50 %