Featured Advice
What are your interests?

Naturalist?

Naturalist

Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.

Subject Choice

Leaving Certificate

Biology

Career Zone
QQI
NFQ Level
Duration
2 Years

Summary

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.

What kind of student would Biology suit?

Students who enjoyed science for Junior Cert 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.

Recommendations/Tips

  • 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
This subject builds skills and knowledge that are particularly useful for careers in the following Career Sectors:

Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2019:

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 27063 students who sat the Higher Level Biology exam in 2019.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 7046 students who sat the Ordinary Level Biology exam in 2019.

 

Explore Marks Distribution for all Subjects:

Course Overview

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.

Course Content

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. An ecology portfolio must also 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. There are high failure rates at Ordinary level.

Exam Structure

Exam Structure

The examination at Higher and Ordinary level is three hours in 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.

Comments

  • 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.

Career Possibilities

Biology is a great subject if you are considering nursing or medicine. Other careers where studying Biology at second level is useful include:

Veterinary, Dentistry, Agriculture, Applied Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Botany, Ecology, Earth Science and Environmental Science, Genetics, Marine Science and Aquaculture, Microbiology and Zoology, Psychologist, Astronomer, Teacher, Dietician and Researcher.

Career Guidance

Subject Group: Science

These subjects demonstrate how to explore nature using carefully planned methods, and teach the basic methods and findings of scientific investigation.

Required for 3rd Level?

This subject may be essential for entry into some Third Level courses. Click on the link below to view courses that may require this subject for entry:

Biology

Interviews

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Frank Morrison, Recruitment Manager

Irish, English, Maths, Accountancy, Biology, Physics, French, Social & Scientific.

As already stated, my initial goal was accountancy following the Leaving Cert. The accountancy covered by the Leaving Cert was very beneficial during my first year at college. However I don't believe I had the personality to become an accountant.

Moving to my later choice of Nursing, I believe that biology was essential as it is a major part of nursing studies from the start. I also believe that experience at work itself will further one's career and may in fact lead to a change further down the career pathway.

... View Full Interview

Brian Howard, Guidance Counsellor

For my Leaving Certificate I studied the three compulsory subjects: English, Irish and Maths. I had a great interest in science so I chose to do two science subjects - Biology and Chemistry. I wanted to keep as many options open as possible as I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do on leaving school so I chose one business subject - Economics and I chose a language - French, in order to keep all the universities open also.

In hindsight I think this was a good selection of subjects as it kept a lot of doors open while also allowing me to chose subjects I liked and did well in. I eventually went on to do a science degree so my 2 Leaving Certificate science subjects came in handy. Once I had my degree this allowed me to teach and subsequently do my postgraduate in Guidance Counselling.

... View Full Interview

Fergus O'Connell, Quality Officer
I chose to study all three science subjects in school. Like every student I guess, I was unsure whether this was a good decision or not but felt it better to study what I enjoyed.

I wanted to study science in college but was unsure of where I wanted to end up working within the field of science. This was an important choice for my career as a broad knowledge of science is hugely beneficial when dealing with day-to-day issues in a pharmaceutical company.

My choice to study microbiology also gave me a broad scientific background which also helps in my current job. I believe these were good choices in hindsight. I'm not sure I would have done anything differently as the three sciences were an important basis for my college education, my FAS training and ultimately my current studies in Trinity College.

... View Full Interview

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