Biology is the study of life. Through the study of biology students employ the processes of science to explore the diversity of life and the inter-relationships between organisms and their environment. They become more aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment.
Why Study Biology?
- Biology is a popular subject and is the study of life. It requires a lot of memory work so is a good choice for students with attention to detail and excellent memory work.
- Many courses require at least one science subject and some even require two (see third level entry requirements). Therefore, it is a good idea to have at least one science subject to keep your options open.
- Those considering medicine, nursing and related courses will find that this subject will be of huge benefit in their studies.
Biology remains one of the most popular subject choices. The syllabus requires a lot of memory work.
If your chosen subject is biology you will gain an understanding of yourself and the natural world in which you live. The course uses practical activity and investigation to develop your skills and knowledge. The scope of biology is wide and varied and covers not only the traditional study of plants and animals but also areas such as molecular biology and biotechnology which have clear relevance to modern 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 syllabus introduced in 2002 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 the 5th Year. Particular emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of biology, and there are a number of mandatory activities that each student must carry out for themselves.
The course is divided into three units
- Unit 1 The study of life (ecology and food science)
- Unit 2 The Cell (Genetics, 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, 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. An ecology portfolio has also to be completed. 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.
Biology is often perceived as an easier subject than physics or chemistry but this is not so.
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.
Biology is a great subject if you are considering nursing or medicine. Other careers where studying Biology at second level is useful include:
- Applied Biology
- Earth Science and Environmental Science
- Marine Science and Aquaculture
- Microbiology and Zoology
- Dietician and Researcher