There are no prerequisites for entry into Units 1, 2, and 3.

Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4.

Students entering Unit 3 without Units 1 and/or2 may be required to undertake additional preparation as prescribed by thier teacher.

There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4.

Biology explores the dynamic relationships between organisms and thier interactions with the non-living environment. It also explores the processes of life, from the molecular world of the cell to that of the whole organism, that maintain life and ensure its continuity. Students examine classical and contmporary research, models and theories to understand how knowledge in bioology has evolved and continues to evolve in response to new evidence and discoveries. An understanding of the complexities and diversity of biology leads students to appreciate the interconnectedness of the content areas both within biology, and across biology and the other sciences.

Unit 1 How do living things stay alive?

In this unit students are introduced to some of the challenges to an organism in sustaining life including examining the cell as the structural and functional unit of life and the requirements for sustaining cellular processes. They analyse types of adaptations that enhance to organism's survival in a particular environment and how a diverse group of organisms form a living interconnected community. Students consider how the planet's biodiversity is classified and the factors that affect the growth of a population.


  • to be able to investigate and explain how cellular structures and systems function to sustain life
  • to be able to explain how various adaptations enhance the survival of an individual organism, investigate the relationships between organisms that form a living community and their habitat, and analyse the impacts of factors that affect population growth
  • to be able to design and undertake an investigation related to the survival of an organism or species, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.

Unit 2 How is continuity of life maintained?

In this unit students focus on cell reproduction and the transmission of biological information from generation to generation. They examine the process of DNA replication and cell division and explore the mechanisms of asexual and sexual reproductive strategies. Students use theory and terminology from classical genetics to explain and analyse patterns of inheritance, pedigree charts genetic crosses. They explore the relationship between genes and the environment, and consider the role of genetic knowledge in decision making.


  • to be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of asexual and sexual reproduction, explain how changes within the cell cycle may have an impact on cellular or tissue system function and identify the role of stem cells in cell growth and cell differentiation and in medical therapies.
  • to be able to apply an understanding of genetics to describe patterns of inheritance, analyse pedigree charts, predict outcomes of genetic crosses and identify the implcations of the uses of genetic screening and decision making related to inheritance.
  • to be able to investigate and communicate a substantiated response to a question related to an issue in genetics and/or reproductive science.

Unit 3 How do cells maintian life?

In this unit students investigate the workings of the cell from several perspectives. An understanding of the workings of the cell enables an appreciation of both the capabilities and the limitations of living organisms. They explore the importance of the insolubility of the plasma membrane in water and its differential permeability to specific solutes in defining the cell, its internal spaces and the control of the movement of molecules and ions in and out of such spaces.


Students consider base pairing specificity, the binding of enzymes and substrates, the response of receptors to signalling molecules and reactions between antigens and antibodies to highlight the importance of molecular interactions based on the complementary nature of specific molecules.

Students study the synthesis, structure and function of nucleic acids and proteins as key molecules in cellular processes. They explore the chemistry of cells by examining the nature of biochemical pathways, their components and energy transformations. Cells communicate with each other using a variety of signalling molecules. Students consider the types of signals, the transduction of information within the cell and cellular responses. At this molecular level students study the human immune system and the interactions between its components to provide immunity to a specific antigen.


  • to be able to explain the dynamic nature of the cell in terms of key cellular processes including regulation, photosynthesis and cellular respiration, and analyse factors that affect the rate of biochemical reactions
  • to be able to apply a stimulus-response model to explain how cells communicate with each other, outline human responses to invading pathogens, distinguish between the different pathways that immunity may be acquired, and explain how malfunctions of the immune system causes disease.

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

In this unit students consider the continual change and challenges to which life on Earth has been subjected. They investigate the relatedness between species and the impact of various change events on a population’s gene pool.

The accumulation of changes over time is considered as a mechanism for biological evolution by natural selection that leads to the rise of new species. Students examine change in life forms using evidence from palaeontology, biogeography, developmental biology and structural morphology. They explore how technological developments in the fields of comparative genomics, molecular homology and bioinformatics have resulted in evidence of change through measurements of relatedness between species.

Students examine the structural and cognitive trends in the human fossil record and the interrelationships between human biological and cultural evolution. The biological consequences, and social and ethical implications, of manipulating the DNA molecule and applying biotechnologies is explored for both the individual and the species.

A student practical investigation related to cellular processes and/or biological change and continuity over time is undertaken in either Unit 3 or Unit 4, or across both Units 3 and 4, and is assessed in Unit 4, Outcome 3. The findings of the investigation are presented in a scientific poster format.


  • student should be able to analyse evidence for evolutionary change, explain how relatedness between species is determined, and elaborate on the consequences of biological change in human evolution.
  • student should be able to describe how tools and techniques can be used to manipulate DNA, explain how biological knowledge is applied to biotechnical applications, and analyse the interrelationship between scientific knowledge and its applications in society.
  • student should be able to design and undertake an investigation related to cellular processes and/or biological change and continuity over time, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.


Units 1 and 2

Procedures for assessment of level of achievement in Units 1 and 2 are a school decision. Assessment may be based on:

  • Practical work
  • Research tasks
  • Unit tests
  • Semester examinations 

Units 3 and 4

School assessed course work and examination

  • Unit 3 school assessed course work: 16%
  • Unit 4 school assessed course work: 24%
  • End of year examination: 60%

Contact Teacher - Mel Boulton, Graham Sinclair