The Royal Belfast Academical Institution

Biology

Head of Department: Mr G. Russell

Members of Department: Mrs J. Muise (Vice-Principal), Mr D. Scott (Senior Housemaster of Pirrie House), Mrs K. Parks, Mr A. Scott, Mr B. Johnston (Technician)

Welcome to the RBAI Biology Department!

Resources

All of the Biology Department is to be re-located to the upper floor of the C and G blocks during the summer of 2019. There will be four new labs, each of which will be resourced to Advanced Level, including interactive whiteboards. Work is due to be completed in time for the new academic year (2019/20).

Why study Biology?

The study of Biology allows pupils to develop a wide-range of transferable skills including:

Data collection, data handling, analytical skills, innovation & creative thinking, critical thinking & drawing conclusions, time management & planning, working accurately and safely both individually and with others, practical and enquiry skills, decision making, communication skills, numeracy and ICT.

As a result of these skills, biologists are versatile and competitive in the job market. Areas where career opportunities exist include: Research, Health Care, Environmental Management and Conservation, Education, Biotechnology, Forensic Science, Business and Industry, Economics, Mathematics, Politics, Journalism and Art.

Teaching and Learning:

Key Stage 3

Year 8

Biology is taught as part of General Science. There are eight Year 8 classes with each class taught General Science 6 periods per week by 3 teachers (usually subject specialists). All notes are in the form of booklets which allow the pupils to be introduced to all three Sciences in a stimulating and productive sequence. Continuous assessment in the form of Topic Tests is used for formative and summative purposes. There is also an end of year examination. All these assessments are used to help inform decisions regarding GCSE subject choices at the end of Year 10.

Biology topics studied include:

  • What is Biology?
  • Biodiversity
  • Organs of the body
  • Nutrition & Food tests
  • Healthy Brain & Sense organs

Year 9

There are eight Year 9 classes with each class taught for 6 periods per week by 3 teachers (subject-specialists) with all three Sciences covered. Assessment is similar to that in Year 8.

Topics studied include:

  • Respiration
  • Respiratory system
  • Digestive system
  • Circulatory system
  • Reproductive system

Year 10

There are eight Year 10 classes. Pupils have 2 periods of Biology per week, taught by a subject specialist. Assessment is similar to that in Years 8 and 9. The marks in all assessments allow a final summative evaluation of each pupil to help inform decisions regarding GCSE subject choices.

Topics studied include:

  • Health
  • Cells
  • Genetics
  • Plant Structure & Photosynthesis
  • Plant Reproduction

Key Stage 4

GCSE

Pupils are taught Biology by subject specialists and are timetabled for 4 periods of Biology per week. We deliver CCEA's Revised GCSE Biology Specification. Details can be found at http://www.ccea.org.uk/biology/

GCSE Biology Specification at a Glance

Content

Assessment

Weightings

Availability

Unit 1:

Cells, Living Processes and Biodiversity

External written examination.

Students answer compulsory structured questions that include short responses, extended writing and calculations.

Foundation and Higher Tiers: 1 hour 15 minutes.

35%

Summer from 2018

Unit 2:

Body Systems, Genetics, Microorganisms and Health

External written examination.

Students answer compulsory structured questions that require short responses, extended writing and calculations.

Foundation and Higher Tiers: 1 hour 30 mins

40%

Summer from 2019

Unit 3: Practical skills

Booklet A

Students carry out two externally marked pre-release practicals in the final year of study.

Foundation and HigherTiers: 2 hours

7.5%

Between 1 January and 1 May each year

(beginning in 2019)

Booklet B

External written examination.

Students answer compulsory structured questions that include short responses, extended writing and calculations, all set in a practical context.

There are two tiers of entry

Foundation and Higher Tiers: 1 hour

17.5%

Every Summer

(beginning in 2019)

At least 40 percent of the assessment (based on unit weightings) must be taken at the end of the course as terminal assessment.

Key Stage 5

Pupils follow the CCEA Revised GCE Biology Specification. Details can be found at http://www.ccea.org.uk/biology/

The CCEA specification is designed to promote continuity, coherence and progression within the study of Biology. The A Level award provides a basis for the further study, at tertiary level, of Biology and related courses. For those progressing directly into employment, an AS or A Level award is relevant, not only in the fields of science, engineering and medicine, but also to areas of commerce and the public service in which problem-solving and practical skills are valued. The specification helps to provide an understanding of how biological developments affect the environment. The specification also contributes towards an understanding of ethical and cultural issues, thus adding to a full and rounded education.

The full Advanced GCE comprises the AS level (studied during Year 13) and the second half of the course, referred to as A2 (studied during Year 14). Although the AS can be taken as a “stand-alone” qualification without progression to A2, the majority of the pupils who complete AS Biology at RBAI continue with their Biology studies to A2 level.

The assessment units can be summarised as follows:

Content

Assessment

Weightings

AS 1: Molecules and Cells

External written examination.

1 hour 30 mins

Students answer six to eight structured questions and write an essay.

37.5% of AS

15% of A level

AS 2: Organisms and Biodiversity

External written examination.

1 hour 30 mins

Students answer six to eight structured questions and write an essay.

37.5% of AS

15% of A level

AS 3: Practical Skills in AS Biology

External written examination assessing practical skills.

(1 hour) and internal practical assessment

(Teachers mark the assessment, and CCEA moderate the results.)

25% of AS

10% of A level

A2 1: Physiology, Co-ordination and Control, and Ecosystems

External written examination.

2 hours 15 mins

Students answer six to nine structured questions and write an essay.

24% of A level

A2 2: Biochemistry, Genetics and Evolutionary Trends

External written examination.

2 hours 15 mins

Students answer six to nine structured questions and write an essay.

24% of A level

A2 3: Practical Skills in Biology

External written examination assessing practical skills.

(1 hour 15 mins) and internal practical assessment.

(Teachers mark the assessment, and CCEA moderate the results.)

12% of A level

A-Level Field trip to Portaferry

Every year boys and staff embark on a field trip to Portaferry as part of their AS Biology studies. Specifically, the boys carry out a transect and shore profile of a rocky shore near Lee's Wreck. The trip also includes a guided tour of the Exploris Aquarium.

GCSE Biology Success

Congratulations to Year 12 on an excellent set of GCSE results (100% A*-C).

A-Level Biology Success

Omar Helmy not only achieved an A* in his A-level Biology but also came first overall in Northern Ireland with a score of 596/600. His achievement was recently acknowledged at Stormont by the Education Minister, Peter Weir and representatives from CCEA. Also, congratulations to Angus Harley who scored 298/300 in his AS Biology.

Competitions

The Biology Department has enjoyed participating in many activities outside of the curriculum. We have had an increased number of boys taking part in a wide variety of competitions and projects, in collaboration with external organisations such as Sentinus and Queen’s University.

Biologists in the Sixth Form compete in the National Biology Olympiad. Recent successes are Mark Austin, Edward Tang and Callam Wallace who were commended for their efforts, and Alex Gaston who was highly commended in the competition.

Dec
10 2019
Christmas Dinner
Dec
11 2019
Prefect Christmas Lunch
Dec
12 2019
Year 10 Carousel
Dec
12 2019
Year 10 Project Business
College Square East, Belfast, Co. Antrim, BT1 6DL
Tel: 028 90 240461
© 2019 The Royal Belfast Academical Institution