Group 4


Biologists have accumulated huge amounts of information about living organisms, and it would be easy to confuse students by teaching large numbers of seemingly unrelated facts. In the Diploma Programme biology course, it is hoped that students will acquire a limited body of facts and, at the same time, develop a broad, general understanding of the principles of the subject.

By studying biology in the DP students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes the sciences. Teachers provide students with opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyse results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate their findings

Through the overarching theme of the nature of science, the aims of the DP biology course are to enable students to:

  1. appreciate scientific study and creativity within a global context through stimulating and challenging opportunities
  2. acquire a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterize science and technology
  3. apply and use a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterize science and technology
  4. develop an ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesize scientific information
  5. develop a critical awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities
  6. develop experimental and investigative scientific skills including the use of current technologies
  7. develop and apply 21st century communication skills in the study of science
  8. become critically aware, as global citizens, of the ethical implications of using science and technology
  9. develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations of science and technology
  10. develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge.

Distinction between SL and HL

Group 4 students at SL and HL undertake a common core syllabus, a common internal assessment (IA) scheme and have some overlapping elements in the option studied. They are presented with a syllabus that encourages the development of certain skills, attributes and attitudes.

While the skills and activities of group 4 science subjects are common to students at both SL and HL, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth, in the additional higher level material and in the common options. The distinction between SL and HL is one of breadth and depth.

Group 4 Project

All Diploma Course candidates must participate in an interdisciplinary investigation into the nature and process of science. This is a collaborative investigation including students from all three disciplines.

Course Structure

Core (SL and HL) Additional higher level Option (choice of 1 out of 4)
1. Cell biology 7. Nucleic acids 1. Neurobiology and behaviour
2. Molecular biology 8. Metabolism, cell respiration and photosynthesis 2. Biotechnology and bioinformatics
3. Genetics 9. Plant biology 3. Ecology and conservation
4. Ecology 10. Genetics and evolution 4. Human physiology
5. Evolution and biodiversity 11. Animal physiology
6. Human physiology

Assessment at Standard Level

Assessment component Weighting
External assessment
Paper 1 MCQ (45 minutes) 20%
Paper 2 (1 hour and 15 minutes) 40%
Paper 3 (1 hour) 20%
Internal assessment
Research project (10 hours) 20%

Assessment at Higher Level

Assessment component Weighting
External assessment
Paper 1 MCQ (1 hour) 20%
Paper 2 (2 hour and 15 minutes) 36%
Paper 3 (1 hour and 15 minutes) 24%
Internal assessment
Research project (10 hours) 20%