Students working away in the science lab

Students working away in the science lab


Subject Overview

At Columba College we believe that through the study of Biology, students employ the processes of Science to explore the diversity of life and inter-relationships between organisms. Students will become aware of the use of living organisms to enhance human health and the environment. They will be provided with the knowledge and understanding to pursue further education, training and employment in Biology and also to make judgements on issues that impact on their daily lives.

Leaving Certificate Biology is divided into three units.

UNIT 1: Scientific Method, Characteristics of Living Things, Food/Nutrition, Ecology and Fieldwork.

UNIT 2: The Cell, Cell Division, Photosynthesis, Respiration, Genetics, DNA, Evolution, Genetic Engineering, Protein Synthesis and Enzymes, Diffusion and Osmosis.

UNIT 3: Fungi, Bacteria, Viruses, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Plant Anatomy and Physiology.

Many of these topics are covered in Junior Cycle, however they are treated in much more detail and depth at Leaving Certificate level.


In the Biology department we use a number of different methodologies such as :

  • Keywords
  • Relating syllabus to everyday life
  • Use of posters to enhance learning
  • Students writing definitions
  • Peer teaching
  • Questions
  • Concept and mind maps
  • Powerpoint as a revision tool
  • Practical activities

This leads to students mastering the following key skills:

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Communicating
  • Information processing
  • Being personally effective
  • Working with others


Assessment takes place in classroom through:

  • Verbal Questioning
  • Use of worksheets and handouts
  • Use of exam papers
  • Designing of mind maps
  • Writing of summary notes on topics taught
  • Use of regular class tests

Exam Structure:

The Leaving Certificate Biology Exam is worth 100%, there is currently no continuous assessment.The subject is available at both Higher and Ordinary Level, with most of the course being covered for both levels. The exam structure for both levels is the same, and the exam lasts for 3 hours.

Section A- Short Questions

6 Questions, Answer 5.

100 marks = 25%

Section B – Experiment Questions

3 Questions, Answer 2.

60 marks = 15%

Section C – Long Questions

6 Questions, Answer 4.

240 marks = 60%

Assessment takes placed within the laboratory/classroom by:

  • Verbal Questioning
  • Use of worksheets and handouts
  • Use of exam papers
  • Designing of mind maps
  • Writing of summary notes on topics taught
  • Use of regular class tests

Useful Tips

• Past exam papers – Once you have studied a topic or chapter do all past exam questions related to the topic or chapter from the Leaving Certificate exam papers.
• Get a Biology Revision Copy and write out the main points in bullet form from each chapter you are studying starting.
• Write in bullet points all definitions into the revision copy and learn off exactly as it is in the book/notes.
• Do all questions at the end of chapter in the revision copy.
• Useful website for extra notes on Leaving Certificate Biology is
• Students must write out and learn the methods, result and conclusion to each experiment (There is 22 in total on the Leaving Certificate course).
• A student taking Biology for their leaving certificate should study Biology for at least 1 hour 5 days a week in 5th year and 1.5 hours 5 days a per week in 6th year.

Career Prospects

Biology is a necessary requirement for many careers. The following list is only a general guide. Biology is used in many other career paths and third level courses.

Medicine, Nursing, Beauty Therapy, Hairdressing, Pharmaceutical Science, Sport Science, General Science, Physiotherapy, PE Teaching, Fitness Instructor, Disease Research, Marine Biologist, Zoologist, Veterinary, First Aid, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Nursing, Veterinary Nursing, Agricultural Science, Microbiology, Food Industry, Horticulture, Nutrition & Dietician, Massage Therapist, Sports Injury

Useful websites for students