Biology Unit 3 and 4


Biology is the study of life, both past and present. In this study you will learn about how cells maintain life and how life changes over time.

Unit 3 explores the working of cells including the molecules for life and their importance in cellular processes and biochemical pathways. Students will learn how cells communicate, respond and regulate; about biochemical reactions in processes such as photosynthesis and respiration; and about the nature of the immune system.

Unit 4 examines how life changes and responds to challenges over time, the mechanisms, evidence for, and human impact on, evolution.

This study involves a student practical investigation related to either cellular processes or biological change and continuity over time which is presented as a scientific poster.

Who is it for?

The study of biology prepares students for continuing studies in bioscience and entry into the workforce in a wide range of careers, including those not normally thought of as depending on bioscience. Much of our economic activity is generated through advances in bioscience research, in environmental, medical and associated biotechnologies, and in parallel sciences such as bioinformatics.

What do you do?

Students who complete Biology Units 3 and 4 will participate in a range of activity types including:

  • practical investigations and the keeping of a lab diary
  • online interactives
  • online lessons
  • forums
  • development of a study resource
  • quizzes
  • development of a structured scientific poster.

What skills do you need?

It is strongly recommended that students will have completed Biology Units 1 and 2 before attempting Units 3 and 4.

What skills do you develop?

Students acquire knowledge and skills of inquiry that help them to examine critically issues that arise in their own lives and in the public domain, to contribute to debate and to take part in making decisions about their own health and wellbeing and that of society. They build an understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things and their environment. The values and attributes that students develop will help them to recognise the strengths and limitations of science, respect evidence and be sensitive to differences in views and beliefs held by others. They will be able to work collaboratively and yet state their own views from an informed position.




You must have access to the internet in order to access this course. All weekly work will be completed and submitted online.

Students require access to laboratory facilities to complete Unit 3 satisfactorily. If you are unable to use a laboratory at your school or workplace you will need to attend the DECV laboratory in Thornbury on a designated day in Semester 1. Students also need to access the internet each week.

The following textbook is required: Nelson Biology VCE Units 3 and 4, third edition

Things to think about

Before attempting this study, students should have some knowledge of how to design, conduct and report on practical investigations including the ability to design hypotheses and experiments and analyse data.
It is of benefit if they also have knowledge of:

  • cell structure
  • cell functioning – specialised parts of cells and their functions; biochemical processes including photosynthesis and cellular resiration; general role of enzymes
  • composition of cells – major groups of organic and inorganic substances including carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, water, minerals, vitamins; their general role in cell structure and function
  • internal and external environments of cells – plasma membranes; membrane transport including diffusion, osmosis, active transport; surface area to volume ratio
  • cell replication – purposes of cell replication (mitosis and cytokinesis); cell growth, cell size and cell division.
  • structural adaptations – relating major features of organisms to survival value.

Things you can do now

If you have not completed Biology Units 1 and 2 you can work through this Revision Booklet which will give you a brief introduction to some of the concepts that are a prerequisite for Biology Units 3 and 4.

Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.





Things to have a look at


Gene Technology Access Center
You can check out some great Biology resources on this site.

Cells Alive

Explore, study and play – cells, microbes and the immune system.

Biological Molecules

Watch this great introduction to the Biological Molecules in a Crash Course Biology.