Biology – Senior Cycle

Subject Overview

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 aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment. They are provided with the knowledge, skills and understanding to pursue further education, training and employment in biology-related fields, and to make judgements on contemporary issues in biology and science that impact on their daily lives and on 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.


Subject content is presented at Ordinary level and Higher level in units and sub-units:

  1. Biology – The Study of Life 1.1. The Scientific method 1.2. The Characteristics of Life 1.3. Nutrition 1.4. General Principles of Ecology 1.5. A Study of an Ecosystem
  2. The Cell 2.1. Cell Structure 2.2. Cell Metabolism 2.3. Cell Continuity 2.4. Cell Diversity 2.5. Genetics
  3. The Organism 3.1. Diversity of Organisms 3.2. Organisation of the Vascular Structures 3.3. Transport and Nutrition 3.4. Breathing System and Excretion 3.5. Responses to Stimuli 3.6. Reproduction and Growth

Depth of treatment, associated contemporary issues, technology and practical activities are listed.


Leaving Certificate Biology is assessed by means of a terminal examination paper at each level. Students are required to keep a record of their practical work over the two years of the course.


The syllabus was introduced into schools in September 2002 and first examined in June 2004. The science subjects are included in the first phase of syllabus review under the senior cycle developments.