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Electronics is taught as a separate academic subject and is closely aligned to Design & Technology.

All boys in Third and Fourth Forms enjoy a varied Electronics course which aims to stimulate an interest in the subject whilst introducing basic skills such as soldering and circuit building. Electronics is then available as a GCSE subject for those boys who wish to study the subject in greater detail.


Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls

Head of Physics, Science and Technology

Mr Nicholls taught in Durham before spending five years teaching in Turkey. He joined the Merchiston staff in September 2002. His interests include sailing, sound & lighting and Engineering. He became Head of Science and Technology in September 2011. Mr Nicholls runs the sailing activity, Science Club and engineering activities.


The Electronics laboratory is well equipped with a wide range of apparatus, including IT based tools such as digital oscilloscopes and simulation software. There is an extensive stock of components available and students are encouraged to undertake their own projects if they are suitably motivated. All examined Electronics courses are supported by significant resources on the School’s virtual learning environment.


III Form: boys learn basic circuit building skills and how simple circuits work through independent practical activities. They then learn to solder and put their new found skills to good use to build a simple amplifier which they are free to take home. The course finishes with an introduction to electronic systems and independent circuit design.

IV Form: boys manufacture a control board for a programmable robot. At the same time, the robot chassis is developed in D&T classes, and they learn the required programming skills in Computing. The robots are based around the popular PICAXE micro-controllers and programmed using flowchart software. Finally, students can upgrade their buggies to add sensors, flashing lights and faster motors before taking them home. The course aims to teach about construction skills, the use of micro-controllers and a systems approach to electronics.

Shell & V Forms: the GCSE course does not assume any previous knowledge of Electronics and students start by considering basic circuit theory and electrical safety. The remainder of the theory course then considers Electronics from a systems approach as each individual system is investigated in isolation before being used to build up more complex projects. The GCSE Electronics course is intensely practical and students really develop their circuit building skills, learn to employ a wide variety of standard laboratory equipment and solve their own problems whenever possible. The theory course considers several more complex systems such as audio systems and microcontrollers. Having completed all the necessary theory, students undertake a major project to design, build, test and evaluate a useful electronic product.

Our student-led Medical Society provides opportunities for prospective medics to collaboratively apply their scientific knowledge in a medical context. On average, 7% of our Year 13 students have applied for Medicine at university over the last three years.


Through our close links with the Roslin Institute, IGCSE and A Level pupils also get to experience advanced genetics techniques as well as a wide range of the usual practical work offered within schools. Being able to use the Roslin labs has enabled the department to deliver hands on experiments on subject matter elsewhere only able to be taught theoretically.

Ms Williams Head of Biology

Coming from a state school, science was taught very theoretically. Here at Merchiston, we do so many practicals to reinforce our knowledge. This has given me a totally different view on school in general: every day I wake up and I look forward to my lessons

Vincent B Year 11 (S4)

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