ASHS Coursebook: 3BIO (Level 3 Biology)

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Information icon.svg 3BIO
NCEA Level:
Primary Qualification:
Primary Learning Area:

What is this course about?

Through studying biology you will develop the scientific literacy needed to be an critical citizen in your everyday life, and through this develop the skills, attitudes, and relevant content knowledge needed in preparation for further study and science related careers. You will come to understand that:

  • Biology is the scientific study of living things. Life is incredibly varied, yet based on common processes. 
  • Biologists – and students studying biology – seek evidence to explain the nature of living things, and to understand where and how life is evolving, how evolution links life processes and ecology, and the impact that humans have on all forms of life.
  • Biology explores the interconnectedness of all living things and the environment. Through learning in biology, students discover that life involves interactions at all levels of organisation: cells interact with their environment and with each other, so do organs, organisms and ecosystems. No living thing exists in isolation from its environment.

What will I learn?

You will learn about the Nature of Science and how it is relevant to citizenship, further study, and biology related careers through the following big ideas in biology:

  • All organisms share a common set of essential life processes

Because of their shared evolutionary history, all organisms share a common set of essential life processes (movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion, and nutrition) and use the same genetic system to maintain continuity.

  • Organisms interact with each other and with their environment

Living systems are organised and regulate themselves at the cell, organism, and ecosystem levels. Each of these dynamic systems maintains stability in response to a changing environment and their responses impact in turn upon the environment.

  • Species arise, change, and become extinct over time

Evolution results in diverse adaptations to ensure survival. This diversity allows organisms to occupy different niches within an ecosystem.

  • Genetics maintain continuity plus allow for change

The inherited sequence of DNA underlies an organism's phenotype such as shape or blood type. Heritable mutations allow evolution or genetic change over time.

What sorts of things will I do?

You will be involved in the active exploration of what biology is, and how biologists use a range of approaches and perspectives when viewing problems or issues through:

  • Developing knowledge of the vocabulary, numeric and symbol systems, and conventions of science and use this knowledge to communicate about their own and others’ ideas.
  • Developing the ability to bring a scientific perspective to decisions and actions as appropriate.
  • Evaluating accounts of the natural world and consider the wider implications of the methods of communications and/or representation employed.
  • Using relevant information to develop a coherent understanding of socio-scientific issues that concern you.
  • Developing the ability to carry out science investigations using a variety of approaches: classifying and identifying, pattern seeking, exploring, investigating models, fair testing, making things, or developing systems.
  • Developing understanding of the relationship between investigations and scientific theories and models.
  • Learning about science as a knowledge system:  the features of scientific knowledge and the processes by which it is developed; and learn about the ways in which the work of scientists interacts with society.
  • Connecting their new ideas to current and historical scientific knowledge and to present their findings for peer review and debate.

What standards are included?

These are the standards offered for the 2018 course. Students must check the entry requirements of any tertiary course they are considering, to ensure they are completing a programme of work that will enable their successful entry.


Summary of standards:
NCEA Level Standard Number Name of standard Version Number Credits Assessment Assessment date


(R = reading, W = writing, B = both)     

AS91607 Demonstrate understanding of human manipulations of genetic transfer 2 3 Internal

Term 1

AS91605 Demonstrate understanding of evolutionary processes leading to speciation 2 4 External

Prelim exam: 

Week 9, Term 3

NCEA exam:


3 AS91601 Carry out a practical investigation in a biological context, with guidance 2 4 Internal

Term 2

AS91604 Demonstrate understanding of how an animal maintains a stable internal environment 2 3 Internal Term 2
3 AS91606 Demonstrate understanding of trends in human evolution 2 4 External

Prelim exam: 

Week 9, Term 3

NCEA exam:



Total available credits: 18

University Entrance

Biology is a UE approved subject. This means that if a student gain 14 or more credits in the standards above then biology may be counted as one of their 3 UE approved subjects. It is also possible to combine credits from biology with other science credits to gain a science as one of the 3UE approved subjects. However, this may exclude some credits from being counted towards separate biology, chemistry and/or physics UE. Students must speak with the SSL of Science if they intend to take this option for their UE subjects.

More information about UE is avaialable here:

Course Endorsement

A merit or excellence course endorsement for Biology may be obtained by completing 14 credits in the above standards at merit or above for merit course endorsement, or 14 credits at excellence for excellence course endorsement. The 14 credits must include at least 3 external credits, and must be completed in the same school year. More information about NCEA course endorsements is available here:

Vocational Pathways

Vocational Pathways provide a framework for students to show how their learning and achievement is valued in the workplace by aligning learning to the skills needed for industry.

Follow this link to see the profiles for this course.

Assessment Calendar

Link to the ASHS Assessment Calendars

Frequently asked questions:

What do I need to be able to successfully complete level 3 Biology?

  • It is highly recommended that students complete the level 2 genetic variation and change external in preparation for 3 Biology.
  • The ability to communicate ideas clearly through both written and visual means.
  • An interest in biology, consistent attendance and the completion of all course work.

What books are recommended?

  • It is highly recommended that you bring along your own internet capable and word processing device (a cell phone is not sufficient).
  • You will be given access to digital course materials and resources through google classroom.
  • There are a variety of other textbooks and revision guides available at the school library.

What stationary, do I need?

The usual basic stationary and:

  • a 2B8 hardcover lecture book
  • a 20 page clearfile
  • a scientific calculator