Drouin Secondary College - Course Selection

12 VCE Biology (12SBI1)

The Course

Unit 3:The cell is a dynamic system of interacting molecules that define life. An understanding of the workings of the cell enables an appreciation of both the capabilities and the limitations of living organisms whether animal, plant, fungus or microorganism. The convergence of cytology, genetics and biochemistry makes cell biology one of the most rapidly evolving disciplines in contemporary biology.

In this unit students investigate the workings of the cell from several perspectives. They explore the importance of the insolubility of the plasma membrane in water and its differential permeability to specific solutes in defining the cell, its internal spaces and the control of the movement of molecules and ions in and out of such spaces. Students consider base pairing specificity, the binding of enzymes and substrates, the response of receptors to signalling molecules and reactions between antigens and antibodies to highlight the importance of molecular interactions based on the complementary nature of specific molecules. Students study the synthesis, structure and function of nucleic acids and proteins as key molecules in cellular processes. They explore the chemistry of cells by examining the nature of biochemical pathways, their components and energy transformations. Cells communicate with each other using a variety of signalling molecules. Students consider the types of signals, the transduction of information within the cell and cellular responses. At this molecular level students study the human immune system and the interactions between its components to provide immunity to a specific antigen.

Unit 4: In this unit students consider the continual change and challenges to which life on Earth has been subjected. They investigate the relatedness between species and the impact of various change events on a population’s gene pool.The accumulation of changes over time is considered as a mechanism for biological evolution by natural selectionthat leads to the rise of new species. Students examine change in life forms using evidence from palaeontology, biogeography, developmental biology and structural morphology. They explore how technological developments in the fields of comparative genomics, molecular homology and bioinformatics have resulted in evidence of changethrough measurements of relatedness between species.

Students examine the structural and cognitive trends in the human fossil record and the interrelationships between uman biological and cultural evolution. The biological consequences, and social and ethical implications, of manipulating the DNA molecule and applying biotechnologies is explored for both the individual and the species.

Practical investigation

A student-designed or adapted investigation related to cellular processes and/or biological change and continuity over time is undertaken in either Unit 3 or Unit 4, or across both Units 3 and 4. The investigation is to relate to knowledge and skills developed across Units 3 and 4 and may be undertaken by the student through laboratory work and/or fieldwork.

The investigation requires the student to identify an aim, develop a question, formulate a hypothesis and plan a course of action to answer the question and that complies with safety and ethical guidelines. The student then undertakes an experiment that involves the collection of primary qualitative and/or quantitative data, analyses and evaluates the data, identifies limitations of data and methods, links experimental results to science ideas, reaches a conclusion in response to the question and suggests further investigations which may be undertaken. The results of the investigation are presented in a scientific poster format. A logbook of practical activities must be maintained by the student for record, authentication and assessment purposes.

Unit 3 Topics


Area of Study 1: How do cellular processes work?

Area of Study 2: How do cells communicate?

Unit 4 Topics

Area of study 1 How are species related?  

Area of study 2 How do humans impact on Biological Processes?

Area of study 3 Practical Investigation


Learning and Assessment Activities

There will be 5 School Assessed Coursework tasks that have a strong practical and application focus

These units lead to

University studies in Life sciences, pharmacology, physiotherapy, paramedics, nursing, medical and biological science.

Special considerations

There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4. It is highly recommended that students complete Units 1 and 2 before undertaking Unit 3 and 4.

Costs involved

Edrolo online required software $30 per year (for two units)

Excursion / field trips for both Units add up to approximately $100

Materials required

Text Book(DSC Booklist)  2 x 128 page exercise books, Display folder and Netbook.

For further information see...

See Mr Dowty, Mrs Dorian or Mr A Walsh

Study design link