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IB Biology HL

(2-year course)


Grades: 11–12 (two-year course)

Subject Area/Course Credit: Science, 1 credit each year

Prerequisite: B or above in Coordinated Science II, or C+ or above in Honors Chemistry or Honors Biology, or science teacher recommendation

IB Biology HL is a two-year course designed to prepare students for the IB exam at the end of the second year.

As one of the three natural sciences in the IB Diploma Programme, biology is primarily concerned with the study of life and living systems. Biologists attempt to make sense of the world through a variety of approaches and techniques, controlled experimentation and collaboration between scientists. At a time of global introspection on human activities and their impact on the world around us, developing and communicating a clear understanding of the living world has never been of greater importance than it is today. Through the study of DP biology, students are empowered to make sense of living systems through unifying themes. By providing opportunities for students to explore conceptual frameworks, they are better able to develop understanding and awareness of the living world around them. This is carried further through a study of interactions at different levels of biological organization, from molecules and cells to ecosystems and the biosphere. Integral to the student experience of the DP biology course is the learning that takes place through scientific inquiry. With an emphasis on experimental work, teachers provide students with opportunities to ask questions, design experiments, collect and analyse data, collaborate with peers, and reflect, evaluate and communicate their findings. DP biology enables students to constructively engage with topical scientific issues. Students examine scientific knowledge claims in a real-world context, fostering interest and curiosity. By exploring the subject, they develop understandings, skills and techniques which can be applied across their studies and beyond.

Unity and diversity 
• Water
• Nucleic acids 
• Origins of cells  
• Cell structure 
• Viruses 
• Diversity of organisms 
• Classification and cladistics 
• Evolution and speciation 
• Conservation of biodiversity 
Continuity and change 
• DNA replication 
• Protein synthesis 
• Mutations and gene editing 
• Cell and nuclear division 
• Gene expression  
• Water potential 
• Reproduction 
• Inheritance 
• Homeostasis 
• Natural selection 
• Sustainability and change
 • Climate change 

Form and function 
• Carbohydrates and lipids 
• Proteins 
• Membranes and membrane transport 
• Organelles and compartmentalization 
• Cell specialization 
• Gas exchange 
• Transport 
• Muscle and motility 
• Adaptation to environment 
• Ecological niches
Interaction and interdependence 
• Enzymes and metabolism 
• Cell respiration 
• Photosynthesis 
• Chemical signalling 
• Neural signalling 
• Integration of body systems 
• Defence against disease 
• Populations and communities 
• Transfer of energy and matter 
Experimental programme
Practical work 
Collaborative sciences project 
Scientific investigation