Kerry ETB
Castleisland Community College
Colaiste Phobail Oileán Chiarraí



Leaving Cert Biology

Leaving Certificate biology aims to give learners an appreciation of the complexity of the processes of the cell and of the organism, of the diversity and interrelationships of all living things and their environment. Learners will develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of biology and how they relate to each other and understand how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how biology contributes to society.

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 good 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.

Course Overview

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 6th Year to Killarney National Park where student get a first-hand experience on how to apply their knowledge to a woodland habitat. Particular emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of Biology, and there are 22 mandatory activities that each student must carry out for themselves. 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 and Science. An ecology portfolio has also to 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.

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)

Exam Structure

The examination at higher and ordinary level is three hours 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.

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
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Members of the Castleisland Community College Student Council who have been cited, with their guidance counsellor, Juanite Lovett, as being instrumental in the college gaining its fourth Ambassador School Award. Included are from
Tonbwee, Castleisland, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
066 7141196
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