National 4 Biology
The National 4 Biology Course covers major areas of biology including cellular, whole organism and ecosystems. The key areas of biodiversity, interdependence, body systems and cells and inheritance are developed through the Course. It enables learners to recognise the impact that biology has on society and the environment. Learners develop scientific inquiry and investigative skills, scientific analytical thinking skills and the ability to use scientific literacy in a range of contexts.
Updates and announcements
- May 2016 subject update (219 KB)
- October 2015 subject update (344 KB)
- August 2015 subject update (93 KB)
- May 2015 subject update (277 KB)
- January 2015 subject update - Advanced Higher (500 KB)
- August 2014 subject update (120 KB)
- Special Edition Update June 2014 (152 KB)
- January 2014 update letter (22 KB)
- September 2013 update letter
This explains the overall structure of the Course, including its purpose and aims and information on the skills, knowledge and understanding that will be developed.
These provide an outline of what each Unit will cover within the Course and detail the Outcomes and Assessment Standards.
- Biology: Life on Earth (National 4) Unit Specification session
- Biology: Multicellular Organisms (National 4) Unit Specification session
- Cell Biology (National 4) Unit Specification session
The comparison document clearly illustrates the additional information provided in the updated Unit Specification compared with the previous version.
Added Value Unit Specification
These define the mandatory requirements for the Added Value Unit, including the Outcomes and Assessment Standards.
They also include the further mandatory information on Course coverage for the National 4 Course and include information on the assessment method to be used and the conditions of assessment.
Advice and guidance
Course and Unit Support Notes
These provide advice and guidance for teachers/lecturers on learning, teaching and assessment within the Course and its Units.
Past Papers and Marking Instructions
Added Value Unit Assessment
The Biology Added Value Unit assessment is an assignment. While describing what candidates must do, the published assessment offers considerable flexibility in the choice of a context for the assessment, in which candidates apply skills, knowledge and understanding to investigate a topical issue in biology and its impact on the environment and/or society. The issue should draw on one or more of the key areas of the Course, and should be chosen with guidance from the assessor.
Centres can access the assessment through their SQA Co-ordinator.
Information on suggested topical issues can be found in the National 4 Biology Course and Unit Support Notes. It is not mandatory to use any of the topical issues suggested. A resource pack for one possible context for this assignment is also included in the National 4 Biology Course and Unit Support Notes.
As with all SQA Unit assessments, Added Value Unit assessments must be internally verified by centres.
Unit Assessment Support
These documents contain details of Unit assessment task(s), show approaches to gathering evidence and how the evidence can be judged against the Outcomes and Assessment Standards. Teachers/lecturers can arrange access to these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.
Understanding Standards materials
We are publishing examples of candidate evidence with commentaries as part of our Understanding Standards programme. These materials are for teachers and lecturers to help them develop their understanding of the standards required for assessment. As these materials become available, they are being published in the following locations:
- Available from our secure website Materials relating to Unit assessment, internally assessed components of Course assessment, and externally assessed components of Course assessment which are subject to visiting assessment. Teachers and lecturers can arrange access to these materials through their SQA Co-ordinator.
- Available from our Understanding Standards website Materials relating to externally assessed components of Course assessment, with the exception of those subject to visiting assessment.
More information on our Understanding Standards programme, can be found on our Understanding Standards page.