We pride ourselves as a hands-on and forward thinking department
and we strive to inspire and cultivate a fascination for life
sciences in boys of all ages. We allow our pupils to explore
Biology through a variety of practical and theoretical approaches.
We maintain a large collection of exotic animals (snakes,
tortoises, lizards, insects and spiders) to bring real-life Biology
into the classroom.
In iGCSE and A level pupils also get to experience advance
genetics techniques as well as a wide range of the usual practical
work. The school grounds and the local area also lends itself well
to ecological field work. We aim to provide a broad based
Biological education to prepare our boys right up to Oxbridge
Medic/ Vet level or simply to encourage a healthy, scientifically
Matthew S King BSc, PGCE: Head of
Mr King has a particular interest in looking after the Department's
extensive live animal resources. He is also keen on subaqua
pursuits, and runs clay pigeon shooting activities in the
Darren M George BSc, PGCE
Mr George is also in charge of outdoor pursuits and also
helps with football in the School.
Katie A Tully BSc, MSc PGCE
Miss Tully also assists with drama productions, as she has
a particular interest in costume-making.
Andrew Ross: Technician
We have two well equipped full sized laboratories and one small
lab all with full multimedia facilities and video microscopes. We
are equipped to do the following genetics work: PCR, gel
electrophoresis, DNA extraction and fruit fly genetics.
We currently have the following animals in our menagerie: Boa
constrictor, king snake, corn snakes, tortoises, bearded dragons,
tarantula, stick insects, quail, chickens, ducks, axolotl, various
fish. We also use dissection to demonstrate structure of organ
systems with material sourced from deer and rabbits that have been
I & II Forms: The
Science syllabus for I and II Forms covers the needs of our new
intake and is in line with the stipulations of the Curriculum for
Excellence and the English National Curriculum.
Biology as a distinct subject is taught from the III
III Form: Our syllabus is written as
a link between introductory science topics covered in I and II
Forms and the GCSE topics to be commenced in IV Form. The syllabus
also caters as an introductory Biology course for those entering
the school at this level.
IV Form: The course is an
introduction to the GCSE using syllabus content from the KS4 of the
National Curriculum. There is an emphasis on relating Biology to
everyday situations and to general health. Modules covered are
evolution and adaptation, digestion, heart and transport, microbes
and disease, human reproduction and finally we start the
International GCSE with Cells and
Biologicial principles. A lot of practical work is used this
Shell & V Form: The
Edexcel IGCSE Biology course is taught. All pupils in the Shell and
Fifth Forms study all three sciences as 3 IGCSEs, depending on
VI Forms: We teach the OCR
AS/A2 Biology course.
Dissection club for prospective medical/ veterinary students. We
look at squid, herring, rabbit, rat, deer, crow and magpie.
UVI boys are given the chance to carry out advanced genetics
techniques in our own labs with our own equipment. We cover DNA
extraction, polymerase chain reaction for amplification of DNA
micro pippeting, and gel electrophoresis to produce a genetic
fingerprint of the the boys own mitochondrial DNA.
Ecology field trip
UVI boys travel to local beaches to study zonation on the rocky
shore and ecological succession on sand dunes.
VI Form boys have the chance to enter this national
competition to demonstrate Biological excellence.
In 2012 Merchiston was the top school in Scotland.