Biology Department

Dr K Quinn, Subject Leader
Dr L Henry
Miss A McCrisken
Miss McAlpine

Miss J McCullough


Biology is the study of life and living organisms, from one-celled creatures to the most complex living organism of all — the human being. Biology includes the study of genes and cells that give living things their special characteristics.

Teaching and Learning Aims

Our aim as a department is to try and encourage pupils to have a passion for, not only Biology, but science. We do this by having interesting and varied theory lessons as well as encouraging
the pupils to use the extensive school grounds and the school pond to assist them in various practical activities. 

Key Stage 3 Summary

Year 8


The skeleton, joints and muscles



Year 9

Diet and Digestion



Year 10



Respiration and Circulation

GCSE Summary




Unit 1: Cells, Living Processes and Biodiversity


Topics covered include Cells, Photosynthesis, Nutrition, Enzymes and digestion, Breathing and the respiratory system, Nervous system and hormones, Ecological relationships and energy flow



1 hour 30 minute external paper  




Unit 2: Body Systems, Genetics, Microorganisms and Health


Topics include Osmosis and plant transport, Chromosomes, genes and DNA, Cell division and genetics, Reproduction, fertility and contraception, Applied genetics, Variation and selection, Circulatory system, Microorganisms, defence against disease, medicines and drugs


1 hour 45 minute external paper


Unit 3: Controlled Assessment/ Investigative Skills Assignment


Investigative Skills Assignment (internal assessment)


NB 100% of assessment is terminal so all module examinations will be completed at end of Year 12.  More information can be found on the website

The Biology Department also contribute to Double Award and Single Award Science.


Pupils who have studied Double Award Science must attain an AA grade. An A grade should have been attained in the Biology component of the Double Award examination.

For those pupils who have studied separate Biology, a B grade must be attained in both theory papers.  Pupils should also have achieved a B grade in GCSE Mathematics.

A qualification in Chemistry at GCSE would be helpful but is not essential.

ASSESSMENT: CCEA Examining Board. Each unit is examined separately.




AS 1: Molecules and Cells


1 hour 30 minute external paper  


37.5% AS, 15% A2

AS 2: Organisms and Diversity


1 hour 30 minute external paper

37.5% AS, 15% A2

AS 3: Assessment of practical skills in AS Biology


1 hour paper and internal practical assessment throughout year

25% of AS 10% of A level

A2 1: Physiology and Ecosystems


2 hour 15 minute external paper

24% , A Level

A2 2: Biochemistry, Genetics and Evolutionary Trends


2 hour 15 minute external paper

24% A Level

A2 3: Assessment of practical skills in A2 Biology

1 hour 15 minute paper and internal practical assessment throughout year

12% of A level

Details of the subject content can be found on the CEA website

Extra-Curricular/Extended Learning Opportunities

The Biology Department encourages pupils to take part in a variety of Extra-curricular activities and extended learning opportunities.  At Key Stage 3 we take part in the RSPB Big Bird Watch every year as part of our Year 8 programme of study.  We also have a year zoo trip to help consolidate our understanding of living organisms. 

The department also have a Biology Club that runs in the spring term.  This involves pupils making use of and helping out with the school greenhouse and pond.  Pupils help with the maintenance of the greenhouse and pond and can plant their own seeds and vegetables.

At Key Stage 4 and 5 the pupils are given the opportunity to apply to take part in the BT Young Scientist Competition held at the RDS in Dublin.  This is a fantastic opportunity for pupils and a brilliant experience for all those who make it through to the exhibition.  Pupils are also given the opportunity to take part in various competitions run by Queen’s University Belfast such as the Biology Olympiad.

Career Opportunities

Biology is a subject which leads to a wide variety of careers in a whole range of professions, such as Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Environmental Sciences, Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.  A good understanding of biological topics can help you understand and perhaps shape issues affecting society such as gene therapy, cosmetic surgery and genetically modified crops.

Departmental Achievements

Kerry McWilliam, Mollie Smyth, David Porter and Caleb Allen, earned a place at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in January 2015.  The Boys project was highly commended and all pupils attended a BT young scientist boot camp later in the year.


Lauren Critcher, Carolyn McClements and Alison Patterson won the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) video competition this year for their video to promote awareness of cancer research and the much needed funding for the continuation of research.