Biology is the study of living things.

The main aims of Leaving Certificate Biology, as outlined in the syllabus, are:

  • to encourage in students an attitude of scientific enquiry, of curiosity and self-discovery
  • to develop an understanding of biological facts and principles
  • to enhance an interest in and develop an appreciation of the nature and diversity of living things
  • to create an awareness of the application of biological knowledge to modern society
  • to develop in students an ability to make informed evaluations about contemporary biological issues.

The syllabus consists of three units:

Unit Topics
Unit 1 – Biology – The Study of Life The scientific method
Characteristics of life
Unit 2 – The Cell Cell structure and function
Photosynthesis and respiration
Diffusion and osmosis
Unit 3 – The Organism Five kingdoms of living things
Bacteria, fungi and viruses
Animal physiology
Plant physiology


During their studies, students undertake 22 experiments at Higher Level or 21 experiments at Ordinary Level. A record of the experiments is kept by each student.

Leaving Certificate Biology is assessed at both higher and ordinary levels. Assessment comprises of 100% terminal written examination. The examination is worth 400 marks in total and takes the following structure:

Section  Number of questions to be completed  Question breakdown  Time to spend

Short questions

100 marks (25%)

 5 out of 6 2 from Unit 1
2 from Unit 2
2 from Unit 3
 30 minutes


60 marks (15%)

 2 out of 3  All questions from the 22 (21 @ OL) mandatory experiments  30 minutes

Long questions


240 marks (60%)

4 out of 6

Q14 & 15 – answer any two of (a), (b) or (c).

1 from Unit 1
2 from Unit 2
3 from Unit 3
120 minutes

30 minutes per question


The biology syllabus is currently under review.

Items required by students
Textbook: ‘Biology Plus’ by Michael O’Callaghan. Published by Edco.
Leaving Certificate Biology Examination Papers
A4 Hardback Experiment Copy
Homework Copy

Websites that you may find useful  Notes and videos on selected topics available  Class notes on all topics  State Examinations Commission website – material archive provides all past examination papers and marking schemes  Articles that show the practical applications of Biology in everyday life  Class notes, summary mind maps, self-test sheets and class tests for each topic  YouTube channel geared towards the Leaving Certificate Biology Syllabus  Summary notes of each topic  Compilation of useful and relevant resources


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