One of the most popular A-Level choices at Merchant Taylors’ Sixth Form, Biology is taught by a number of 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. Students 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.