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Biology Challenge and British Biology Olympiad

Visit the British Biology Olympiad webpage

The Biology Challenge and British Biology Olympiad (BBO) are annual competitions for secondary and post-16 students. BBSRC supports the Biology Challenge and the BBO team entry in the International Biology Olympiad.

The Biology Challenge

This is an online competition for secondary pupils that aims:

  • To encourage an interest in biology beyond the school curriculum and stimulate curiosity in the natural world
  • To involve as many pupils as possible in a challenging and interesting biology competition
  • To act as a junior version of the British Biology Olympiad, raising its profile and encouraging participation

For more information see the external link to the Biology Challenge website.

British Biology Olympiad (BBO)

The BBO tries to challenge and stimulate gifted students with an interest in biology to expand and extend their talents. In offering a wider syllabus than A-level, it allows gifted students to demonstrate their knowledge and to be suitably rewarded and publicly recognised by the award of medals, certificates and other prizes. It is hoped that competing in the Olympiad will encourage students already interested in this valuable, wide-ranging and rewarding subject to continue their study beyond A-level.

In addition to encouraging and rewarding pupils in their studies the BBO provides a means of selecting a team to represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad. The IBO seeks to challenge by both theory and practical tests some of the top pre-university biology students in the world, with 60 countries taking part.

Case study

In 2014, four of the UK's most gifted students won medals in the 25th International Biology Olympiad, in Bali (25th IBO). The UK team was Adam Heath (gold medal winner), Josh Dickerson (silver medal winner) Dia Ghose (silver medal winner), and Rebecca Peel (bronze medal winner).

Copyright: Society of Biology
(Left to right) Tristan MacLean BBSRC Inspiring Young Scientists Coordinator, Rebecca Peel, Dia Ghose, Josh Dickerson, Adam Heath. Copyright: Society of Biology

The team were selected from among 5,057 pre-university students who took part in the British Biology Olympiad, organised by volunteers from the Society of Biology's UK Biology Competitions (UKBC) Special Interest Group. The UKBC competitions are supported by BBSRC.

The IBO competition involves a guided tour and introduction to laboratories as well as practical exams and theory papers. The theory exam papers tested their knowledge and understanding of advanced biology and their laboratory skills were tested by a number of challenging practical tasks, including identification of local shrimp species. It wasn't all hard work; the students also took part in social events, where they learned about the culture, cuisine and dancing in Bali.