Biology is derived from a Greek term meaning ‘to talk about life’. As a Science subject, Biology is the study of living organisms and how they interact with the environment. Biology deals with every aspect of life in a living organism.

Biology represents the most challenging and exciting frontier in science. With new developments every day and endless possibilities, modern Biology based on genetics and DNA is having and will have a huge influence on our lives.

Biology is a key subject for lots of STEM careers, particularly in healthcare, medicine and jobs involving plants and animals. Many of our students further their knowledge of biology in careers such as medicine, dentistry, dietetics, veterinary, forensic science, optometry, physiotherapy, geology, genetics, pharmacy and research.


Through the study of Biology, we aim to:

  • stimulate interest in and enjoyment of Biology;
  • encourage and enable students to reach their full potential through support and challenge;
  • enable students to become confident citizens by developing skills, knowledge and understanding, enabling them to formulate and communicate their own opinions about developments in Biology;
  • develop student’s knowledge and understanding of health and safety issues;
  • encourage students to become independent learners;
  • develop skills in data handling, ICT, communication and investigative work, as well as problem solving, organisational, research and analytical skills;
  • ensure all students reach their potential.



  • Mr G Tate (Head of Department)
  • Ms M Clancy (Assistant Principal)
  • Mr P Fitzsimons (Head of Year 8)

Biology is taught by all Science teachers at KS3 and by Mr Fitzsimons, Mr Tate and Ms Clancy at GCSE and A level. Practical provision is aided by Mrs Sage. The department is housed in 2 laboratories, well served by a spacious preparation laboratory and greenhouse. To support the teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom throughout the academic year, Biology students have opportunities to go on educational trips and listen to talks from various organisations. Students also have opportunities to take part in competitions such as the Biology Challenge or the QUB Biology Olympiad.

Key Stage 3 Biology


In Years 8, 9 and 10, Biology is taught as a component of the Junior Science Curriculum, alongside Chemistry and Physics. Students will cover topics such as, Cells, Reproduction, Ecology, Digestion, Circulation, Breathing and Respiration, and there will be many opportunities to explore ‘How Science Works’ through experiments and investigations.


Key Stage 4 Biology

In March of Year 10, students will select their GCSE subjects. They can continue their study of Biology, by selecting either Double Award Biology or GCSE Biology.

Double Award Biology is taught over 3 periods per week whereas GCSE Biology is taught over 4/5 periods per week. A grade B or higher in either pathway will allow students to continue their stud of Biology to A level.


Post 16


A-level Biology is a very popular subject in St. Patrick’s Grammar School. Although a challenging course, it is very enjoyable and allows progression to many courses at third level.




 We follow the CCEA Specification which consists of two Examination Units and a Practical Skills Unit.


Biology will be taught over four or five periods each week and students will use the GCSE Biology for CCEA Textbook. The following topics will be covered in Year 11 and Year 12:


Formative assessment will take place continuously through class activities, oral questioning and written homework. Summative assessment will take place through formal examinations in December and March and there will be regular topic tests throughout the year.
Students studying biology must be able to apply their knowledge to unfamiliar situations. They should be reading around the course and should be using a wide variety of resources to extend their understanding: other biology textbooks, biology journals and Internet sites.


AS Level


We follow the CCEA specification which consists of two externally assessed written examinations and an internally assessed practical component.

The structure of the AS course is summarised in the table below:

Unit            Assessment Weighting

AS 1 – Molecules and Cells

Written paper: Thursday,   16 June 2016 (1hr 30 mins)

40% of AS

AS 2 – Organisms and   Biodiversity

Written paper: Thursday,   23 June 2016 (1hr 30 mins)

40% of AS

AS 3 – Assessment of   Practical Skills (Coursework)

Internal practical assessment

(Further details below)

20% of AS

The table below shows the outline of the AS Biology course as it will be delivered in St Patrick’s:

Topics Teaching Time
Term 1

1.1  Biological   Molecules

1.3    DNA Technology

1.2    Enzymes

1.4  Viruses and 1.5 Cells

1.6 Cell Physiology

1.7 Continuity of Cells

1.8 Tissues and Organs

3 weeks

2 weeks

2 weeks

2 weeks

2 weeks

1 week

1 week

Term 2

2.1 Transport and Exchange Mechanisms

      The principles of exchange   and transport

      Gaseous Exchange

      Transport in plants and   transpiration

      Circulatory systems in   mammals

2.2 The Adaptation of Organisms

1 week

1 week

2 weeks

2 weeks

2 weeks

Term 3

2.3 Biodiversity

2   weeks


The learning objectives for each topic can be found in the CCEA Specification

Resources:   Students will be provided with the CCEA AS Biology textbook and supplementary materials are available on Fronter to accommodate independent learning and assist with assessment of learning.

Assessment: Summative assessment will take place through formal examinations in December and March and regular topic tests using past paper questions will be used to determine knowledge and understanding of course content.

Controlled Assessment/Coursework: Given the procedures, students will implement and write-up two different investigations. The 2015-2016 investigations will come from Unit 1 topics (Enzymes and Cell Physiology). The deadline for submission of coursework is Friday, 2nd March



In year 14 Biology students follow the CCEA specification. This consists of two modules (A21 and A22) and a coursework element. The course is delivered over 10 class periods each week Students will be provided with the CCEA A-level Biology textbook and class notes. Supplementary materials are available on Google Classroom to accommodate independent learning.

Summative assessment will take place through formal internal examinations in December and March. On-going formative assessment will take place through class activities, oral questioning and written homework. There will be regular topic tests throughout the course.

Term 1

Biological Statistics

4.1 Homeostasis

4.2 Immunity

4.3 Coordination and Control

4.4 Ecosystems

  1. Populations
  2. Communities
  3. Ecological Energetics
  4. Nutrient Cycling
  5. Adverse impact of human activity on the environment.
Term 2

5.1 Respiration

5.2 Photosynthesis

5.3 DNA as the Genetic Code

5.4 Gene Technology

5.5 Genes and Patterns of Inheritance

5.6 Mechanisms of Change

5.7 Kingdom Plantae

Term 3 5.8 Kingdom Animalia

The table below shows the outline of the A2 Biology course as it will be delivered in St Patrick’s in 2016-2017:

Unit Assessment Weighting
A2 1 – Physiology and Ecosystems Written paper: Monday, 12 June 2017 (2 hrs)

40% of A2

A2 2 – Biochemistry, Genetics and Evolutionary Trends Written paper: Tuesday, 20 June 2017 (2 hrs) 40% of A2
A2 3 – Assessment of Practical Skills (Coursework)

Internal practical assessment

20% of A2

For further information, visit the CCEA website where you will find the A2 Specification and assessment material. 

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