This is a thriving and vibrant department, headed by Miss E.K.Barson. The innovative department has five highly qualified teachers and is well 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 the four laboratories has its own interactive whiteboard and data logging equipment.


Head of Department:   Miss E.K.Barson         

Board:   EDEXCEL                                       Biology iGCSE

Edexcel iGCSE in Biology (4BIO)               

The Course

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.  

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

Head of Department:  Miss E.K.Barson

Board: AQA

The lives of everyone will be influenced by the discoveries made in biological research.  Human health, genetic manipulation and environmental matters are just a few of the items that occur frequently in the media. An understanding of the principles involved is required if sensible decisions are to be made when dealing with these complex issues.

GCE AQA Biology

Pupils in the 6th form are prepared for the GCE AS and A level qualifications offered by the AQA Board.

This consists of six modules, three for AS and three for A2.

AS 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. After AS examinations have been completed, a residential field course takes place in the summer term at Slapton Ley Field Centre,  Devon.  All pupils progressing to A2 Biology are required to attend

A2 Modules

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

This unit develops the study of organisms in the environment.  A compulsory residential field course takes place in the summer term after AS examinations have been completed at Slapton Ley Field Centre Devon.

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 & Unit 6

There are also two practical assessments, one for each level, 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 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.  Also, the AS course is suitable for those who wish to maintain academic breadth by studying a science subject in combination with non science qualifications. 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 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.