Our Biology department is a dynamic, friendly environment where boys can achieve a depth of biological study and develop a range of key scientific skills. A variety of modern and traditional teaching approaches, combined with extensive opportunities for practical work, ICT and online reference materials, help to stimulate learning and bring the subject to life.

Lower School

In Year 8, students will study a broad range of topics including:

  • Cells and Tissues
  • Locomotions
  • Microbes and Health
  • Reproduction
  • Genetics and Adaption

In Year 9, they will begin to study diverse topics that may appear on the GCSE course, such as:

  • Blood and Circulation, Respiration
  • Diet and Digestion
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Plants and Nutrient Cycles


Biology is one of the most popular subject choices at GCSE and there remains a lively emphasis on practical work, allowing boys to develop skills via a series of required practical exercises. We have a well-resourced department with experienced and dynamic teachers keen to develop learners with analytical and forensic skills as well as a natural curiosity about all things biological.

Throughout the GCSE course, there is a strong emphasis on the relevance and application of biological knowledge to our everyday lives and to the world around us, as well as learning about how our bodies work. It aims to develop interest in, and enthusiasm for, Biology and to develop skills in, and understanding of, scientific evidence and methods of enquiry.

Year 10 topics include health and disease; coordination and control; drug abuse; variation and evolution; and how people affect the planet. Included in this year is a study of the structure and functioning of cells; inheritance; and enzymes and biochemical processes including respiration and photosynthesis.

In Year 11, boys look at these topics in greater depth, as well as learning about our bodies’ exchange of materials with the environment and at the transport of substances around the body. In addition, an interesting extra topic in this unit is microbiology and biotechnology.

A Level

One of the most popular A-Level choices at Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School, Biology is taught by four subject specialists and prepares students to pursue degree courses such as Biological Sciences, Medicine, Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology. It is also well suited to courses such as Dentistry, Pharmacy and Veterinary Science.

Students not wishing to follow a Biology-based degree but with a curiosity in the workings of the human body, ecology and environmental matters will also enjoy the course.

The A-Level course comprises the study of biochemistry, cells, how organisms exchange substances with their environment, genetics and gene technologies. Assessment is by three two-hour papers at the end of Upper Sixth along with assessed practicals throughout the two years.

Fieldwork complements class-based work and there are various trips available to enhance the learning experience.  Boys also have a unique opportunity to travel to locations such as Mexico, Indonesia, Madagascar and Malawi as part of a conservation programme called Operation Wallacea.

Alongside theory-based learning programme, a wide range of practical work takes place in three well-resourced laboratories and involves observation of biological material, both microscopic and macroscopic, or the planning and carrying out of investigations.

The study of Biology at Merchant Taylors’ prepares students for university applications by actively promoting self-reliance and reflection and offering an abundance of academic enrichment and extension opportunities, including Extended Projects, Biology Olympiad, essay competitions and the activities of the Medical-Ethical Debating Society, exploring the moral issues at the heart of science.

This is complemented by a programme of guest speakers from different universities and professions, such as doctors, pathologists and geneticists, and the department has also played a leading role in organising and supervising work experience placements in hospitals and medical practices.