Great news — the new changes to Year 11 Biology Module 2: Organisation of Living Things makes it EASIER to understand Biology!

In the previous Module 1: Cells as the Basis of Life, you would’ve been looking at the microscopic features of cells. It may have included cell structures like organelles and biochemical processes.

Module 2: Organisation of Living Things explores macro-molecular processes such as vascular transport.

It is exploring a few questions like:
  • How do cells make up the whole organism?
  • Vertebrates use lungs for gas exchange. What about plants?
  • How does the structure of cells relate to their need for nutrients?

Our guide will be going through what the module is about, what to do for your depth study and some tips. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

What are the changes to the Module 2 syllabus?
Overview of Organisation of Living Things
Inquiry Question #1
Inquiry Question #2
Inquiry Question #3
How to Study for Organisation of Living Things

What are the changes to the Module 2 syllabus?

Exactly like the previous module, Organisation of Living Things aims to go through processes (think: flow charts) and compare them (think: tables).

Except, what’s different is that NESA has condensed dot points. Reducing some content gives you greater time to study, and in a variety of ways. This module only has 3 topics which may seem like a little but prepare to leave time to digest this information.

There is also a greater focus on Working Scientifically skills, especially in utilising primary and secondary data. Once you learn to integrate information from both, you’ve got the basics of writing about science down.

If you’re a visual or hands-on learner, you’re going to love this Module!


The overarching theme of this module is to learn about the relationship between transport systems in living things and to compare their nutrient and gas requirements.

You get the chance to look at the same concept from a variety of perspectives (using secondary sources, models, diagrams, primary investigations).

Let’s look at the nitty gritty of the topics.

Overview of Organisation of Living Things

A great place to start is the Content Focus straight from the syllabus.

There is an overarching theme of the relationship between structure and function and comparing them between organisms.

There are 3 topics within Module 2:
  • Organisation of Cellshow cells can form organs and how cells can form colonies and multicellular organisms
  • Nutrient and Gas Requirements – nutrient requirements and structures necessary to achieve them
  • Transport – gas exchange, structure and function of vascular systems of plans and animals

Inquiry Question #1: How are cells arranged in a multicellular organism?

Organisation of Cells goes through the relationship between cells.

Cells can exist as an individual unit, such as bacteria. For protection and survival, these bacteria usually form colonies.

A great example is a previous example that you may have come across during evolution — bacteriochlorophylls.

These photosynthetic bacteria dwelled in sediment homes and used photosynthesis to obtain nutrients.

Within a multicellular organism, they can also form a hierarchy of structures going from:
  • Membrane bound organelles
  • Cells
  • Tissues
  • Organs
  • Systems
  • Organisms

There’s a great summation of this on YouTube here!

Image from OpenStax College, Anatomy & Physiology

Using a muscle cell as an example, you can see how one muscle cell (myocyte) can form a muscle like the detrusor muscle.

This muscle among other muscles make up the bladder, an organ that stores urine. This organ will play a role in an organ system like the excretory system.

Inquiry Question #2: What is the difference in nutrient and gas requirements between autotrophs and heterotrophs?

If you’ve taken a look at the Nutrient and Gas Requirement topic, you’d think that this is a heft topic. The dot points can be categorised into a few main ideas: structure, function, and the relationship between them.

You are encouraged to explore multiple ways of looking at the same concept.

How do we investigate structure?

In plants, we can look at real plant material macroscopically as well as look at it under the microscope or other imagining technologies.

In animals, you may be looking at diagrams and models (stay tuned for some dissection!).

How do we investigate function?

You’ll be learning about the theory of photosynthesis, and the transpiration-cohesion-tension theory, as well as digestion.

If you can understand the function, you can understand why structure exists.

For example, while you might know that autotrophs have chloroplast and heterotrophs have mitochondria, you may consider that these processes both involve electron transfer.

There are going to be heaps of similarities and differences between nutrient requirements of animals and plants, so expect to draw tables.

Inquiry Question #3: How does the composition of the transport medium change as it moves around an organism?

You know what an animal/plant needs to survive, but how does it actually get everything to reach its cells?

Plants and animals have a vascular transport system which you can observe at the microscopic and the macroscopic level. Are they open systems? Are they closed systems?

If you’re a fan of physiology, you’re going to learn loving about the changes in composition of the medium like blood as it travels through the organism.

What about depth studies?

If you decide to do a depth study for this module, you have the option of doing a task on microorganisms and macroorganisms in water. In the 2003 syllabus, they referred to this module as A Local Ecosystem.

Observing organisms in relation to each other in real life is useful in demonstrating what they actually look like.

For example, algae can form these cool branching structures in response to their watery environment.

How to Study for Organisation of Living Things

You may have picked up that the overarching idea is to understand:

  • Structure VS function
  • Systems

So how can you ace your studies?

Step 1: Say it in 5 Ways

The great part about systems and relationships between organisms is that they’ve been said in a million different ways by different people. If you can describe a concept using 5 different methods, you can drive it in.

  1. A diagram
  2. in writing
  3. in a table,
  4. describing it to someone or
  5. demonstrating it using a real specimen

Step 2: Simplify

There are so many systems to learn, where do they all fit in with each other?

It can be hard to keep track of which system has what features, so a great way is to draw a mind-map.

Try not to follow the restriction of dot point categories — if you find great connections between dot points and topics, you can always mix concepts.

Below you will find a mind-map that mixes tissue organisation with transport: 

Image from Science for Everyone

Step 3: Terminology

Using appropriate terminology is a great tool in Science. Consider grouping relevant terminology in a word cloud or making a word bank.

Some words that you might consider adding to the word bank are:
  • Autotroph
  • Heterotroph
  • Vascular system
  • Digestion

In Summary

  • You can’t talk about structure without talking about function
  • Seeing is believing – support your idea about photosynthesis with the structures of chloroplasts
  • Simplify and condense your information, because it’s easy to mix up ideas about one system with another

As long as you can look at something from multiple perspectives using a variety of media, you can ace this module.

Remember to always check out if there is another way that a concept can be explained!

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