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NSW Syllabuses

Biology Stage 6 - Year 11 Module 1: Cells as the Basis of Life


A student:

  • BIO11/12-3

    conducts investigations to collect valid and reliable primary and secondary data and information

  • BIO11/12-4

    selects and processes appropriate qualitative and quantitative data and information using a range of appropriate media

  • BIO11-8

    describes single cells as the basis for all life by analysing and explaining cells’ ultrastructure and biochemical processes

Content Focus

Cells are the basis of life. They coordinate activities to form colonial and multicellular organisms. Students examine the structure and function of organisms at both the cellular and tissue levels in order to describe how they facilitate the efficient provision and removal of materials to and from all cells in organisms. They are introduced to and investigate biochemical processes through the application of the Working Scientifically skills processes.

Students are introduced to the study of microbiology and the tools that scientists use in this field. These tools will be used throughout the course to assist in making predictions and solving problems of a multidisciplinary nature.

Working Scientifically

In this module, students focus on conducting investigations to collect, process and analyse data and identify trends, patterns and relationships related to cell structure and function. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.


  • Cell Structure

  • Inquiry question: What distinguishes one cell from another?
  • Students:
  • investigate different cellular structures, including but not limited to:
  • examining a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells (ACSBL032, ACSBL048) ICT
  • describe a range of technologies that are used to determine a cell’s structure and function ICT
  • investigate a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structures, including but not limited to:
  • drawing scaled diagrams of a variety of cells (ACSBL035) ICTN
  • comparing and contrasting different cell organelles and arrangements CCT
  • modelling the structure and function of the fluid mosaic model of the cell membrane (ACSBL045) CCTICT
  • Cell function

  • Inquiry question: How do cells coordinate activities within their internal environment and the external environment?
  • Students:
  • investigate the way in which materials can move into and out of cells, including but not limited to:
  • conducting a practical investigation modelling diffusion and osmosis (ACSBL046) ICT
  • examining the roles of active transport, endocytosis and exocytosis (ACSBL046)
  • relating the exchange of materials across membranes to the surface-area-to-volume ratio, concentration gradients and characteristics of the materials being exchanged (ACSBL047) ICTN
  • investigate cell requirements, including but not limited to:
  • suitable forms of energy, including light energy and chemical energy in complex molecules (ACSBL044)
  • matter, including gases, simple nutrients and ions
  • removal of wastes (ACSBL044)
  • investigate the biochemical processes of photosynthesis, cell respiration and the removal of cellular products and wastes in eukaryotic cells (ACSBL049, ACSBL050, ACSBL052, ACSBL053) ICT
  • conduct a practical investigation to model the action of enzymes in cells (ACSBL050)
  • investigate the effects of the environment on enzyme activity through the collection of primary or secondary data (ACSBL050, ACSBL051) ICTN