Featured Advice
What are your interests?

Linguistic?

Linguistic

The Linguistic's interests are usually focused on ideas and information exchange. They tend to like reading a lot, and enjoy discussion about what has been said. Some will want to write about their own ideas and may follow a path towards journalism, story writing or editing. Others will develop skills in other languages, perhaps finding work as a translator or interpreter. Most Linguistic types will enjoy the opportunity to teach or instruct people in a topic they are interested in.

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?

Sharon Carty, Opera Singer
My advice if you're uncertain about choosing subjects is to choose things you're interested in, rather than what you think will be good for your career. A broad education will serve you really well not only in terms of college options, but also can enrich your life outside of school and work. I have a huge interest in astronomy and loved studying physics in school, and although I'd never have had the talent in Maths to study it at 3rd level or have a career in it, it meant I can really enjoy reading popular science books and keep up with what's going on in space exploration, as a hobby. For Leaving Certificate I studied English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Music, Biology, German and Classical Studies. Looking back, the subjects I did (specifically English, Music, Classics and German) meant that I was well-equipped with a lot of background knowledge that was helpful in my career as a singer, in terms of literature, language and musical training. Without having studied Music at 2nd level, with the wonderful teacher I had, I am 100% certain I wouldn't be a singer today.

... View Full Interview

Elaine MacDonald, Psychologist - Clinical

I like the way that the Irish school system allows students to study a variety of subjects to get a broad base.

I chose a range of subjects including languages (French and Spanish) which allowed me to make friends and really immerse myself in different cultures during my summers abroad.

I feel that Maths helped me to develop my logical mind, and prepared me well for learning to use statistics which are widely used in Clinical Psychology.

Biology was certainly useful to take in school and is relevant to Clinical Psychology because of its focus on how the human body works and how the brain functions.

English was also useful to the role of Clinical Psychologist as report writing skills are used across the board, and good ability to express yourself both verbally and in writing is very important.

I also feel that my involvement in school sports (hockey and swimming) was important in helping me develop into a person who enjoys being part of a team.

... View Full Interview

Rachel Berry, Pharmacist

For GCSE I studied Maths, Additional Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geography, English Language and Literature and German.

For A-Level I took Maths, Chemistry and Biology. I chose these subjects primarily because I was good at them and also because I enjoyed them. The school I attended was very academic and I always knew my future career would involve science of some description so the choices I made were logical.

I do regret not continuing on with art, although at the time I wasn't sure I could spare the time to commit to an extra subject that wasn't really going to come in useful. I guess you just have to weigh up costs and benefits. I found it very helpful to have a good grasp of statistics and pure maths as these topics came up quite alot during the pharmacy degree.

If you are thinking of taking a degree in pharmacy make sure you look at the admission requirements in good time as they can be quite specific and I know the grades are increasing every year so you need to be sure you are capable of making the grades.

... View Full Interview

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