Subject Group: Science
These subjects demonstrate how to explore nature using carefully planned methods, and teach the basic methods and findings of scientific investigation.
In Brief 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.
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.
What is Biology?
Students 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.
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.
What type of student might Biology suit? Students who enjoyed science in the Junior Certificate might wish to consider studying biology at Senior Cycle. The course is a continuation of what was studied at Junior Cycle but in more detail. It is particularly suited to students who have scored highly in the Naturalist and Investigative areas in their interest test.
Associated Careers? The types of courses and careers where the study of Biology at second level might be helpful would include the following;
Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Nursing and associated careers. Agriculture, Applied Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Botany, Ecology, Earth Science and Environmental Science, Genetics, Marine Science and Aquaculture, Microbiology and Zoology, Psychologist, Astronomer, Teacher and Researcher.
Subject Requirement for 3rd Level? It is counted as a science subject in any course which has a science subject as a requirement.
Third Level Entry Requirements This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. Click on the link below to view courses that definitly requires, or may require this subject for entry:
Subject Content 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.
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.
It is recommended that a student taking Leaving Certificate Biology has a good understanding of Junior Science at higher level.
Each student must have an aptitude and interest for laboratory work.
A considerable amount of learning and study is necessary to do well in this subject.
Data Sources: The information on these pages has been compiled from a variety of sources including the NCCA, Newbridge College / Brian Howard, Dept. of Education & Skills, and student interviews. Information in the 'People who took this subject' section reflects the views of those people interviewed on this website and is offered as informal and potentially useful information only.
While CareersPortal.ie attempts to keep this information as up to date and accurate as possible, we do not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of this information or decisions made on the basis of this information. Students should always discuss subject options with parents / guardians / guidance counsellors..
I took Irish, English, Maths, French, Biology, Chemistry and Accounting for Leaving Cert (all at Honours level). When choosing my subjects, I maintained a mix of business and science as I wasn't sure what career I wanted to pursue. I had no regrets about the subjects I chose.
If pursuing a career in tax or accounting, doing Accounting for the Leaving Cert is helpful. It teaches you the absolute basics early on.
In school I was limited by the amount of subjects offered. I went to an all girl's convent school and they had pretty much the stereotypical girl's school subjects then.
For my optional subjects I did Geography, H&E Social and Scientific and Biology. I had all the regular subjects too. English, Irish, Maths and French. I think it's fairly obvious from the above list that my subjects didn't have much of a influence over my third level education choices.
If subjects like physics, engineering etc., had been on offer, I think I would have taken them instead but they were not available to me. I don't believe choices made in school about subjects always have to dictate what you do in college. In my case it just meant I had to work a little harder in the first year of college to catch up.
My school subjects never stopped me. If you know what you like and what you want do, you will always find a way. To be honest it's the knowing what you like that's harder, there are lots of paths to achieve what you want in education today.
For my Leaving Certificate I did the standard subjects and German, Geography, Biology and Business Studies. I knew quite early on that I didn't want to do Accountancy or anything that would require more than one science subject so I was able to study the subjects that I liked. There really isn't anything that I would have done differently.
Like most young people at the time of picking Leaving Certificate subjects I was completely undecided as to what I wanted to do so I kept my options open by choosing a Business subject - Business organisation, Science subject - Physics & Chemistry, language - German. After two years of science for Leaving Cert it was then I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in physical sciences.
The one disadvantage I had in starting college was that I hadn't studied Biology before (which was compulsory in first year college science) so straight away I needed to pay more attention to this subject in 1st year science. Had I known when picking leaving cert subjects that I wanted to pursue a career in physical sciences then Biology would have been a wise choice.
My PhD was in the area of physical chemistry (as opposed to organic/inorganic where most graduates end up in the pharmaceutical sector) and most of the chemistry associated with semiconductor processing is physical so it was a wise choice!
Biology and Chemistry were my favorites. Another which I found useful was Woodwork. Unfortunately, I gave up Woodwork, which is a good practical subject too early. The subjects I really enjoyed the most were Biology and Chemistry. Other practical subjects like Metalwork or Orienteering have been helpful.
Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business.
In school I took English, Irish, Maths, French, Biology, Economics and Business. The fact that I enjoyed economics in school led me to the choice of my degree.
Luckily by taking what started out as a general degree I was able to figure out that what I liked about economics was being able to pose questions and look for solutions; the critical thinking component, rather than the content was actually the part that appealed most to me.
Through exposure to a variety of subjects in my first year in college I was in a much better position to chose the subjects that I wanted to specialise in.
Choosing to specialise in business and sociology worked well for me; the business component gave me a marketable knowledge base and skill set, while the sociology component encouraged me to think critically and introduced me to research skills.
I wouldn't do anything differently. It was great to be in a course where the classes got smaller as I progressed through, so I got a lot of guidance as I stumbled forward!
Choosing a specialised degree wouldn't have been a good choice for me at the time - I'm still amazed when I think of my friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do as they left school.
The biggest thing I learnt through my degree was that I had developed a skill set that I could use in a variety of ways. Having a degree in a specific area doesn't limit you to that for life!
Subjects I took in my Leaving Cert were ~ Irish, English, Math, Accountancy, Biology, Art and Home Economics
When I read this question it really made me think about the subjects I took and how they have influenced my career today.
Irish ~ assisted me in learning German, the irony is that I can speak fluent German and hardly any Irish. English ~ I use everyday in letters, e-mail etc, Math ~ I use simple math everyday. Accountancy ~ I use this everyday and also in conjunction with computers. Biology ~ assists in my better understanding of Food Safety etc. Art ~ as much as I loved it I haven’t found a practical use for it in work. Home Economics ~ it’s theory I use everyday but not the cooking and baking.
However, I do believe that nothing you learn is wasted, as it is either a stepping-stone to greater understanding, or of direct use.
Apart from the core subjects such as Maths, English and Irish, I also studied Biology, Geography and German. Nowadays students have access to courses such as environmental science, heritage studies and engineering, which would be of benefit if they decided to study Forestry.
In hindsight I would have loved to have studied more Environmental subjects and attended some management/business style courses.
My Leaving Cert subjects were Irish, English, Maths, French, Chemistry, Biology and Business Organisation. My main interest was science so I chose two science subjects and one business related subject to keep things interesting.
My subjects were appropriate for my University course except I was required to take Physics in the first year. This was quite challenging not having taken Physics to Leaving Cert but not impossible. I don't think I would do anything differently if I had to repeat the process.
In my Leaving Cert I did Maths, English, Accountancy, Business Organisation, Biology and Geography.
I was rubbish at languages, and repeated my Leaving - so there's hope for everyone! Of all the subjects I've got to say I've always had an interest in Business, so Business Organisation and Accountancy had a big impact on my career path.
When I went to college I found my course subjects were far more focussedand interesting. I did I.T. for five years in college. This did not involve any Accountancy courses, yet when I moved on to do my Masters I needed some Accountancy skills. Strangely, I still remembered the key concepts from the Leaving Cert and knew how to read a balance sheet. This is a skill I still use every day in my current placement.
I know people might not like to hear this, but I also think that Maths and English are key to any business role.
In many roles, Maths is very important so I'd advise people who are not so good at Maths to really focus on it - it's definitely a big plus point for anyone. As for English - well, it's a bit of an obvious one really!