Higher Biology CfE

The content of this page is laid out as follows..:

    General Information about the Biology Higher Course
    Unit 1 DNA and the Genome
    Unit 2 Metabolism and Survival
    Unit 3 Sustainability and Interdependence

General Information - Higher Biology Course:
Past Papers :
The Assignment has to be your own work, done in school etc but you may find this SQA marking scheme useful:


You can try these or make your own.
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Unit 1 DNA and the Genome

My video for Key Area 1.1 - The Structure of DNA

DNA Double Helix
DNA has a double helix structure but this was only discovered in the 1950s. This discovery led to three scientists, Watson, Crick and Wilkins gaining a Nobel prize in 1962. However another scientist, Rosalind Franklin, had carried out much of the research leading to this discovery. For background reading you might like to read these articles, (not completely essential for Higher Biology but interesting background reading and awareness of the recent history of science). It is so very recently that DNA structure was realised, and so many scientific advances and discoveries have then been possible as a result of this.
A couple of articles about the Story of Rosalind Franklin and her X-ray chromatography to find the structure of DNA :

Amazing Scale of DNA

This does not really come up in Higher, but this just gives an idea of the sheer scale of DNA. When you look at a chromosome you are looking at many many looped up sections of DNA !  How on earth did this ever evolve !
This video gives a good idea of the scale of DNA being packaged around the histone proteins:

DNA in the Chromosomes
Here is an image of the chromosomes from a human cell - the 23 pairs of chromosomes make up what we call the Karyotype.  22 chromosomes are in matching pairs but note the last two chromosomes here do not match as this karyotype is from a male cell and these are the X and Y chromosomes.
NHGRI human male karyotype

Details of DNA structure at 3' and 5' ends

You need to know what is at 3' end and 5' end of DNA so have a good look at the structure here :
DNA chemical structure Really good structure diagram of DNA - print it out and keep it (from Madeleine Price Ball)

Some classic experiments :

Prokaryotes / Eukaryotes

Interesting reference about prokaryotes, autotrophs, bacteria, staining bacteria, cyanobacteria, etc. and their evolution and how they relate to eukaryotes in evolutionary time :
(New reference needed...)

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 :


DNA - refrigeration - and the taste of tomatoes - interesting research: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/10/17/refrigeration-really-does-ruin-tomatoes-according-to-science/

DNA Replication

PCR Polymerase Chain Reaction

Nice website about PCR:

DNA Replication - Sanger Sequencing

BBC Bitesize - Unit 1 Revision - BBC Bitesize 

Control of Gene Expression

DNA to Protein - nice short video to explain ! Only 2 minutes !

RNA Splicing - Interesting to watch but in much more detail than you need so just enjoy watching how the proteins chop the intron out and splice together the exons together: http://content.dnalc.org/content/c16/16938/3d-splicing-audio-title.mp4

This is quite a good animation for Transcription

Genetics plus Environment lead to phenotype

Control of Gene Expression Quiz

Meristems in Plants

The Life of a Tree - Xylem and Phloem
This helps a little towards understanding how the rings of trees work - look for the cambium which is the meristem in trees.

My photograph of tree rings from Aberfoyle Forest - showing the softer areas and how the chainsaw chopping the tree down has affected the soft and hard wood. The new xylem and the cambium and phloem are on the top of my picture :

Mitosis in Onion Root Tip Cells Mitotic Stages in Apical Meristem of Allium Root Tip (37385550196)
Thanks for great image from Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library / CC0 - click on it for more information

Cell Culture in plants :
What is a callus ?

Tissue Culture of Plants

Stem Cells in Humans

Stem Cells Information - including exercise on page 7/8 regarding ethics of an experiment

Stem Cells and Tissue Stem Cells 
Yamanaka and Gurdon share Nobel prize for work on embryonic cells, stem cells and reprogramming adult cells into stem cells.

Latest Stem Cell news items:

and Heart Stem Cells Repair muscle damage in Heart tissue:

Some stem cell experiments etc used frog eggs (sometimes known as oocytes) as they are large to handle. To find out a little more about frog spawn / tadpoles / frogs etc then have a look at this very short video - the commentary is actually quite interesting if you can manage to hear what they are saying:

Cornea Transplant
Stem cells from the cornea of the eye have also been used in the repair of cornea tissue on the surface of the eye..
Schematic diagram of the human eye en 
Attrib: Rhcastilhos. And Jmarchn. / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Interesting company Stemcell Technologies Inc. https://www.stemcell.com/ - with a Stem Cell podcast as well https://stemcellpodcast.com/ - just giving you a flavour of how extensive this area of research is.

The story of the Henrietta Lacks cell line 

Sickle cell anaemia
Inherited condition

am interesting worksheet you could work through as homework on sickle cell disease:

Mutations Caused by Radiation

Point Mutations Within Gene causing Incorrect Protein to form
with example of Haemoglobin in Sickle Cell Anaemia
Gene editing link - latest news

DNA Sequencing

Experimentally setting up a gel electrophoresis :

DNA Sequencing 
using chain terminating dideoxynucleotides

DNA Fingerprinting





The genetics of polar bears and grizzly bears - are they a different species ? and if so, why ?
Find out a bit more here : http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/genetic-relationships-bears/

Darwin's Finches and the Peppered Moth
Both feature on powerpoints you can find on this webpage :

(for extra reading if you are interested - but its not necessary for Higher - study of finches and evolution - some ideas - eg is a species more likely to divide into two different groups when subject to no competition ? etc. does this mean competition increases genes expressed ? or will a species express a narrower range of genes (be healthier) when competing...) http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/03/bird-evolution/

Evolution and Darwin
If you'd like to read more about Darwin and his research on evolution there is lots of good information here : http://darwin200.christs.cam.ac.uk/

Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero Programme

Brilliant couple of programmes about the lesser known Wallace who co-published the theory of evolution with Darwin https://www.youtube.com/show/SCxSa5HRxjV_aoCrTfhEv4Uw?season=1


Comparison of genomes from different species
Ape ancestry : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120306-gorilla-genome-apes-humans-evolution-science/

Model Organisms
Useful in research into human genes and disease.

Evolution Timeline

Put these events of evolution into the correct order -try this quiz:

Evolution - which are our closest relatives ? Did you know we share 99% of our expressed genes (I think that is the correct way to say it ! - 99% of our exons ....)  with chimpanzees?

Apes - interesting - http://www.livescience.com/51017-ape-facts.html

History of the Earth taken as a 24 hour Day!

At what time in that day do you think humans appeared?


Red panda is NOT A BEAR !! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_panda

Inter-Specific and Intra-Specific Competition

8  Genomic Sequencing

The Human Genome Project
Completed in 2003 - up to 99% of genome had been sequenced by then. Here are some questions and answers about the project : https://www.genome.gov/11006943

Fabulous website about predator/prey - need to check where htis fits in in new course http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/overview/overview/at_a_glance.html


UNIT 2 Metabolism and Survival

Revision from BBC Bitesize 

7... Metabolism and Enzymes

Sodium Potassium Pump

(new animation used as original excellent website used flash animation....)

Some complicated (too complicated really) - explaining the graphs for Competitive Inhibitors of Enzymes : https://alevelnotes.com/Enzyme-Inhibitors/148

Biochemical Pathway (or is it a jelly bean factory !!)

Catalase enzyme in Liver experiment - nice demo -

Feedback Inhibition / End product inhibition

Competitive Inhibitors and Non-competitive Inhibitors of Enzymes

Enzymes and Pathways

There is a good question about enzymes in the 2005 past paper MCQ 24 Question Paper 2005

8... Control of Metabolic Pathways

Genetic Control - Jacob - Monod Hypothesis
E.Coli - lactose metabolism
A good video - tells you just a little bit more about the theory than you need but it helps to understand how cleverly evolved bacteria are in how they manage to use lactose as a food supply if they find some in their environment.

Using Green Fluorescent Protein GFP - good video with Professor John Christie of University of Glasgow for SAP - http://www.saps.org.uk/secondary/teaching-resources/1400-interviews-with-scientists-gfp-and-reporter-proteins

9..... Cellular Respiration


Citric Acid Cycle / Krebs Cycle

Just listen to the bits you can follow here... as it has a little more information than you need but nice to see the molecules. We call the cycle the Citric Acid Cycle in Higher Biology but it is also known as the Krebs cycle.

The last stage : Electron Transport Chain
The proton pump (H+ ions and ATP Synthase)

New Resource needed for here.....

Simple animation - Proton Pump and ATP Synthase across the membrane

New Resource needed here


10 ... Maintaining Metabolism

Measuring Metabolic Rate
ferent methods possible - some more accurate than others and some easier to carry out!

VO2 Max Measurement (not in course any more ? but may be of interest if doing PE)
Interesting video showing the stages of VO2 Max testing on a treadmill

Some VO2 max values for different sports and some top athletes:

Different heart designs - mammals, birds etc - no resource at moment

Animation of ADH affects :

Homeostasis - including a test :

How we sense temperature

Good quiz from BBC Bitesize on Homoestasis / heart design in different animals etc

11 ... Maintenance of Metabolism during Environmental Change

AEstivation - how some animals survive a hot summer :

Torpor / Aestivation / Hibernation / Migration /Extremophiles / hot springs

A Monarch Butterfly in my friend in America's Garden

Monarch butterflies land on these milkweed flowers during their migration - they migrate 3,000 miles in Autumn from breeding ground in NE North America to spend the winter in SW Mexico. These pictures are taken by my friend in her garden in Chicago in America where the butterflies stop off!

Each migration is by a new generation, so they cannot learn from others. Instead, they rely on their genes. Their antennae have a genetic clock that tells them when to migrate and to navigate they measure the sun's position on the horizon with their eyes. The autumn migration of monarch butterflies is carried out by just one super generation that can fly and live eight times longer than regular monarch butterflies.  When spring arrives these monarchs reproduce and their offspring continue to complete their journey back to their summer breeding grounds.  Monarch butterfly (nms.ac.uk)

Migration Follow the migration routes of some cuckoos between Britain and Africa: BTO Migration of Cuckoos website link


12 ... Growth and Metabolism of Micro-organisms

Growth Media for Bacteria A bit more about which types of bacteria need a complex growth medium and which ones can cope with a minimal medium and can then biosythesise all their requirements from simple molecules: Textbook of Bacteriology Link

Plotting Exponential Growth on Semi-Log Graph Paper

Primary and Secondary Metabolism in micro-organisms eg to get penicillin - no resources at moment

13 ... Genetic Control of Metabolism

Using the pGLO plasmid
This is a created or engineered plasmid that is used in genetic engineering. It contains the pGLO gene which is a gene from jellyfish that codes for a green fluorescent protein (GFP) and an Ampicillin resistance gene.
The pGlo plasmid explained : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PGLO

Transforming Bacteria by Recombinant DNA Technology
Restriction Endonucleases

Insulin being inserted into bacterial plasmid:

Look its real !
You really can buy restriction endonucleases like BAM HI if you are working in a genetics laboratory or research organisation :

UNIT 3 - Sustainability and Interdependence

Click here for Revision Cards for most of Unit 3


Unit 3 - Key Area 1: Food supply, plant growth and productivity

Science of Food Production Science of food production
Including Photosynthesis, Crops, Pests etc

Cereal production for Beef Cattle feed

There is a good image here regarding loss of energy in a food chain: http://igbiologyy.blogspot.com/2014/03/110-food-chain-and-energy-efficiency.html

Sustainable Grape production for Wine


UN - Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations:

Chromatography of Leaf Pigments

This short video shows a time-elapsed film of the Leaf pigment chromatography experiment to separate chlorophyll a and b, carotene and xanthophyll : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6jD0hJO-28
There is a good video here about doing chromatography of the pigments in a basil leaf. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z23ggk7/revision/4 _______________________________________________

Photosynthesis and Productivity

A very simple video showing the effect of light or dark on Elodea pondweed :

Make an Action Spectrum for Photosynthesis in Different coloured light
Watch: My video of my experiment with Elodea Pondweed photosynthesising in different colours of light from sunlight. Make: Your own Action Spectrum graph.

This video shows the plants bubbling in the sunlight but I did not collect the oxygen gas in this one.

Nice diagram of Photosynthesis Carbon Fixation :
(you do not need to know about the numbers of carbons but this helps me understand what is happening !) I adapted this is from an old diagram from the old Biology Higher book - Jim Torrance

My Crossword Puzzle for Photosynthesis at Higher Biology https://puzzel.org/en/crossword/play?p=-M4oTkMjDUZmXaan9

BBC Bitesize - Photosynthesis - including a quick test

Unit 3 : Key Area 2 : Plant and Animal Breeding

The Scotch Mule Sheep -
A hybrid cross between a blackface sheep ewe (female) and a blue faced leicester tup (male) sheep - here is a photo of some of them from Airyolland Farm in Wigtownshire in SW of Scotland.
From the Scotch Mule association:

What happens if you inbreed a natural "outbreeder" - the English Bulldog:

Hybrid Vigour 
In Poultry / Chickens / Hens:

The 1000 Bulls project
Project to sequence the whole genomes of bulls of important breeds - find out more about why:

Pedigree Bluefaced Leicester Sheep
Choosing the hardiest sheep are retained for breeding at Logie Durno farm.
Mimicing "natural selection"

Potato Council
Find out the types of things that potato farmers and researchers study in order to improve crop yields:


Unit 3 : Key Area 3 -   Crop Protection

Perennial Weed

A dandelion with its large root can regenerate and grow the next year:
File:Figure 30 01 01.jpg
Attribution for image :
CNX OpenStax [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

Royal Horticultural Society, RHS - Identifying Weeds

Look at the examples of Annual and Perennial Weeds on this website:

An Interesting Powerpoint Presentation About Weeds and the effect on Crops http://www.dlf.com/Files/Files/Dlf.com/Forage/C.b.%20Weed%20control%20in%20grassland.pdf

Potato Blight

Potato Blight also affects Tomatoes!


Unit 3 : Key Area 4 - Animal Welfare

The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare - 

Stereotypy - a short film from the Born Free Foundation 

Farm animal comfort 

Enrichment to Snow Leopard environment at the Highland Wildlife Park

Unit 3 : Key Area 5 - Symbiosis


Some examples of symbiosis among animals eg the zebra and ostrich or the honeyguide bird and people or badgers :

Malaria parasite
Excellent but hard hitting animation on how malaria infects a human from a mosquito bite and what happens :

Coral Bleaching - excellent short 3 minute video explaining about the symbiosis in Corals and what can go wrong with climate change :

Also on Youtube here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZfGIKiSwwQ

Humming birds and flowers - mutualism

Unit 3 : Key Area 6 - Social Behaviour 

Chimpanzees hunt together in a co-operative way, with different individuals having different roles.
This video combines on-the-ground footage and overhead infrared to illustrate just how this group of chimpanzees hunt colobus monkeys. Incredible but not for the faint hearted to watch … Nature in the raw ….!!


Wolves co-operate when hunting Grooming behaviour in primates

Teamwork in Meerkats
Preschool video but it does summarise their behaviour quite nicely !

Social insects - 

Bees - how and why do they collect pollen?

bees - waggle dance - see Q6 H Biol 2010

Unit 3 : Section 7 - Components of Biodiversity

How many creatures live on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia:

Unit 3 : Key Area 7 - Components of Biodiversity
Defintion of Ecosystem and Populations A population is a group of individuals that all belong to the same species. There can be more than one population of a species in a large ecosystem. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/high-school-biology/hs-ecology/hs-introduction-to-ecology/a/ecological-levels-from-individuals-to-ecosystems
Unit 3 : Key Area 8 - Threats to Biodiversity

Invasive Species
Non native species which cause harm to environment, other species or human health
From the Encyclopaedia of Life - EOL website - http://eol.org/info/460

Invasive species
You will see this invasive species Skunk Cabbage in the RIver Allander at Miilngavie It is spreading downstream and originates up at Barloch Moor where people volunteer to destroy it each year:
Image result for skunk cabbage
Scottish Invasive Species Initiative Website - Very interesting! https://www.invasivespecies.scot/american-mink-0
Invasive Species
Here is another interesting link about green algal seaweed which has invaded the mediterranean sea. There is a quiz to try on there too - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/algae/about.html

Here is a picture from the Forth and Clyde canalside at Bowling Basin regarding fishing on the canal and invasive species:

Antartica braces for influx of invasive species http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/07/antarctica-braces-for-influx-of-invasive-species/

No longer in course but nice websites .... maybe useful another time Elephant seals - can dive to great depths for 2 hours without needing oxygen:

Breating in Humans and Birds
an animation:


I 'm Jen Wilson and I tutor  Chemistry, Biology and Human Biology  at Higher and Advanced Higher  in Scotland.    Tutoring Subjects ...