Higher Human Biology CfE

General Information about the Course

The Course Specification from the SQA
What you need to know - very useful and detailed from page 38 of the online document onwards

Past Papers- 
Higher Human Biology

Useful for revision- 

Understanding Standards - looking at how people answered last year's paper and seeing the marker's comments - https://www.understandingstandards.org.uk/Subjects/HumanBiology

Unit 1 - Human Cells

1.1 Division and differentiation in human cells

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

Stem Cells Repairing Heart Muscle
qu Stem cells repairing heart tissue - a British Heart Foundation Project - repairing damaged hearts after a heart attack using stem cells:

New skin from Stem Cells - remarkable story:

Heart Stem Cells Repair Muscle Damage
TV News Item:

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)

Tissue stem cells (sometimes called adult stem cells) - and induced pluripotent -

Making a stem cell from a differentiated cell - an induced Pluripotent cell
This discovery is so important it won a Nobel Prize - probably the biggest prize in Science

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 by the children in this video is actually quite interesting if you can manage to hear what they are saying:

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.

From Centre of the Cell :
Lots to explore about cells on here ...

1.2 Structure and replication of DNA

Unit 1 Revision - BBC Bitesize 

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! ______________________________

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 :

DNA Replication
Animations of Leading Strand vs Lagging Strand :

DNA Replication
This is actually a good video and covers a lot - if you can get round his slightly cringe-worthy rap presentation ! it covers DNA replication - leading strand vs lagging strand - history etc
Of the enzymes I would just focus on knowing the DNA polymerase and the ligase for Higher - dont worry about others that are mentioned
DNA Replication - Sanger Sequencing
PCR Polymerase Chain Reaction

Nice website about PCR:


1.3 Gene Expression

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

Transcription Animation

Genetics plus Environment lead to phenotype

Control of Gene Expression Quiz


1.4 Genes and proteins in health and disease

Mutations Caused by Radiation


Point Mutations Within Gene causing Incorrect Protein to form

with example of Haemoglobin in Sickle Cell Anaemia

Huntingdon's Disease:

Sickle Cell Trait and Sickle Cell Disease
Some blood cells - one has the sickle cell shape
1911 Sickle Cells
Attrib: OpenStax College / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

From NHS website - Sickle Cell Disease - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sickle-cell-disease/

Interesting homework worksheet on sickle cell disease:
Gene editing link - latest news

1.5 Human genomics

DNA sequencing can be done using electrophoresis
Here is how to set up Gel Electrophoresis :
Experimentally setting up a gel electrophoresis :

DNA Sequencing 
using chain terminating dideoxynucleotides

This is an interesting article showing the future of genomics and personalised medicine - from Chris Edwards in "Engineering and Technology" magazine.

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

1.6 Metabolic Pathways
Simple animation

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

Feedback Inhibition

Competitive Inhibitors and Non-competitive Inhibitors of Enzymes

Enzymes and Pathways

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

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.

1.7 Cellular Respiration


1.8 Energy systems in muscle cells

Fast twitch / slow twitch muscles http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/factfiles/fastandslowtwitch/soleus.shtml

From Nerd Fitness - fast twitch / slow twitch muscles and athletics 

Creatine and muscles 

Unit 2 - Physiology and Health

2.1 The structure and function of reproductive organs and gametes and their role in fertilisation

Ovary diagram - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Order_of_changes_in_ovary.svg
On this wikipedia page is an interesting picture from Gray's Anatomy (a famous anatomy book) - a drawing of the Corpus luteum and different stages in egg production in an ovary -  Gray1163
The numbering of the diagram shows at: 5 = follicles in their earliest stage. 7 and 8 = developing follicles. 9 = an almost mature follicle and 9' = a follicle which has just released an egg (ovum).  10 = the Corpus Luteum !
Henry Vandyke Carter / Public domain

2.2 Hormonal control of reproduction 

An excellent resource about hormones here - has an animation about the influence of the human sex hormones on the human female menstrual cycle but also looks at some other hormones such as insulin, growth hormone etc that we need to know about as well. Includes some nice drag and drop quizzes. Has a bit at the end about plant hormones which is not in Human Biology but comes into Higher Biology !

QUIZ on First two sections of Unit 2 :

Click here to try the Quiz


2.3 The biology of controlling fertility

Louise Brown - the world's first "test tube baby" born in 1978

2.4 Ante and Post Natal Screening

Screening Test vs Diagnostic Test

A bit about Huntington's disease - which has Autosomal Dominant inheritance

Sickle Cell Trait and Sickle Cell Disease
Some blood cells - one has the sickle cell shape
1911 Sickle Cells
Attrib: OpenStax College / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

From NHS website - Sickle Cell Disease - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sickle-cell-disease/

2.5 The structure and function of arteries, capillaries and veins

2.6 The structure and function of the heart 

Simple animation of movement of blood through heart:

The Cardiac Cycle


Interpreting a cardiac cycle graph
a bit difficult to listen to and graphics not the best but it does help explain it all if you listen!

Animation of Sino atrial node / AV node etc -

Atrial Fibrillation / Heart Beat / Sinus node (Sino-atrial node)

Excellent animation although would be nice to be able to slow it but get used to the cycle and pick one part of it eg ventricular systole and spot where it appears on the various traces...
Thanks to Dr Jana for this great animation - also at:

Very good animation of the HEART

Explaining electrocardiograms (ECG)
More info that you need but interesting

ECG - from the NHS - good information

Heart Attack - information from the NHS

Aortic valve replacement (you may find this of interest)

Heart cells beating automatically in a petri dish
and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfxCJji_RHo
2.7 Pathology of cardiovascular disease (CVD) 

NHS page for atherosclerosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis - just some info to read:

Anti-coagulant - Warfarin and its effect on Vitamin K

A study from Finland of diet improving health and reducing CVD -https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/health-disease/2018/finlands-bold-push-change-heart-health-nation?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=ad-1&utm_campaign=paid-march

Some Cholesterol Information
https://www.heartuk.org.uk/cholesterol/overview _____________________________

Artery Explorer Video - including cholesterol etc

2.8 Blood glucose levels and obesity

What can happen if you have untreated Type 2 Diabetes - peripheral nerves and capillaries can be affected:
(perhaps need a warning that if you are at all squeamish that someone has had their foot amputated. ..but it has healed)

The Liver
A mind map of what the liver does, though I think its really just the glucose/glycogen that is useful for Higher Human Biology:

The Kidney

My diagram to attempt to further explain where exactly water, salts, urea etc get re-absorbed while passing through the kidneys 

Diabetes - Type 1

Diabetes - loads of stuff here

Jamie Oliver Sugar Rush programme showing how diabetes causes vascular disease:

Diabetes / Type 2 Diabetes Understanding Type 2 Diabetes - YouTube

Glucose tolerance curves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT1xBpWjICY

Unit 3 - Neurobiology and Immunology  

1 Divisions of the nervous system and neural pathways
No resources
CNS / autonomic etc
converging/diverging etc

2 The Cerebral Cortex

PET Scans for imaging the brain - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrTy03O0gWw

fMRI - Functional MRI scanning
Really detailed MRI scan of the brain ! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVWeymAoAaI

Scanning of different areas of the brain used to communicate with a man who appeared to be in a vegetative state - https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/feb/03/vegetative-state-patient-communication

Using calmed brain waves - Mindflex Mind Control Game - toy of 2009 !
worth watching !! 2 minute video !

Visual perception slides (not in new course 2019?)- https://www.slideshare.net/wilfreddextertanedo/arts-visual-perception-lecture-1

Brain Ports - to help you build new neural pathways eg to restore sense of balance or even to give spatial awareness to those who have lost their sight (I am not sure if the people had to originally have sight in order to restore spatial awareness ... I have not read this bit yet but it is interesting)

left/right brain ....  no resources yet

3 Memory
Encoding/storage/retrieval etc / sensory memory / STM / LTM

Primacy and Recency effects Try the absolute classic TV programme The Generation Game Conveyor Belt Game - watch the whole conveyor belt then see how many you can remember - write them down then watch again and see which ones you missed and where they came in the order on the conveyor belt:
Watch Clip on YouTube
Try questions 9 and 10 main paper 2011
Also Question 11 main paper - 2012

4 The Cells of the Nervous system and Neurotransmitter at Synapses

Structure of axons/ myelin etc - no resources yet
Neurotransmitters at synapses
Acetylcholine neurotransmitter

In this video it shows Acetylcholine neurotransmitter crossing the synapse between and nerve and a muscle cell. Dont worry about the details but listen out for Acetylcholine and Acetylcholinesterase enzyme which breaks down the AcetylCholine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmEWhSSeZ0s

Neurotransmitter effects on mood and behaviour:
Dopamine / Reward pathway

5 Non Specific Body Defences

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 :

How Cilia work -  https://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/zywc87h

Epithelial tissue video - The first 1 minute 40 seconds are relevant...

6 Specific Cellular Defences Against Pathogens
see Q2 main paper - 2011 

Mostly B lymphocyte response

Global Epidemics and Emergencies
Really interesting lecture to IIEA by Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation (WHO) given in 2017 after a big ebola outbreak in west Africa. The whole lecture is interesting but the most relevant parts are the first 17 minutes roughly.

Viruses - Coronavirus - Mutations - how they spread from animals - interesting video

Using Antibodies in Plasma

Some interesting slides on the plague / black death - historically interesting - though not necessary at all for the Human Biology course as such but good general knowledge about a disease that still occurs around the world today

7 Immunisation

A bit of history of Polio vaccine - and some others on there too:

Two good videos on Herd Immunity :

UK Loses its "Measles Free" Status
WHO - https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/publications/hps-weekly-report/volume-53/issue-34/uk-loses-measles-free-status/
New Scientist https://www.newscientist.com/article/2213764-the-uk-has-lost-its-world-health-organization-measles-free-status/
BBC - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-49507253

Antigenic Variation
H1N1 Influenza fact sheet

8 Clinical Trials of Vaccines and Drugs

Interesting with this article about Covid-19 / Coronavirus vaccine trial to read about how "the placebo" was used - in this case another vaccination (if this article is no longer here I have a transcript so just email me for information)

Specialist links re SARS-CoV-2 - Coronavirus - of interest .. but not prob essential for H. Human Biol

Amino acid classifications for sequencing :
and using that code in this comparison of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS one - quite a lot of differences I would have thought - but perhaps as viruses have no RNA or DNA sequence checking mechanism that is why?!

The whole Genetics and mutations accumulating in SARS-CoV-19 tracked by time and country

Chemiluminescent Immunoassay

also there is a good video on Neutralisation assay - it is near the top on the Adv H Biology page on here ....

Lateral Flow Immunoassay - also known as a Rapid Diagnostic Test:

Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification
video explaining this technology