Abbey CBS Newry Grammar School

The Abbey Grammar School
77a, Ashgrove Road
Co Down, BT34 1QN
N Ireland
+44 (0) 28 3026 3142


Biology is the study of living organisms. It is concerned with studying microbes, classifying organisms and investigating different species and their interactions with each other and the natural environment.

The 21st century offers biologists many challenges. Today’s biologists are involved in researching and understanding some of the most controversial advances in human knowledge including the cloning of embryos, designer babies and genetically modified food.

Biologists are also involved in finding solutions to worldwide problems such as:

  • global warming;
  • the extinction of species;
  • AIDS and other epidemic diseases; and
  • MRSA and superbugs.

Biology is a fascinating subject that allows us to make a difference to tomorrow’s world by helping us understand the world we live in today.

Curriculum information

Key Stage 3

In years 8, 9 and 10 students study Science and cover topics in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Biology topics covered include Cells, Human Reproduction, Food and Diet, Lungs and Breathing, Circulatory System, Photosynthesis, Ecology and Communicable and Non-communicable Diseases.

In each of the units listed, students have the opportunity to carry out a wide range of experiments in order to develop their practical skills. The assessment of practical skills forms a significant part of the assessment in GCSE Biology and it is essential that students have every opportunity to develop and refine these skills as early as possible.

Key Stage 4 (GCSE)

Students can choose to study either GCSE Biology or the Biology component of the GCSE Double Award Science. Both of these follow the CEA specifications.

The GCSE Biology specification encourages students to develop practical skills and knowledge of science. It improves their understanding of the relationship between hypotheses, evidence, theories and explanation. It also gives students opportunities to apply their knowledge and understanding of the nature of science and the scientific process.

Students carry out nine prescribed practicals over the two year course, giving them opportunities to develop their observational, practical, enquiry and problem-solving skills. They also learn to evaluate claims based on science, both qualitatively and quantitatively, by critically analysing the methodology, evidence and conclusions.

The specification has three units:

  • Unit 1: Cells, Living Processes and Biodiversity
  • Unit 2: Body Systems, Genetics, Microorganisms and Health
  • Unit 3: Practical Skills.

Students sit the unit 1 exam at the end of year 11.

Students sit the unit 2 exam at the end of year 12.

Unit 3:  includes a practical skills assessment (Booklet A) and a practical theory exam (Booklet B). For Booklet A, students carry out two practical tasks in the laboratory. Booklet B is a written exam, with questions based on any of the nine prescribed practical tasks and any other practical tasks from the specification.

Students complete unit 3 in year 12.


In Double Award Science students follow the CEA Double Award Specification. Double Award Science has three key assessment components:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

The specification has seven units.  The Biology units are:

  • Biology Unit B1: Cells, Living Processes and Biodiversity
  • Biology Unit B2: Body Systems, Genetics, Microorganisms and Health
  • Unit 7: Practical Skills.

Students sit the unit 1 exam during year 11.

Students sit the unit 2 exam during year 12.

For each of the three sciences, Unit 7: Practical Skills includes a practical skills assessment (Booklet A) and a practical theory exam (Booklet B). For each of the three Booklet As, students carry out one practical task in the laboratory. Each Booklet B is a written exam, with questions based on any of the prescribed practical tasks and any other practical tasks from the specification.


Key Stage 5 (GCE)

Studying GCE Biology gives students a greater understanding of and respect for living organisms. Students acquire and develop skills that are valued in further and higher education, as well as in the workplace. These include analysis, evaluation, problem solving, research and an ability to understand complex processes, along with practical skills such as using a microscope, fieldwork and handling apparatus.

Knowledge of biological processes is useful in a wide range of areas, including health, food production, conservation and, increasingly, technology.

The specification encourages students to:

  • develop an interest in and enthusiasm for Biology (including an interest in further study and Biology-related careers);
  • develop knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other;
  • take part in practical activities that support the specification content and develop essential scientific skills;
  • appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues; and
  • understand how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.

GCE Biology has two levels: AS and A2. There are three units in each level. Students can take the AS qualification or complete both levels to achieve the full A level qualification. The AS units make up 40% of the full A level qualification, and the A2 units make up 60%.

At each level, students must study all three units.

  • AS Level
    Unit AS 1: Molecules and Cells
    Unit AS 2: Organisms and Biodiversity
    Unit AS 3: Practical Skills in AS Biology
  • A2 Level
    Unit A2 1: Physiology, Coordination and Control, and Ecosystems
    Unit A2 2: Biochemistry, Genetics and Evolutionary Trends
    Unit A2 3: Practical Skills in Biology

Departmental links

CCEA Biology microsite


Departmental News

The Biology department in collaboration with the Geography and Religion departments lead the school’s eco-committee. The eco-committee have been actively promoting recycling throughout the school and all classrooms have been provided with a recycle bin which is emptied by the eco-committee members. In June 2019 the eco-committee officially opened their newly created eco-garden which was kindly sponsored by Mr Oliver Hearty and sons, all past pupils of the Abbey. Mr Eddie McDonnel, father of a year 9 student, was also involved in the project. The garden has a wide array of plants and bird feeders to help increase biodiversity.

UK Biology Challenge 2019!
Congratulations to all our year 11 students who were awarded certificates from the Royal Society of Biology.

Gold award recipients (top 5% of entrants).
Jack Sands, Piarais Murphy and Comhghall Canavan.

Silver award recipients
Josh McKevitt, Christopher Cook, Sean Campbell and Conor Coghlan

Bronze award recipients
Harry Meehan, Mark Beattie, Jake O’Reilly, James O’Carroll, Ruaidhri O’Shea, Kyan Jamiolkowski, Jacob Green and Conor Goss

Quick Contact Details

Mrs O McGinley

Departmental Staff

Mrs O McGinley
Mrs D McCorry
Ms V Magowan

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