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Advanced Higher Overview

What the course is about

The Advanced Higher Course provides students with the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the cell by studying the key roles of proteins within the cell. This understanding of cellular processes are then related to physiological function. At the whole-organism scale, the Course explores how sexual reproduction and parasitism are major drivers of evolution. This allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the mechanism of evolution, the biological consequences of sexual reproduction and the biological inter-relationships involved in parasitism. The Course provides a deeper understanding of laboratory and fieldwork techniques, and in carrying out a biological investigation the student has the opportunity to produce an extended piece of scientific work.

Unit 1 Cells and Proteins

Key areas covered are:

  • Laboratory techniques for Biologists

    • Health and safety

    • Liquids and solutions

    • Separation techniques,

    • Antibody techniques,

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      Cell culture

  • Proteins

    • Proteomics, Structure

    • Membrane proteins

    • Detecting environmental signalling

    • Cell communication

    • Control of cell cycle


      Unit 2 Organisms and Evolution

      Key areas covered are:

  • Field techniques for Biologists

    • Sampling wild organisms

    • Identification and taxonomy

    • Monitoring populations

    • Animal Behaviour

  • Organisms

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      Variation and Sexual reproduction

    • Sexual investment and Courtship behaviour

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      Scientific principles and process

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      Critical evaluation of biological research


      As part of Unit 3 coursework in preparation for the course assessment project report, the learner will complete their outcome 1 internal assessment as follows:

    • select an appropriate biology topic within the set guidelines provided by SQA

    • plan the project

    • investigate/research the topic

    • process the information/data collected

    • review and evaluate their findings

    • produce a scientific report



      Useful websites: SQA


                                    Elgin Academy – glossaries and summaries

                                    Williamwood High -powerpoints

      Internal Assessment of Units

      All units are internally assessed by the teacher.

      Task 1 -      Outcomes 1.1-1.6

      This assessment will be completed as part of the Investigative Biology unit

      Task 2 -      Outcome 2.1 and 2.2

      For each unit you will sit a core test and must gain 50 % to pass the unit.

      You will need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the unit key areas and success at carrying out 4 key problem solving skills (predicting, selecting and processing results and analysing data).

      External assessment

      Course Assessment:

      Component 1   - question paper (90 marks)

      Component 2   -          project (30 marks)

      Question Paper

      Section 1 (Objective Test) will have 25 marks.

      Section 2 will contain restricted and extended response questions and will have 65 marks.

      Marks will be distributed approximately proportionately across the Units. The majority of the marks will be awarded for applying knowledge and understanding. The other marks will be awarded for applying scientific inquiry and problem solving skills.

      This question paper will be set and marked by SQA, and conducted in centres under conditions specified for external examinations by SQ Learners will complete this in 2 hours and 30 minutes.


      The project report will be externally assessed using the following assessment categories:

    • Discussion (Conclusion and Evaluation)

    • This project is set by centres within SQA guidelines and conducted under some supervision and control. Evidence will be submitted to SQA for external marking.