An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment
Key Stage 3
In Key Stage 3, Biology is part of an integrated Science programme which covers the CCEA Revised Curriculum. In Years 8 and 9, it is studied along with the other two Science subjects. All pupils in Year 10 are taught Biology as a separate Science subject.
The Biology curriculum at KS3 ensures that pupils have a wide and balanced knowledge of the study of life, and provides them with a foundation for the GCSE Biology course. Pupils study the complexity, structure and function of living organisms and their components. They also learn about life processes such as respiration, breathing, reproduction and digestion. Pupils have the opportunity to develop their understanding of the processes involved in maintaining all life and become aware of the problems that may arise due to genetic or environmental concerns. Issues associated with non-communicable diseases are also explored. All pupils develop a range of practical skills that enable them to work safely with scientific equipment and biological materials. They develop investigative skills to solve scientific problems and make informed decisions. The study of Biology also encourages pupils to research and manage information, work effectively with others and use cross curricular skills.
Pupils have the opportunity to follow the CCEA course in GCSE Biology or Double Award Science. Both provide a broad, coherent and practical course that enables pupils to develop a positive view of and confidence in Biology. Pupils have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of biological concepts, the effects of Biology on society and the nature of Science and scientific processes. They develop an understanding of the relationships between biological advances, their ethical implications and the benefits and risks associated with them. As practical investigations are a key part of the specification, students carry out a range of experiments which enable them to develop skills in planning, handling apparatus, analysing data and drawing conclusions. Studying Biology at Key Stage 4 also gives students the opportunity to develop and apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry, communication, mathematical and problem-solving skills, and enhances understanding in laboratory, field and other learning environments.
These courses provide a good foundation for the study of Biology at GCE AS and A2 level, and allows pupils to develop transferable skills that will benefit them in any chosen career path.
The department follows the CCEA GCE Biology specification at A Level. This qualification gives pupils a deeper knowledge and understanding of living organisms and their life processes. They learn how organisms are built, function and interact with each other and their surroundings. Pupils also appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues, and how Biology contributes to the success of the economy and society. They have the opportunity to explore modern developments in Biology such as epigenetics and how disrupted cell cycles contribute to the development of cancer and gene technology. By studying A Level Biology, pupils develop competence and confidence in a number of skills including analysis, independent learning, research, creative thinking, Mathematics and problem-solving.
They also enhance practical skills such as microscopy and handling apparatus. With this qualification, pupils are fully prepared for further study in Biology, a wide range of other disciplines and the world of work.
Year 13 pupils have the opportunity to carry out ecological investigations in the Magilligan sand dunes and the rocky shore in Portrush.
Where to next?
An A level in Biology can lead to a wide variety of careers. Past pupils have gone on to study Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science and many other professions concerned with the care of the sick, such as Physiotherapy, Radiography, Speech Therapy and Pharmacy.
A-level Biology is also relevant and beneficial to many other courses. Past pupils of Biology have continued their studies in areas such as Sports Science, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Marine Biology, Zoology, Accounting, Law, Engineering, Modern Languages, Business Studies, Architecture, History and International Relations.