Biology IG Introduction

Cambridge IG Biology (code:0610)

The word biology comes from the Greek root bios which means 'life' and the Greek suffix logy which means 'science of' or 'study of'. So, biology is the study of living things.

Traditionally, people have classified living things into three major groups - plants, animals and humans. These three groups correspond to the three major fields of study within biology, namely:

  • Botany - the study of plants
  • Zoology - the study of animals
  • Anatomy and physiology - the study of the physical structure and function of the human body.

Within each of these major fields are many smaller specializations. As technology advances and scientists are better able to study and classify living organisms, new fields of biology are opening up, making the study of biology a very exciting field of study with many practical applications to make life on earth better for all.

The Cambridge IG biology course is an excellent foundational course that enable students to develop a solid understanding of the terms and concepts used in the study of biology and is therefore excellent preparation for further studies in this field at AS /A Levels and tertiary level or to have as general knowledge in order to live as informed citizen. Like all Cambridge International subjects, the emphasis is not only the theory but also the practical application of the theory in daily life.

Cambridge International does recommend that students should have prior knowledge to commencing the course. (See article)

The IG biology course begins by exploring what defines a living organism. Students are introduced to the seven characteristics of all living organisms. These characteristics are then explored in more detail through the course both in plants and animals (mainly humans). Classification is another very important aspect of biology and students are introduced to the classification system and what the main characteristics of the five kingdoms are - Animals, Plants, Fungi, Protoctista, and Prokaryotes. Cells are the basic unit of all living organisms, which means that students should have a good grasp of the structure and function of cells. Students will explore how substances move in and out of the cell and what chemicals make up life. The course ends with a look at topics like organisms and their environment, biotechnology and humans and the environment.

 The IG biology course has been recently updated (2016) to include the following new topics: biological molecules, disease and immunity, sense organs, chromosomes, genes and proteins, adaptive features, biotechnology and genetic engineering, and human influences on ecosystems. Note that the 2019 as well as the 2020/2021 syllabi do not add anything new to the 2016 update.

 The IG biology course is offered at two levels - core and extended.

  • Students taking the core level, will cover only the core part of the syllabus. These students will write Paper 1 (multiple choice questions - core), Paper 3 (theory- core) and and either Paper 5 (Practical test) or Paper 6 (alternative to practical). Students writing the core syllabus can achieve a grade between C and G. (i.e. a maximum grade of a C [60-69%]).
  • Students taking the extended level, will cover the core part of the syllabus AND the supplement part of the syllabus. The textbook that Imago uses will indicate the supplement part of the syllabus with a brown bar in the margin and an 'S' in a purple circle. Students taking the extended course will write Paper 2 (multiple choice questions - extended), Paper 4 (theory - extended) and either Paper 5 (Practical test) or Paper 6 (alternative to practical). These students can achieve a grade between A+ and G (i.e. a maximum grade of a A+ [90-100%]).

Note that the IG syllabus is available from the Cambridge International website.

 Imago Education's biology course

There are excellent text books available for this biology course, but students often battle to know how to work with the material in such a way as to master its understanding and application. Frequently they will read through the text book, and perhaps answer some of the questions, believing that this is all that is required. What is really needed, though, is a comprehensive, systematic, structured set of learning activities that will the student to a mastery of the subject. It is Imago Education's aim to provide such a set of learning activities, divided into manageable lessons, that will guide the student through the learning process and enable him/her to prepare thoroughly for the final exam.

We will be using Cambridge IG Biology Coursebook by Mary Jones and Geoff Jones, third edition (Cambridge University Press, 2014, ISBN:978-1-107-61479-6 as well as Cambridge IG Biology Workbook, by Mary Jones and Geoff Jones, third edition (Cambridge University Press, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-107-61493-2. Note the one is a coursebook which has the main text and the other is the workbook which has important exercises for the students to work through. Both these books are endorsed by Cambridge International and therefore meets their requirements for this course. The text book is well written and is particularly suitable for the private candidate studying on their own.

While this course will point out the practical skills which need to be learned, it is by it's nature limited in providing the student with the skills required for the practical exam. Since at IG level, students can write Paper 6 (alternative to practical) instead of Paper 5 (practical test), this is not such a problem. The student should however, where possible, and under the guidance of an adult attempt as many of the practical activities as possible.

The menu at the left hand side provides a table of contents for all the lessons in this course. To get a feel for how the course works, please look at the free lessons available (indicated with *).