"I suggest...the term Genetics, which sufficiently indicates that our labours are devoted to the elucidation of the phenomena of heredity and variation." 

-William Bateson in his address to the Third Conference on Hybridisation, 1906

William Bateson began his Science education at Rugby School in the nineteenth century and later founded and named the science of Genetics. The work of William Bateson an others during the 20th century laid the foundations of modern Biology and we stand at exciting time for the subject. The 21st is set to be the century dominated by advances in Biology as genetic technologies reach maturity and the life sciences will likely play a key role in tackling global challenges that our pupils will face in their adult lives.

Our choice of syllabus and vision for the department is to develop all pupils into biologically literate global citizens and lay the technical foundations and inspire others to become leaders in the Life Sciences.

We aim to deliver the course content through practical work as far as is possible, teaching the key principles of the scientific method. We believe this approach builds transferable skills that encourages our pupils to view the world in a critical way and develops resilience and creativity in the pursuit of solutions to problems.

Our department is popular and growing with more than 50 pupils selecting the subject to study at A level. The teaching staff are committed, experienced teachers who are all passionate about the subject and are ably supported by two excellent technicians. Rugby School has remained at the forefront of science education in the UK and the Biology department continues this rich tradition of offering innovative and inspirational teaching.




All F, E and D Block pupils study Biology to IGCSE level (Edexcel).  This academically rigorous course covers a diverse range of topics and provides a stimulating and challenging experience in which underlying principles and practical investigation play prominent roles. The IGCSE course lays an optimum foundation for further success at A level and beyond.

Uptake at A level is generally high, with about 80 pupils studying A level Biology (AQA) in a linear format over two years.  The course is taught by two teachers and is divided into eight sections entitled:

  • Biological molecules
  • Cells
  • Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  • Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
  • Energy transfers in and between organisms
  • Organisms respond to changes in the internal and external environments
  • Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  • The control of gene expression.

Practical work is an integral part of the two-year course with 12 core practicals required for the final exams. The 12 practicals are visited in different contexts to ensure pupils have the skills for future biological study and to excel in the written exams. 

A significant number of pupils go on to study a variety of Biology related degrees at university including Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Natural Sciences, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Pharmacy, Genetics, Biomedical Sciences and Physiotherapy.

The LXX year culminates in a Biology Field trip either overnight in the UK or for 5 nights to Tenerife in the Easter Break. Regardless of location, the trips are an integral part of the course and a fantastic opportunity for the pupils to spend an extended period focusing on a single subject in an environment of outstanding natural beauty and biological interest.

A level pupils are also encouraged to:

  • Attend the guest lectures from active scientists and related professionals
  • Attend extension Biology sessions which aim to increase the chances of success when applying for highly selective universities including Oxford and Cambridge through informal discussion, problem solving, presentation and critical thinking exercises. 
  • Attend the Bateson Society Club, a weekly presentation and discussion group where students sharpen their communication skills whilst researching and learning about topics beyond the scope of the specification. 
  • Take part in national Biology completions such as the British Biology Olympiad run by the Royal Society of Biology each January
  •  Carry out their own research project in their own time under the guidance of teachers and technicians
  •  Contribute to the science magazine