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How I'm Teaching the New IBDP Biology Syllabus (first Exam May 2025)

It's been about 2 months, 6 subtopics and 1 unit test since I started teaching the new IBDP Biology course and now that I've been through it a bit I feel more confident about sharing my plans with the wider community of IBDP Biology teachers out there. It is important to note that at my current school in Morocco I teach a mix class of SL & HL students, so I need to plan my SL release times so that they are fairly evenly spread throughout the units. It should also be noted that we have students at a wide variety of levels and many are non native-English speakers. These factors all came into play as I decided upon this sequence for my first time through the new syllabus.

Year 1:

Unit 1: Evolution & Biodiversity (22 hours)

  • A2.3 Viruses (HL only)

  • A3.1 Diversity of organisms

  • A3.2 Classification & cladistics (HL only)

  • A4.1 Evolution & speciation

  • B4.1 Adaptation to environment

  • D4.1 Natural selection

Unit 2: Cell Biology (24 hours)

  • A2.1 Origins of cells (HL only)

  • A2.2 Cell structure

  • B2.1 Membranes & membrane transport

  • B2.3 Cell specialization

  • D2.1 Cell & nuclear division

Unit 3: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (25 hours)

  • A1.1 Water

  • B1.1 Carbohydrates & lipids

  • B1.2 Proteins

  • C1.1 Enzymes & metabolism

  • C1.2 Cell respiration

  • D2.3 Water potential

Unit 4: Physiology (38 hours)

  • B3.1 Gas exchange

  • B3.2 Transport

  • B3.3 Muscle & motility (HL only)

  • C2.1 Chemical signalling (HL only)

  • C2.2 Neural signalling

  • C3.1 Integration of Body systems

  • C3.2 Defence against disease

  • D3.3 Homeostasis

Unit 5: Experimental Design for Biology & the IA

  • Ethics & experimental design

  • Ensuring reliability & validity

  • Collecting & processing data

  • Statistics

  • Mock IA

  • Real IA proposal & work time (about 9 of the 10 required hours if possible)

Collaborative Sciences Project

  • With Chemistry, Physics & ESS students

  • Field work after final exams in June

Year 2:

Unit 5: Experimental Design for Biology & the IA continued

  • IA commentary feedback

  • Peer editing with checklist

  • Upload to IBO

Unit 6: Ecology & the Environment (33 hours)

  • A4.2 Conservation of Biodiversity

  • B4.2 Ecological niches

  • C1.3 Photosynthesis

  • C4.1 Populations & communities

  • C4.2 Transfer of energy & matter

  • D4.2 Stability & change

  • D4.3 Climate change

Unit 7: Heredity (39 hours)

  • A1.2 Nucleic acids

  • D1.1 DNA replication

  • D1.2 Protein synthesis

  • D1.3 Mutations & gene editing

  • D2.2 Gene expression (HL only)

  • D3.1 Reproduction

  • D3.2 Inheritance

Unit 8: Exam Review

  • Past paper questions

  • Mini-mocks (real mocks are in January)

While working my way through the new syllabus I debated several different approaches, including teaching it in the order of the Subject Guide (which is what I did the very first time I taught the current syllabus), but I decided to stick with what I know works in terms of general themes and topics. I have found that starting big with Biodiversity & Evolution really prepares students with context and examples for the other topics in the course. I then zoom in to the cellular level, then further in to the molecular biology level & finally move to apply that knowledge while studying physiology. I like to do Genetics last as students tend to forget that one and it's connections to the other units are more obvious and start Year 2 with Ecology (in which I include photosynthesis to keep it separate from Cellular Respiration to avoid confusion & remind students of similarities and differences in Year 2).

I developed several different unit and topic sequences besides the one shared above, which I have chosen to go with this time around... I also have a calculation method that I use to figure out how many classes to spend on each topic, if these planning tools interest you, you can find them in my TPT shop soon (this week, I promise!).

Stay tuned for a future blog post at the end of this school year & next year as I reflect on this particular unit sequence to see if I stick with it or not. So far, I am quite happy with the way the topics in Unit 1 spiraled and reinforced each other, hopefully this trend continues in the next few units.

Thanks for reading teachers, travelers and curious souls of all kinds.

The Roaming Scientist



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

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