Featured Advice
What are your interests?

Realist?

Realist

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.

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?

Lynsey Gargan, Manufacturing Engineer
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.

... View Full Interview

Aoife Mc Dermott, Lecturer
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!

... View Full Interview

Tomas Flanagan, Occupational Therapist

In school we had to choose our Leaving Cert subjects just before the Junior Cert. At this stage I had no idea what I wanted to do as a profession but I knew I wanted to go to College.

In order to keep my options open I chose a mix of subjects to include one language, one science subject and one business subject. In addition to the obligatory English, Irish & Maths I therefore studied French, Biology, Geography & Accounting. I chose these particular subjects as I had an interest in them at Junior Cert level.

I suppose Biology was the most relevant of my subjects when I started college as there was some overlap with Anatomy and Physiology. We also studied research and statistics in college which were Maths related.

... View Full Interview

Career Articles

Six Reasons to Choose Medtech
Six Reasons to Choose Medtech
Posted by CareersPortal
Top Ten Skills for 2020
Top Ten Skills for 2020
Posted by CareersPortal
Ireland: A Global Leader in Production of Infant Milk Formula
Ireland: A Global Leader in Production of Infant Milk Formula
Posted by CareersPortal
Dairy Farming: Can You Milk It?
Dairy Farming: Can You Milk It?
Posted by CareersPortal
What Can I do with a Degree in Maths?
What Can I do with a Degree in Maths?
Posted by CareersPortal
5 Ways Ireland is an Attractive Location for Biopharma Companies
5 Ways Ireland is an Attractive Location for Biopharma Companies
Posted by CareersPortal