Advanced Higher Biology

Here is everything in the course - very useful as a basis for your revision and learning

The Advanced Higher Biology page at the SQA website:  (includes Specimen Past paper)

Education Scotland materials :

Course text books:

Past Papers

There have only been two new Advanced Higher Biology exams so far (in 2016 & 2017).
If you have done all those past papers and would still like more to practise then to find which questions from old Advanced Higher Biology Past Papers are relevant please click here.
Your Investigation / Project

Click here to see some information about planning your project and some websites where you might find some ideas for project topics

This is a very useful resource to read about planning a Biology project -

And when you are planning or even writing up your investigation, you may like to ask your teacher if they can give you a more detailed outline or marking scheme. This September 2016 marking scheme is available online at the SQA website and will give you an idea of what to look for - but maybe see if your teacher has a more up to date version:

Referencing - can use Harvard system or Vancouver system !
a couple of references re Harvard system: and

Some extras just for revision from last year :
Prokaryotes / Eukaryotes
Interesting reference about prokaryotes, autotrophs, bacteria, staining bacteria, cyanobacteria, etc. and their evolution and how they relate to eukaryotes in evolutionary time :  (Not all of this content is in Advanced Higher but you might find it interesting to read anyway)
Prokayotes Link
A nice reminder of groups such as archaea, fungi, bacteria etc. :

The Scale of Cells, Bacteria and Viruses etc.

A nice interactive example - use the slider to change the scale to show the size of various things like cells and viruses.
Spot the size of the prokaryotic bacteria E.coli versus the eukaryotic human cell examples :

Experimental techniques

Model organisms and

Statistics for Advanced Higher Biology
You might find some interesting points in this document :

Working with Micro-organisms / bacteria - advice from Microbiology -

Unit 1 - Cells and Proteins

Topic 1 - Laboratory Techniques for Biologists

Gel electrophoresis - iso-electric focussing - SDS slab gel - v good explanation :

ELISA - Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay
More about using positive controls

Topic 2  - Proteomics and Protein Structure

Microarray Analysis

Good video from Stanford (2 minutes long)

and another folding video ... (2 minutes long)

Amino acids side chains at different pHs

Simulation of protein folding
Based on the charges on the side chains of the amino acids shown above, here is a possibility of how these might affect a protein at different pHs....
Haemoglobin (a protein)
Find out more about haemoglobin
and importantly this page explains about how haemoglobin works - but just read up until the middle of the first paragraph on "Function of Haemoglobin" !

How pH affects the shape of a protein based on the pKa of the R group on the amino acid - scroll down to near bottom of this page:
Good table of pKa affecting amino acid side chains near bottom of this page: (if you have not done chemistry you will need some help to understand this so please ask !)
This is v good too:

What is Proteomics ?

Shotgun sequencing

A Kinase structure :

DNA - refrigeration - methylation - and the taste of tomatoes - some research:

Amino acids
Print out - the structure of 20 amino acids

Drinking tea - milk first or last ?!? Proteins !

A TED talk about proteins to watch : - 10 minute talk by Drew Berry,  a Biologist/animator, about graphics and visualisation in Biology - interesting - at 4 mins DNA, at 7 mins mitosis and then kinetochore/microtubules
DNA has a negatively charged backbone due to the phosphates. This means it will attach to positively charged proteins such as histones eg in folding up of DNA into the nucleus. This is an excellent short animation showing this folding with histones and nucleosomes shown :

Experimentally setting up a gel electrophoresis :
Electrophoresis can be used to separate proteins etc.

Isoelectric electrophoresis
can be separated in one direction based on pH gradient and they will settle at their isoelectric point, you can then turn the gel by 90 degrees and separate in that other direction by eg mass, to get a much more accurate determination of the protein

Cytosol vs Cytoplasm
A good explanation of the meanings of these two words :

Actin / Myosin in Muscles
I also have made a cartoon of actin / myosin movement - based on the SQA phrases in arrangement documents - this is a first attempt - any comments please get in touch.
This is Mr Myosin, the workman, who stops for frequent drinks of ATP juice !

 © Jennifer Wilson
Actin / Myosin contraction animation

Resting Potential /Action Potential in a neuron - Na / K pumps too !
Link to Animation  (v useful to look at)

This is excellent re Nerve Impulse (11mins long - last bit is waffle) :

Mr Herbst gives a plain English explanation of nerve impulse:

test yourself cards - quite a lot of these descriptions are useful (others are beyond Adv H Biology course) - tick those you recognise then hide the answers on the left column and test yourself with the right hand column.

Neuromuscular junction (Acetylcholine neurotransmitter) :

Topic 3 - Membrane Proteins

Sodium/Potassium pump and ATP - phosphorylation changing protein conformation

Sodium Potassium Pump
Animation :

Aquaporin channel - a claymation animation !

Glucose symport
I quite like this explanation of glucose symport and Na/K transporter :

Topic 4 Detecting and Amplifying a Stimulus

Proton pump and ATP synthase

Interesting company which is selling bacteriorhodopsin and various other products that are derived from Halobacteria ! and their bacteriorhodopsin

Bacteriorhodopsin (very detailed but first bit is of interest)

Photosystems in Plants
On the thylakoid membrane there are light receptors - here is an animation. Its in a bit more detail than you need so just watch the overall idea of what the electrons and H+ (hydrogen ions) do :

Photosystems - Chlorophyll and Photosynthesis
Interesting and useful reference. Did you know that the grana are actually structured similarly to the retina - strangely very similar - but evolved independently - I guess both have the same purpose of capturing maximum light and maybe based on similar proteins - so have evolved similarly:


Would you believe that birds have better vision than humans ? they also have cone cells that detect uv light - read more if you are interested here (not in the course - but then you never know what might come up !) -

Rods / Cones / Photoreceptors / Rhodopsin

Very good video on Rhodopsin and retina and hyperpolarisation here - (Note to self...the neurotransmitter that is released is an inhibitor, so to pass on a nerve message then you need to REDUCE this - hence what happens in the video when light is shone on the rod cell)

Image retained - nice tricks here
Look at the green bird then at the cage - what do you see ?

How the Retina works
This "Crash Course" video is good - remember you don't need to know quite as much about neurons as is covered in this video but its quite interesting and the animation of the retina is nice -

Retina article - Scientific American Magazine
There is nice information about the retina and how it works here - its more information than we need at Adv H

If you'd like to find out a lot more about the retina and the human eye - there are some good animations here - but this is a step beyond Adv Higher-

Astronomers and Rods/Cones
This is interesting about how astronomers use the rod cells and have a "dark adapted eye":

Coral bleaching and photosynthesis
OK this 3 minute video is really more the content from Higher Biology - but it does talk about photosynthesis and thylakoid membranes - and you get to see a tropical island in this short video ! nice to watch !

Neurotransmitter and some medical drugs that affect it

Topic 5 - Communication Within Multicellular Organisms

A hydrophobic signalling molecule - lipid soluble so a steroid hormone - can cross the plasma membrane (here is an example aldosterone don't need to memorise the name of this particular hormone - just look at its action in this animation - but its to do with regulating salt levels in the blood by getting the kidneys to re-absorb salts and hence it regulates blood pressure)

A steroid hormone by contrast

G Protein

G Protein GTP GDP and cAMP ? do we need this ?

G Protein - receptor etc. Epinephrine (you may know this as Adrenaline) .. and how it induces cells to release glucose ....   I just hope you don't need to memorise all this !! But watch this anyway so you can begin to get the ideas of the principles of passing messages along and the use of phosphorylation etc. to change structures of proteins :
good video from a school project :
here is a bit more ...

How Epinephrine (known also as Adrenaline !) makes a cell secrete Glucose during the fight or flight response (second part of this video is probably too much detail for Adv Higher so dont panic !) :

Not in Adv Higher really - but in case you want to hear what cAMP is -

GPCR - G Protein Coupled receptor

Receptor Tyrosine Kinases

Signal Transduction
I like this video from the Penguin prof ! Only thing to watch for is she talks about lipophillic and lipophobic signal molecules where they either like or hate crossing the fatty or lipid membrane. However in the Advanced Higher course we tend to talk of these the opposite way and talk about hydrophobic or hydrophillic depending on whether they like or hate water.  its worth watching though as the rest is pretty much part of the course. 

Role of Insulin in the body
and a related video on Diabetes Type 2 - Insulin resistance

Glucose levels / Insulin and Diabetes types graphs

Hormones eg ADH - a hydrophilic peptide hormone

Hormones - page 8 of this Hormone information talks about Adrenaline and ADH Including fabulous interactive animation - great teaching resource for Advanced Higher Biology -
and page 6 is about insulin -v good -

Diabetes Insipidus

Topic 6 : Control of Cell Cycle

Cytoskeleton Revealed
The cell cycle depends on the cytoskeleton = microtubules etc to move the cells:
The Cell cytoskeleton is revealed when red blood cells are placed in hypertonic solution :

Parts of a cell diagram during Mitosis
the words you need to know - why not make your own diagrams - it helps you to learn
This diagram is just a sketch - not meant to be an accurate representation of what these things necessarily look like - its just to help me remember the words !

Control of the Cell Cycle
This video is missing - ask me for information

DNA - Mitosis - Chromosomes - Cell Cycle - Very good video of Centromeres etc / DNA -

Cell Division -
Nice explanation and animation -
diagram of stages of Mitosis, mentioning centromeres, microtubules etc.

and this one very good - kinetochores, nucleus etc in Mitosis and Cytokinesis :

If you need to do about Centrosomes, Centrioles and MTOC - microtubule organising centre in the Cell :

A good explanation of the various Cell Cycle Checkpoints - G1 G2 and M

Science Museum discussion about Cell Cycle topics :

Stages of Mitosis Observed in Onion Root by Microscopy

Cells and Mitosis
and a very good link if you want to try this yourself  - including an excellent quiz under "Self Evaluation" :

From Nobel Prize organisation - a control of Cell Cycle game (give it a go if you have lots of time but ignore if you are doing last minute revision !) -

Cyclin - Cyclin Dependent Kinase (CdK)

Cyclins and CdKs feature in this Animation of the Cell Cycle :

Cell Cycle - interactive and includes a lovely animation of renewal of cells at a villi from stem cell etc

Cyclins and Kinases and p53 - 
I quite like this website- it is presented as questions ...
click on the red figure text to see the graphics.
Just pick out what is helpful - its not all in Adv Higher and the graph of cyclin does not really coincide with the one in the Adv H book, but there are some helpful bits - so just take what is useful.

Cell Cycle and errors in checkpoint proteins

C. elegans worm - a "model organism" used for genetic and cell research

Oncogenes - Cell Cycle, Cancer, Proto Oncogenes - Tumour Suppressor Genes
This is mostly beyond the scope of Adv Higher but you might find it of interest.
Pages 6 and 7 of this text may be of most use for the new Advanced Higher. There is a dictionary at the end to help you understand it all.

CHECK THIS - might be useful re cells and animation - haven't had time to look at them yet -

Cells have a certain lifetime .... and when not needed any more they enter apoptosis to get rid of them ...
Thanks to Jay Reimer - 

Love this animation from University of Dundee - APOPTOSIS

this one is interesting to watch too as it talks about treatment for cancer - but there is much more detail than you need so just watch it and spot those bits you recognise in amongst it all!

Are involved in programmed cell death.
Here is an interesting graphic - just to show the complexity of what has been found by recent research in this area - Caspases, when they don't work, are thought to be one cause of cancer -

Good info about ApoptosisCaspases from WiseGeek -

Apoptosis video - a video of a C. elegans nematode work (a model organism) embryo with a cell undergoing cell death indicated by an arrow

HeLa Cell Line
Henrietta Lacks and her huge contribution to molecular biology, even though she was never asked :

Video - TedxCaltech talkvideo
from a leading biologist / animator - a bit about signalling - a bit about DNA - and some great animations:

p53 Gene
The p53 gene was named molecule of the year” by Science magazine in 1993 after the observations that more than one half of human cancers expressed a mutant p53 raised extensive clinical possibilities - this website is devoted to the story of this gene, written by a researcher who was a young scientist working in the lab that first found the gene:   (you dont need to remember all of this but it gives you a flavour of the amount of research that has been done, including some that was done at the University of Dundee)


UNIT 2 - Organisms and Evolution

1 Field Techniques for biologists

a) Health and Safety

b) Sampling of Wild Organisms

c) Identification and Taxonomy
Three Domains etc

Protected Species in Scotland :

Some model organisms : - important ones we study are E.coli, Arabidopsis thaliana, C. elegans, Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly), mice, rats, and zebrafish

but there is also Zebra Fish !
How Zebrafish model organisms are used to study cancer biology -

Fruit fly model organism :

The 3Rs of using animals in research

Domain Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species

For humans we would be classed as follows:

Domain - this is right at the top - there are 3Domains and Humans would be Eukaryote
Kingdom - Animals
Phylum - Chordates (backbone)
Mammals (fur / produce milk)
Primates (collar bone and grasping fingers)
Hominids (flat faces / 3D vision) 
Homo (upright posture / large brains !)
Sapiens (large forehead / thin skull) 

Animal Kingdom - Plant Kingdom etc - Classification

Here is how humans are classified :

bit of confusion about where algae (which can photosynthesise) are classified :
this is good from Wikipedia :

The largest phylum is arthropods ... followed by .... molluscs ! - lots of mollusc info here:


Platyhelminths :
Chordata - Vertebrates - including sea squirts -

d) Monitoring Populations
using indicator species to classify habitat using British Vegetation Survey

also here is a field guide to woodland types - might be useful if you are doing a project on this but is a bit too detailed really for most of us -

e) Measuring and Recording Animal Behaviour

2 Evolution

Try the three quiz questions here - spot which animals are the most closely related -


3 Variation and Sexual reproduction

e) Measuring and Recording Animal Behaviour

3.2 Evolution

a) Drift and Selection

Fitness - and Sexual Selection

b) Rate of Evolution

c) Co-evolution and the Red Queen Hypothesis

Red Queen Theory

3.3 Variation and Sexual Reproduction

a) Costs and Benefits of Sexual and Asexual Reproduction

The two-fold cost of Sexual Reproduction (vs asexual)

Algae and Fungi
have haploid nuclei - who'd have thought it ! so that is why they can reproduce via haploid spores -
To find out which species are classed as Algae and Plants or Fungus and Lichen, you can look at photographs of them in the ARKive website -
Fungi information - some easy facts -

Spores are produced during sexual and asexual reproduction in algae and fungi. They are most often haploid, but can be diploid.

A zoospore is a motile asexual spore that uses a flagellum for locomotion., allowing them to move to a more favourable environment. Created by some algae, bacteria and fungi to propagate themselves.

Asexual reproduction in fungi - you can see a picture of budding in fungi here - ie one yeast splitting into two new identical yeasts

b) Meiosis forms Variable Gametes

Details of Meiosis stages
This is probably more info than you need on this website here, but might help if you are looking for answers about eg what happens at Prophase 1

c) Sex Determination

Fitness - and Sexual Selection

Sex Linked Inheritance

Colour Blind Test - Colour blindness or a problem with colour vision is a sex linked inherited trait - to try the test to see if you vision is affected you can have a look here, although hopefully your optician will have already checked this with you. It is more commonly found in boys due to the XY chromosome vs XX in girls:
X Chromosome inactivation - in tabby cats 

Edmund Beecher Williams and Nettie Maria Stevens - read about these scientists who independently worked out that gender is determined by chromosomes

Wolbachia bacteria being used to infect Aedes aegypti mosquito (which is responsible for spreading Dengue fever and Zika) so that it only produces male offspring and will then be wiped out hopefully

Very interesting about Kakapos - cute green type parrot bird - and how scientists discovered why they can have more girl or boy babies !

4 Sex and behaviour

not sure if this goes here: lekking - bower birds -
no resources yet

Lekking :

Nice video about causes of evolution - a Ted Ed video from Paul Andersen - including sex selection -

5 The Parasite Niche, Transmission and Virulence
- also sections 6, 7 and 8 cover parasites 

Overview of What is Parasitology ?

Transmission and Virulence
A very good easy to read reference:

The parasite Niche and Clostridium Difficile (C. Difficile)
Clostridium difficile is a bacteria which can cause problems when a person has taken antibiotics which have killed the normal bacteria that are found in their intestines. There is then a niche there for Clostridium difficile to exploit and if the bacteria do this they can give off toxins and cause problems for a person or patient - read the first few paragraphs this doctor has written - this will give you an idea about the problems it can cause for patients -

A definition - Obligate Parasite -

Tse Tse fly - Sleeping sickness - Trypanosoma brucei

Malaria parasite animation
actually quite a dramatic animation - if you are squeamish don't watch it ! - and horrendous statistics at the end about malaria - we need to try and eradicate this dreadful disease or at least make sure treatment is widely available.

Malaria parasite - info re Plasmodium - there are a few types of Plasmodium that can cause malaria of slightly different types - here they talk of Plasmodium vivax - but there is another deadly one Plasmodium falciparium
Useful information - from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Blood smear phographs of various plasmodium species-

Malaria lifecycle poster -

Toxoplasmosis - altering behaviour in its hosts-

Viruses photographed by Electron Microscope

The Scale of Cells, Bacteria and Viruses etc.

A nice interactive example to show the scale of various things like cells and viruses :

Immune Response to Parasites
Specific cellular defence in mammals involves immune surveillance by white blood cells, clonal selection of T lymphocytes, T lymphocytes targeting immune response and destroying infected cells by inducing apoptosis, phagocytes presenting antigens to lymphocytes, the clonal selection of B lymphocytes, production of specific antibody by B lymphocyte clones, long term survival of some members of T and B lymphocyte clones to act as immunological memory cells.

Clonal Selection
Good video -

Immune System


UNIT 3 - Investigative Biology

This reference covers Unit 3 in detail :

Researcher Bias - Double Blind studies - interesting discussion here with regards to psychotherapy studies and research -

Diversity Balances Bias - interesting chat here - its always good to mix with people with different opinions or different backgrounds - then you can discuss your hypotheses or ideas and get different perspectives and bounce ideas off each other-

Animal Research - the 3Rs of Animal Research - reducing or avoiding the use of animals in Research - find out more
This is the type of thing happening now that might allow replacement of animals in experiments - people have grown an ear in a laboratory !

Analysing Data / Statistics
What is a False Positive Result or a False Negative Result -


The following links are maybe not needed for new Adv Higher - they were useful in the old one !
A Sickle cell disease genetics worksheet and teacher guide: _______________________________________

Think the following links are now in Higher Biology ....

DNA Sequencing 
using chain terminating dideoxynucleotides

Restriction Endonucleases

DNA Fingerprinting


PCR Polymerase Chain Reaction


Genetically Modified Crop Plants

An interesting radio programme to listen to or download :

A website from Monsanto, a company famous for producing genetically modified crops - you can read about some of them here :

GM Trials - latest news March 2014


Extras... need to place ...

Tryptophan OPeron

May be needed somewhere

below = old course ?


Cell Culture in plants :
What is a callus ?

Tissue Culture of Plants

DNA Replication - Leading Strand and Lagging Strand animation