Skip to Main Content

VCE Biology Unit 2: Home

VCE Biology Study Design: Unit 2, Area of Study 3

Investigation of an issue

The increasing uses and applications of genetics knowledge and reproductive science in society both provide benefits for individuals and populations and raise social, economic, legal and ethical questions. Human cloning, genetic modification of organisms, the use of forensic DNA databanks, assisted reproductive technologies and prenatal and predictive genetic testing challenge social and ethical norms. In this area of study, students apply and extend their knowledge and skills developed in Areas of Study 1 and/or 2 to investigate an issue involving reproduction and/or inheritance. They communicate the findings of their investigation and explain the biological concepts, identify different opinions, outline the legal, social and ethical implications for the individual and/or species and justify their conclusions. Material for the investigation can be gathered from laboratory work, computer simulations and modelling, literature searches, global databases and interviews with experts.

Key knowledge

  • the characteristics of effective science communication: accuracy of biological information; clarity of explanation of biological concepts, ideas and models; contextual clarity with reference to importance and implications of findings; conciseness and coherence; and appropriateness for purpose and audience
  • the biological concepts specific to the investigation: definitions of key terms; use of appropriate biological terminology, conventions and representations
  • the use of data representations, models and theories in organising and explaining observed phenomena and biological concepts, and their limitations
  • the nature of evidence and information: distinction between opinion, anecdote and evidence, weak and strong evidence, and scientific and non-scientific ideas; and validity, reliability and authority of data including sources of possible errors or bias
  • the influence of social, economic, legal and ethical factors relevant to the selected biological issue.

To read more go to VCE Biology Study Design pdf


Biotechnology is the application of technology to improve the biological function of an organism by adding genes from another organism [transgenics]. Genetic engineering is the basic tool of biotechnology.

Genetic engineering involves:

  • Isolating genes;
  • Modifying genes so they function better;
  • Preparing genes to be inserted into a new species;
  • Developing transgenes. 

Transgenics enables:

  • the development of organisms to express a 'novel' trait not normally found in the species [e.g., extend the shelf-life tomatoes, herbicide-resistant soybean];
  • the study of gene function and regulation;
  • the generation of new tools for other fields of research [e.g., bio-steel;
  • cures for genetic diseases;
  • the improvement of agriculture and related materials [e.g., insect-resistant cotton and corn; virus-resistant papaya];
  • the generation of new systems or sources for bio-engineered drugs [the use of plants instead of animals or bacteria], e.g., edible vaccines.

Biological Concepts: Molecular genetics

Biological Concepts: Cell differentiation

Access Academic Databases through local, state, or national Libraries

Members of the National Library of Australia [NLA] or the State Library of Victoria [SLV] or Brimbank public libraries have access to eresources that are not available through Google or other free search engines. These resources include eBooks, magazines, newspaper, and reference databases. Much of the information in the eresources is not available elsewhere on the web. 

To become a member of the NLA, click here.

To become a member of the SLV, click here

To become a member of Brimbank Public Libraries, click here

Email Library Staff if you need any helping with setting up access to the databases.

News Sources

Biotechnology Regulation & Research

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar lets you search across a broad range of scholarly literature including journal articles, books, conference papers, theses and abstracts. The site’s content is sourced from academic publishers, professional societies, university websites and other online repositories.

The Library is open 8.00 to 4.00 Mon-Thurs, 8.00 to 3.30 Fri. We also have a selection of games available to play during recess and lunch. Only games from the Library are to be played.