We are a thriving and innovative department with highly qualified teachers. We are equipped with a very wide range of resources, from traditional anatomical models and living specimens to the sophisticated technology required to handle materials used in high tech procedures such as genetic profiling. The Biology department is a leading force in the field of ICT. Each of our four laboratories has its own interactive whiteboard and data logging equipment.



Head of Department:   Miss E.K.Barson
Board:   EDEXCEL

Biology iGCSE

Pupils are being prepared for the iGCSE qualification offered by the EDEXCEL examination board. This is considered to be a more rigorous qualification that will benefit both the pupils’ understanding of the principles involved and science education at Monmouth School for Boys.

The course is based on a linear scheme and assessment is by terminal examination.  This removes the disruption of module tests and permits a much greater emphasis on practical applied science. There is no centre-based assessment required for this qualification.  As in previous years the majority of pupils will study for iGCSE awards in each of the three separate sciences and will sit two papers in each.  However, the option exists for candidates to take a single paper in each Science and achieve a Dual Award Science qualification, which will be awarded two passes at iGCSE level.  Further details can be obtained from the EDEXCEL website.

A level
Why study Biology?

Do you want to learn about the world around you? A level Biology teaches you how things work; whether it’s your own body, a sub-microscopic cellular process or even a complex ecosystem. You will also learn about when things go wrong and the innovative ways that biologists are attempting to overcome these problems.

Our A level Biology courses place a high value on practical work as an essential part of the learning process, enhancing understanding of the theory and providing ample opportunity to apply and extend your knowledge and understanding in novel situations. Developing proficiency in practical work is a vital component of furthering investigative, problem solving, analysis and evaluation skills that are increasingly important due to the current skills gap in the bioscience industry but are also highly sought after in a wide range of careers beyond medicine and the sciences including the business, legal and financial sectors.

Biology continues to be a rapidly advancing subject in the modern world. Recent and ongoing advances in molecular genetics, proteomics and neuroscience are opening up possibilities that we could not have dreamt of only 30 years ago. Biology is a key subject in preparation for a career in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, all of which demand top level GCE grades. Studying biology can also lead to careers in pharmacy, the food industry, environmental protection, planning & policy development, forensics and drug development among many others. The analytical and evaluative skills are highly valued in a wide range of career pathways.

You will study a range of topics in class using a variety of up to date resources: scientific articles and data, text books, video, websites, field work and of course experiments and practical investigations.

Monmouth School for Girls and Monmouth School for Boys currently follow a different specification.

Head of Department: Miss E Barson

Course content

Board: AQA   A level Syllabus Code: 7402 

During your A level Biology course you will study the extensive variety of life on earth, both past and present. In studying the biochemical basis of life you will learn about the molecules and reactions of life processes including photosynthesis and respiration. You will learn about the human immune response, the underlying biology of some important diseases and how our developing understanding of this is leading us towards improved treatments and potential cures.

The AQA course consists of six modules, three in each year.

Year 12 Modules:

Unit 1 – Biology and Disease (16%) (examined in June)

After introducing the basic concepts of molecular biology and cell structure, this module focuses on the disease process by using the lungs and heart as specific examples.  This is then linked to the general concept of cellular immunity.

Unit 2 – The Variety of Living Organisms (24%) (examined in June)

This unit develops the study of organisms in the environment. At the end of the first year, a residential field course takes place in the summer term at Slapton Ley Field Centre,  Devon.  All pupils are required to attend

Year 13 Modules

Unit 4 – Populations and Environment  (16%)  (examined in January)

Unit 5 – Control in cells and in organisms (24%)  (examined in June)

Consideration of control mechanisms underpins the content of this unit. Students who have studied will develop an understanding of the ways in which organisms and cells control their activities. This should lead to an appreciation of common diseases result from a breakdown of these control processes

The format of the assessments comprises mainly short answer questions but there will also be questions that require extended writing and synoptic knowledge.  There will also be questions that test data handling skills and the “How Science Works” component.

Practical Assessment

Unit 3 and Unit 6

There are also two practical assessments, one in each year, and these are each worth 10% of the final mark.  The format consists of a defined exercise set by the examination board which is assessed under examination conditions.

To prepare pupils for this assessment, the department carries out a wide range of practical work.  The department possesses much high quality equipment not normally found in school science departments.  For example, the facilities exist to carry out molecular biology techniques such as the polymerase chain reaction and electrophoresis.  All the microscopes are high quality with built in illuminators and  mechanical stages.  A class set of data loggers is available with a wide range of sensors. These can be connected to laptops that are in turn networked within the Science department.

The members of the department possess considerable expertise in the use of this equipment and are continually looking for new uses of these valuable resources. We are confident that we will continue to maintain the high standards achieved in previous years.

Subject Combinations

Biology combines well with other science subjects and with Maths. It is a required qualification for those who wish to consider dentistry as a career and is of considerable value to those who aspire to medical and veterinary courses at university.

Monmouth Science Initiative

Monmouth School for Boys Science Department has embarked on an exciting venture to promote science in Wales and to stimulate pupils to actively consider a career in research based science. For more information about this exciting new venture, please visit the MSI page.

Read more about MSI here

Exam Successes

Exam Successes

The department boasts a 100% pass rate at both IGCSE and A Level for 2015-16. Each year, we have several students who go on to read Medicine at university and have had considerable success with Oxbridge applications. This year, 84.6% of pupils achieved A*/A in iGCSE Biology and 100% achieved A* to C. Five of our students achieved an A* in their A level Biology which was very pleasing.