In Biology, the pupils are introduced to the fundamental skills required to safely carry out practical work in a laboratory, with an emphasis on the employment of monocular and binocular microscopes for examining biological materials, as well as tools for measurement.
The unity of features shared by living things provides the main conceptual theme for Year 7, and pupils are introduced to the main categories into which organisms are classified; they also learn how to make, and use paper and online keys in identifying unknown organisms. The school grounds provide a useful area for field-trips during lessons, so that living material is readily acquired for study. Whilst there is a natural inclination of pupils to want to concentrate on human biology, the Biology department tries to open the eyes of the boys to the wonders of nature in general, in the belief that they will become more environmentally responsible citizens.
In Year 8 the whole year is devoted to the study of microbes, both in relation to disease as well as in relation to the dependence of humans upon them in ecology, agriculture, food technology and biotechnology. This year provides pupils with numerous practical experiences, exploring the use of microbes in such processes as bread, beer, yogurt and cheese making, as well as investigating the variety of ways in which bacterial action can be fought, preserving food and fighting pathogenic diseases. The boys are also introduced to significant historical biological scientists, such as Louis Pasteur, and their modern legacies.
In Years 9, 10 and 11 the boys follow the Edexcel IGCSE Biology specification, leading to a GCSE at the end of Year 11. The sequence of topics is unique to Habs, with animal and plant nutrition and ecology in Year 9, human physiology in Year 10, and genetics and responses of plants and animals in Year 11. A significant amount of time is devoted to examination skills and revision in Year 11. Assessment is by terminal examination only; there is no coursework. Nevertheless, the emphasis on practical work continues, supporting the theory, as well as allowing pupils to develop their personal investigation skills. The ecological aspects are taught in the school grounds.
In the Sixth Form Habs follows the OCR Biology specification. Once again, the emphasis is firmly upon learning by doing. The course is taught using a wide range of practical activities to enable pupils to develop their understanding and to engage their scientific curiosity. The AS course consists of three units; Unit F211 Cells, exchange and transport, Unit F212 Molecules, Biodiversity, Food and Health and Unit F213 Practical skills in Biology . The practical skills unit is assessed under exam conditions in practical lessons and consists of three separate tasks; Qualitative, Quantitative and Evaluative tasks. Pupils will have two chances to tackle each of these tasks.
The A2 unit which is studied in the upper sixth form consists of three units: Unit F214 Communication, Homeostasis and Energy, Unit F215 Control, Genomes and Environment and Unit F216 Practical skills in Biology 2. The practical skills unit is assessed under exam conditions in practical lessons and consists of three separate tasks; Qualitative, Quantitative and Evaluative tasks. Pupils will have two chances to tackle each of these tasks.