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Biology overview for years 3 to 5

The subject group overviews show the units taught in each year in each discipline. They include the unit title, key and related concepts, global contexts, statements of inquiry,
objectives, ATL skills and the content (if any).

For years 1 and 2, please see the Modular sciences overview.

Year 3
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
Body systems Systems Function Identities and The human B Thinking: critical Understand that there are systems in the body that
relationships: what it bodys systems thinking: allow the body to fulfill the requisites of life.
20 hours Interaction means to be human interact to support C
the common Thinking: creative Understand the structure of the digestive, ventilation
D thinking and cardiovascular systems and their function in
function of
maintaining a supplying cells with their requirements.
persons health. communication Outline the digestion, absorption and egestion of food,
and the role of enzymes and surface area.
organization Outline the process of ventilation and the relationship
between form and function of the lungs.
affective Outline the mechanism of the heart and the role of
blood vessels.
Research: information
literacy Outline the role of hormones in homeostasis.
Outline the role of the nervous system, including
sense organs, neurons and the central nervous
system (spinal cord and the brain).
Outline the role of the kidney and liver in excretion.
Describe the relationship between muscle and bone to
explain movement using a hinge joint such as the
elbow or the knee.
Outline the structure of the female and male
reproductive systems and explain their function in
terms of production of gametes, fertilization and
Classification and Relationships Evidence Globalization and The relationships A Thinking: critical List the five kingdoms.
variation sustainability: the and patterns thinking
Patterns interconnectedness of identified amongst State examples of features and processes common to
10 hours human-made systems organisms provide Communication: organisms belonging to each of the five kingdoms.
and communities evidence that communication
Describe the purpose of classification for a common
allows the natural Self-management: international nomenclature: facilitating the positioning
world to be organization of new species relative to existing species, allowing
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
classified using Research: information for the patterns of evolution to be traced through the
human-made literacy kingdoms.
List the main taxonomic groups as kingdom, phylum,
class, order, family, genus, species.
State that each organism has a name comprising a
genus and species.
Photosynthesis Systems Transformation Globalization and Photosynthesis B Thinking: critical Use words and symbols to describe how
and respiration sustainability: reflecting and respiration thinking photosynthesis involves the conversion of light energy
Energy on the opportunities and form a system of C into chemical energy.
20 hours tensions provided by the energy Social: collaboration
interconnected nature of transformation State that light from the Sun is composed of a range
Communication: of wavelengths (colours).
the world that humans can communication
manipulate to State that chlorophyll is the main photosynthetic
their advantage. Self-management: pigment.
Outline in simple terms the structure of the leaf as an
Self-management: organ of photosynthesis.
Explain the role of photosynthesis in the ecosystem
Research: information and its importance to the worlds human population.
Outline the effects of temperature, light intensity and
carbon dioxide concentration on the rate of
Explain how humans can manipulate photosynthesis
to their advantage.
Use words and symbols to describe how cell
respiration is the controlled release of energy from
organic compounds in cells.
Describe the importance of respiration in carrying out
the characteristics of life.
Ecosystems Change Balance Fairness and Imbalance in an C Thinking: critical Definitions of key terms such as individual organism,
development: rights and environment thinking population, community, ecosystem, biome, biosphere
15 hours Environment responsibilities creates altered D
conditions for life Thinking: creative Hierarchical structure of ecosystems
affecting future thinking
Relationships between and among individual
generations of Social: collaboration organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems,
species. biomes, and the biosphere
communication Biological community and physical environmental
factors of an ecosystem
affective The relationship between climate and the supporting
of different biomes
Research: information
literacy Ecosystem biodiversitybiotic and abiotic factors
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
Competition within an ecosystemhabitat, niche,
limited resources
Predatorprey interactions
Symbiosisparasites, mutualism, commensalism,
symbiotic relationship
Biomes: tundra, desert, marine, grassland, taiga,
temperate grassland, temperate deciduous forest,
tropical rain forest, savannah, polar ice
Forest ecosystems and the factors that impact upon
them: rainforest, tropical rainforest, temperate
rainforest, tropical dry forest, deciduous forest,
coniferous forest
Aquatic ecosystems and the factors that impact upon
them: freshwater, ocean, wetland, marine, pond
Other ecosystems and the factors that impact upon
them: desert ecosystems, tundra ecosystems,
grassland ecosystems, soil ecosystems
Successionpioneer species, climax community,
Natural selection Relationships Consequence Personal and cultural The A Thinking: critical
expression: the ways in consequences of thinking Outline Darwins experiences that led to the
15 hours Evidence which we discover and natural selection development of the theory of natural selection.
express ideas and beliefs provide evidence Communication:
communication Explain that the theory of natural selection is used to
to support the account for the diversity of organisms on the planet as
theory of Self-management: it is the mechanism underpinning evolution.
evolution. affective
Outline the theory of natural selection by:
Research: information
literacy stating that all organisms produce more
offspring than the environment can support and
explaining that this leads to competition
between members of a species for resources

listing examples of the resources that organisms

compete for

stating that the largest share of the resources

goes to the organisms best adapted to acquire
the resources and that these organisms breed
more successfully and produce more offspring

stating that the genes that made the organisms

competitive are passed on to the next
generation; that this results in these genes
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
becoming more frequent in the population; and
that this can lead to an accumulated change in
the species over time

explaining the evidence for natural selection

with respect to artefacts such as fossils and
selective breeding in agriculture

describing two examples of natural selection.

Year 4
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
Cells Systems Models Personal and cultural Modelling allows the A Thinking: critical The cell theory states that:
expression: the ways specific forms and thinking:
15 hours Form in which we discover specialized functions living organisms are composed of cells
and express ideas that cells exhibit to Self-management:
Function affective
be expressed. the cell is the smallest unit of life
communication cells come from pre-existing cells.
Microscopy has contributed to our knowledge of living
All cells can be classified as eukaryotic or prokaryotic,
each having distinct properties.
Plant, animal and bacteria cells have similarities and
differences in terms of structure and function.
Cells contain different structures and organelles with
specialized functions including:

nucleus, nuclear membrane, nuclear pore



cell membrane

cell wall

Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry




Golgi apparatus

endoplasmic reticulum

Eukaryotic cells have a common set of organelles,
many of which are similar to those in prokaryotic cells.
Cells may be specialized for specific functions (for
example, leaf cell, root hair cell, sperm cell, red blood
Many organisms are unicellular (for example, bacteria,
yeast, algae). In these unicellular organisms, one cell
must carry out all of the basic functions of life.
The cell membrane regulates the flow of substances
into and out of the cell.
The surface area of the cell limits the amount of
substances that can flow into and out of the cell.
The transport of substances into and out of cells
during diffusion and osmosis is based on a
concentration gradient.
Models help us to understand complex biological
DNA and Relationships Models Identities and Models can be used D Thinking: critical Outline that DNA is composed of a double helix.
heredity relationships: identity to represent the thinking
Structure structural and Describe that each helix is made up of units called
10 hours functional Self-management: nucleotides.
Function organization
relationship between State that there are four different nucleotides.
DNA and inherited Communication:
traits. communication: State that the order of the nucleotides varies between
species and between organisms within species.
Research: information
literacy State that DNA profiling or fingerprinting produces a
pattern unique to an individual that can be used for
Research: media purposes of identification.
State that the pattern of nucleotides can be altered by
genetic modification.
Describe the process of DNA replication as the
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
unzipping of the double helix followed by a copying of
each individual strand resulting in two identical
molecules of DNA.
Describe the function of DNA as a template for the
production of proteins that are used to determine the
structure and function of an organism through protein
Enzymes Change Consequence Scientific and Scientists use life B Thinking: critical Describe enzymes as catalysts that increase the rate
technical innovation: processes that are thinking of biological reactions in order to make them useful.
15 hours Interaction the interaction the consequence of C
between people and interactions between Thinking: creative State that enzymes form enzyme substrate complexes
the natural world molecules to create a thinking when the substrate attaches to the active site.
variety of everyday Social: collaboration Describe this attachment as the Lock and Key
products. Hypothesis.
communication State that this catalyses the reaction and that the
enzyme is subsequently released unaltered.
organization State that enzymes are substrate-specific.
Research: information List the factors that can affect enzyme activity
literacy including the effect of concentration of enzyme or
substrate, pH and temperature.
Name three enzymes and their substrates.
Describe one industrial use of enzymes: for example,
fruit juice production or production of biological
washing powder.

Homeostasis Systems Balance Personal and cultural Balance in complex A Thinking: critical Understand the need to regulate the internal
expression: the ways organisms requires thinking environment.
15 hours Interaction in which we discover effective interaction B
and express ideas between systems to Thinking: creative Describe that this involves an equilibrium or set point,
regulate internal thinking detection of deviation from the equilibrium or set point
conditions based on and mechanisms that restore equilibrium.
feedback. organization Understand that the mechanisms that restore
equilibrium might be physiological or behavioural.
affective Understand the term negative feedback through
examples from the nervous systemneurones,
hormones and glands.
Describe and explain the equilibrium, detection and
Research: information
restoration of body temperature, water content of the
body and levels of blood sugar.
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
Ecology Systems Interaction Scientific and Organisms interact B Thinking: critical Interdependence of and interaction between
technical innovation: with the natural thinking populations
15 hours Environment the natural world and environment by C
its laws transferring matter Social: collaboration Carrying capacities, limiting factors and growth curves
and energy. Communication: Patterns of succession in ecosystems
The effects of natural events and human activities on
Self-management: ecosystems and our responsibility in managing these
organization effects
Self-management: Observation and analysis of populations (flora, fauna
affective and micro-organisms) in a local ecosystem
Research: information
Biodiversity Relationships Consequence Globalization and Human decision- D Thinking: critical The variety of life on Earth, or in the habitat or
sustainability: the making impacts upon thinking ecosystem is referred to as biodiversity.
10 hours Interactions impact of decision- the effective
making on interactions required Communication: Some organisms are better adapted to environments
Balance communication than others. For example, plants will adapt to dry and
humankind and the within ecosystems to
Systems environment maintain biodiversity. wet environments to survive.
affective Organisms occupy niches with different environmental
features. A niche is the position or role of a species or
Research: media population in an ecosystem in relation to other species
or populationsfor example, trees, birds and worms
in a forest serve different roles.
Biological diversity must be maintained in all of the
Earths ecosystems to prevent extinction of plants and
animals, the loss of a particular biome and the loss of
untapped resources (for example, fuels and plants
that may be precursors to medicines used to treat
Factors that contribute to the extinction of a species
include alteration of habitat, commercial hunting,
introduction of non-native species, inadequate control
of pests and predators, and pollution.
The more unique an animal or plant is, the more
vulnerable it is to extinction.
The higher an animal is in a food chain, the more
susceptible to extinction it becomes. Larger animals
are easier to hunt because they are less fearful of
human beings. Large animals are also hunted for
economic gainfor example, elephants are hunted for
their ivory tusks.
Large animals, such as mammals, tend to produce
fewer offspring at widely spaced intervals. Their
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
offspring reproduce at a later age than smaller
organisms such as amphibians, fish and plants.
A non-native species is a species living outside its
native ecosystem. It may have been introduced to an
ecosystem deliberately (for example, as a food
source) or accidentally.

Carp were introduced intentionally as a food

source in the United States.

Cats and dogs were introduced to minimize the

number of rats in the human ecosystem.

The stink bug was accidentally introduced into

Pennsylvania through travel from China.
Invasive species are a major threat to ecosystems
because they can change an entire habitat. Invasive
species either crowd out or replace native species that
are beneficial and balanced within a habitat. This is
damaging environmentally and also damaging
economically to humans.
Non-native (alien or introduced) species may become
invasive if they reproduce quickly, have no natural
predators to keep their numbers in balance, or disrupt
the balance of plant/animal life in an ecosystem.
Invasive species may drive local native species
towards extinction, replacing another species niche or
mixing with corresponding native species. Invasive
species may also have impacts on human health.

Purple loosestrife was introduced intentionally in

North America for aesthetic reasons, but
became invasive because of its long flowering
season and production of a large number of

Cane toads were introduced in Australia to eat

pests but became invasive because they spawn
thousands of eggs at a time and had no natural
predators in the environment.

The garlic mustard plant was introduced

intentionally to reduce erosion but because of
the lack of natural predators and the hearty
nature of the plant it became dominant in
American ecosystems and outgrew the plants
Unit title and
Related Statement of
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content
concept(s) inquiry
that were originally in that niche.

The zebra mussel was introduced accidentally

through the ballast water of ocean-going ships.
It has become invasive in North America, Great
Britain and Italy. Zebra mussels attach
themselves to water pipes and clog them.
Female zebra mussels begin reproducing six
weeks after settling and release at least 30,000
eggs in each reproductive cycle. This can result
in each female zebra mussel producing
1,000,000 eggs in a year.
Invasive species, or pests, can be controlled
biologically by introducing the pests natural predator,
confining that pest by fences and barriers (this only
works for large animals), or by using herbicides or
insects in the case of invasive plants.
Sustainability is the practice of creating and
maintaining the conditions in which biodiversity is

Year 5

Unit title and Statement of

Related inquiry
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content

Biochemistry Relationships Balance Identities and A healthy body can B Thinking: critical Energy content of food: bomb calorimeter
relationships: physical be maintained thinking
20 hours Energy health when there is a C Balanced diet
balance between Thinking: creative
thinking Macromolecules: monomers and polymers
energy consumed
and energy used. Social skills: Carbohydrates and their functions
collaboration Fats and their functions
Communication: Proteins and their functions
Adverse effects of malnutrition
Research: information
Research: media
Unit title and Statement of
Related inquiry
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content


Reproduction Systems Form Scientific and technical Systems of A Thinking: critical Describe a life cycle involving sexual reproduction using
innovation: the natural reproduction in the thinking: the examples of a human and a flowering plant.
15 hours Function world and its laws natural world have D
a variety of Thinking: creative Describe a life cycle involving both asexual and sexual
different forms but thinking reproductionfor example, an aphid or coral.
support the same Self-management: Describe the structure of an insect-pollinated flower.
function. affective
Describe the process of pollination, fertilization, seed
Social: collaboration and fruit formation and dispersal.
Communication: Label a diagram of the human male and female
communication: reproductive organs.
Self-management: Describe the mechanism of fertilization, copulation,
organization gestation and lactation.
Research: information
Research: media
Genetics Systems Transformation Orientation in space The transformation A Thinking: creative Genetic information is contained in DNA.
and time: the of genetic material thinking
15 hours Patterns interconnectedness of into inherited traits C Chromosomes are structures of supercoiled DNA found
individuals and connects Self-management: within cells.
civilizations from individuals to one organization
Mitosis leads to the production of cells where the
personal, local and another through Self-management: number of chromosomes is maintained.
global perspectives patterns of affective
inheritance. The relationship between mitosis and meiosis and
Social: collaboration reproduction
Research: information Meiosis leads to the production of sex cells where the
literacy number of chromosomes is halved.
Research: media Compare and contrast the advantages and
literacy disadvantages of mitosis and meiosis.
Traits are characteristics that are passed from parent to
Genes are sections of DNA that give instructions
specifying the traits of an organism.
Genes are inherited.
Genes are located at a specific position on a
chromosome called a locus.
Alleles are specific forms of genes. They occur in pairs
of alternative forms of genes on the same chromosome
Unit title and Statement of
Related inquiry
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content

and control one trait.

Alleles occur in pairs. Homozygous pairs have two
identical alleles of a gene. Heterozygous pairs have two
different alleles of a gene.
Variation occurs in DNA and this leads to different traits.
Variation may be continuous where traits fall into
discrete categories (for example, blood groups).
Variation may be discontinuous where there is a range
of traits from one extreme to another.
Human chromosomes occur in pairs.
Homologous chromosomes are pairs of chromosomes
with genes for the same characteristics, inherited from
both parents.
DNA mutations may be beneficial or harmful but most
are harmless.
The genotypes and phenotypes of offspring can be
determined using a Punnett square.
Construct and use the monohybrid cross to make
predictions on genotypes and phenotypes.
Evolution Change Consequences Fairness and Population change A Thinking: critical Evolution is the change in the inheritable characteristics
development: access to is a consequence thinking of a population over time.
10 hours Balance equal opportunities of the unbalanced
opportunities Research: information When gene frequencies change within a population over
provided by natural literacy time, evolution is occurring.
selection. Research: media Artificial selection (selective breeding) is the process of
literacy breeding organisms for desired characteristics (for
example, dog breeds, wheat, Brassica oleracea)
communication Artificial selection provides a model to help understand
natural selection.
Species evolve over time to adapt to environmental
Species that are well adapted to their environment
evolve less (for example, species in the order
Crocodylia, Ginkgo biloba)
Species that are not well adapted to their environment
may become extinctfor example, dodo (Raphus
cucullatus), woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius).
Adaptations are characteristics that arise because of
natural selectionfor example, peppered moths (Biston
Unit title and Statement of
Related inquiry
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content

betularia) adapted a change in colour due pollution

during the industrial revolution in England.
Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by
natural selection.

Species compete to gain maximal access to


Variation occurs naturally in the population of a

species due to variations in genes.

Individual organisms with characteristics best

suited to the environment will survive and

The genes of successful individuals will be passed

on to future generations.
Mutation, migration and genetic drift also drive evolution.
Evidence for evolution comes from fossil records
(modern horse, Equus ferus caballus).
Evidence for evolution comes from homologous
structures (for example, mammalian forelimbs).
Evolutionary relationships between species can be
shown using branching evolutionary diagrams.
Bio-technology Change Function Scientific and technical Scientific and B Thinking: critical Biotechnology uses cellular and biomolecular processes
innovation: the impact technological thinking to solve problems and create products.
20 hours Transformation of scientific and advances enable D
technological advances societies to use, Thinking: creative Biotechnology can use organisms to make useful food
on communities and control and thinking products (for example, yeast to make bread, bacteria to
environments transform the make yoghurt).
function of reflection Biotechnology can use organisms to produce fuels and
organisms and other chemicals and to treat wastes.
biological Communication:
molecules. communication Biotechnology can use enzymes to allow reactions to
occur more quickly (for example, proteases and lipases
Research: information in biological detergents; pectinase to convert pectin
literacy polysaccharides to clarify fruit juice).
Selective breeding is the process of breeding organisms
for desired characteristics (for example, disease
resistance in wheat, increasing milk yields in cattle
Genetic engineering is faster and more precise than
selective breeding.
Unit title and Statement of
Related inquiry
teaching Key concept Global context Objectives ATL skills Content

Genetic engineering is the transfer of genes for a

desired characteristic from one organism into another
(for example, transferring the beta-carotene production
trait from carrots to golden rice so that humans can
convert beta carotene to vitamin A; production of
synthetic human insulin using genetically modified
Genetic engineering involves selecting a desired trait
and isolating the genes that control the trait. The genes
are then inserted into the genetic material of another
organism and the genetically modified organism
Genetic engineering has both potential benefits and risks
of potential harmful effects.
Gel electrophoresis is a process to separate and analyse
DNA fragments.
A DNA profile is characterized by the banding patterns of
genetic profiles produced by electrophoresis of treated
samples of DNA.
A DNA profile contains information to help identify a
Clones are genetically identical individuals.
Cloning can occur naturally (for example, asexual
reproduction in potato plants; twins) or artificially.
Artificial cloning involves copying desired DNA
fragments, cells or organisms.
Stem cells are found in all organisms, are the only cells
that can divide through mitosis, are not specialized but
can specialize to become any type of cell function.
Stem cells can be used in medical therapies (for
example, bone marrow transplantation; other therapies
at the research stage, such as those treating Parkinsons
disease and spinal cord injury).