Levels offered: National 4, National 5, Higher, Advanced Higher
Biology — the study of living organisms — plays a crucial role in our everyday existence, and is an increasingly important subject in the modern world. Advances in technologies have made this varied subject more exciting and relevant than ever. Biology affects everyone and aims to find solutions to many of the world’s problems. It explores the use of genetic modification to produce new plants and drugs, devising fertility treatments, curing genetic diseases, and developing new sources of food. The course will be of interest and value to learners wishing to develop Problem Solving skills and knowledge and understanding of biology.
Who might choose this subject?
Pupils who have a keen interest in the natural world and how the body works will enjoy this subject. As a biologist, you could use your skills in a variety of ways, such as in agriculture, to improve productivity in livestock or crops, to tackle environmental issues, such as ways of cleaning polluted rivers so that fish can thrive, and in conservation, supporting a variety of plants and animals in their natural environment. Biologists are also sought after in careers like medicine, developing new methods to diagnose, monitor and treat illness or disease, in industry, preventing food contamination or creating ways to dispose of waste safely, and in teaching, lecturing and academic research.
National 4: To achieve the National 4 course, learners must pass all of the required Units, including the Added Value Unit. National 4 courses are not graded and National 4 has no external SQA exam paper.
National 5: To achieve the National 5 course, learners must pass all of the required Units and the course assessment which is graded A to D. The course assessment will consist of two components: an assignment (20%) and a question paper (80%). Both will be externally SQA assessed. Each component will assess both skills and knowledge and understanding. The question paper will have a greater emphasis on knowledge and understanding while the assignment will have a greater emphasis on skills.
Higher: To achieve the Higher course, learners must pass all of the required units, the assignment, and the course assessment which is graded A to D. The assignment and exam marks are added together to give a total out of 120 marks. This total mark determines the grade awarded.
Advanced Higher: To achieve the Advanced Higher course, learners must pass the course assessment and complete an independent research project. The project allows learners to carry out an in-depth investigation of a biology topic and produce a detailed project report.