Biology is the study of life. Studying biology at leaving cert level is an exciting experience that comes with a considerable amount of work. The course will allow students to employ the processes of science in their investigations and experiments over the two years. This practical application of learning is often a welcome break for students who at times can get overwhelmed from the seemingly endless stream of essay writing across other leaving cert subjects.
The leaving cert biology course allows students to explore the diversity of life and relationships between organisms and their environment.
The leaving cert biology syllabus provides a productive portfolio of learnings through its material for students who wish to pursue a career in the area, as well as those who merely wish to achieve a high grade in the exam. The learnings which surface over the course of the two years and the skills which students develop in the process of completing the course are often applicable in many facets of life and other career paths outside of science.
The course is designed to excite students about biology which justifiably yields exciting employment opportunities while improving crucial competencies such as judgment and estimation skills which are required across countless other professions. It should enable students as future citizens to discuss and make judgments that impact their daily lives and society.
More importantly, studying biology will leave students with a greater understanding of the world around them and is sure to fascinate students.
Biology is a broad course at leaving cert level that gives students a taste for the many avenues which open as a result of studying the subject. This diverse course introduces a range of new topics to students, as well as expanding on some facets which students would be familiar with from the more general science course that they would have completed as part of the junior cert program.
The leaving cert biology ordinary level and higher level courses are broken down into three sections. These sections help students to differentiate between the many chapters which make up the leaving cert textbooks.
Unit One deals with the study of life, Unit two introduces the structure and functions of the cell and Unit three is comprised of chapters that revolve around the organism. These three sections are also separated within the final leaving cert biology exam, so it is important for students to familiarise themselves with the course structure in order to maximise their grade in the subject.
In this blog, I will provide a breakdown of each of these sections for students who may be considering studying biology as a leaving cert subject, or simply want a guide for a better understanding of the course structure.
What is the scientific method?
I advise students to begin their preparations for the biology course by starting with Unit 1 on the study of life. This section has a multitude of fascinating and descriptive chapters which inform much of the recourse process for future chapters. The first if which is The Scientific Method, this is how we acquire knowledge and describes the step-by-step process of how a theory may surface and how we might prove that theory through scientific experimentation.
Considering that students will engage in a series of experiments throughout the leaving cert biology course across other chapters, this is certainly a great place to start. An understanding of the scientific method will help students to see the reasoning behind many of the activities within the subject as well as develop key critical thinking skills.
The scientific method process is as follows:
- Make an observation.
- Ask a question.
- Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
- Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
- Test the prediction.
- Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.
This section of the leaving cert biology course also covers interesting topics surrounding ecology such as the characteristics of life, general principles of ecology and the study of an ecosystem. Students will also find a chapter on nutrition within the section which describes the science behind how we fuel our bodies and the role of hormones as regulators in human metabolism.
As you can see there is a great degree of variance in what is offered to students within unit one of the leaving cert biology course, making it an exciting starting point to kickstart your learning.
The fun certainly doesn’t end here, Unit 2 hosts some equally engaging leaving cert biology topics which carry significant weight in the overall structure of the course as well as some exciting career prospects. This section introduces topics which students are likely to be less familiar with such as the structure, metabolism, continuity, and diversity of the cell. This section also goes into the science behind genetics in considerable detail.
Personally, I found genetics to be one of the most interesting topics offered within the leaving cert biology course. I was always interested in the applicability of the learnings from biology and chapters such as genetics are always fascinating to explore.
The same can be said in relation to the cell, where processes such as photosynthesis are introduced. This describes how plants make food from the light of the sun. As you can see from both of these examples you will be learning about the world around you and more particularly the science behind how it functions.
Ultimately these topics of the biology course will provide description and insight into the uniqueness, function, and role of organisms, including themselves. Students will learn about what humans and plants are made of right down to the smallest particle. Unit 2 of the course will present students with awareness for how humans, other living organisms, and their products work, these are all important considerations for making informed evaluations about contemporary biological issues.
Lastly, I will discuss the topics which comprise the final section of the leaving cert biology course, Unit 3. As mentioned earlier this section primarily surrounds the living organism. The chapters in this section break down the individual functions which occur in our bodies each day.
This includes how we break down and use our food as energy through the process of digestion, how we take in oxygen from the atmosphere and breath out carbon dioxide through our raspatory system, and even how we know when to move our hands when we touch hot surfaces from our nervous system.
As you may have noticed from the examples given, these are all things that we are already familiar with and happen without a thought in our bodies each day. Similarly, this section of the course provides explanation for similar processes across other living organisms within the animal kingdom.
In contrast, these processes are foreign to us and while we may be aware that they occur, we mightn’t have any concrete understanding as to how. Students will learn about plants, bacteria and, fungi and how they reproduce, grow and adapt to stimulus. This section will also touch on real-life applications of the material using popular examples in medication such as antibiotics.
Evident from our discussion the leaving cert biology ordinary level and higher-level courses have a considerable variance in material. This leaves students with a more holistic and concrete knowledge of the fundamentals of biology while giving them the opportunity to approach the material in a practical manner via hands-on experiments in class.
I hope that through seeing what topics are available to students within the course that you will now have a better understanding and perhaps some direction of how to study for leaving cert biology.
Find suitable Biology tutors with Superprof
Now that you have a feel for what topics you will be covering within the leaving cert biology course it may be worth exploring the resources available to you to help you with your preparations. A tutor can be a valuable coach to aid you in your learning and tactics for the final exam. Superprof is a community that comprises of millions of tutors around the world. There is certainly no shortage of biology tutors available to Irish students who wish to maximise their grade in the subject.
Having the option to select your preferred tutor after availing of a free trial session allows students to select a tutor which works best with their preferred style of learning. The service provides students with a degree of flexibility in how they learn. Students are given the opportunity to learn through both ‘in person’ and ‘remote’ options, either in the home of the student or tutor or via webcam.
Through Superprof a student can select their tutor to best suit their particular needs, allowing them to better target their weaknesses across the leaving cert biology syllabus. Given that money is never something that is in abundance for students, that platform provides the alternative option for students to select their tutor based on their respective rates.
The hourly rate of tutoring varies from about €8 right up to €30, with some tutors offering a reduced rate for a higher quantity of sessions. Many tutors offer their first lesson for free, giving leaving cert students the opportunity to try out the service before making any commitments. Having an additional mentor to work through leaving cert biology solutions will help students to excel across the extensive range of topics that we discussed in the leaving cert biology course.
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