"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. 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.

Biology is a popular and dynamic subject studied by nearly 600 pupils each week at Rugby School. This is a vibrant department consisting of eight teachers supported by two excellent technicians. Biology is taught in four recently refurbished and generously-equipped laboratories with a fifth as a teaching and project laboratory. There is also a pupils’ resources room.

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 practical investigation and modern day contexts 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 45 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 five-day Biology Field trip in the UK to either Slapton Sands, Devon or Dale Fort, Wales. The trip is 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 and Pre-U pupils are also encouraged to:

  • Attend the weekly evening showing of a Biology related documentary
  • Attend the guest lectures from active scientists and related professionals
  • Attend the Bateson Society Club, which aims 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. 
  • 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