Senior School Classes


Biology is the study of life – the variety of life, the biochemical mechanisms that make life possible, anatomy, physiology, genetics, populations and environmental interactions, that make this subject such an infinitely diverse and rewarding subject to study.

S1 biology starts with the basic unit of life, the cell, and quickly develops into how to use microscopes, how to grow microbes, uses of cells in medicine and industry and how we can control the growth of some cells. In the Spring term we study DNA technologies, including forensics and genetic engineering. Finally, in the Summer term we study photosynthesis and its importance for life on Earth. Students sit a summary test at the end of every term.

S2 Biology builds on the S1 year and starts off by studying how cells coordinate to form tissues, organs and organ systems. This allows us to make good use of dissection material. We then study the different organ systems of the body. In the Spring term we look at reproduction, the development of the embryo and risks to the embryo. Finally, in the Summer term we study ecosystems, using the school grounds to collecting biodiversity data using different sampling methods. Students sit a summary test at the end of each term.

In the S3 year we start a combined National 4 / National 5 program of study. The first unit we cover is Cell Biology, taking a much more detailed look at the structures inside cells, and the processes that happen there, that keep us alive. Microbiology, enzymes, the biochemistry of photosynthesis and respiration, stem cells and genetic engineering is all covered at this level. The second unit is Multicellular Organisms and is concerned with the anatomy and physiology of animals and plants required for survival. National 5 level assessments take place throughout the year and by the end of the year we know whether N4 or N5 is the best route for your child in the S4 examination year.

In S4 Biology, National 4 and National 5 groups will finish the second unit started in S3 and go on to the third and final unit, Life on Earth. In this unit we study ecosystems and biodiversity, nutrient cycling, natural selection and the effect of humans on the environment. Similar topics are taught for both National 4 and National 5, the main difference being the level of difficulty and detail expected in the summary tests. Progression from National 5 is to Higher, whilst National 4 students can choose to take National 5 next year if they wish.


S5 and S6 Higher
The Course allows learners to develop deeper understanding of the underlying themes of biology: evolution and adaptation; structure and function; genotype and niche. Within each of the three Units the scale of topics ranges from molecular through to whole organism and beyond. In addition, to increase the relevance of the Course, within each Unit the most relevant applications of biological understanding are highlighted allowing the development of capabilities associated with becoming successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors in real life contexts. The study of Higher Biology provides opportunities to develop investigative science and practical skills contributing to learners’ scientific literacy and to developing skills for learning, life and work. These skills prepare learners for life in the 21st century by enabling them to adapt their learning to new situations, solve problems, make decisions based on evidence and to evaluate the impact of science developments on their own health and well-being, society and the environment.

DNA and the Genome,

Metabolism and Survival

Sustainability and Interdependence.

Assessment: The external Course assessment will be based on the knowledge and understanding, skills of scientific experimentation, investigation and enquiry and skills for learning, life and work described in the Course content.

The examination will consist of one paper of 2 hours 30 minutes

Pupils need to achieve passes in the internal assessment of all 3 units stated above.

The external examination will provide all assessment material for the final grade. The examination is 21/2 hours long and will consist of multiple choice questions (30 marks), short answer questions (80 marks) and two extended response questions worth 10 marks each.

S6: Advanced Higher Biology
Advanced Higher Biology covers a wide range of biological topics which build on concepts developed in Higher Biology or Higher Human Biology. The course content forms the basis for study in applied fields of Biology and further study or employment in areas related to Biology. It also enables you to develop understanding of the ways in which biological principles can be applied to the issues facing the individual and society and fosters positive attitudes to others and the environment. In addition, the course provides opportunities for you to improve your problem solving and investigative skills and develop your practical abilities.

The course is made up of two mandatory 40 hour units, a 20-hour investigation and one 20-hour unit selected from a choice of three optional units. In addition, there are 40 hours of flexible time.

Mandatory Units:
Cell and Molecular Biologystructure, function and growth of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells structure and function of cell components, molecular interactions in cell and events applications of DNA technology.

Environmental Biology: circulation in ecosystems, interactions in ecosystems and human impact on the environment.

Biology Investigation: You will have the opportunity to select a topic for in-depth study.

Optional Units (one to be chosen): Biotechnology, Animal Behaviour, Physiology or Health and Exercise