My Home Page../My_Home_Page/My_Home_Page.html
Biology Skills../12_Biology/Skills.html

A Local EcosystemA_Local_Ecosystem.html
Patterns in NaturePatterns_in_nature.html
Life on EarthLife_on_Earth.html
Australian BiotaAustralian_Biota.html

Preliminary Biology

Periclimenes imperator (Emperor shrimp) on Bohadschia argus (Sea cucumber)  [Wikipedia]


Welcome to Biology!   Biology is the study of living things.   (Biology, chemistry, physics and geology are separate subjects but the boundaries are blurry and arbitrary.)

Biology is a huge subject - we could study whole ecosystems of living things, like the Brazilian rainforest, or the biochemistry of a bacterium and spend several lifetimes doing so.   This course is little more than an introduction to some aspects of biology.  I hope it is just an introduction and that you spend the rest of your life extending your interest in and understanding of it.  After all, you are a living thing and when you study biology, in many ways you are studying yourself.

I hope you enjoy the course - I’ve tried hard to make it as interesting as possible, even if that means some small diversions from the syllabus.  Biology is not a difficult subject to understand but there is a very large amount of material to remember - so “learn” and “study” (below) mostly mean “remember”.

There are five Year 11 Biology topics.   The first topic is identified as “9.1 Biology Skills”.   It should not be thought of as a separate topic but one which is incorporated as an integral part of the other four topics.   That does not mean it is less important - in fact, because at least 50% of the school-based assessment in Biology must be based on practical work, it is a very important part of your work. 

The five Year 11 Biology topics are:

1 Biology Skills   (Throughout the Year 11 course)

2 A Local Ecosystem 

3 Patterns in Nature 

4 Life on Earth  

5 Evolution of Australian Biota  

Each of these links (above) is to a page of “dot points” from the syllabus.

When you are studying for the H.S.C. next year you will need to refer to these dot points to make sure you have covered all the material. You would be well advised to start doing that now.

My own brief notes on each topic are available by clicking on the buttons at the bottom of this page.  These are only an outline of the dot points and are not a substitute for thorough reading of the textbook(s), other resources and work done in class.

The notes were usually written independently of the texts supplied - I have mostly used my own knowledge and web-based resources.  Please tell me if you find something you think is wrong so that I can fix it.  (You are the only proof-readers I have.)  I would appreciate you telling me if my explanations are not clear.

What I expect of you: 

1.   The best way to learn something is to teach it. (The best way to remember something is to say it.)  In your case, the person whom you need to teach is you.  If you hear something, you will generally forget it unless you make a note about what you have heard. I expect to see evidence that you are teaching yourself (or someone else, if that’s possible).  (Are you making notes now?)

  1. I want to see you write notes using pen and paper only and keeping them in a lecture pad or folder.  

  2. I want to see you keep a list of biology terms, with their etymology if possible, and always their meaning.  For example:

  3. “biology (bio = life; logy = study) the study of living things”

2.   I expect you to keep an accurate and up-to-date of first and second hand investigations (“practical work”) on you laptop.

3.   Many of the assessment tasks and the H.S.C. are written examinations - written questions, you write the answers.  There is only one way to prepare for such an examination and that is to practise.  So I will give you written questions regularly and I expect written answers to be submitted in a separate book or folder (so that I can take it away and mark it).


These are referred to in the syllabus and in the assessment schedule.  Each assessment task will assess your achievement of a small number of outcomes.  It may be helpful to refer to these when preparing for an assessment task.

Useful links:   Biology syllabus   Glossary of key words used in the syllabus, examination and assessment tasks   A huge amount of information about biology and especially about Year 11/12 HSC biology.   Another site with a huge amount of biological information.  The tree of life - an amazing site showing evolutionary relationships between all organisms and with some fantastic photos.   The Wikipedia “Biology” portal.  There is a huge amount of information here.  It is as comprehensive as any textbook (although not written for this course, obviously).  Interesting resources for many aspects of the Year 11 and Year 12 courses.

Assessments: Click on the green link at left to see the assessment tasks.

Study tips: 

  1. Bullet(Reference - Confucius [~2500 b.p.] translated)

  2. “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”  (I teach and I own.)

  3. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

  4. “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”

  5. “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached,  don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

  6. .... in other words, you may learn from reading these pages or reading a biology text, but you would own the ideas that you expressed in your own words in writing.  Taking notes in your own words is incredibly valuable.  Reflect on what you have heard or read about biology.  If you want better marks, work harder.

  1. BulletRead books or webpages about study skills.  One good example -


  1. BulletTalk in class!   I expect my students to listen carefully and silently whilst I am speaking, and to take notes.   Nevertheless, it is vital that at an appropriate time you interact with me so that I can gauge the level of your understanding as well as answer your questions.   (Remember that you are one member of the class and have no right to monopolise my attention.)   “Interact” means to ask questions, check your understanding, contribute something relevant that you’ve read, heard or seen.

  1. BulletDiscuss biology out of class.   Verbalising knowledge cements it in your understanding.  There is no better way to learn something than to teach (or speak) it.  Outline an idea you heard in class to a friend, parent, student advisor, teacher or anybody you feel comfortable talking to.

Year 11 home page

My home page