Unit 1 – How do organisms regulate their functions?

In this unit students examine the cell, from the single celled to the multicellular organism, including the requirements for sustaining cellular processes. Students focus on cell growth, replacement and death and the role of stem cells in differentiation, specialisation and renewal of cells. They explore how systems function through cell specialisation in vascular plants and animals, and consider the role homeostatic mechanisms play in maintaining an animal’s internal environment.

Unit 2 – How does inheritance impact on diversity?

In this unit students explore reproduction and the transmission of biological information from generation to generation and the impact this has on species diversity. They explain the inheritance of characteristics, analyse patterns of inheritance, interpret pedigree charts and predict outcomes of genetic crosses.

Students analyse the advantages and disadvantages of asexual and sexual reproductive strategies, including the use of reproductive cloning technologies. They study structural, physiological and behavioural adaptations that enhance an organism’s survival and interdependence of species. They also consider the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives in understanding the survival of organisms in Australian ecosystems.

Assessment is school-based for units 1 and 2

Unit 3 – How do cells maintain life?

In this unit students investigate the workings of the cell from several perspectives. They explore the relationship between nucleic acids and proteins as key molecules in cellular processes. Students analyse the structure and function of nucleic acids as information molecules, gene structure and expression in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and proteins as a diverse group of functional molecules. They examine the biological consequences of manipulating the DNA molecule and applying biotechnologies.

Students explore the structure, regulation and rate of biochemical pathways, with reference to photosynthesis and cellular respiration. They explore how the application of biotechnologies to biochemical pathways could lead to improvements in agricultural practices.

Unit 3 Coursework contributes 20% to final study score.

Unit 4 – How does life change and respond to challenges?

In this unit students consider the continual change and challenges to which life on Earth has been, and continues to be, subjected to. They study the human immune system and the interactions between its components to provide immunity to a specific pathogen. Students consider how the application of biological knowledge can be used to respond to bioethical issues and challenges related to disease.

Students consider how evolutionary biology is based on the accumulation of evidence over time. They investigate the impact of various change events on a population’s gene pool and the biological consequences of changes in allele frequencies. Students examine the evidence for relatedness between species and change in life forms over time using evidence from paleontology, structural morphology, molecular homology and comparative genomics. Students examine the evidence for structural trends in the human fossil record, recognising that interpretations can be contested, refined or replaced when challenged by new evidence.

Unit 4 Coursework contributes 30% to final study score.

The final examination on unit 3 and 4 content contributes 50% to final study score.