Course Syllabus

IBDP Biology SL / HL Course Syllabus


The Biology IB HL course is designed to enhance the students’ understanding of living systems and their place in the environment. It is based on the requirements of the International Baccalaureate Program for Diploma or certificate credit. It is an intensive experimental science course, which will include many laboratory sessions based on the content being studied.


The course consists of the following major topics covered through lectures, demonstrations, computer simulations, laboratory experiments, and projects (long term):


Year 1 First Semester


Topic 1:  Statistical Analysis

1.1  Bar Errors

1.2  -4  Mean and Standard Deviation

1.1.5       T-test (two-tailed, unpaired)

1.1.6       Pearson Correlation


Topic 2: Cells

2.1 Cell theory

2.2 Prokaryotic Cells

2.3 Eukaryotic cells

2.4 Membranes and Cell Transport

2.5 Cell division


Topic 3: The Chemistry of Life

3.1   Chemical elements and water

3.2 / 7.5  Carbohydrates, lipids and proteins

3.6 / 7.6    Enzymes

3.3 / 7.1    DNA Structure

3.4 / 7.2    DNA Replication

3.5.1 – 4 / 7.3.1-2    Transcription

3.5 / 7.4.3 – 7    Translation


Year 1 Second Semester


Topic 3: The Chemistry of Life

3.7 / 8.1     Cell Respiration

3.8 / 8.2     Photosynthesis


Topic 4: Genetics

4.1   Chromosomes, genes, alleles and mutations

4.2 / 10.1   Meiosis

4.3   Theoretical genetics

10.2 Dihybrid Crosses

10.2 Gene Linkage

10.3 Polygenic Inheritance

4.4  Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology


Topic 5 / Option G: Ecology and Conservation / Evolution

5.1   Communities and ecosystems

5.2   Greenhouse Effect

5.3    Populations

G.5   Population Ecology

G.1   Community Ecology

G.2   Ecosystems and Biomes

G.3   Impacts of Humans on Ecosystems

G.4   Conservation of Biodiversity

5.4    Evolution

5.5    Classification  



Year II First Semester



Topic 9:  Plant Science

9.1      Plant Structure and Growth

9.2      Transport in Angiospermophytes

9.3      Reproduction in Angiospermophytes


Topic 6 / Option E: Human health and Physiology

6.1   Digestion

6.2   The transport system

6.3 / 11.1    Defense Against Infectious Diseases

6.4   Gas exchange

6.5 / E.5    Nervous System: The Human Brain

6.5 / E.1    Nervous System:  Nerves

E.2    Perception of Stimuli

E.4    Neurotransmitters and Synapses

E.1, 3,6     Behavior and Response

6.5   Homeostasis:  Endocrine Glands

11.3  Homeostasis:  Excretory System


Year II Second Semester


6.6 / 11.4  Reproduction

11.2  Muscular System


·         Review/Mock Exam I (IB Examinees); Human Physiology (non-IB students)

·         Review/Mock Exam II (IB Examinees); Human Physiology (non-IB students)




Group 4 Project:


Students will complete an IB group 4 project, relating to a joint investigation by students taking IB examinations in biology, chemistry and physics. The project involves choosing a topic, developing hypotheses, a day of collecting data in the field, analysis of data, and presentation of findings to the entire group.





The IB HL external exam consists of 3 papers occupying 4.5 hours. Paper 1 is mainly multiple choice questions, single stage problems based on the overall knowledge of the subjecy specific core (SSC) and additional higher level material (AHL). Paper 2 covers material common to SSC and AHL at the level of analysis and synthesis. Section A of paper 3 contains short answer data based questions. Section B consists of a written essay, problem solving exercises and substantial analysis and evaluation questions. Paper 3 contains a compulsory set of questions covering the options studied. There will be short answer questions, structured questions, and broad extended response (essay) questions.


The following percentages will be used to calculate the grade. Students will receive summaries for each unit. They should keep these records so that they can calculate their grade whenever they chose to (rather than ask the teacher).



Biology IB  I


Unit score:


  • participation/behavior 5%
  • worksheets 20%
  • lab investigations 35%
  • unit test 40%


Quarter grade: average of unit scores

1st Semester grade: average of unit scores

2nd Semester grade:

  • unit average: 70%
  • Group 4: 10%
  • final exam: 20%


Biology IB  II


Unit score:


·         class participation 5%

·         worksheets 20%

·         lab investigations 35%

·         unit test 40%


Quarter grade: average of unit/mock scores

Semester grade: average of unit/mock scores


The following below applies to Biology IB 1 and II


Keeping records:


You are required to maintain a complete record of your laboratory work, which may be used as a sample for moderation of our IB internal assessment. In addition, you must keep a notebook with lecture notes, articles assigned, etc. You will construct a portfolio investigation which will contain all lab/activities, instructions, data analysis, outcomes of data manipulations, and complete laboratory reports. All of these must be kept on file in the biology laboratory. Further, if you are planning to sit for an IB exam, you should maintain a file for each unit of study with all of the handouts from that unit. These items will prove indispensable when revising for the IB external examinations at the end of the senior year.


Extra Credit:


Extra credit can only be earned by reading latest articles or a book on biology which has been approved by the teacher, and taking notes and writing summaries. To exercise this option, the book must be approved by the teacher before the end of the 1st quarter of the current year, and the notes and summaries, plus completed evaluation form, must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the end of the semester grading period. Extra credit will be added to the current unit, quarter, or semester grade, whichever is the most cumulative.


Attendance, absences, late work and test preparation:


The High School Student & Parent Handbook should be consulted for school-wide policies. In addition, the following apply to biology:



Generally, class will begin on time and run for an entire 80 minutes, during which students are expected to work productively on biology. If you are late, even for a few seconds, you will be required to provide a tardy slip or admission slip. If you are not excused for a tardy, your assigned work is also tardy, and will be reduced by 20%.


Planned absences:


Plan ahead. If a planned absence falls during a test day, you are required to take the test prior to the planned absence. It is the student's responsibility to request any handouts or homework missed during a planned absence. Therefore, check with the teacher for these materials both before and after a planned absence. Do this at a time when the teacher is not involved in other activities so that distractions don't lead to an incomplete set of materials.


Other absences: Before any work can be made up due to absence, an admission slip from the Office verifying that the absence was excused must be presented to the teacher. This must be done on the first day upon returning from an absence, even if it is a day during which the student does not attend biology class. Normally, when students miss tests they will be responsible for making up the test at the very first possible opportunity, usually the first day returning from an absence due to illness.


Late work: All assignments submitted for evaluation after the due date should have a Late Work Form attached and properly completed. If the work is submitted late because of illness, it is the student's responsibility to show the teacher an admission slip verifying that the absence was excused. Any late work submitted without a valid excuse will be reduced by 20% per class period, beginning immediately after the time the work was due. Additionally, late work submitted without a Late Work Form, or an incorrectly completed form, will receive up to an additional 10% reduction in score.


One free late per semester: Occasionally, a piece of work cannot be submitted on time due to circumstances beyond a student's control. To allow for this, a student is given one free late per semester, to be used at the student's discretion. You need not inform the teacher of this in advance, simply turn in the work with the Late Work Form attached, checking the appropriate box to inform the teacher you are using your one free late. However, be advised to use this privilege wisely. Once used it is expired. It may be best to save the one free late as insurance against technology problems.


Technology problems: Technology failures happen. When they do, you have one free late per semester to work around them. To minimize the damage from technology problems, back-up your work in more than one location, using different file names that include dates so that you can easily locate your most recent files. Also, avoid leaving crucial aspects of work until deadlines are near.


Test preparation: To encourage students to prepare for tests over the entirety of a unit, the teacher will be available for questions at just about any time before, during or after school that is convenient to both the student and teacher. On the other hand, to discourage cramming just before a test, the student should ask any questions at least 24 hours preceding a test, as after this period has begun, the teacher will not be available for questions regarding the imminent test.



Behavioral expectations:


Work on biology during class time: When given class time to work on homework, labs, projects, or other assignments, students should be working on biology, and continue to do so right up until the end of class. You should be working in a way that is not disruptive to other students.


During lectures: You should be attentive and not involved in conversations with your classmates. At the beginning of class you must stop your conversations and tune in to the teacher's instructions as soon as class begins.


Neatness: When you leave the biology classroom, look around and are sure to collect all of your belongings. Don't leave a mess behind you for someone else to clean up.


Other behavior: When using the library or computer labs during biology class time, you must be working on biology. When working on projects, students are sometimes allowed to use resources outside the classroom. To do so, you must properly ask permission from the teacher, and productively use the resources outside the classroom for biology. You will lose this privilege should you fail to respect these guidelines. In particular, you should not be leaving the classroom to socialize, do e-mail, or use a telephone. If you don't have a good reason to be out of the biology classroom, then you should do your work in class.


Participation grade:

 At the end of each unit, you will be assessed on the following six criteria:

          1. Arriving before class starts

          2. Using 100% of class time for biology activities

          3. Being attentive with your head up and your eyes following the class

          4. Answering 2 questions or asking 1 question each and every lecture

          5. Completing all assignments in a timely manner, to the best of your ability

          6. Showing respect for yourself and others


          90-100%: Excelling in all 6 criteria

          80-90%: Missing one behavior at some time during the unit

          70-80%: Missing two behaviors at some time during the unit

          60-70%: Missing three or more behaviors at some time during the unit

          0-59%: Missing four or more behaviors at some time during the unit


Enforcement: In order to enforce these rules, offenses lead to points subtracted from the unit score: A 1st offense leads to a 1 point deduction. A 2nd offense leads to an additional 2 point deduction. A 3rd offense leads to an additional 4 point deduction. Each subsequent offense leads to a doubling of the deduction: 8, 16, 32, etc. All of the deductions are cumulative and apply to a unit score. Each new unit begins with a fresh set of points.




1.     2 ring binder  - at least 2 inches (for lecture and other materials)

2.     1 ring binder – at least 1 inch size for investigation portfolio

3.     notebook for log book / lab book

4.     pen black ink

5.     pencil

6.     loose leaf paper

7.     unlined papers (A4) – for drawings

8.     graph paper

9.     calculator (GDC)

10.  colored pencils

nice to have:  correction pen, clear metric ruler








Biology 2nd ed.  (TEXTBOOK)

Weem. M.P.

IBID Press


Biology 7th ed

Campbell, N.A., JB Reece

Benjamin Cummings

Asking Questions in Biology: Key Skills for Practical Assessments and Project Work

Baranrd C., F. Gilbert, P. McGregor

Prentice Hall

Senior Biology 1: Student Resource and Activity Manual (2006)



Senior Biology 2: Student Resource and Activity Manual (2006)



Biology: Course Companion



Essential Biology


Addison  Wesley Longman, Inc

Prentice Hall Biology


Pearson Educ., Inc


Other material, lab books, and alternate texts may be used to augment and to complement IB curriculum