Biology is the study of life itself and with recent pioneering developments in genetics, stem cell research and biotechnology, it is an exciting time to study this dynamic science.

After the general science course taught in Year 7, biology is taught by subject specialists through to the Sixth Form. Basic IGCSE concepts studied in Years 8 and 9 are developed through practicals and theory in Years 10 and 11. The field studies classroom and adjacent Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) woodland are used as appropriate throughout the course. All Year 10 pupils take part in the Biology Challenge competition, in which most boys usually gain an award from Gold to Bronze.

  • Sixth Form

    The first year of IB Biology examines topics in more detail including cell theory, biochemistry, water potential, the breathing and circulatory systems, ecology and photosynthesis. Practical ecology work for both Standard and Higher Level is extended by a compulsory four-day field course at a Field Studies Centre. Second year topics include respiration, further physiology, nervous coordination, homeostasis, cell division and genetics.

    Practical work makes up a significant part of the IB course, with many and varied practicals being conducted throughout the course. Top candidates compete in the annual Biology Olympiad competition and potential medics take the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). Many of our biologists go on to read medicine, dentistry or veterinary science at university.

  • Field course

    During the first week after the summer half term, the biology department decamps to a Field Studies Centre (currently Slapton in Devon) for an intensive four-day field course.

    The aim of the field course is to cover the practical ecological and environmental components of the IB syllabus and to collect all the data required for the Individual Investigation, which is written up and handed in before the end of term and counts for 20% of the total IB Biology score. Field work includes data collection techniques and statistical analysis (from seashore, stream and woodland habitats), man’s impact on the environment, and succession.

    The days are busy, irrespective of the weather, and a lot of work is covered in a short time. However, the field course is a rewarding experience for all involved. Hands-on experience is gained in the field where the outdoors becomes the classroom and you can see biology working in front of you.

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